The Latest: Revisiting a New Orleans inmate's suicide

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2016 12:00 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on a federal court hearing on whether control of the troubled New Orleans jail should be taken from a local elected sheriff and placed in the hands of an independent third party (all times local):

10:45 a.m.

Federal court testimony on the future of the New Orleans jail is focusing on mental health treatment and the March death of an inmate who hanged himself in a shower area.

Mental health expert Raymond Patterson and a lawyer for Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman debated whether a door to that shower area could be opened from the outside. Sheriff's attorney James Williams insisted the door had a mechanism that could be opened from the outside.

Patterson said records indicated that the door latched from the inside, that one guard was unable to open it and that a nurse had to crawl under the door to reach inmate Cleveland Tumblin.

Gusman is fighting a Justice Department motion that would strip him of his authority over the jail.

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9:15 a.m.

A hearing on the future of the troubled New Orleans jail has resumed in federal court with testimony from a mental health expert.

Raymond Patterson is discussing the lack of resources for suicide prevention at the jail.

However, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman has issued a statement calling earlier testimony from a court-appointed expert monitoring conditions at the jail as "insulting, derogatory and unfounded." Gusman runs the jail.

Susan McCampbell testified Wednesday that Gusman's staff lacks expertise and knowledge needed to change conditions at a jail where violence remains a problem despite a 2013 court-approved reform agreement.

Gusman is fighting moves by the U.S. Justice Department and inmate advocates to place the jail in the hands of an independent administrator.

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8 a.m.

A federal court hearing is set to resume Thursday on whether operation of New Orleans' notoriously dangerous jail should be turned over to an independent third party.

That would strip Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman of one of his major duties.

On Wednesday, a court-appointed monitor said Gusman's staff lacks expertise and knowledge needed to run the jail.

A mental health expert, Dr. Raymond Patterson, also said conditions that led to the suicide of an inmate earlier this year haven't been completely remedied. Patterson returns to the stand Thursday.

The Justice Department and inmate advocates say Gusman has failed to implement an agreement for reforms approved in 2013.

Gusman says progress has been made. He blames a lack of funding from the city for many of the jail's problems.