Resource: Prisons, Politics, and Pointing Fingers: The Issues Plaguing Orleans Parish Prison's Consent Decrees

By: Alexandra E. Faia

January 1, 2014

Orleans Parish Prison has operated under the 1970 order until the most recent consent decree was issued in June 2013. Interestingly, the inhumane conditions cited in the 2013 consent decree are nearly identical to those cited in 1970. However, nearly two years after the latest decree, issues persist with OPP's compliance with the decree's constitutional reforms. The unconstitutional conditions are indicative of broader political, social, and societal issues within the community.

This comment will address OPP's Eighth Amendment longstanding and persistent violations through the lens of Louisiana's political culture and demonstrate why these violations have not been remedied after decades of attempts. I will argue that this is because OPP's problems are not fixable by a court order. Part II discusses the context and broader issues preventing reform, namely: separation of powers and federalism. Part III provides explanations, examples, and effects of the Eighth Amendment violations at OPP. Part IV is a comparison of OPP's 1970 and 2013 consent decrees and how they parallel one another. Finally, Part V identifies the issues still plaguing OPP even after implementation of the consent decree and offers recommendations on how to correct them.