Lawsuits Claim Inmates Are Held Beyond End of Sentence!
Two lawsuits claiming that prisoners from New Orleans residing in jails in faraway Northeastern Louisiana are being held beyond their release dates. Lawyers for the MacAthur Justice Center blame a breakdown in the process of releasing prisoners or sending them to the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections once they are sentenced by Orleans Parish judges.
The lack of a sense of urgency to fix this is appalling, said Katie Schwartzmann, the law firms co-director. We had no choice other than to sue to start trying to get people out of jail. In addition to people missing the holidays with their families, the taxpayers are paying to illegally house people in jail right now.
Beleaguered Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman in 2015 moved hundreds of inmates to East Carroll Parish 336 miles away as his solution to an inadequate number of trained deputies. Court appointed experts concur that the Orleans Justice Center (new jail) was extremely understaffed with properly trained deputies. Gusman was forced to mothball much of the $150 million building until enough guards are trained and hired.
Where do these prisoners end up? River Bend Detention Center (RBDC) is located at 9450 Highway 65 just south of Lake Providence, Louisiana in East Carroll Parish. The facility originally opened in 1995 with 202 beds. The facility expanded in 2000 adding another 416 beds. In August 2009 another expansion increased the total operational capacity to 1340. It currently houses offenders for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections as well as pre-conviction offenders for local parish and municipal agencies.
Moving prisoners has proved very expensive for the City of New Orleans, who is responsible for the housing and transporting of the inmates. Prisoner families and the convicts’ attorneys are appalled that to see their loved ones they must now travel to Memphis, Tennessee. It’s hard for many families to make the 336 mile trek regularly.
Since the prisoners essentially pay the jail bills, the more inmates, the better, or so goes the logic in Louisiana. That’s a major motive for keeping prisoners in jail past their sentence dates.