As a criminal defense attorney, part of my job includes visiting my clients in parish, state, and federal prisons. While some jails are nicer than others or easier to access, all of them have different rules. When I was a law clerk in Osceola County, Florida, the jail was very accessible to lawyers and staff and I was permitted unprecedented access to the facility. As a lawyer, I’ve visited clients at various state prisons, including one in Kinder, Louisiana. That facility had a strict stress code for visits. My client worked in the kitchen so he poured me some soft-serve ice cream to eat while I waited for him!
However, visiting clients in New Orleans is a whole different experience. There used to be multiple facilities and you never quite knew whether your client would be where you visited them last time. There are different interview rooms in each, from video conference to private rooms to face-to-face interviews. One thing I dislike about visiting in OPP is the time it takes before the Orleans Parish Sheriff Deputies bring your client to see me even when I have an appointment.
New Jail Complex means New Problems
I have been experiencing some difficulties visiting clients at the new OJC facility. Representatives from the Sheriff’s office have suggested some helpful information to ease attorney visits and I feel it is important to share that information with general public.
Beginnning October 7, visitation will be All Day for Attorneys.
We were told that visitation will last from 8am until 9pm everyday. This time will include times when the prison is on lockdown and during count. The only time inmates will not be able to visit with an attorney during count is when an inmate is missing (I hope the sheriff doesn’t lose any inmates). Fights or other issues could cause individual tiers to go on lockdown, but count discrepancy/missing inmate is the only thing that should hold up visitation for everyone.
Scheduling will Improve over Time
OPSO committed to
- Implementing a better system to make both deputies on visitation desks and the rovers who do transport better informed of scheduled visits so they could start bringing people before attorneys get there. Sounds like the farther ahead you call to schedule, the more likely it will be that the person on desk will know about it.
- Same thing should be true for 2nd floor visits, which is still where you ought to go if you want a true contact visit.
- The sheriffi’s office is exploring an online visitation scheduling system, someday, but don’t hold your breath!
Video Visitation is Available
Sheriff Gusman acknowledged it was inferior, but there are occasional visits I’d rather do over video in 10 minutes than wait 2 hours. The sheriff committed that the video conference visits are not monitored or recorded. The video visitation facility is the same place families do their
Visitation at the Temporary Detention Center (TDC)
The plan is still to do contact visits for TDC inmates at Templeman Phase 5 (TP5). If scheduled, you should go to the green door next to the big gate in between TDC and TP5. Contact visits will happen in the old breakroom; non-contact in the old attorney visitation rooms.
State Dept. of Corrections Inmates will Still be Housed in Orleans
The Sheriff’s office will be housing state inmates (people who have already been convicted of a crime and are serving time in the Department of Correction) here for the foreseeable future. They also claim that if you have a reason you need to see someone (upcoming motions, need to discuss plea offer, etc) they will bring that person back and send someone else up instead.
Complaints about Visiting Inmates in New Orleans
We’ve been forwarding complaints about visitation to the attorney for the Sheriff. They said they were useful to identify problems.
Contact Crescent City Law, L.L.C., For A Free Initial Consultation
From my office in New Orleans, I represent clients in communities throughout New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana.
Contact me online or call 504-503-0223 or 504-503-0223 to arrange a free consultation with a New Orleans assault and battery attorney. Evening, weekend and off-site meetings are available by appointment.