Sheriff: Jail will have more inmates in 2012

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By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |

Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman expects to increase the number of inmates in his jail from 3,100 to 3,400 next year, he said during a public hearing Friday.

Gusman confirmed the expected increase even as an advisory group assembled by Mayor Mitch Landrieu is working to set the final size of Gusman’s new jail, and relations between the two offices have become more strained as the group delays a final decision on the jail’s capacity.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman makes brief remarks before approving a budget for the Orleans Parish Law Enforcement District. Photo by Matt Davis

The mayor formed the group in September 2010 and asked them to make a final recommendation by Nov. 22 of that year, but the group still hasn’t reached a conclusion on the jail size and the next meeting has not been scheduled.

Gusman said his office is working on a barely adequate budget, a day after an investigation by The Lens showed his office spending public money on liquor, cheerleaders and Carnival beads.

Gusman made his remarks during a four-and-a-half-minute meeting of the Orleans Parish Law Enforcement District, shortly before approving its budget for the year.

“I guess the only comment I’ll make is that we are operating on a very tight, tight margin here,” Gusman said. “Very little, this is not the way we want to operate. A very tight margin. We don’t have sufficient cash reserves for unexpected problems that may come up.”

By law, the district released documents before the budget hearing, but it was unclear whether documents given to The Lens were even the right budget, and Gusman’s office did not respond to questions on the document.

The budget shows an expected increase in inmates from 3,100 in 2011 to 3,400 in 2012 — with extra revenue expected to come from the opening of a 500-bed temporary jail.

“A lot of those are going to be the re-entry inmates,” Gusman said, without elaborating further.

Gusman once said that the temporary beds would not increase the overall jail population but later reneged.

A representative from Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s asked Gusman to confirm whether 3,400 beds was the expected total number of inmates, including state and federal inmates, and Gusman said it was.

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