Voter's Guide, 2021 Fall Elections, New Orleans
Position Sheriff
NameSusan Hutson

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationDemocrat
ProfessionLawyer and law enforcement oversight professional.
Present Employer / positionLaw enforcement oversight consultant.
Length of residence in Jurisdiction11 years
List of educational institutions and degreesUniversity of Pennsylvania, BA
Tulane University School of Law, JD
Prior elected and appointed positionsCity of New Orleans Independent Police Monitor 2010-2021
Civic involvement and affiliationsBoard Member, Court Watch NOLA – 2019-2021
President, National Association for the Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) 2019-2021
Past President of the International Law Enforcement Auditors Association
Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Peer Reviewer, Research on the Impact of Public Policy on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System, 2021
LPGA Amateurs Association

Questions specific to the position

1. Do you support expanding the mental health facilities at the jail? I oppose building Phase III of the jail, which merely expands the incarceration footprint in our city. I have spoken with two New Orleans legislators who advised that it is possible to get approval to change the use of the funds for Phase III. The FEMA award documentation only requires that the funds be used to provide adequate mental health diagnoses and treatment for those with acute and sub-acute mental health diagnoses. Let’s build community facilities that anyone can use to get mental health care/substance abuse treatment. We need a series of public meetings, which I would participate in, that allow us to plan appropriately to meet all of the mental health and substance abuse treatment needs of the community. We can retrofit the existing half-full jail to meet the needs of the acute mentally ill persons currently detained there.
2. What would be the adequate staffing of mental health professionals at the jail? Due to a lack of transparency, I have yet to see full and true numbers regarding staffing at the jail. The National Commission on Correctional Healthcare does not provide for a ratio, but provides that jails must have a sufficient number of health staff of varying types to provide inmates with adequate and timely evaluation and treatment consistent with contemporary standards of care. As the Sheriff, I am required and will get expert help to create a plan and have measures in place to determine whether it meets the health needs of the detained population. I will measure performance and be transparent with the results.
3. What qualifications and training should be required of deputy sheriffs? I would follow the ABA Criminal Justice Standards on Treatment of Prisoners which requires staff to participate in a comprehensive pre-service training program, a regular program of in-service training, and specialized training when appropriate. Training programs will equip staff to maintain order with respect, communicate effectively, follow security requirements, conduct searches, use technology appropriately, de-escalate, mediate, as well as identify, report, and respond to medical and mental health emergencies.
There will also be specialized training for staff who work with specific types of detained person to address their physical, social, and psychological needs. I will apply for an accreditation for the jail from the American Correctional Association (ACA), the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), and/or the National Institute of Jail Operations (NIJO). I will allow staff to train for and apply for certifications from the ACA and NIJO.
4. Are salaries adequate to attract and keep competent deputies? I do not believe so. The deputies did get their pay doubled under the current Sheriff from the extremely low rate of $7-8/per hour to around $15-16/per hour. I do not believe that is enough for law enforcement, especially as the community and city council members are recommending that the Sheriff provide deputies to help with policing. NOPD is paid much more than OPSO. Going forward, I would like to budget for cost of living and merit pay increases for all personnel in the Sheriff's Office.