Judge OKs housing inmates in St. Gabriel _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- The Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal judge overseeing a slow-moving reform effort at the New Orleans jail has approved a plan to temporarily house inmates with mental health needs 60 miles away in St. Gabriel.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk’s Wednesday order calls for the city to spend more than $400,000 on the plan initially for renovations and supplies at the state’s Hunt Correctional Center, where the inmates will be housed. The city also will be required to supply more than $200,000 monthly for security and mental health staff at Hunt and food for inmates.

Africk’s ruling is the latest in the court-ordered jail reform effort. The city, which funds the jail, and the sheriff, who manages it, have been at odds over how to fund the reforms.