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On Monday, Susan Hutson made history as she became the first Black female sheriff in New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s state history.
Hutson won the sheriff’s race back in December with 53% of the vote against 17-year incumbent Marlin Gusman.
“You all need to stay in this fight. It’s not done, not even close,” Sheriff Hutson told the community with her on voting night. “This took a village to get to this point, and I thank everyone for that.”
The newly sworn in sheriff said during her inauguration ceremony that “we’re making history tonight”.
Susan Hutson ran as a progressive and has already announced some of her plans to improve mental health care and ensure people the criminal-justice system operates efficiently.
Progressive Sheriff Susan Hutson
She said she is creating a new executive level of positions, one between herself and the deputy chief, that includes assistant sheriffs for external affairs, custody, governance and administration, and information and technology, and a handful of legal and special advisors.
Some of those employees will work to increase the jail’s efficiency, including one who has “marching orders” to work with court officials and attorneys to create a more seamless system for releasing inmates from jail custody.
One of the promises Hutson ran on was to block the construction of the federally mandated jail expansion. The new jail expansion would house an 89-bed facility that would house inmates in need of mental health care and other needs. Hutson frequently points out that the existing main jail has 1,438 beds for a population that currently sits around 850.
A federal judge has ordered the city’s mayor, LaToya Cantrell, to follow through on a 2017 agreement to build a separate addition. It remains to be seen how that will play out.
Sheriff Susan Hutson, a former independent police monitor for New Orleans, promised to fight for change in the community in her inauguration speech.
“I promised that we would bring progressive change to the sheriff’s office,” Hutson later said, “and we will.”