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SHERIFF SUSAN HUTSON REMAINS COMMITTED TO SERVING MENTALLY HEALTH NEEDS OF ORLEANS JUSTICE CENTER RESIDENTS AND ORLEANS PARISH AFTER UNSUCCESSFUL PHASE III BID PROCESS

56 % of OJC residents receive some form of mental health treatment, 3% considered acutely mentally ill

NEW ORLEANS - 01-05-2023

Sheriff Susan Hutson today issued the following statement:

"It is unfortunate that the city's bid process for a "Phase III" mental health jail has been unsuccessful, but I remain committed to doing what is best to serve the most vulnerable residents at the Orleans Justice Center," Sheriff Susan Hutson said. "Mental health is a crisis not only inside our jail but also across the entire city of New Orleans that needs solutions. I support solutions that would provide answers for the overall health and wellness of our city."

"We are coming close to losing federal funds that have been allocated to partially fund the construction of the proposed Phase III, and failure to find a long-term remedy for our residents with mental health needs is not only harmful to them but to the greater community. I remain committed to following the courts direction on this and stand ready to hear from the city on the plans to move forward to solutions."

Background:

The Orleans Justice Center houses an average of 1,000 residents daily, a total of 967 on Wednesday, January 5, 2023. As of today, there are 545 patients on the mental health caseload, or 56 % of OJC residents, who receive some form of mental health treatment. There are currently 30 acutely mentally ill patients at OJC, or 3% of the overall population, which means they receive specialized care and housing. This is the population that would be served with the proposed construction of Phase III. 21 are currently housed at TMH and 9 on the waiting list to be transferred when space is available.

The deadline for bids to build Phase III was December 22nd. Two extensions requested by potential bidders were granted, but only one bid was received. The single bid offered to build the jail for a base figure of $86 million, which is well over the city's budgeted amount. The proposed 90-bed facility would provide space for OJC to serve more residents with mental illness.

The August 2023 deadline to use the roughly $30 million in FEMA funds that has been set aside for this project is quickly approaching, and the opportunity to utilize that money could soon run out.

To cover the anticipated costs of Phase III, the city has re-allocated $26 million that was intended for the city's libraries, parks, youth programming and other capital investments.




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