By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |
A pair of December incidents at the Orleans Parish Prison draw continued attention to security risks faced by inmates and staff at the facility.
In the first incident, an inmate suffered 14 stab wounds. In the second, an inmate broke out of his cell, snapped a broomstick in half, and hit a sheriff’s deputy in the face, records show.
Sheriff Marlin Gusman, who operates the prison, provided details of the incidents to The Lens in response to a public-records request.
The U.S. Department of Justice criticized conditions at the jail in a damning 2009 report , concluding that inmates were inadequately protected from sheriff’s deputies and fellow inmates.
Since then, Gusman has insisted he is working to correct issues on his own. . But the Department of Justice has said it plans to target Gusman with a consent decree, a federal-court enforced agreement to improve conditions.
Inmate Wilton Anderson was taken to University Hospital for treatment after he was stabbed 14 times in a cell on the fourth floor of the House of Detention just after midnight on Dec. 28. Anderson refused to cooperate with an investigation into the incident, telling an internal-affairs deputy, “I am not a snitch,” according to the deputy’s report on the incident.
In the second incident, inmate Edwin Lee “defeated the locking mechanism of his cell” on the 10th floor of the House of Detention, according to a report written by Sgt. J. Tyler of Gusman’s office.
Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Bennett approached Lee, and tried to take him back to his cell, but Lee grabbed “a nearby broomstick, broke it in half, and used a length of the stick to strike Deputy Bennett in the left face area,” Tyler wrote.
Bennett received a chipped tooth and a possible fractured jaw as a result of the incident; another deputy who restrained Lee suffered a possible sprained wrist.
Lee was booked with charges of aggravated battery, battery of a correctional employee, and simple escape.
An advocate for better security at the jail says the incidents are the result of ongoing understaffing and poor conditions.
“These things could not happen if enough people were on the job, supervising, and paying attention,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. “Both incidents show that the inmates were unsupervised for long enough for these things to happen, which reflects the ongoing security problems at the jail.”
Gusman did not respond to a request for comment.