Taryn Phaneuf Aug. 24, 2016, 3:33pm


NEW ORLEANS — Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman is close to picking the new compliance director who will run the Orleans Justice Center.

The administrator should have previous experience on a federal, state or local level and have a solid compliance record or a history of overcoming the kinds of issues at the Orleans Parish jail, Robert English, an adjunct professor in the Loyola Department of Criminology and Justice, told the Louisiana Record. English joined the faculty in 2003 and is retired from a career in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

“It'll be interesting to see who is selected for the oversight monitor,” English said. “I think the selection probably needs to be made by someone other than Gusman, and that's what concerns me the most. Politics get involved in this whole thing, unfortunately.”

Gusman avoided a federal takeover of the jail by agreeing in June to give up “final authority” over jail operations to an independent administrator who will answer to a federal judge. In August, he selected members of a panel that would help him select between candidates put forth by group that includes a law firm representing New Orleans inmates who sued because of jail conditions.

Two nominees were announced in a letter Aug. 5. Both have experience in overseeing troubled jails in Maryland. Gary Maynard is the former head of corrections for that state. Wendell “Pete” France ran the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Gusman has until Aug. 26 to make his selection.

According to the letter, the candidates were selected based on their background and experiences, as well as their performance in two rounds of interviews and reports from background checks, professional references, coworkers and supervisors. The two finalists were chosen from a pool of 83 applicants.

The director’s task will be to ensure compliance in areas identified by jail monitors and implementation of jail reforms called for in a federal consent decree. The key to compliance is constant evaluation, English said. That was the mode of operation during his 29-year career in the Bureau of Prisons.

“Internal operations and program review is essential to ensure that the system works properly. There must be internal operations reviews and external reviews on all policy and procedures relating to the jail,” he said. “You're constantly making sure you have a safe, humane, organized and well-running jail or correctional facility.”

But a compliance director won’t be able to do that alone, English added. The National Institute of Corrections, a clearinghouse for corrections and jail operations, could help train staff to comply with policies and procedures.

“You must surround yourself with trained quality staff,” he said. “Corrections means constant training.”

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