Ex-Maryland official tapped to run New Orleans' violent jail

AP News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2016 7:15 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former Maryland corrections official was tapped Thursday to run the violence-plagued New Orleans jail.

Gary Maynard will fill the role of "compliance director." Sheriff Marlin Gusman announced the choice in a news release, praising Maynard's four decades of experience. The choice was subject to approval by a federal judge overseeing Gusman's compliance with a 2012 reform agreement.

That agreement settled a lawsuit by inmates and the U.S. Justice Department.

But Gusman's slow progress drew harsh criticism from the plaintiffs and from officials with the city, which funds the jail. Even after inmates were moved from aging facilities to a new jail last year, violence continued and an inmate killed himself.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration had joined the plaintiffs pushing for U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to take control of the jail away from Gusman. In a compromise in June, Gusman agreed to appoint and cede authority over the jail to a compliance director with broad authority over staffing, management and the jail budget.

Maynard was one of two people recommended for the job by the plaintiffs and the city.

A panel including local criminal justice officials and community leaders also weighed in: "We believe he will be capable of leading the urgent and daunting task of bringing the Orleans Parish jail into Constitutional compliance as expeditiously as possible. Once approved by the Court, we look forward to working with Mr. Maynard to ensure the jail is safe, secure, well-run and right-sized."

Maynard left the Maryland corrections department in 2013. He drew praise at the time for closing a dangerous state facility in 2007 and for strategies that reduced serious assaults on staff in Maryland prisons.

However, his tenure also was marked by a contraband scandal that broke that year and eventually led to trial convictions or guilty pleas involving dozens of corrections officers and inmates at the state-run jail in Baltimore.