NEW ORLEANS — The new compliance director taking the reins of the Orleans Justice Center comes to Louisiana from Maryland with 40 years of experience in corrections.
Sheriff Marlin Gusman named Gary D. Maynard on Aug. 25 as his surrogate whose job is to bring the troubled jail into compliance.
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 choose between candidates put forth by a group that includes a law firm representing New Orleans inmates who sued because of jail conditions.
“Our jail has been a serious trouble spot for decades,” William P. Quigley, a law professor and director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans, told the Louisiana Record. “It has been the subject major federal civil rights class actions over serious health and safety problems since 1969. The New Orleans jail, like most jails across the country, mainly holds people awaiting trial. They have not been determined to be guilty of any crimes and our constitution says the government has to protect their health and safety.”
Maynard spent seven years as head of the prison system in Maryland. During that time, a dozen guards were indicted for racketeering and drug charges at the Baltimore City Detention Center. He resigned in 2013 and joined the Criminal Justice Institute — a nonprofit that consults with prisons and jails. He also led state corrections in Iowa and South Carolina.
Out of a field of 83 applicants, he was one of two finalists recommended to a panel Gusman assembled to help him vet and select the new director.
Quigley said Maynard “deserves a chance to do the job,” after he was approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, the MacArthur Justice Center, the City of New Orleans and the sheriff.
“The community will know pretty fast whether he can make a difference or not,” he said.
Maynard said he will begin work immediately. He’ll be accountable to U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk as he seeks to comply with a 173-point plan to improve jail conditions that’s part of a 2013 federal consent decree.
“Sheriff Gusman will certainly work alongside Maynard to make sure this works,” Quigley said. “But the court will be looking to Mr. Maynard to make sure change happens. No doubt [Africk] will make sure that the improvements in health and safety that concerned him so much will happen fast.”
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