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Apr 2, 2012 10:44 AM by AP

Law center sues N.O. jail over conditions

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a class-action lawsuit that accuses New Orleans jail officials of routinely subjecting prisoners to brutal and inhumane conditions.

The federal suit filed Monday against Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman and other jail officials claims Orleans Parish Prison is oversized and understaffed, leaving prisoners vulnerable to rapes, sexual assault and beatings. The suit also says prisoners with mental illnesses languish without treatment.

The law center is seeking a court order that would require jail officials to cease all "unconstitutional and unlawful practices" and improve living conditions and care for prisoners.

The suit says the facility currently houses roughly 3,400 prisoners but isn't adequately staffed or supervised.

A spokesman for Gusman didn't immediately return a call and email seeking comment.

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