Sheriff says government is trying to resolve all issues it has with his department
The U.S. Justice Department is asking to join a class action lawsuit that accuses Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman of overseeing a jail that routinely subjects prisoners to brutal, inhumane conditions.
The federal agency filed a request in federal court, asking to be included as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in April by the Southern Poverty Law Center contending the jail's conditions violate the U.S. Constitution.
Gusman says the Justice Department moved to intervene in the lawsuit to determine if a negotiated resolution could be obtained with the Sheriff's Office on a number of issues. That has been confirmed by Thomas Perez, an assistant attorney general.
The Justice Department has been investigating Orleans Parish Prison since 2008. The federal agency says the jail doesn't provide proper medical and mental health care to prisoners and fails to protect prisoners from physical and sexual violence.
"We look forward to working within the court system and with the parties involved to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution, just as the New Orleans Police Department did with the Justice Department," Gusman said.
The city of New Orleans and the government recently entered into a consent decree calling for major reforms within the police department.