Baton Rouge based Grace Hebert Curtis Architects is seeking input from residents on a $51 million expansion to the Orleans Justice Center, also known as Orleans Parish Prison. As required by the Neighborhood Participation Program, the firm is hosting a meeting for residents to "learn more about what we are proposing and offer your questions, comments, and concerns."

Rendering from the presentation via YouTube

While Sheriff Gusman maintains that the jail expansion is necessary to incarcerate mentally ill New Orleanians, critics such as the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC) say the addition of a mental health facility, known as Phase III, is unnecessary.

OPPRC opposes any new construction that could lead to greater incarceration in New Orleans and believes the City should instead invest in research-backed approaches to mental health care outside of the carceral system. – via OPPRC's website

The Phase III expansion would increase the jail's bed count beyond the 1,250 cap that City Council voted on in 2019.

The firm is seeking changes to zoning that would allow for the construction of the jail in a "light industrial district" and also allow the building to be set back 50 feet from the street. Under the comprehensive zoning ordinance, buildings cannot be more than 20 feet from the street.

GHC Architects prides itself for serving the "niche" of "Justice Design," a term they use to refer to the construction of prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers.

Share Your Opinion

Residents are encouraged to either attend the virtual meeting (details below), or email comments to cpcinfo@nola.gov. In your email, be sure to reference Project #DR088-20. All comments from both the meeting and email become part of the public record that will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission.

We will host a virtual presentation on Thursday, May 20 and Thursday, June 17, 2021. The presentations will begin at 6:00 pm. We invite you to join the meeting and share your comments and concerns by using the link or call-in information [187-330-2930; password: 1234]

Further Reading

Help Not Handcuffs: Mentally Ill Individuals in New Orleans Deserve Better - Big Easy Magazine
People suffering from mental health issues in New Orleans deserve help not handcuffs. They need professionals with mental health training, not guns, to provide them with medical care that will […]
As they resist order to build Phase III of New Orleans jail, city and advocates discuss mental health care alternatives | The Lens
Groups push for treatment and care options outside of the criminal justice system
Guest column: Building an additional jail would set New Orleans back
On Oct. 6, a federal court will begin hearings on whether to allow New Orleans to meet its commitment under the jail consent decree by retrofitting the second floor of