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Orleans Sheriff: New Louisiana Laws Have Unforeseen Effects

The jail in New Orleans will likely balloon in population and faces other grave hurdles as it tries to comply with a barrage of new state criminal-justice laws, writes Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson in an op-ed for The Lens. The hardest adjustment -- which comes with the most new costs -- is the state's new law lowering the age of criminal jurisdiction from 18 to 17, she writes. "For example, 17-year-olds must be separated by sight and sound from adult detainees according to federal standards, including the Prison Rape Elimination Act. This means segregated facilities with separate male and female youth pods, as well as single cells.

Nearly every weekday, OJC will now be required to shut down while youth are being moved and transported to and from court, increasing the burden on staff for transport and direct supervision in the court-holding areas, where youth also must be held separately. "

Because of the law, which will take effect in April, the sheriff expects to be soon holding roughly 30 17-year-olds. That will add an estimated $1.5 million to her costs, with no way to pay it, writes Hutson, who was, for these reasons, outspoken in her opposition to the new law, which was pushed by new Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry. The jail has also faced chronic staff shortages, which will now be exacerbated, Hutson writes.


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