|Voter's Guide, 2021 Fall Elections, New Orleans
|Position ||Sheriff |
|Party Affiliation||No Party|
|Present Employer / position||Director nonprofit - Healing Minds NOLA|
|Length of residence in Jurisdiction||20 years|
|List of educational institutions and degrees||I have 2 years of college education as well as a diploma in audio engineering/production and management.|
|Prior elected and appointed positions||None. This is my first run for public office.|
|Civic involvement and affiliations||I have volunteered and collaborated with various activist & advocacy groups on the following issues:|
Fighting against police brutality, big money in politics, wage inequity, In 2009 became outreach coordinator for
Save Charity Hospital dot Com. Since then, I have been an advocate at the local, state and national
level to remove policy barriers to treatment and care for people living with serious mental illnesses
Questions specific to the position
|1. Do you support expanding the mental health facilities at the jail?
||No. I do not support the proposed phase III special needs jail or phase II retrofit. I will work to right size the jail for those whose life situations have resulted in them committing crimes that impact public health and safety. I propose to work with the Federal consent decree Judges, the Governor, the Legislature and the departments of forensic psychiatry at Tulane and LSU to use hurricane Katrina federal FEMA dollars allocated to the city for inmates with SERIOUS mental illnesses in the jail, to build a forensic/civil hospital off the jail campus. The FEMA dollars are designated to accommodate specifically for people with no-fault brain disorders who have been forced into the criminal justice system: 1. By laws that REQUIRE dangerousness in order for a caregiver or provider to intervene to get them treatment and care and,2. Short, insurance driven, length of stays that are too often too short to stabilize someone suffering with unpreventable diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and major depressive diseases. The difference between jails and forensic hospitals is that jails lack legal authority to treat people who don’t want treatment. Unlike forensic hospitals (locked therapeutic facilities) jails have no choice but to use solitary confinement to keep people, who are actively delusional, safe from themselves and others. If you look at the plans for both Sheriff Gusman's proposed phase III special-needs facility and candidate Hudson's proposed phase 2 retrofit, both incorporate a semi-circle of 16 side-by-side glass faced solitary confinement cells where one person can monitor all simultaneously. Like a fishbowl. Glass often exacerbates untreated schizophrenia due to images in the glass that intensify visual hallucinations. This amounts to torture in my opinion.|
I definitely support better operations and management to assist people in situational crises with counseling to deal with suicidal ideation, anxiety, minor PTSD, sadness, and any other mental health issues that might arise from traumas associated with crimes or incarceration.
|2. What would be the adequate staffing of mental health professionals at the jail?
||My phase III special needs hospital (referenced above) would greatly reduce the need for psychiatric services inside the jail. Note: this does not address charges. However, it gets people into treatment on day one of booking, not day 365 when the individual has sustained further irreversible brain damage. The side effect of treatment is competency. Currently, competency is a legal term referring to the inmates ability to recognize the judge, jury, prosecutor and defense attorney - NOT mental competency. |
Ratios depend on available resources. At one point in 2020 OPSO staffed 14 psychiatrists at OJC (more than any jail in the country). Yet even with robust staffing, the jail was still deemed non-compliant by Federal Consent Decree Jail Monitors. People living with severe mental illnesses often require intensive services and 1::1 2::1 *Constant Observation (CO)supervision. In hospitals, supervision is provided by nurses. In jails, supervision is provided by deputies with little to no expertise in psychiatry. This is why tragedies continue to happen.
* Example: https://mentalhealth.vermont.gov/sites/mhnew/files/documents/Services/VPCH/PP/Levels_Of_Observation.pdf
|3. What qualifications and training should be required of deputy sheriffs?
||All deputy Sheriffs should receive the following training and qualifications:|
Basic Law Enforcement Training
Mandatory in-service training
Constitutional law, civil rights, local ordinances, self-defense
Crisis intervention team training/De-escalation/Less lethal conflict resolution
All staff who supervise prisoners have the adequate knowledge, skill, and ability to address the needs of prisoners at risk for suicide.
Further training and supervision for deputies on proper management
Rapid response/Ensure that all staff that have contact with prisoners are certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”).
Body cameras for transparency
Racial cultural diversity training
Peer to peer support to improve emotional and self-awareness
|4. Are salaries adequate to attract and keep competent deputies?
||Unfortunately the salaries are not adequate to attract the caliber needed. OPSO has a lot of deputies who are committed to the work, even if the salary is not great. |
Finding money to increase deputy pay and skills is needed. My plan to move the Seriously Mentally Ill inmates under the state's East Louisiana Mental Health System (ELMHS) into a FEMA funded building will free up local dollars to increase deputy pay. It will also create an opportunity for OPSO to bring additional dollars back to the jail through contracting with the ELMHS satellite Forensic/Civil hospital in-parish for meals, laundry and security. There is plenty of money to improve the jail and the lives of inmates. It just needs to be rearranged.