DOJ says Louisiana prisons hold inmates past their release date


The Department of Justice (DOJ) said there are reasonable grounds to believe that prisons in the state of Louisiana are holding inmates longer than their release date.

In a press release, the DOJ said it determined that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (LDOC) was denying individuals the right to due process and timely release from prison and that it failed to implement adequate policies and procedures within its correction facilities, allowing systematic over-detention of individuals.

The department also said that LDOC had known about the problem of over-detention for more than a decade; failure to take adequate measures to ensure the timely release of persons in custody.

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In a four-month period between January 2022 and April 2022, 26.8 percent of people released from LDOC custody were held beyond their release date, according to the press release. Of those overprisoned, 24 percent were held in LDOC prisons for at least 90 days and the median number of days inmates were held after their release date was 29.

“During exactly this four-month period, LDOC was required to pay parish prisons an estimated minimum of $850,000 for the days these individuals were incarcerated above their lawful sentences,” the DOJ press release says. “At that rate, this unconstitutional practice is costing Louisiana more than $2.5 million a year.”

“The constitution guarantees that people detained in prisons and jails should not be held beyond their release date, and it is the fundamental duty of the state to ensure that all people in custody are released on time,” says deputy prosecutor General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke said in a statement.

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“Our investigation revealed evidence of systematic violations by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections that have led to the routine incarceration of people well past the dates they are legally entitled to release. We are committed to taking action to ensure that the civil rights of people held in Louisiana’s prisons and jails are protected. We stand ready to work with state officials to implement long overdue reforms.”

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The Department has notified LDOC in writing of their findings and the minimum corrective actions required to address them, in accordance with the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

The news follows a lawsuit filed in 2018 by criminal defense attorneys alleging that inmates at the David Wade Correctional Center near the Louisiana-Arkansas border were held in isolation for entire days, sometimes months and years at a time, resulting in inmates had psychological problems. health problems resort to self-mutilation and suicide attempts.

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