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Allen Correctional Center
Kinder, Louisiana
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
Aug 15, 2017 nola.com
Nonprofit law firm sues Louisiana prison for info on who's held in segregated housing
The MacArthur Justice Center is suing a Louisiana prison for records that show who is being held in segregated housing, the nonprofit law firm announced Monday (Aug. 14). The suit was filed late last week after Allen Correctional Center, a privately-run prison that houses inmates from across the state, allegedly ignored repeated requests for public records, according to the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. The nonprofit firm, which has an office in New Orleans, submitted a public-records request June 19 for the names and offender ID numbers of inmates kept in various types of segregated housing at Allen, according to the lawsuit. The prison received the request, directed to Warden Keith Cooley, by certified mail June 22, the lawsuit states. Louisiana law allows five days for information to be provided in response to such an inquiry. Nearly two months after the original request was submitted, the MacArthur Justice Center has not received the information -- or a timeline for when the documents will be made available, prompting the civil lawsuit against Allen Correctional Center Warden Keith Cooley, the MacArthur center said in a news release. The lawsuit notes that a follow-up inquiry into the request was sent July 12, both by fax and certified mail. "All we want to know is who they are holding in solitary confinement and segregated housing," said Katie Schwartzmann, co-director of the center's New Orleans office. "The Warden is illegally obstructing our inquiry and we are now seeking a court assistance." The MacArthur center requested the information as part of a joint project looking at the use and conditions of segregated housing units in prisons across Louisiana, Schwartzmann said. The firm submitted similar requests for records to prisons throughout the state, but Allen Correctional Center was the only prison that did not comply, she said. The lawsuit, filed in Allen Parish, asks a court to order release of the records and seeks an expedited hearing on the matter. The lawsuit is also seeking penalties for violation of state public-records law, including sanctions and attorneys' fees for having to bring the litigation, which the lawsuit contends should have been resolved without court intervention or attorney time. "The public's ability to inspect public records is a critical to holding the government - and its private contractors - accountable for how they manage public resources," Schwartzmann said. Allen Correctional Center is run by The GEO Group, a private contractor for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. However, the Florida-based company, which owns or manages prisons across the country, announced last week that it plans to end its management of Allen at the end of August. Warden Keith Cooley was not immediately available for comment Monday evening. An attempt to reach The GEO Group for comment was unsuccessful. Though Schwartzmann declined to give details on why the MacArthur Justice Center is seeking the records, she said the center is "very concerned" about excessive use of segregated housing in Louisiana prisons. Segregated housing, or specialized areas of prisons used to house particular prisoners apart from the general population, is used for various reasons, including both disciplinary and protective. Recent years have seen a trend away from use of segregated housing, which includes solitary confinement but can include cellmates in some situations, Schwartzmann said.   Segregated housing often involves restricted access to services, privileges and everyday prison routines, such as outdoor exercise, phone use and social interactions. The practice has been shown to cause "very significant damage" to prisoners, she said. In July, the MacArthur Justice Center filed a federal lawsuit against another Louisiana prison, David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, arguing that the prison "deliberately impeded an investigation into allegations of serious neglect and abuse of prisoners with disabilities" by not allowing government-designated advocates to tour segregated housing for prisoners with disabilities.Lawsuit: Prisoners may have been forced to bark for food
. Prison officials prevented advocates from interviewing inmates and staff members, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit was also brought by the nonprofit Advocacy Center of Louisiana, which serves as the state's protection and advocacy system to protect the rights of people with mental or physical disabilities.The MacArthur Justice Center is the same firm representing inmates whose lawsuit led to the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office federal consent decree over conditions at the jail.

Jun 27, 2017 kplctv.com
GEO Group terminates contract with Allen Correctional Center
GEO, the private managing company of Allen Correctional Center, is pulling their management contract with the facility beginning Aug. 20. The relationship the town of Kinder has with the correctional center runs deep, from employment to partnerships, and many say they're shocked by the sudden question regarding the facility's future. "We really didn't know what was going on, we heard rumors but nothing concrete," said Kinder Mayor Wayland LaFargue. He said he was notified of GEO's plan to end their management contract with the state-funded facility this past Thursday. In a statement from the company, GEO cited state budgetary constraints. The center has been operating as a jail facility for a year, which the company said they hoped was temporary. “We’re proud to have been able to partner with the Louisiana Department of Corrections to provide high quality management services at the state-owned Allen Correctional Center over the last two decades. Due to state budgetary constraints, over the last year, the Center has been operating as a jail facility, which we had hoped would be temporary. Unfortunately, continued state budgetary constraints will not support returning the Center to a full service correctional facility with robust rehabilitation programs, and therefore, we have regrettably reached the decision to discontinue our management contract at the Allen Correctional Center. We appreciate the partnership and support of the Louisiana Department of Corrections over the last two decades, and we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition as our management tenure ends at the Center at the end of August.”  This still raises major concerns for the parish and the town of Kinder. "GEO is probably the third largest employer for Allen Parish and it's going to affect our community dramatically with revenue and utilities," said LaFargue. "People don't realize the utilities they use. The employees...where are they going to go? I'm guessing 200 some have been there 20-plus years, that's devastating to a family." LaFargue said the correctional center also provides the town with grass cutting services and help with work on area schools. "They've been very good to us, but this short notice and hearing this, everybody's scrambling to find out what lies ahead in the future for us." The State Department of Corrections says its intentions are to maintain a facility at Allen Correctional Center, however, nothing is definitive at this time. "I hope something transpires in the next few months. I hope someone takes it over. That's the big problem. If we can solve that problem, it means a lot to Allen Parish and Kinder." The Department of Public Safety and Corrections says it will meet within a week to review available options.

Sep 13, 2016 kplctv.com
Employees claim Allen Correctional is understaffed, unsafe
Employees have called Allen Correctional Center understaffed, ill-equipped, and unsafe in recent months. Dozens of calls, emails, and social media messages have been sent to KPLC, demanding an investigation into the state-owned facility. Allen Correctional houses 1,345 inmates, according to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C). The facility is currently transitioning from a prison to a jail - and in August, 80 employees were laid off. "Recent legislative budget cuts forced the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to scale back Allen Correctional Center, which meant the elimination of mental and medical health services, and instructional programs at the facility," said Ken Pastorick, communications director. The cuts have left many guards feeling vulnerable. "We're outnumbered," said a current employee. KPLC interviewed two guards who currently work at Allen Correctional. In separate interviews, their stories and complaints were very similar. When asked if he/she felt safe going to work, one guard responded "not at all." These two employees, say at times it's two guards for a unit of nearly 300 inmates. "We don't have handcuffs. We don't have spray. We don't have anything," said one employee, "All we have is a radio on our hip, and half the time we don't even have that." According to these employees, the lack of proper equipment isn't just a safety concern, but also a health hazard. "Often times, we don't have gloves; we don't have sanitizer; sometimes, we don't have soap," said one employee. Dozens of claims have been made to our newsroom regarding an increase in contraband - weapons and drugs. Meanwhile, some guards said security continues to decline. "The inmates mess with the cameras and they are not seen about," said one guard, "They'll point the cameras at the ceiling, and we can't see what's going on on their tier and no one comes fix them." Bed books detailing which inmates should be where are often incorrect, according to some employees, making their job of keeping up with inmates nearly impossible. We're told in one instance that an inmate committed suicide, yet remained on the books. "A guy did commit suicide," said the corrections officer, "but I found out that they kept him on the books for at least two weeks." They said it's a corrupt environment few are willing to work in. "You feel like your employer doesn't care about your life; they don't care about you at all," an employee said. KPLC reached out to the company in charge of operations at Allen Correctional, hoping to discuss these issues. Without hearing details of employees' claims, GEO Group Vice President of Corporate Relations Pablo Paez denied the allegations. He said his company couldn't comment on operational matters and said our questions would be best answered by the state department. KPLC then posed the same questions to DPS&C. Ken Pastorick said while the state owns Allen Correctional and investigates any complaints, they aren't aware of the issues employees claim. He then said our questions should be directed to GEO Group.

Jul 14, 2016 americanpress.com
Layoffs announced for Allen Correctional
About 80 employees of the Allen Correctional Center will be laid off due to state budget cuts, a spokesman for prison operator GEO Group said. “GEO will operate Allen Correctional as a jail facility beginning Aug. 1,” Pablo Paez, company vice president, said Wednesday in an email. “GEO and the Louisiana Department of Corrections are working closely to implement the changes in order to ensure that public safety is maintained throughout the process.” Rep. Dorothy Sue Hill, who represents Allen Parish, said GEO and the state are working “very closely” to address the reductions and to relocate many of the workers to other GEO and state facilities. “I’m not really happy about it, but it could be sadder,” Hill said. “I am hoping they all get jobs either in one of the other GEO facilities or in a state facility.” An alternative to cutting employees would have been closing the facility and losing all 351 employees, she said. “I fought tooth and toenail to save it,” she said. The $27 million prison opened on an 857-acre site on Lauderdale Woodyard Road, just north of Kinder, in 1990 under a management services agreement between Wackenhut Corp. and the state. It was later acquired by the GEO Group. When it opened, the facility housed 706 inmates, according to Warden Keith Cooley. It now houses over 1,530 adult male offenders at minimum, medium and maximum custody levels.

Feb 20, 2016 nola.com
Louisiana considering closing 2 prisons in budget cuts
The Louisiana Department of Corrections is considering closing two privately operated prisons as it tries to cut $14.1 million in spending to help close the state's $940 million budget shortfall. Winn Correctional Center and Allen Correctional Center, are operated by two separate companies. The two closures would save an estimated $4.6 million.  Another option the Department of Corrections is floating -- and the one the department most prefers -- is to temporarily reduce the rate the state pays the two companies that operate Winn and Allen prisons, for a savings of $2.6 million. But under that scenario, the Department of Corrections would also need to temporarily reduce the rate it pays per prisoner to house inmates in jails operated by sheriffs. There is significant risk in closing the two prisons because many of the 1,000 prisoners housed there are unable to be transferred to local facilities because of mental health or debilitating illnesses or because the prisoner is in a special disciplinary unit. "This is going to eventually saturate an already saturated staff, especially as it relates to medical and mental health," Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc told House Appropriations members on Friday (Feb. 19). "It means we'll probably have to let people out of cells that probably should still be in cells and put them in the general population, which will drive up inmate assaults and inmate-on-staff assaults." The proposal for the two private operators of the prisons, LaSalle Southwest Corrections and the GEO Group, sets up a difficult ultimatum: Either accept the lower per-prisoner pay rate or face total shutdown. The department currently pays $31.52 per day; the local rate the department wants to pay is $24.39 per day. Legislators will need to approve new appropriations to pay the lowered rate. After the hearing, LeBlanc said that the department has been in communications about the possibility of lower pay rates, but hasn't received word back that LaSalle or GEO would accept the new payment structure.  "I've talked to LaSalle and got a response in writing, and I think it's been positive," LeBlanc said. "GEO we've not heard a definite yet." In addition to the budget cuts, LeBlanc said the department is having difficulty paying for the upkeep of prisons statewide. There are broken windows that need to be fixed and other maintenance issues, he said, that will have to be delayed under the current budget cuts. "This is a business where you're only one phone call away from disaster," LeBlanc said. "It's going to be a significant strain on our prisons to
take that kind of cut at the end of the year."

Feb 18, 2016 louisianarecord.com
Former Allen Correctional Center inmate sues operators for alleged denial of medical care
LAFAYETTE – An inmate previously confined at Allen Correctional Center is taking the center's operator to court after allegedly suffering an injury when a ceiling tile fell on him. Ben Thompson filed a suit on Feb. 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division against The Geo Group, for alleged breach of duties and violations of his rights. Thompson was formerly at the Allen Correctional Center, which is operated and owned by The Geo Group. He was allegedly incarcerated at the facility since April 2012 and until the time of the incident, and is now currently at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in Iberville Parish, the suit states. He alleges that many employees and inmates had complained about the conditions of the Allen facility but defendant allegedly ignored such complaints. On or about Feb. 12, 2015, Thompson was acting as a peer-facilitator in a substance abuse class when a ceiling tile fell 12 feet and struck him on the middle of his neck on the posterior side, the suit states. Thompson claims to have immediately felt a shocking sensation and instantaneous pain but was allegedly given only ibuprofen. Thompson alleges that the pain did not subside on Feb. 15, 2015, but was again allegedly given only ibuprofen when he sought treatment. On March 11, 2015, Thompson allegedly was given a CT scan and on March 20, a doctor at Allen recommended that plaintiff be observed by a neuro or orthopedic surgeon for appropriate diagnosis. The defendant allegedly denied such recommendations. The defendant also allegedly denied an administrative remedy procedure complaint made by the plaintiff on March 8, 2015. Thompson claims that as a result of defendant’s actions and unlawful disregard to his rights for medical treatment, he continues to suffer physical injury to his cervical spine and neck. He is now suing for access to reasonable medical care and treatment for his injuries, compensatory general and special damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees, cost of the suit, and any other relief deemed just. He is represented by Gabe A. Duhon, James S. Broussard and Wyman E. Bankston from Abbeville. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Case number 6:16-cv-00208

February 9, 2011 The Advocate
The Jindal administration is asking companies to detail how much they would charge the state to care for inmates in Allen and Winn parishes if two state prisons are sold to ease budget problems. Responses to the Request For Information, or RFI, are due Friday as part of a possible move toward selling the correctional centers. Private companies oversee Winn Correctional Center in Atlanta, La., and Allen Correctional Center in Kinder. Winn is managed by Corrections Corporation of America while Global Expertise in Outsourcing, Inc. operates Allen. Selling the prisons is still just a possibility at this point. However, a sale would force the state to pay the new owners for the care of inmates at the medium security centers. Some elected officials are nervous about how much the state would end up paying. Michael DiResto, spokesman for the Division of Administration, said Wednesday that the RFI is “for planning and information gathering purposes.”

February 3, 2009 The Town Talk
The three men who escaped from the Allen Correctional Center in Kinder Jan. 26 have been charged with aggravated escape and are back in the custody of the Department of Corrections. Cecil Stratton, the last of the three men to be apprehended, went before a judge Tuesday morning for a brief court appearance before he was released back to the custody of Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections. The other two escapees – Troy Hargrave and Daniel Reeder – were both charged Friday with aggravated escape and turned over to state custody.

January 29, 2009 The Town Talk
Fatigue, cold and hunger led one of three Allen Parish prison escapees to turn himself in Wednesday, authorities said. Law enforcement officers have two of the three men, who escaped Monday from the Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, in custody. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies say they are turning up the heat on the third escaped convict, who remains on the loose. "We are working around the clock to locate Cecil Stratton," Deputy U.S. Marshal Corey Britt said. "And anyone who assists Cecil will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Stratton -- who was serving a 25-year sentence for convictions of simple escape, simple burglary, first-degree robbery, marijuana possession, felony theft and flight from an officer out of St. Mary Parish -- is the only escapee who has not been captured. Escapees Daniel Reeder and Troy Hargrave -- both serving sentences for manslaughter convictions -- are back in police custody.

January 27, 2009 The Advertiser
A prison guard has been booked with helping three dangerous inmates escape from the privately run state prison in Kinder, the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday. Detective Peggy Kennedy said Jesse Jordan, 19, of Glenmora was held without bond after being booked Monday night on three counts of assisting escape and one of malfeasance in office. He had worked there as a guard since May, Chief Deputy Grant Willis said. “It appears the motivation on his part was for monetary value,” Willis said. He said Jordan was cooperating with investigators. Jordan was employed by GEO — Global Expertise in Outsourcing Inc., the private company that runs the prison, Kennedy said. A call to the prison was not immediately returned. Daniel Reeder, 24, of Shreveport, Troy Hargrave, 32, of Crowley, and Cecil Stratton, 29, of Berwick were missing at the 6 a.m. head count, prison officials said. They described all three as dangerous and said Reeder and Hargrave were serving time for manslaughter. Three rows of razor wire on the ground in front of the fence had been cut through, but neither the fence nor the razor wire on top of it had been cut, Willis said. “We can’t say for certain that’s the way they got out, or whether it was a decoy,” he said.

January 27, 2009 The Town Talk
Three inmates -- two of whom were serving time for manslaughter -- escaped from a correctional center in Kinder sometime before 6 a.m. Monday, prison officials reported. Authorities from the Allen Correctional Center in Kinder said the three men should be considered dangerous. Officials are asking anyone with information or anyone who sees the escapees to contact their local authorities or call 911. The three men were discovered missing when the facility conducted its 6 a.m. count. The escapees were identified as: Daniel Reeder, a 24-year-old white man, 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 140 pounds with brown hair. He was serving a 30-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction in Caddo Parish. Troy Hargrave, a 32-year-old white man, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 203 pounds with blond hair. He was serving a 40-year sentence for a manslaughter conviction in Calcasieu Parish. Cecil Stratton, a 29-year-old white man, 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 185 pounds with balding brown hair. He was serving a 25-year sentence for convictions of simple escape, simple burglary, first-degree robbery, marijuana possession, felony theft and flight from an officer out of St. Mary Parish. In addition to the three offenders, the facility is listing Sidonia Marie Stratton of Morgan City as a person of interest in the incident. She is the sister of Cecil Stratton and is thought to be driving a beige 1998 Mercury Sable with license plate OZK138. The dress code for offenders at Allen Correctional Center is navy blue scrubs with a white undershirt or blue jeans, a blue-jean button-up shirt or gray sweatshirt, but it is not confirmed what the men were wearing when they escaped. Security and K-9 teams from the correctional center are working with local law enforcement in Allen Parish and surrounding parishes to track down the three escaped inmates. The local community has been notified of the escape, as is standard in these situations, officials said. Allen Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Grant Willis said the Sheriff's Office is assisting in the search efforts. According to a release from the facility, Hargrave may have family in the Jennings, Kinder and Lake Arthur areas. Jennifer Allemand, programs manager for the GEO Group facility, said the three men were state Department of Corrections inmates who were housed in the medium-custody private prison.

March 15, 2007 KPLC TV
It was between two and three in the afternoon Wednesday when Brian Scott escaped from the Allen Correctional Center by scaling the fence. Scott is convicted of felony theft and as a fugitive was considered dangerous. The prison is a medium security state facility but is operated by a private company, the Geo Group. Warden Terry Terrell says, with the help of numerous law enforcement agencies, procedures were put in effect to identify the missing inmate and get a manhunt underway to capture him. "I don't know that you could get out of a situation any better than what we did. The inmate was apprehended. Neither he nor anyone in law enforcement was injured so we are very thankful for that. " In such cases they notify those who live near the prison, that is if they've signed up to be notified when there's an escape. "About once a year and sometimes more frequently we put out flyers to all the local residents that we're aware of and ask them if they do wish to be contacted in a similar circumstance to simply fill out the form and name a number so we can put them on the calling list," says Terrell. But people who live near the prison such as in this area called Hickory Flat say they need to do a better job of alerting the public when an inmate escapes. Explains Virgil Richard, "We're taxpayers. Why can't they burn a little gas and let us know something. They were supposed to have had a horn, an alarm system and we don't have that." Neighbor Lloyd Miles agrees. "We've got some elderly people here and some handicapped people here by themselves and I'm mostly concerned about them. And we got kids."

October 23, 2002
Few concerned citizens ventured out to Alexandria City Hall Tuesday evening to speak out on the escape and fatal shooting of an HIV-positive state inmate.  But those who attended were vocal in their questions and suggestions for the Department of Corrections and the Allen Correctional Center in Kinder.  The committee did not make any recommendations concerning the escape or policies of the Department of Corrections or Wackenhut Corp., which owns Allen Correctional Center in Kinder.  Cotton, 43, of Houma, escaped Aug. 21 from his room at the hospital.  Thirty-eight hours later, he was shot while hiding underneath a home.  Cotton snatched a .357-caliber handgun from the lone female guard assigned to him when she bent down to unshackle him so he could use the restroom, police said.  (Alexandria Daily Town Talk)

August 31, 2002
Wackenhut Corp. is not in a position to release information on the probe of the escape and eventual death of Kenneth cotton, a spokeswoman said Friday.  Cotton, an inmate at Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, escaped Aug.21 from Rapides Regional Medical Center where he was to have surgery.  After a nearby 38-hour search, Cotton 43, of Houma was found hiding under a house in Alexandria.  Police Special Response Team officers shot Cotton after he pointed a handgun at them.  Cotton stole the gun from a female correctional guard after overcoming her at the hospital.  Alexandria police and Wackenhut are probing the escape and standoff.  (Alexandria Daily Town Talk)

Catahoula Correctional Center
Harrisonburg Louisana 
Apr 26, 2022 reason.com
She Says Her Son Died After Smoking Insecticide While He Was Supposed To Be on Suicide Watch. Now She's Suing. The lawsuit says there have been multiple deaths from neglect and poor suicide prevention policies at the Louisiana prison where Javon Kennerson died.

How was a man in a Louisiana prison who was supposed to be on suicide watch allowed to smoke insecticide, leading to his death? That's the question Jennifer Bartie wants answered. The man was her son, 37-year-old Javon Kennerson, who died in December 2020 several weeks after falling into a sudden and severe mental health emergency. A federal civil rights lawsuit by Bartie says her son's death is a result of the facility's well-documented failures to provide adequate health care and properly monitor suicidal inmates, which has led to numerous preventable deaths over the years. "In sum, after engaging in self-harm, ramming his head into his wall, acting psychotic, eating feces and drinking urine, Mr. Kennerson, in his altered mind state, was still under such poor care and supervision that he was permitted to smoke insecticide, which ultimately caused his death," the lawsuit, filed on Bartie's behalf by the National Police Accountability Project, says. The lawsuit alleges that staff and supervisors were deliberately indifferent to Kennerson's deteriorated mental state and self-harm, violating his Eighth Amendment right to adequate health care while incarcerated. As Reason has reported in the past, despite these constitutional protections, gruesome medical neglect and malpractice is common throughout U.S. prison and jail systems. Kennerson was serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted of an armed robbery spree in 2013. Bartie says he was in frequent contact with his family over the years and had no significant mental health issues until he was transferred in November 2020 to Catahoula Correctional Center, a private prison facility run by Lasalle Corrections that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections contracts with. Shortly after arriving at Catahoula on November 18, 2020, Kennerson began exhibiting erratic behavior, such as attempting to run naked out of his cell and defecating on his lunch tray. The lawsuit says that, despite this, Kennerson did not receive any medical attention until November 25, when he was diagnosed with acute psychosis. Sometime between then and December 2, Kennerson obtained and smoked roach killer. He was transferred to a hospital on December 2 with low blood pressure, lethargy, and swollen limbs. Photographs accompanying the lawsuit show large, open gashes on his head, allegedly as a result of running into his cell door. By December 4, he was unresponsive and placed on life support. It was not until December 8, however, that Kennerson's family was notified of his condition. Bartie says a doctor told her that Catahoula had refused to give him any contact information for Kennerson's family until the day before. Kennerson died on December 12, 2020. "It was absolutely heartbreaking to find out the few details I had at that time and also to find out that in spite of my son's grave condition, they still did not have the decency to allow his family to be contacted," Bartie tells Reason. "I want people to know that, despite his crimes, he was a loving young man who did not deserve the treatment or lack of treatment he received. In fact, no one deserves that, and I want people in charge of him and others to be held accountable in order to possibly prevent this from happening to another family. My son is gone, but I want his name to live on." The lawsuit is the latest in a string of allegations and reports of inadequate care at LaSalle facilities. The lawsuit says that, "LaSalle facilities were found out of compliance with minimum suicide prevention standards 29 times in the last 5 years. At least ten incarcerated people have died by suicide in LaSalle facilities while on suicide watch since 2016." There have also been medical neglect cases. For example, Reason reported on the case of Holly Barlow-Austin, who died in 2019 after she was incarcerated in a jail in Texarkana, Texas, operated by LaSalle Corrections. After being deprived of her medications, she contracted meningitis, went blind, and was left for two days on the floor of a medical observation cell without food or water, where she repeatedly soiled herself, before she was finally taken to a hospital and died. The Texarkana jail is also where 20-year-old Morgan Angerbauer died of ketoacidosis in 2016 after being denied medications to manage her diabetes. Bartie says that, after her son's death, neither Catahoula nor the previous facility he was housed in would give her any more information. "Throughout the months following his death, I called both facilities to try and reason with someone to please give me any records they had on my son, because as his mother, I should be able to retrieve this information, especially since my son has passed away," she says. "They both refused." The Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections and LaSalle Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Claiborne Parish Detention Center
Homer, Louisiana

July 22, 2003
For $3, inmates and visitors to the Claiborne Parish Detention Center in Homer can buy pirated copies of recordings by a wide array of performers, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the music industry.  The jail's computers were used to illegally copy recordings by performers ranging from rapper Eminen to country music's George Strait to New Age instrumentalist John Tesh, Baton Rouge-based Utopia Entertainment Inc. charged in the copyright-infringement case filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Shreveport.  Defendants in the case are Claiborne Parish through Sheriff Kenneth Volentine; LaSalle Management Co., which is under contract to manage the men's portion of Volentine's jail; and Department of Corrections inmate Bo Fain, identified as a "guiding force" in making the recordings.  LaSalle's role at the detention center is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the jail, where all employees work for the sheriff.  (Times-Picayune)

East Baton Rouge Parish Schools
East Baton Rouge, Louisiana

March 19, 2009 The Advocate
A school janitor was arrested in what investigators believe is a crime ring in the thefts of purses, wallets and cell phones from employees at nine public schools in Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes. Detectives with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Marnia Marie Parks on Tuesday in the incidents at six schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. Parks, 20, of 6248 Calion Drive, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on seven counts of simple burglary, three counts of attempted theft and six counts of unauthorized use of an access (or credit) card. It is unclear whether Parks was also involved in the burglaries of two schools in the Zachary school system and one in Ascension Parish, Hicks said, adding there is a “definite possibility” the cases are linked. Parks worked for Jani-Care, a commercial cleaning company the East Baton Rouge school system uses for janitorial services, when the burglaries and thefts occurred earlier this month at the schools in the district, Hicks said. Detectives believe Parks had at least three accomplices and that she helped those accomplices gain access to the schools through her job, Hicks said. An arrest warrant has been issued for Tronette Leshae Leonard, 19, 803 Peach St. The other two accomplices, one of whom was caught on surveillance video, have yet to be identified, Hicks said. Chris Trahan, a spokesman with the East Baton Rouge school system, said the school system has a contract with Aramark for its janitorial services and that Aramark subcontracts with Jani-Care.

February 23, 2004
The East Baton Rouge Parish school system is holding a series of informational meetings this week to explain to more than 400 custodians, maintenance, groundskeeping and warehouse workers what will happen now that their jobs are in the hands of ARAMARK Inc.    The School Board voted Thursday to approve a $22.5 million contract with ARAMARK, which employs about 216,000 people throughout the world, and it is already taking effect.  The school system has set up an automated 24-hour information line -- 225-226-3794 -- outlining meeting times, and has posted similar information on a link on its Web site, http://www.ebrschools.org. The Web site also has a four-page application for employment with ARAMARK.  This information was also provided in a letter issued Friday to school system employees.  "It is with regret that I must information you are scheduled for separation," said the letter signed by Elizabeth Duran Swinford, associate superintendent for human resources, and Annette Mire, director of personnel services.  ARAMARK and the school system's Human Resource Department are holding separate meetings.  ARAMARK's meetings, to be held in the physical plant training room, 2875 Michelli Drive, will be from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Employees will meet with ARAMARK representatives in groups in order of where their last names fall in the alphabet. An optional meeting will also be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday.  ARAMARK will follow up with interviews from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday with potential employees. Those meetings will be held at the Instructional Resource Center, 1022 S. Foster Drive. Representatives from ARAMARK, the Louisiana Department of Labor, LSU and Baton Rouge Community College will also be on hand.  The Human Resources Department is holding meetings of its own for employees A-L from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday and for employees M-Z from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday. These meetings will focus on questions about payroll, benefits, retirement issues and job-transition options. These meetings will also take place in the Instructional Resource Center.  ARAMARK has yet to lay out what it will pay privatized workers, except to say it will pay "prevailing market wages." Employee organizations that have opposed the deal say already low-paid support workers will inevitably have to take a pay cut. The contract signed by the school system also does not guarantee their employment with ARAMARK.  (Advocate)

J.B. Evans Correctional Center
Tensas Parish, Louisiana
LCS Correctional Services

November 19, 2009 News-Star
Inmates at a Tensas Parish prison are refusing to return to their cells Thursday afternoon as a form of protest, according to Tensas Parish Sheriff Ricky Jones. Prisoners at the J.B. Evans Correctional Center are not moving from the prison yard to protest the amount of food they receive, Jones said. The warden and deputy warden at the correctional center were not available Thursday afternoon. Staff at the prison offered no comment on the number of inmates or other details of the protest. According to LCS Correctional Services Inc., the company that operates the prison, Evans Correctional Center is a 400-bed multi-use facility that has housed offenders for the Louisiana, Alabama and Harris County, Texas, corrections departments. Richard Harbison, executive vice president of LCS, was not available for comment Thursday afternoon.

Jackson Parish Correctional Center
Jackson Parish, Louisiana
LaSalle Southwest Corrections

La. firm says prison escapes led to changes: August 10, 2011, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on LaSalle

Jan 24, 2021 theadvocate.com

Disabled inmate alleges mistreatment, gets $400K settlement in lawsuit against private prison

A man detained for more than a year while awaiting trial won $405,000 in a recent civil settlement after claiming he suffered negligence and mistreatment in a private prison that made his disability more painful. The inmate — now released — claims in the lawsuit that he spent months in debilitating pain at Jackson Parish Correctional Center, a facility managed by the Ruston-based LaSalle Management Company, after a fall at a local jail left him severely injured. Denied physical therapy, the inmate says he was often forced to drag himself across prison floors when guards deprived him of his wheelchair. The settlement meeting included attorneys for LaSalle Management Company and two local sheriffs. A representative for LaSalle did not respond to a request for comment. "It was a nightmare," said Lane Carter, the former inmate. "It was from start to finish a really, really bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from...and I was living it, and couldn’t wake up." Carter was arrested in July 2017 in Winn Parish on one count of distribution of methamphetamine and one count of middle grade theft, his attorney said. Before his incarceration, he was a "healthy, hardworking 42-year-old," according to the lawsuit. Carter first fell while showering at the local jail that August, leaving him badly injured, the lawsuit says. When he was transferred to the LaSalle-managed Jackson Parish Correctional Center several days later "without explanation," he was limping. An EMT at the facility determined Carter to “be very tender on the left side of [his] body and…peeing blood,” the lawsuit says. Carter claims he made several sick calls after the assessment but wasn’t seen by a nurse for more than a week. When the nurse finally responded, he was taken to Jackson Parish Hospital, where Carter learned he had “acute lumber and cervical radiculopathy, cervical strains and herniated disc…with neck pain…and sciatica — all trauma related.” However, when Carter returned to the facility, he was given ibuprofen without other treatment, the lawsuit says. His condition continued to worsen to the point where he required a walker, and later a wheelchair, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit details months of requests for help with numerous delayed or nonexistent responses by officers. In late September, Carter put in a sick call request, saying that “walking more than 25 feet is close to torture” — but according to the lawsuit, he didn’t see the nurse for three more days. In early October, he submitted a similar sick call, saying “I CAN’T WALK!” but when he saw the JCC physician several days later, the doctor refused to treat him, the lawsuit says. In other cases, Carter claims JCC deputies made his day-to-day life unnecessarily difficult while he struggled to navigate the prison with his disability. For instance, Carter was restricted from outside recreation time because there were no ramps to exit any of the dorms he was housed in, the lawsuit says. He also could not see visitors because the visitation area was inaccessible due to the far distance from his cell. And when Carter was scheduled for a court appearance, JCC staff would toss him in and out of the transport vehicle in a “trust fall” into the officer’s arms, but the officers “occasionally missed and dropped him,” the lawsuit says. Another shower accident, roughly two months after his initial slip, complicated his condition and access to prison facilities, the lawsuit said.  Told to take a five-minute shower using a plastic chair without his wheelchair, Carter lost his balance, slipped, fell and lost consciousness, the lawsuit says. He did not see a nurse for several days, and when he was finally transported to LSU Shreveport Medical Center to see a physician, neurosurgeon and neurologist, his situation had further deteriorated. His symptoms after the fall included “head pain, worsened neck pain, worsened/new back pain, visual change/blurry vision, numbness in his extremities, shoulder pain, and headaches,” the lawsuit says. Carter's MRI reading showed “one of the lumbar disc bulges…indenting [his] nerve root in his spinal canal."  While Carter claims he was prescribed physical therapy and referred to outpatient clinics at the hospital, he was never given access to such treatment at JCC, according to the lawsuit. In the meantime, the lawsuit says the deputy sheriffs would sometimes deprive Carter of his wheelchair for hours or days, restricting his access to toilets, showers and the prison phones. When he tried to walk, he would often fall. His mother purchased him a wheelchair for his use since he so regularly went without, but the guards would sometimes give his wheelchair to other inmates, the lawsuit says. “For many activities, he just gave up, but had no choice but to find a way to get to the restroom, or into his bunk to sleep or rest,” the lawsuit says. Without assistance, Carter would have “no choice but to crawl across the floor” to use the bathroom, the lawsuit says. “At times, he urinated or defecated on himself if he was unable to access the facilities.” Carter took a plea deal to one count of distribution of methamphetamine in March 2019, according to his attorney. When Carter was released, the lawsuit says he initially could not walk or stand and suffered from pain throughout his body, among other ailments. However, in a recent interview with The Advocate, Carter said he is now "ambulatory" after surgery to address some of his condition. In addition to accusing LaSalle, JCC and other parties of negligence, Carter’s lawsuit alleges the company failed to provide adequate accommodations for his disability in violation of his civil rights. "It was a horrible, frightening experience," Carter said in his recent interview. "I thought when I got out I could resume my normal life. Only I haven’t been able to resume my normal life completely." Carter's attorneys, Casey Denson and Kenneth Bordes, said they hope their work can prevent inmates from suffering as Carter has. "As we enter the year 2021 we are still seeing rampant corruption and incomprehensible numbers of civil rights violations within our Louisiana prisons," Bordes said. "It is not working, and we must do better.”

Jena Juvenile Correctional Center (AKA La Salle Detention Facility)
Jena, Louisiana
GEO Group (formerly know as Wackenhut Corrections)

January 13, 2010 Times-Signal
The Times-Signal has learned that The GEO-Group is in the process of downsizing the operation at the La- Salle Detention Facility located in the town of Jena. According to information obtained by this newspaper, the staff at LDF is being cut by 22-percent, from 244 to 191 employees. No information was available as to how the downsizing will affect the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies operating at the facility. The GEO-Group will consolidate some operations as they cut the available bed space for immigration detainees from 1,160 to 576, according to reports obtained. When contacted at their Boca Raton, Florida headquarters, Pablo E. Paez, director of corporate relations, issued the following statement: “The GEO Group values its partnership with the community of Jena and LaSalle Parish and will continue to work with community stakeholders to maximize the overall contribution of the facility to the community. As a matter of corporate policy, however, our company cannot comment on specific personnel related decisions.”

August 22, 2009 Texas Civil Rights Review
The family of imprisoned asylum seeker Rrustem Neza tells the Texas Civil Rights Review that he was visited Friday by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Lufkin). The visit comes as welcome news for Rrustem's brother Xhemal (pronounced Jehmal) Neza who was shocked by the way Rrustem looked during a visit on Thursday. After seeing his brother Rrustem at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana on Thursday evening, Xhemal drove to Dallas Friday morning to swear out an affidavit of his impressions. "When I saw him he was wasted," says Xhemal about Rrustem in the affidavit provided by attorney John Wheat Gibson of Dallas. "He was wearing the same clothes he had on when he was arrested two weeks ago. His face looked as if he were dead. It made me very weak to see his face." The affidavit alleges that since his arrest on Aug. 5 Rrustem has been kept in "a hole" or solitary confinement in a room of about three feet by six feet with a slit on the door but no window to the outside. "I believe Congressman Gohmert saved Rrustem's life by his intervention," says Friday's affidavit. Xhemal says he approached the facility two times prior to Thursday seeking to visit his brother, but it was only after Rep. Gohmert's office stepped in that a successful visit was completed. The Neza brothers applied for asylum in the USA after they fled Albania following a political assassination. Xhemal's asylum was granted, but Rrustem's was denied. The family believes the difference in treatment can be explained chiefly by the difference in attorneys handling the cases. Rrustem and his brothers fear that a forced return to Albania would endanger his life. The LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana is operated by the GEO Group, Inc. under a "perpetual" contract between the LaSalle Economic Development District (LEDD) of LaSalle Parish and the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A recent $30 million dollar expansion of the former juvenile facility has increased the capacity of the center from 416 beds to 1,160, according to news clips archived online at privateci.org. "The contract is expected to generate approximately $23.5 million in annualized operating revenues for GEO at full occupancy," stated a Business Wire press release of July, 2007. The Texas Civil Rights Review will continuing to monitor developments in this case.

July 21, 2009 Courthouse News
An immigration detainee claims GEO Group employee "Deputy Garrison" repeatedly forced him to perform sexual acts upon Garrison, a jail guard at LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La., which is run by GEO, in Alexandria, La., Federal Court.

September 11, 2008 Clarion Ledger
Almost $30,000 has been raised by a Jackson-based immigrants rights group to help the families of hundreds of immigrants taken into custody last month. Dozens of families are in crisis after their chief breadwinners were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement following an Aug. 25 raid in Laurel, says the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. Meanwhile, hundreds of detainees are still being processed for deportation, immigration officials said. The immigration raid took place at the Howard Industries Inc. plant in Laurel, where ICE agents rounded up nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants. A federal warrant also was issued at the company's corporate headquarters in Ellisville. No charges have been filed against the company. Some 481 people remain in custody at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La. Eight others face charges of felony aggravated identity theft. About 100 women with children were released on house arrest and made to wear ankle bracelets. MIRA director Bill Chandler said Wednesday some of the detainees may not even be illegal but could be in the process of getting their citizenship. About 10 people, mostly MIRA volunteers or workers, attended a meeting held in Jackson to give an update on the status of the detainees and MIRA's efforts to assist them. "We question whether (all of them) should be charged (as illegal) in the first place," Chandler said. While families wait for their loved ones, many are struggling to make ends meet, Chandler said. Detainees will go before a judge who will determine if they are in the country illegally. Illegal immigrants can voluntarily leave the country within 30 days or face deportation. ICE spokesman Temple Black did not know how long it could take to process the detainees. Howard Industries would not comment and has denied any wrongdoing. After the raid, the company said in a statement that the company "runs every check allowed to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants for its jobs. It is company policy that it hires only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants." Attorney General Jim Hood's office is investigating whether the company violated a new state law requiring employers to use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's E-Verify system to check new workers' immigration status. Under the law, any company found guilty of employing illegal immigrants could lose public contracts for up to three years and lose the right to do business in Mississippi for one year. The law took effect July 1 for state agencies and private businesses with state contracts. It takes effect Jan. 1 for all other businesses. The Laurel raid was the largest single workplace immigration raid in U.S. history, according to ICE. The Rev. Roberto Valez, with Iglesia Cristian Peniel (Peniel Christian Church) in Laurel, has been working with the families of the detainees. His church has provided about $2,000 in rent, utility bills, food and cash, he said. Those with loved ones in detention are scared, nervous and worried about their families, he said. "You cannot put into words what these people are feeling," he said. MIRA has gotten calls from some detainees who say they are not being treated fairly while in custody, Chandler said. He added that MIRA is investigating. Black would not comment on the allegations.

May 11, 2008 Washington Post
Neil Sampson, who ran the DIHS as interim director most of last year, left that job with serious questions about the government's commitment. Sampson said in an interview that ICE treated detainee health care "as an afterthought," reflecting what he called a failure of leadership and management at the Homeland Security Department. "They do not have a clear idea or philosophy of their approach to health care [for detainees]," he said. "It's a system failure, not a failure of individuals." A new director for health services arrived six months ago, following a stretch when the agency was run first by Sampson and then by a second interim director. The new boss is LaMont W. Flanagan, who brought with him the credential of having been fired in 2003 by the state of Maryland for bad management and spending practices supervising detention and pretrial services. An audit found that Flanagan had signed off on payments of $145,000 for employee entertainment and other ill-advised expenditures. His reputation was such that the District of Columbia would not hire him for a juvenile-justice position. "Another death that needs to be added to the roster," Diane Aker, the DIHS chief health administrator, tapped out in an e-mail to a records clerk at headquarters on Aug. 14, 2007. Juan Guevara-Lorano, 21, was dead. Guevara, an unemployed legal U.S. resident with a young son, was arrested in El Paso for driving illegal border-crossers farther into the city. He was paid $50. An entry-level emergency medical technician, with barely any training, had done Guevara's intake screening and physical assessment at the Otero County immigration compound in New Mexico. Under DIHS rules, those tasks are supposed to be done by a nurse. After two difficult months in detention, Guevara had decided not to appeal his case. He would go back to Mexico with his family. But on Aug. 4, he came down with a splitting headache, what he called a nine on a pain scale of 10, his medical records show. The rookie medical technician prescribed Tylenol and referred Guevara to the compound's physician "due to severity of headache ... and dizziness," according to medical records. But Guevara never saw a doctor. Eight days after the first incident, he vomited in his cell. The same junior technician came to help but was unable to insert a nasal airway tube. Guevara was taken to a hospital, where doctors determined an aneurism in his brain had burst. His wife, pregnant at the time with their second child, recalled that she rushed to the hospital but ICE guards would not let her inside, until the Mexican Consulate interceded. Guevara's mother waited five hours before they let her in. By then he was brain-dead. "My son is not coming back," sobbed Ana Celia Lozano months later, sitting in Guevara's small mobile home as her grandson played on the floor. "I want to know how he lived and died, nothing more." What appears to be the most incriminating document in Guevara's case has been partially blacked out. Still, what is left shows that he did not receive adequate care. "The detainee was not seen or evaluated by an RN, midlevel or physician. . . . At the time of the incident on 8/12/2007, the detainee was seen and examined by EMTs." Each immigration facility is allotted a different number of positions, and a shortage of doctors and nurses is not unusual at centers across the country. Records from February show that about 30 percent of all DIHS positions in the field were unfilled. ICE officials said last week that the current vacancy rate is 21 percent. Concern about the vacancies is voiced repeatedly at clinical directors' meetings. "How do we state our concerns so that we can be heard? . . . this is a CRITICAL condition. . . . We have bitten off more than we can chew," a physician wrote in the minutes of one meeting last summer. In some prisons, the staffing shortages are acute. The Willacy County detention center in South Texas -- the largest compound, with 2,018 detainees -- has no clinical director, no pharmacist and only a part-time psychiatrist. Nearly 50 percent of the nursing positions were unfilled at the 1,500-detainee Eloy, Ariz., prison in February. At the newly opened 744-bed Jena., La., compound, nurses run the place. It has no clinical director, no staff physician, no psychiatrist and no professional dental staff. Last August, Sampson, who was then DIHS interim director, warned his superiors at ICE that critical personnel shortages were making it impossible to staff the Jena facility adequately. In a vociferous e-mail to Gary Mead, the ICE deputy director in charge of detention centers, he wrote: "With the Jena request we have been re-examining our capabilities to meet health care needs at a new site when we are facing critical staffing shortages at most every other DIHS site. While we developed, executed and achieved major successes in our recruitment efforts we have been unable to meet the demand." The slow ICE security-clearance process forced many job applicants to go elsewhere, Sampson wrote. Of the 312 people who applied for new positions over the past year, 200 withdrew, he wrote, because they found other jobs during the 250 days it took ICE, on average, to conduct the required background investigations. Last week, ICE officials said the average wait had decreased recently to 37 days. These shortages have burdened the remaining staff. In July 2007, a year after Osman's death in Otay Mesa, medical director Hui strongly complained to headquarters about workload stress. "The level of burnout . . . is high and rising," she wrote in an e-mail. "I know that I have been averaging approximately 2-6 hrs of overtime daily for the past 2 months. I will no longer be able to sustain this pace and will be decreasing the number of hours that I work overtime. This being said, more will be left undone because we simply do NOT have the staff." The overcrowding has created a petri dish for the spread of diseases. One mission of the Public Health Service is to detect infectious diseases and contain them before they spread, but last summer, the gigantic Willacy center was hit by a chicken pox outbreak. The illness spread because the facility did not have enough available isolation rooms and its large pods share recycled air, but also because security officers "lack education about the disease and keep moving around detainees from different units without taking into consideration if the unit has been isolated due to heavy exposure," noted the DIHS's top specialist on infectious diseases, Carlos Duchesne. The staff was forced to vaccinate the entire population in mid-July. In one 2007 death, memos and confidential notes show how medical staff missed an infectious disease, meningitis, in their midst. Victor Alfonso Arellano, 23, a transgender Mexican detainee with AIDS, died in custody at the San Pedro center. The first three pages of Duchesne's internal review of the death leave the impression that Arellano's care was proper. But the last page, under the heading "Off the record observations and recommendations," takes a decidedly critical tone: "The clinical staff at all levels fails to recognize early signs and symptoms of meningitis. . . . Pt was evaluated multiple times and an effort to rule out those infections was not even mentioned." Arellano was given a "completely useless" antibiotic, Duchesne wrote. Lab work that should have been performed immediately took 22 days because San Pedro's clinical director had ordered staff members to withhold lab work for new detainees until they had been in detention there "for more than 30 days," a violation of agency rules. "I am sure that there must be a reason why this was mandated but that practice is particularly dangerous with chronic care cases and specially is particularly dangerous with . . . HIV/AIDS patients," Duchesne wrote. "Labs for AIDS patients . . . must be performed ASAP to know their immune status and where you are standing in reference to disease control and meds." Given the frequency with which ICE moves people within the detention network, keeping track of detainees is critical to stopping the spread of infectious illnesses. The purchase of an electronic records system named CaseTrakker in 2004 was supposed to help. But according to internal documents and interviews, CaseTrakker is so riddled with problems that facilities often revert to handwritten records. A study at one site found that it took one-third more time to use CaseTrakker than to use paper. Thousands of patient files are missing. Recorded data often cannot be retrieved. Day-long outages are common. When detainees are transferred from one facility to another, their records, if they follow them, are often misleading. Some show medications with no medical diagnoses, or "lots of diagnoses but no meds," according to Elizabeth Fleming, a former clinical director at one compound in Arizona. After Yusif Osman's death and the discovery of the problem with his computerized records, the DIHS ordered a review of all charts at the Otay Mesa center. During the review, auditors also found that 260 physical exams were never completed as required. The nurse responsible for the error in Osman's case was reprimanded, but the computer problem was not fixed. The CaseTrakker system "has failed and must be replaced," Sampson, the DIHS interim director, wrote to his ICE supervisors in August. In January 2008, medical director Shack told colleagues that CaseTrakker "is more of a liability than the use of paper medical record system," according to the minutes of a meeting. It "puts patients at risk." ICE officials said last week that they are not satisfied with CaseTrakker and are working to replace it. Along with being at the mercy of computer glitches, detainees suffer from human errors that deny or delay their care. And with few advocates on the outside, they are left alone to plead their cases in the most desperate ways, in hand-scribbled notes to doctors they rarely see. "I need medicine for pain. All my bones hurt. Thank you," wrote Mexico native Roberto Ledesma Guerrero, 72, three weeks before he died inside the Otay Mesa compound. Delays persist throughout the system. In January, the detention center in Pearsall, Tex., an hour from San Antonio, had a backlog of 2,097 appointments. Luis Dubegel-Paez, a 60-year-old Cuban, had filled out many sick call requests before he died on March 14. Detained at the Rolling Plains Detention Facility in the West Texas town of Haskell, he wrote on New Year's Day: "need to see doctor for Heart medication; and having chest pains for the past three days. Can't stand pain." Ten days later he went to the clinic and became upset when he wasn't seen. He slugged the window, yelled, pointed at his wristwatch. He was escorted back to his cell. Another of his sick call requests said: "Need to see a doctor. I have a lot of symptoms of sickness ... as soon as possible!" The next was more urgent: "I have a emergency to see the doctor about my heart problems ... for the last couple days and I been getting dizzy a lot." The next day, Dubegel-Paez collapsed and died. His medical records do not show that he ever saw a doctor for his chest pains.

July 25, 2007 Business Wire
The GEO Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO - News; "GEO") announced today that the LaSalle Economic Development District (the "LEDD") has signed a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") for the housing of up to 1,160 immigration detainees at the GEO-owned LaSalle Detention Facility (the "Facility") located in Jena, Louisiana. GEO will house and manage the immigration detainee population at the Facility pursuant to an agreement with LEDD. GEO expects to commence the intake of 416 detainees during the fourth quarter of 2007, and the Facility is expected to ramp-up to 416 detainees by year-end 2007. As announced previously, GEO is currently expanding the Facility by 744 beds. The 744-bed expansion, which will cost approximately $30.0 million, is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2008. Following the completion of construction, GEO will begin intake of the additional 744 detainees. The Facility is expected to ramp up to full occupancy of 1,160 beds by the end of the third quarter of 2008. The contract is expected to generate approximately $23.5 million in annualized operating revenues for GEO at full occupancy.

October 5, 2005 AP
The New Orleans sheriff on Wednesday disputed allegations from a human rights group that inmate corpses were floating in the city jail after Hurricane Katrina and that prisoners were left for days without food or drinking water in cells where the floodwaters were chest-high. In separate allegations, Human Rights Watch and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund also have asked the Justice Department to investigate prisoners' allegations of beatings by guards after being evacuated from several New Orleans-area lockups to a former juvenile prison in central Louisiana. One inmate told the groups he was forced to consume his own blood. Lawyers for the groups said the prisoners, many of whom were awaiting trial in Jefferson Parish and have not been convicted, recounted beatings and racial slurs from guards. Louisiana shut the Jena prison in May 2000 after a series of Justice Department reports about violence among inmates and guards. The lockup, owned by the private corrections company Wackenhut, had been empty since then.

August 1, 2002
The Bayou State incarcerates more people per capita than any other state, a Louisiana lawmaker told an international human rights convention Wednesday.   "We as a society believe we can lock away our undesirables and solve all our problems," Vincent Wilkins Jr., a staff attorney in the District of Columbia's Public Defender Service, said during a panel discussion on criminal justice moderated by Cravins.   "I'm of the opinion you can't," added Wilkins, a Crowley native and former staff lawyer, deputy director and acting director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defender's Office.   "Beware of private prisons. You cannot run a for-profit prison," he said. "The mission of a privately-run prison is to make money. You can't do that unless you cut corners."   Wilkins said corners are cut on meals, psychological and psychiatric care, and dental care, to name a few.   "Medical care -- pretty much nonexistent," he said. "They give you Tylenol for just about everything."  (Advocate)

July 16, 2002
Eunice cattleman Cecil Brown, found guilty last year of acting as a frontman for Gov. Edwin Edwards in shaking down Texas businessmen who sought state approval for Louisiana projects, failed Monday to persuade a federal appeals court to give him a new trial.   Prosecutors in Brown's trial in March 2001 claimed he demanded and shared with Edwards payoffs from Houston businessmen who wanted to build a $35 million juvenile prison in Jena, get waste disposal contracts in New Orleans and bring the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team to the city.   Edwards was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, which grew out of the same wiretap and secretly recorded evidence that resulted in the former governor's May 2000 conviction involving state gambling licenses.   Former Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz testified against Brown in the extortion case under a plea agreement with the government.   Graham, who worked for Hofheinz, told the jury that in September 1993 he delivered $245,000 from Hofheinz to Edwards at the Louisiana governor's mansion.  (The Times)

June 3, 2002
Two years after he was convicted of extorting payoffs from businessmen seeking state gambling licenses, former Gov. Edwin Edwards today makes another bid to avoid a decade in prison.  Edwards and his co-defendants were found guilty May 9, 2000, of shaking down casino executives in exchange for the promise of riverboat gambling licenses.  The former governor was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he has been allowed to remain free on bond pending the outcome of his appeal.

May 16, 2002
The state conditionally agreed to buy the empty juvenile prison at Jena in a move that may give the state wiggle room to disengage from the expensive Tallulah prison contract.   Reports of the potential Jena purchase, however, have dismayed advocates who are pushing the state to spend more money on community-based programs for juvenile offenders and less money on juvenile prisons.  Wackenhut Corrections Corp. opened the Jena prison in December 1998, four years after another firm opened a 700-bed prison in Tallulah.    Both for-profit prisons had problems with violence and mismanagement that led the state to seize permanent control of the Tallulah prison on Sept. 21, 1999, and temporary control of the Jena prison on April 5, 2000.    Three weeks after the Jena seizure, Wackenhut said it would no longer house juveniles at that facility. The state later declined to lease the prison from Wackenhut.    Boudreaux said the Division of Administration entered into the Jena conditional purchase agreement at the urging of legislators who wanted a place to house some of the juvenile offenders currently at Tallulah if the Legislature decides not to fund the Tallulah lease.    "We keep telling (the legislators), 'It's not a light switch,'" Boudreaux said of the potential decision to end the Tallulah lease.    "There needs to be a transitional period," Boudreaux said.    The state currently spends $3.4 million a year to lease 400 beds at Tallulah and $13 million a year to operate the prison, he said.    The Tallulah lease came under fire when a state legislative audit report last year revealed that the prison's politically connected owners received more than $8.7 million in dividends and salaries since 1995.    The report also revealed that the investors will retain ownership of the Tallulah prison when the lease expires in 20 years.    "I think the Tallulah contract is a bad deal for the state," state Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, said Wednesday.  The Jena prison may provide an alternative, Dardenne said, if corrections officials can operate the Jena prison better than they're doing at Tallulah. "I don't want to simply relocate problems."   Attorney June Denlinger of the Baton Rouge law firm Nordyke and Denlinger -- which represents some of the plaintiffs in the juvenile prison litigation -- said both prisons have similar problems.   Both are "out in the sticks" Denlinger said. "It's hard to get professional personnel and (the rural locations) isolate people who need the most intense treatment."  (Advocate)

May 14, 2002
Correctional Properties Trust, a real estate investment trust (REIT), announced today that it has entered into an Agreement to Purchase and Sell, under which the State of Louisiana will acquire the Jena Juvenile Justice Center from the Company.   Correctional Properties Trust will receive net proceeds of $15,500,000 from the sale.   Correctional Properties Trust has also entered into a Lease Termination Agreement with Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, the lessee of the Jena Juvenile Justice Center (the "Facility"), under which WCC will, conditioned upon the sale of the Facility to the State, make a cash payment of $2,500,000 to Correctional Properties Trust as consideration for terminating the existing lease.  The Agreement to Purchase and Sell is subject to certain conditions over which the Company has no control, including approval by the Louisiana Legislature of funding for the purchase and operation of the Facility. Except for the obligation of WCC to pay the Company's expenses in connection with the transaction, the termination of the Jena Facility lease under the WCC Lease Termination Agreement becomes effective only at the time the State acquires the Facility.   The Facility, which is not currently housing inmates, was operated by WCC for the State until June 2000, when it was deactivated. WCC has continued to make all lease payments to Correctional Properties Trust, and is expected to continue to do so throughout the term of the lease, or until the Facility is sold, and the lease is terminated.  (PRNewswire)

April 4, 2002
So, it's down to this: Should the state reopen the juvenile prison at Jena and close the prison at Tallulah? After years of publicity about riots and abuse, and after settling civil-rights lawsuits over those prisons, the state is now considering taking the juveniles out of Tallulah and moving them to Jena.   The appraisal of the Jena prison is pending, but the cost is estimated at $20 million. The rationale is to get the state out of the expensive Tallulah contract.   The move is an option that has many reform advocates scratching their heads.   They'd like to see the state pull out of Tallulah and stay out of Jena.  The two prisons were the state's experiment in juvenile-prison privatization -- an experiment Gov. Mike Foster vowed never to repeat. The for-profit concept didn't work mainly because juvenile prisoners require much more educational, medical and psychological services than adult prisoners. Those services can cut into profits.  The decision may rest on which economically distressed community is more in need of the prison.  Prison reform advocates say economic impact is not the point. Locating prisons so far from where most of the juveniles live is a hardship for their families. The rural locations also make recruitment and retention of security officers and professionals more difficult.  (Advocate)

January 17, 2000
The for-profit Jena Juvenile Justice Center in an "unsafe, violent and inhumane" institution, a consultant to the U.S. Justice Department asserted in a new report filed Thursday in U.S. District Court at baton Rouge. The preliminary, and primarily negative, findings of that consultant and two others are outlined in a report to U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola prepared by John P. Whitley, the court's appointed prison expert. "The high number of juveniles at Jena with bleeding ulcers and hypertension may be related to the stress and fear associated with living in such a violent place," Whitely said medical health expert Dr. Michael Cohen indicated during exit interviews with Jena center and state officials.

March 9, 2000
An Orleans Parish Juvenile Court judge ordered a 17-year-old boy removed from the for-profit Jena Juvenile Justice Center, noting the boy recovering from a gunshot wounds was so severely beaten that portions of his intestines leaked into his colostomy bag. A 17-page opinion filed Wednesday in Juvenile Court, Judge Mark Doherty said the Jena center "treats juveniles as if they walked on all fours." The seventeen year old boy arrived at the Jena center on March 4, 1999, after undergoing colostomy surgery for four gunshot wounds, according to Doherty's opinion. On May 14, after the boy returned from the medical appointment in New Orleans, a nurse was called to the Jena center dorm where she found the youth "laying on the floor, sobbing," Doherty wrote. The nurse noted the "evisceration," or protrusion, of part of the boy's colon through the colostomy opening with about 5 to 6 inches of intestine visible in the colostomy bag. The boy reported to the nurse that a Jena staff member with the rank of sergeant had placed him on his stomach and slammed a knee in his back, Doherty wrote.

March 21, 2000
An New Orleans Parish Juvenile Justice Court judge removed seven boys from Jena Juvenile Justice Center, and an excutive for the company that runs the prison made an unusual visit there last week after highly critical federal reports alleged physical abuse of inmates at the for-profit center. The reports led one Juvenile Court judge, Mark Doherty of Orleans Parish, to pull seven boys from the Jena center as of Friday. Wackenhut in july opened a 489-bed maximum security juvenile center in Baldwin, Mich. (Feb. 15, 01) Louisiana removed its offenders from Jena after a scathing report by the U.S. Department of Justice.

November 21, 2000
Former Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz changed his plea to guilty in a federal extortion case that spun out of the investigation of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. Hofheinz, 62, made the new plea of failing to report a felony in a case that originally included charges of extorting payoffs from Texas businessmen interested in seeking state contracts in Louisiana. The ex-mayor did admit that he agreed to pay off a close friend of Edwards in hopes of obtaining a government contract. U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola sentenced Hofheinz to a year probation and a $5,000 fine. He could have faced up to 3 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Polozola said he sentenced Hofheinz to probation because of his cooperation with government officials. He wanted to comment further but it would be inappropriate because of the upcoming trial of Eunice cattleman Cecil Brown, a close friend of Edwards. Prosecutors contend Brown tried to shake down Hofheinz and the others seeking state contracts, including one for a proposed juvenile prison in Jena in 1995. Hofheinz said Brown extorted money from him in the Jena deal. In order to receive state approval for the new prison, Brown was to receive large sums of money from Hofheinz's company, Viewpoint Development Corporation. Prosecutors say that Viewpoint paid Brown $10,000 a month, and Hofheinz agreed to pay him $1.3 million when the Jena prison was successfully financed. Viewpoint never raised enough money to fund the prison project and sold its rights to another company so Brown never received the $1.3 million. (Houston Chronicle)

LaSalle Catahoula Correctional Center

In an Ominous Pattern, People Are Dying Once Transferred to Louisiana Prison

On November 18, 2020, 37-year-old Javon Kennerson was transferred to Louisiana's Catahoula Correctional Center, a prison that until recently was run by LaSalle Corrections, a private prison corporation. Less than one month later, after a series of mental health crises, hospitalizations and prison officials' apparent failure to supervise and monitor him, Kennerson was dead. Across LaSalle's constellation of prisons, several dozen people have died from delays in medical treatment or the lack of necessary medical treatment since 2014. Four of those deaths occurred at Catahoula. Over the past five years, at least 105 lawsuits have been brought against LaSalle for failing to provide medical care. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Louisiana has not only the highest per-capita incarceration rate, but also the highest death-in-custody rate, with 786 deaths between 2015 and 2019. The vast majority of deaths (nearly 86 percent) were related to medical illnesses; fewer than half of known deaths were from a medical condition that existed before incarceration. A 2021 report prepared for the Louisiana legislature found a number of barriers to accessing basic health care in state-run prisons, including medical co-pays, lack of annual exams and preventive care, lack of confidentiality in requesting sick call visits, and threats of malingering charges, which can result in forfeiting earned good time (thus prolonging incarceration) or loss of visits and canteen (the ability to buy food and other items from the prison's sole store). Over a year later, Kennerson's mother, Jennifer Bartie, still doesn't know why her son died. After repeated and unsuccessful efforts to obtain his medical records, she has filed suit against the prison, LaSalle Corrections, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), prison officials, and the companies that insure LaSalle, the DPSC and the parish sheriff. A Dramatic Deterioration, Kennerson had been imprisoned since 2013. Throughout his incarceration, he called his parents at least once a month. "He never talked about any type of mistreatment," Bartie told Truthout. He had no medical or mental health concerns, and nothing in their conversations made her worry. "The only thing he complained about was the food," she said, noting that Kennerson had always loved to eat. That changed on November 18, 2020, when Kennerson was transferred to LaSalle's Catahoula Correctional Center. The prison does not provide ongoing psychiatric care. If a person requires medical attention, they must wait until Wednesday, the sole day that medical providers visit the prison. On Thursday, November 19, Kennerson stripped naked and ran out of his cell. The following day, Friday, November 20, prison staff reported that he refused to keep his clothes on and had tried running out of his cell several times. Staff also saw him painting his cell with water and defecating on his meal tray. That Friday, prison administrators contacted the Louisiana DPSC about his condition. Three days later, they contacted DPSC again about Kennerson's condition, stating that they worried that he would hurt himself or others.That was a Monday. Kennerson would have to wait two more days until he could be evaluated by medical or mental health staff. On Wednesday, November 25, mental health staff evaluated and diagnosed him with acute psychosis. The treating psychiatrist recommended that Kennerson be transferred to a prison that could provide a higher level of psychiatric care. Still, he remained at Catahoula. "The things that contributed to Mr. Kennerson's death are very much the standard operating practice at LaSalle all the way back to 2015." Five days later, on November 30, Kennerson was able to obtain roach killer, which he smoked. From there, his physical and mental health deteriorated dramatically, requiring multiple hospitalizations. Two days later, on December 2, he was unable to walk and had to be transported in a wheelchair. His limbs were swollen and he was unable to verbally respond to questions from the doctor. Ten minutes after he arrived at the prison clinic, the doctor deemed him medically unstable and sent him to the emergency room at Riverland Medical Center. There, medical staff diagnosed him with several severe conditions, including rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which damaged skeletal muscles break down rapidly and can be caused by injury or toxins. He also had hepatitis, a head contusion and a large laceration on his forehead. Prison staff told the hospital that the injury was caused by Kennerson running into the cell door several times. Hospital staff ordered that Kennerson be brought to a neurologist within 24 hours. They also prescribed several prescription medications to be taken over the next 10 days. Kennerson was discharged and returned to Catahoula that same day. He remained lethargic and unable to speak. His body temperature remained low, his legs remained swollen and he needed a wheelchair to move. On the following day, December 3, prison staff once again contacted the DPSC about transferring him. They sent medical and emergency room records, but Kennerson remained at Catahoula. That evening, prison staff once again called an ambulance to bring Kennerson to the emergency room. There, he was intubated. Hospital staff noted that he had an altered mental state. The next day, he was transferred to Lakeview Regional Medical Center. He died there eight days later on December 12, 2020. The coroner believed his death was attributable to smoking roach killer. A Family Operation, compared to private prison titans CoreCivic and GEO Group, LaSalle Corrections is a relatively small company that operates a handful of carceral facilities in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Founded in 1997, LaSalle Corrections quickly expanded so that, by 2013, one in every seven Louisiana prisoners were incarcerated in a LaSalle-owned or operated facility. LaSalle bills itself as a "family operation" based on "family values," but the company has long been plagued by accusations of medical neglect and death in its facilities. The National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers Guild estimates that 51 deaths have occurred in LaSalle prisons between 2014 and 2022. Many of those deaths are related to medical neglect, says Lauren Bonds, the project's legal director and co-counsel on Bartie's lawsuit. "These allegations are pretty uniform from 2015 to today," she told Truthout. This includes inadequate supervision and a lack of access to doctors or other medical staff. "The things that contributed to Mr. Kennerson's death are very much the standard operating practice at LaSalle all the way back to 2015." In April 2019, for instance, Holly Barlow-Austin was arrested for a probation violation and sent to the LaSalle-operated Bi-State Jail in East Texas. She arrived with several serious health conditions, including HIV, but according to a lawsuit filed by her husband and mother, had normal vital signs and full mobility. Jail staff repeatedly failed to administer her prescription medications and ignored her deteriorating conditions. By mid-May she was placed under medical observation; surveillance videos show her in her cell writhing in pain and calling for help. By the next month, Barlow-Austin had begun soiling herself and appeared emaciated. Despite these signs, staff allegedly failed to check on her and, when they did, ignored her calls for help and water. On June 11, two months after she entered the jail, medical staff found that her pupils no longer reacted to light and had her transferred to the hospital. Six days later, she died of sepsis, meningitis, HIV/AIDS and accelerated hypertension. Federal auditors have also found multiple instances in which LaSalle staff did not conduct cell checks or observations of people who exhibited mental illness or suicidality. Between 2017 and 2021, three separate audits found that LaSalle prisons failed to secure dangerous instruments, such as ropes, strings, syringes and sharp objects, that incarcerated people could use for self-harm or suicide. Since 2015, at least nine people (in addition to Kennerson) have died by suicide in LaSalle prisons. Bartie's lawsuit charges that the prisons' failures to supervise mentally ill and suicidal people stem from staffing shortages. This isn't unusual in a privatized setting, said Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, a nonprofit that tracks companies that profit from incarceration. She notes that this occurs in private prisons as well as in government-run jails and prisons where health care has been outsourced to a private company. These staffing shortages are particularly common in rural areas, she added. Catahoula Correctional Center is located in Harrisonburg, Louisiana, which, in 2020, had a population of 308. Federal auditors have also found multiple instances in which LaSalle staff did not conduct cell checks or observations of people who exhibited mental illness or suicidality. Even if Kennerson had been transferred to a state-run prison, he still may not have received adequate mental health care. Louisiana's David Wade Correctional Center (DWCC), for instance, had one part-time psychiatrist to oversee the medication and treatment plans for an average of 72 patients with mental health needs. A 2018 lawsuit also charged that DWCC staff punished people with mental illness by chaining them to wooden chairs, opening windows to expose them to extreme cold and isolating them for prolonged periods. At the Raymond Laborde Corrections Center, a psychiatrist is on-site once every two weeks, while at Dixon Correctional Institute, where 30 percent of the population is on the mental health caseload, the psychiatrist is only on-site for six hours each week. "So many in-custody deaths are because we have an over-incarceration problem in this country and certainly in Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world," stated National Police Accountability Project Legal Director Lauren Bonds. Louisiana, she said, "needs to end its contract with LaSalle. What caused Mr. Kennerson's death was that he was in a facility that was so indifferent to his needs that it allowed him to smoke insecticide and engage in other types of self-harming behaviors that significantly injured him. They've shown that they're incapable of improving care for people in custody." Citing the ongoing litigation, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections declined to provide comment or answer questions from Truthout about care provided to Kennerson, mental health treatment in its prisons, or its contract with LaSalle. A Family Seeks Answers. The last time Jennifer Bartie spoke with her son was one week before he was transferred to Catahoula. She recalled telling him that one of his childhood friends had died the previous month and that Kennerson offered condolences to the man's mother. As always, he ended their call by saying, "Love you, mama." On December 8, medical staff at the Lakeview Medical Center contacted Bartie's mother about Kennerson. By then, he had been on life support for four days. Bartie's mother called Bartie, who left work and, with her husband, three children and 4-year-old grandson, prepared to drive the five hours from their northern Louisiana home to Lakeview. They arrived that evening and, limited by COVID protocols to two visitors at a time, took turns staying with him for the next eight days. On December 12, Kennerson was taken off life support. Hospital staff allowed the entire family (except for the 4-year-old, whom a nurse watched in the lobby) to be with him during his last hours. As a Black mother, Bartie has always worried about her children's safety from law enforcement. Since Kennerson's death, she says, those fears have magnified. "I'm a wreck when they walk out that door." Her youngest child is now a high school senior. He is six-foot-two and, Bartie says, she worries every time he walks out the door that he may be brutalized or killed by police. "He's just a big ol' gentle giant, he wouldn't hurt a fly, but are they gonna know that?" she asked. Kennerson's family still doesn't understand what led to his death. After repeated requests, Bartie received incomplete records from Catahoula, in which nothing was documented between November 25 and December 2. She also received two incident reports, one of which was incomplete, from the previous prison, the Beauregard Parish Southwestern Transitional Program. The reports stated that, on November 17, Kennerson was yelling, screaming and hitting the bars of his cell, and that guards had sprayed him twice with a chemical agent. "It didn't say anything about what he was yelling and screaming," Bartie stated. "So many in-custody deaths are because we have an over-incarceration problem in this country." Bartie's husband, Darrell, also has questions. He told Truthout that Kennerson, at six-foot-four and 280 pounds, had always been a "tall, solid kid." At the hospital, he recalled, they could see his collarbone and, if they pulled up his shirt, could count his ribs. "It takes time to get that malnourished," he said. He, too, wants to know what happened. After Kennerson's death, when he and his wife drove to Catahoula to pick up their son's belongings, he asked to speak with the warden. The warden declined to meet with them. Instead, they were given three garbage bags of their son's belongings and no answers. "I want to see documentation, I want to see video tape and I want everyone who's involved to be held accountable," Darrell told Truthout. So far, those answers haven't been forthcoming, prompting Bartie to reach out to attorneys, including the National Police Accountability Project, and to file suit to obtain them. "It's year two since my child has passed and I don't know what's happened," Bartie said. "He made some bad decisions, but he didn't deserve to die in this manner. I wouldn't wish this on anybody, not even those I feel are responsible for his death."

LaSalle Correctional Center

Urania, Louisiana
Geo Group (formerly run by LaSalle Management Company)
Mar 18, 017 splcenter.org
The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of immigrant rights groups today demanded an immediate investigation into the death of a 47-year-old man held at the LaSalle Detention Center in Louisiana – the fourth death of a LaSalle detainee in a little more than a year. The SPLC was joined by Congreso de Jornaleros and the Detention Watch Network in calling for a Department of Homeland Security investigation into Roger Rayson’s death. Rayson, a Jamaican national, died Monday. He is the fourth person to die during ICE’s 2017 fiscal year and the 168th person to die in ICE custody since 2003. The LaSalle Detention Center is operated by The GEO Group Inc., a for-profit private prison company with a well-documented track record of abuse, mismanagement and neglect. Recent investigations into immigrant detention deaths have found that inadequate medical care at the facilities has contributed to numerous deaths. “This death is sadly consistent with GEO’s and ICE’s abominable track record in caring for detainees in their custody,” said Lisa Graybill, SPLC deputy legal director. “Not only does LaSalle exemplify an egregious pattern of failed medical care, but this particular facility also has the disgraceful distinction of having some of the lowest rates of legal representation and parole granted, coupled with some of the highest numbers of people subject to prolonged detention in the country. “Civil detention is not supposed to be a death sentence, and not another taxpayer dollar should go to a private prison company like GEO that has proven itself unwilling or unable to meet minimum standards of care.” Rayson’s death comes the same week President Trump requested congressional approval for a $3 billion supplemental budget that will increase the number of people held in detention centers and dramatically expand deportation efforts.

September 28, 2011 The Jena Times
The LaSalle Parish Police Jury served as a Board of Review for property assessments for year 2011 and took action on four protests filed by taxpayers. LaSalle Assessor Aron Johnson presented each of the four protests, explaining why he had assessed the property in the manner he did and attorneys for the property owners had their say before the Jury took action. The first protest heard by the Jury concerned a helicopter, which had been assessed to M&M Maintenance of LaSalle. Attorney Joe Wilson asked the Jury to strike the assessment since the helicopter had been sold by M&M Maintenance of LaSalle, LLC, to Everett Mayo and should have been assessed to Mayo. (Mayo is also the sole owner of M&M Maintenance.) The Jury affirmed the assessment as levied by Johnson at $286,681 and sent the matter to the Louisiana Tax Commission. The next protest concerned Whitehall Plantation Lodge, owned by Justiss Oil Company, Inc. of Jena. Assessor Johnson had set the assessment at $482,824, and Wilson asked the Jury to lower the value to $350,244 because of depreciation. The Jury voted to reduce the assessment to its 2007 level, which was $380,700. Next on the agenda was a protest from Justiss Oil Company, Inc. concerning the assessment of their office building located on U.S. 84 East in Jena. Johnson had placed the assessment at $850,042 and Wilson asked the Jury to lower the assessment to $793,322 because of depreciation. However, the Jury voted to affirm the assessment at the figure placed on it by Johnson. The final protest concerned the LaSalle Detention Facility located in Jena and operated by CPT Operating Partner, LP (The GEO Group, Inc.). Assessor Johnson assessed the facility at $60,918,400 (which included $598,400 for land and $60,320,000 for improvements). A representative of JP Rand for Paradigm Tax Group asked the Jury to lower the value to $30,758,400. However, the Jury voted to affirm the assessment as placed by the Assessor’s office.

May 5, 2011 The Town Talk
Angelo "Doogie" Golatt cloaked himself in the clothes and voice of a pious man of God, ministering to church youths, working with the mentally disabled, being front and center in singing and testifying in church. He was a Louisiana College graduate in 2005, majoring in religious education, and a youth minister at Donahue Family Church. Google his name and there are many hits on older social network websites: Xanga, MySpace and others, where Golatt thanks God for his many blessings. Golatt worked with children at the majority of places he was employed, or with adults as vulnerable as children: youth minister positions at Baptist and Assembly of God churches; helping the developmentally challenged at a facility in Idaho; interacting with Head Start program youths in his recent employment at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena. In his writings on the Xanga website, Golatt talks of his mission in Idaho, where in 2006 he was youth minister at the Buhl Assembly of God while also working at the facility for the disabled. "It's just so awesome being up there and seeing our people worship our Savior," Golatt wrote in September 2006. "A couple of Sundays ago I looked out in the audience and saw one of our youths singing, but not JUST singing, actually agreeing with the words in his heart." But despite the light that Golatt professed to spread, he apparently has a very dark side. Golatt, 28, has been charged with more than 60 sex crimes involving children ages 13 years or younger from 2003 to 2007. Rapides Parish Sheriff's detectives said the investigation centers on Golatt's work as a youth minister at Donahue Family Church in Pineville, which no longer is open. Pastors Keith Dickens and Curtis Campbell, ministers at Donahue during the time Golatt allegedly committed the crimes, did not return messages left by The Town Talk seeking comment. Golatt is behind bars now in the Rapides Parish jail, with a hearing scheduled Friday in front of a 9th District judge. Golatt's attorney, public defender Joe Kutch, refused a Town Talk request to interview Golatt in jail. His March 29 arrest on four counts of youth sex-crime charges was the beginning. By April 11 the number had grown to 63 charges, including 52 charges of raping children 13 or younger. It wasn't the first time Golatt was accused of sexual crimes. Golatt was arrested in Idaho in 2006 on two counts of sexual abuse of a mentally challenged adult when he worked at a Twin Falls branch of the Centers for Independent Living. The crime in Jerome County, Idaho, was reported on Nov. 17, 2006. Golatt was arrested on Dec. 4 on two counts of sexual abuse/exploitation of a vulnerable adult, eventually pleading down to a misdemeanor battery charge, according to the Jerome County Prosecutor's Office. Golatt was sentenced to 180 days in jail. He spent 30 days in jail. The remainder was suspended, a clerk in the county's prosecutor's office said recently. Jerome County sheriff's deputies issued a warrant for Golatt in 2007 for parole violation on the battery conviction, but by that time Golatt was back in Louisiana and officials could not extradite him for violating parole on a misdemeanor. A Town Talk request made Friday to Jerome County sheriff's officials for Golatt's 2006 arrest report was not immediately answered. The Prosecutor's Office said the case file on Golatt and his victim was sealed in 2007. During his time in Idaho, Golatt also was youth minister at the Buhl Assembly of God, where he raised no suspicions of deviant behavior until the arrest. "While I was there I didn't have any issues whatsoever. I didn't have any concerns," said the Rev. Travis Hedrick, who was the pastor in Buhl in 2006 but left before Golatt got into trouble. "I found out many years later that there was some sort of accusation against him, that the church "» asked him to step down for the better good of the church and him." Hedrick is now a pastor in St. Louis. Golatt returned to Louisiana in 2007, where he held jobs including student services coordinator at Blue Cliff College in Alexandria, and a position at the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, where he was arrested March 29 by Rapides Parish Sheriff's deputies and deputy U.S. marshals. Blue Cliff campus director Tracy Kazelski refused comment for this article. Pablo Paez, vice president of corporate relations for the Geo Group, said only that Golatt no longer works for the LaSalle Detention Center. The Geo Group is a private company that manages the LaSalle prison for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Questions posed to Kazelski and Paez included whether they had done a criminal background check on Golatt. Golatt, in the first quarter 2011 Geo Group newsletter, wrote that the LaSalle prison teamed up with a local Head Start program, which helps educate very young and poor children, to deliver gifts to the kids. "Seeing the children smile was enough to excite the LaSalle team to plan for a bigger and better next year," Golatt wrote.

November 13, 2008
The Town Talk
Leroy Holliday Sr., warden of the LaSalle Correctional Center, was released on $5,000 bond after being booked into the LaSalle Parish Jail on a charge of malfeasance. LaSalle Parish Sheriff Scott Franklin said Holliday allegedly used inmates and employees at the minimum security prison for personal reasons. Although Holliday has only been charged with the one count of malfeasance, Franklin said, the investigation is ongoing and more counts could be added. He said the Sheriff's Department has evidence to support 40 counts of malfeasance and the number is expected to grow. In addition to being warden for the LaSalle prison in Urania, Holliday, 55, of Tullos was regional warden for LaSalle Management Company LLC, putting him in charge of facilities in Catahoula, Concordia and Ouachita parishes as well, the sheriff said. LaSalle Correctional is operated by the company in partnership with the sheriff who has the power to hire and fire the correctional staff, Franklin said, adding the staff is also commissioned for law enforcement by him. But Holliday is an employee of LaSalle Management, he said, and any questions about his employment status would have to be directed to the private company. The Town Talk was unable to contact William McConnell, the registered agent for the company, but a message was left for him with a receptionist in the office in Rayville. Franklin said Holliday's commission has been revoked and he will not be allowed back on the Urania prison grounds.

LaSalle Southwest Correctional
Texas prison boom going bust: by Mitch Mitchell, September 3, 2011, Star-Telegram. Expose on troubles facing many communities that bought into the private prison bonding scam.
La. firm says prison escapes led to changes: August 10, 2011, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on LaSalle

Apr 20, 2018 wwl.com
Louisiana prison guards indicted in alleged inmate assaults
MONROE, La. (AP) -- Five former corrections officers at a Louisiana prison have been indicted on charges they conspired to assault handcuffed inmates and submitted false reports on the incident. The former officers at the Richwood Correctional Center in Ouachita (WASH'-ih-tah) Parish were charged in a seven-count federal indictment that was unsealed Thursday. The U.S. Justice Department said the defendants made their initial court appearances Thursday. They are Roderick Douglas, 37, of Monroe; Christopher Loring, 35, of Monroe; Demario Shaffer, 33, of Delhi, Louisiana; Quintail Credit, 26, of Winnsboro, Louisiana; and David Parker, 27, of Tallulah, Louisiana. The March 29 indictment says Loring "stood by" and didn't intervene when the other guards sprayed a chemical agent into the faces of five handcuffed inmates, who were kneeling on the floor in an area of the prison without surveillance cameras. The inmates didn't pose any threat to the officers during the 2016 incident, the indictment adds. The officers tried to cover up the assault on the inmates by filing false reports on the incident to explain why the inmates needed medical treatment, the indictment says. Three of the officers are charged with lying to FBI agents about the incident in July 2017. Loring and Shaffer falsely claimed that one of the inmates had "pulled away" from Douglas before the officer sprayed him, the indictment alleges.Attorneys representing Credit, Shaffer and Douglas didn't immediately respond Thursday evening to emails seeking comment on the charges. It wasn't immediately clear if Loring or Parker have attorneys.Richwood Correctional Center is a private prison operated by LaSalle Corrections. Louisiana's corrections department regularly inspects the facility but doesn't employ the officers who work there, according to department spokesman Ken Pastorick. "The department does not condone this type of activity," Pastorick said.

Jun 3, 2017 ktbs.com
Jail case: ‘What happened was he got stomped to death’
Erie Moore grabs Vernon White's throat, part of a disturbing, hours-long assault caught on camera at privately operated correctional center in Monroe. White died of his injuries and Moore died after guards allegedly beat him while subduing him. A bizarre case at a privately run jail in Monroe -- where one inmate stomped his cellmate to death and in turn was killed by guards -- has raised legal questions about the quality of training and employees at those facilities. Wrongful death suits have been filed by the families of both men. While those cases work their way through the federal court system, there are debates in Louisiana and the federal government about whether to discontinue or expand the use of privatized jails. The respective sides point to quality of incarceration and saving money. The cases in Monroe involve the deaths of Vernon White and Erie Moore, two inmates at LaSalle Corrections' Richwood Correctional Center. Two inmates who had behavior problems in jail were placed in a "lockdown" cell together. During a series of incidents that occurred over the next two hours and were recorded by security cameras, one began pushing the other around and wound up stomping him to death. The attacking inmate wound up dead after guards saw what had happened and moved in to subdue him. "They placed this young man into a cell with a mental health patient -- and what happened was he got stomped to death," said Patrick Jackson, a Bossier City attorney who is representing the family of Vernon White. "Over an hour's time -- all of it captured on video -- not a single person even raised a finger to intervene." A spokesman for LaSalle did not return a call or messages from KTBS News for comment. White, 29, of Monroe was arrested on Oct. 10, 2015, for speeding, no driver's license and no proof of insurance. Two days later, White got into a fight with another inmate and was placed in a disciplinary cell with Moore, another disruptive inmate. It would be a volatile mix. The two men got into a fight the first night but jailers kept them together. Shortly after 5 p.m. the next day, Moore began to push White around, video from a cell security camera shows. He grabbed White by the throat at one point, pushed him against a wall and jabbed his finger in White's face and also reared back as if he was going to punch White. The situation escalated over a 20-minute period with Moore becoming increasingly agitated, the video shows. White eventually went to one end of the cell, just out of the view of the camera. The video shows the other inmate appearing to kick and stomp for two minutes. White suffered fatal injuries, Ouachita Parish authorities said. A few minutes later, two food trays were passed through a slot in the cell door. The person who delivered them apparently did not see White lying on the floor. Moore ate both meals. Twenty-two minutes later, as Moore was defecating on the floor, someone can be seen looking through the window in the cell door. Guards then charged into the cell. One knocked Moore senseless with a blow to the head and the dying White was dragged out of the cell. After White was taken to the hospital, guards regrouped and moved into the cell to get Moore. Cameras in the cell and the adjoining hall show Moore dragged out of the cell and slammed onto the floor. Pepper spray was used and punches were thrown, video shows. The subdued Moore was turned over to Ouachita Parish sheriff's deputies who had arrived to investigate White's murder. They saw his condition when he got to jail and took him to the hospital. He died later. Moore tested positive for PCP, investigators said. A jail guard was assigned to monitor the cameras in each cell that night. "(She) said she had over 16 monitors and was too busy -- was distracted," Jackson said. The wrongful death suits filed against Richwood's operator, LaSalle Corrections, by the families of the dead men question the actions, training and supervision of jail staff. The company is fighting the lawsuits. Kenny Sanders, a longtime director of the Caddo Parish Sheriff's training academy, is a frequent consultant on cases involving law-enforcement training. He would not comment directly on the lawsuit by White's family, but said he believes private jails don't provide the same level of training as those run by government agencies. Sanders said he worries that private jails -- and their need to turn a profit -- could cut corners. "I'm being retained far more by attorneys in private facilities -- for violence in private facilities -- than I am in government-run facilities," Sanders said. "Untrained staff lead to incidents where people's civil rights are infringed upon. In order to cut costs they're having to hire as cheap a labor force as they can get... and cut costs on training."

Clarks, Louisiana
Louisiana Corrections Services
April 6, 2006 The Town Talk
An Olla man who escaped from the Caldwell Correctional Center in Clarks committed suicide tonight at a hunting camp near Dodson in Winn Parish, authorities said. Jimmy L. Peppers, 36, barricaded himself inside the camp as authorities tried to talk him into giving himself up. Authorities fired tear gas into the building because they suspected he was inside. Peppers yelled out that he was inside, and authorities tried unsuccessfully for about 10 minutes to talk him into surrendering. At about 6:55 p.m., authorities heard a gunshot, and a Winnfield Police Department K-9 officer went into the house and discovered the body. Assistant Chief Deputy Becky Ledbetter said the department received calls at about 9 a.m. Thursday that someone had escaped from the Caldwell Correctional Center in Clarks and that a Kelly woman had been taken by force from her home. “We are not really sure how he escaped,” Ledbetter said. “He went to the woman’s house and took her by force. He forced her into her own car.” Ledbetter said the two were driving on La. Highway 126 in Winn Parish, five miles east of Dodson, when they got into a scuffle. The two were romantically involved at one time. The unidentified victim dropped him off near Gaars Mill in northeast Winn Parish. She drove to nearby Dodson, where she told authorities that he was armed with a .38-caliber pistol that he took from her. Peppers was serving time at the Caldwell Correctional Center for a felony driving while intoxicated charge and was scheduled to go to court Tuesday for another count of felony driving while intoxicated in LaSalle Parish, Ledbetter said. This is the second prison escape to occur in Caldwell Parish in less than a month. Five inmates escaped March 11 from privately operated LCS Caldwell Detention Center, located directly beside the Caldwell Correctional Center on La. Highway 845 in Clarks. All five were caught and charged with additional counts and placed back at the facility in less than a week. Owners of the facility are conducting an internal investigation into the escape.

March 16, 2006 KATC TV
Authorities in Jefferson Parish have captured an escapee from the Caldwell Detention Center. Twenty-seven-year-old Jeremy Robinson escaped along with four other inmates over the weekend. He's the last one to be taken into custody. Jefferson Parish deputies stopped a car yesterday afternoon -- that was suspected to be stolen by Robinson. Caldwell Sheriff Steve May says Robinson's girlfriend was driving the car. Deputies then received information that Robinson was at his girlfriend's house in Kenner. Robinson was taken into custody without incident and is expected to be returned to Caldwell Parish today. He was serving time on a drug charge -- and now faces additional charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated escape, and attempted murder of a police officer.

March 15, 2006 KPLC TV
Caldwell Parish Sheriff Steve May says an escaped prisoner from a private prison in his parish has probably left the area. Twenty-seven-year-old Jeremy Robinson of Jefferson Parish is the sole inmate still at large after five men overpowered personnel at L-C-S Caldwell Detention Center on Saturday night, then fled the facility. May believes Robinson may have stolen a vehicle in the south end of the parish and may be attempting to return to his home in the New Orleans area. May says authorities statewide have been notified of the escape. Bond has been set at 500-thousand dollars each on the other four escapees, who were captured Saturday night and Sunday morning.

March 14, 2006 AP
Bond has been set at $500,000 each for four of the five men accused of getting a prison worker to open a control room door, taking control of the prison and then driving out in a prison employee's truck. The fifth, Jeremy Robinson, 27, of Jefferson Parish, remained at large. He is described as black, 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, with "Shanda" tattooed on his right arm. The five escaped Saturday night from the private LSC Caldwell Detention Center in Clarks. Caldwell Parish Sheriff Steve May said that after getting the control room open, the five overpowered employees and eventually took control of the prison. When a town marshal tried to stop their truck, they tried to run over him but crashed the truck, May said. He identified those back in custody as Corey Manshack, 25, of Converse; Keith Gallow, 33, of Ville Platte; Melvin Tipton, 23, of West Monroe; and Ray Eugene Tate of Lawrenceville, Ill. All four were booked with new charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated escape; Manshack and Gallow also were booked with theft and trespassing. Tate is wanted on seven counts of failing to appear in court for drug charges in Hopkinsville, Ky., May said. He said Tate was moved to Clarks from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

March 12, 2006 Houma Today
Five inmates escaped a privately run prison in Caldwell Parish, but authorities were able to track down all but one of the escaped convicts by Sunday afternoon, the sheriff's office said. Jeremy Robinson, a 27-yeasr-old inmate from Jefferson Parish, was still at large on Sunday, said Glenn Gilmore, a chief deputy of the sheriff's department. The five inmates overpowered a female guard at about 9 p.m. Saturday at the LCS Caldwell Detention Center, Gilmore said.

LaSalle ICE Processing Center
GEO Group
Jena Louisana
Apr 24, 2022 theadvocate.com

Why guaranteed minimum in ICE NOLA detention centers costs taxpayers an extra $8 million a month

A controversial funding mechanism that compels the federal government to pay private prison firms a minimum for beds that may not be filled in NOLA ICE detention centers is costing an extra $8 million every month to U.S. taxpayers, data reviewed by The Advocate show. The data is based on the average population detained during fiscal year 2022 in seven detention facilities under the supervision of the ICE Field Office in New Orleans. In Winn Correctional Center, a facility run by Ruston-based private firm LaSalle Corrections, an average of 743 people were detained during fiscal year 2022, according to ICE. The 2022 Overview Budget presented by the Department of Homeland Security to Congress for approval showed the U.S. government paid $95 a day for a guaranteed minimum of 946 immigrants detained. That means the federal government paid roughly $2.6 million a month for handling the facility in Winnfield. Without the guaranteed minimum, considering the current daily population, it would cost $1.9 million. The Biden administration recently announced a move to scale back the use of Winn Correctional Center amid consistent reports of filth, abuses and lack of medical care by immigrants and attorneys. In Jena, where GEO Group runs LaSalle ICE Processing Center, there was an average of 418 people detained during FY 2022, according to ICE data. The current contract agreement signed by ICE with GEO Group, mentioned in the 2022 Overview Budget, showed that the federal government pays for a guaranteed minimum of 1,170 immigrants detained at a per-diem rate of $76.64 per bed, resulting in roughly $2.7 million a month. Without a guaranteed minimum, U.S. taxpayers would pay only $961,000, a potential overpayment of $1.8 million every month at that facility alone. The detention facility in Jena attracted the spotlight last year when 13 nurses sued GEO Group, which runs the facility, after alleging they got sick after years of mold and bacteria exposure at the detention center. Of the 13 nurses who sued GEO, 12 cases were thrown out by the judge based on a set of criteria called the Daubert Standard that rendered their expert witness testimony inadmissible. But court documents showed distinct evidence of water leaks from the roof and the ventilation system over the nursing station, the presence of mold and moisture from condensation and a pattern of delays and lack of maintenance by the facility's management. "Guaranteed minimums just demonstrate our government's way of doing business," said Homero Lopez, an immigration attorney who works as Legal Director at ISLA Immigration. "They are typically the same representatives who are up in arms about spending on social services willing to indiscriminately waste taxpayers' funds on these horrible conditions." Detention facilities lost population and funding under Gov. John Bel Edwards' criminal justice reform measures. But since 2018, they benefited from contracts to house asylum seekers when the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency signed multiple agreements under the Trump administration. In some cases, facilities did not meet the federal government's criteria to establish a need for the facility. And in many cases, the entities managing the facilities were paid as much as three times what the state previously paid per inmate. Details of individual contracts signed by ICE and the private prison firms with third parties - usually a sheriff's office - are not always public. In 2020, the Department of Homeland Security provided ICE with about $3.14 billion to operate the immigration detention system nationwide. The method ICE relied on to acquire more detention space over the past few years was usually an intergovernmental service agreement. The other two are U.S. Marshals Service riders and Federal Acquisition Regulation-based contracts. A 2021 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a Congressional watchdog that investigates federal spending and performance, found that the immigration detention system has become a multi-billion-dollar-a-year enterprise for years. The report also found numerous occasions when the need for facilities or more detention space was unproven. "GAO's review of ICE's documentation found that 28 of 40 of these contracts and agreements did not have documentation from ICE field offices showing a need for the space, outreach to local officials, or the basis for ICE's decision to enter into them, required by ICE's process," the report noted. Pro-migrant groups initially applauded Biden's promises to reform the immigration detention system. But they also raised concerns when it was revealed that alternative-to-detention programs would be run by BI Inc., a subsidiary of GEO Group. On April 1, 2020, under the Trump administration, ICE signed an exclusive five-year contract with BI Inc., which an ICE spokesperson said at the time was valued at $2.2 billion and was expected to serve 90,000 to 100,000 participants every day. But the number of asylum seekers being monitored by SmartLINK, an app that BI asked immigrants to download to be out of detention, has nearly tripled under the Biden administration. According to ICE, the technology has many benefits. Push notifications are sent periodically to the asylum seeker, including reminders of court hearings and office visits. "The program allows for closer monitoring of non-detained noncitizens at varying levels of supervision, using several different monitoring technologies," said an ICE spokesperson to The Advocate. Asylum seekers can also search through a database to connect with community service providers in their area such as food banks, clothing providers or community services. "ATD increases compliance with release conditions and helps the participants meet their basic needs and understand their immigration obligations. Those who do not report are subject to arrest and potential removal," the spokesperson added. But while the Biden administration is increasingly investing in surveillance programs and alternative-to-detention solutions, private firms continue to take advantage of the guaranteed minimum in some half-empty facilities like the South Louisiana ICE Processing Center in Basile. The federal government paid $89.47 per person per day for a minimum of 700 immigrants detained there, according to the 2022 Budget Overview by the DHS. Yet the facility had an average population of 292 immigrants this year, data shows. But because of the guaranteed minimum, the government still spends roughly $1.9 million a month at the Basile facility, which is run by GEO Group. Without it, taxpayers would pay only $809,000, marking potential overpayment of more than $1.1 million a month. In some of the facilities the guaranteed minimum was replaced by flat monthly fees but extra costs persisted. In Adams County in Mississippi, one of the four ICE detention centers supervised by NOLA ICE but located outside Louisiana, the federal government spends a monthly fee of $3,950,885.89 for a guaranteed minimum of 1,100 immigrants detained, the DHS Budget showed. But in 2022, the average daily population was only 743. Considering an average of $65 per bed rate, the per-diem rate ICE invested in Louisiana jails in 2019, the federal government would cut monthly costs by 60% for the facility, data showed. "Immigration detention, at its core, is inhumane," said Lopez with ISLA Immigration. "We should be done away with it completely."

Louisiana Correctional Services
January 29, 2010 TPMMuckraker
The four conservative activists arrested for tampering with the phones of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu earlier this week have been linked to the Pelican Institute, a conservative New Orleans think tank. Pelican is a relatively new organization, but it appears to have strong ties to members of the state's Republican elite, most notably Representative Charles Boustany. Though only one of the tamperers is from Louisiana, Pelican appears to have been the group's home base there. The apparent ringleader, James O'Keefe -- also the activist behind last September's ACORN videotape -- spoke at a Pelican Institute luncheon last week. Another one of the four, Robert Flanagan, is a paid blogger for Pelican (Flanagan is the son of the acting US attorney in Shreveport, Bill Flanagan). Pelican's founder, Kevin Kane, blogs at BigGovernment, the site where O'Keefe first posted the ACORN video. TPMMuckraker has found that Pelican "enjoys a prominent voice in Louisiana political circles." A close look at its board of directors helps explain why this is the case. Pelican listed three board members on its 2008 990 (available from Guidestar): founder Kevin Kane, lawyer Stephen Gele, and one "J LeBlanc." A LinkedIn page reveals that the listing refers to Jennifer LeBlanc, a Republican fundraiser who chaired the Louisiana finance committee of presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani in 2008. LeBlanc is extremely tightly linked to Representative Charles Boustany, who was a close friend of her late husband, Patrick LeBlanc, before he died in a 2008 plane crash. LeBlanc was a top Boustany donor, as well, and he and Jennifer hosted a high-profile fundraiser for his Congressional campaign in 2005. Vice president Dick Cheney was the featured guest. The LeBlancs, Boustany, and Senator David Vitter all endorsed Rudy Giuliani's campaign for president in 2007. Boustany and Cheney. Boustany also endorsed LeBlanc during his unsuccessful run for state representative that year. That bid was undone by ongoing scandals related to LeBlanc's prison operation and construction business, LCS Corrections. The company operates private prisons throughout the southeast and Texas, and has been investigated by the FBI for "contracting irregularities" related to possible bribery schemes. Boustany's brother-in-law, Christopher Edwards, was LeBlanc's attorney during his campaign, and threatened to sue LeBlanc's opponent over a negative ad. Edwards is the nephew of disgraced Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards. When Patrick LeBlanc died, Boustany released the following statement: "Pat was my dear friend, a loving family man and a leader in the Lafayette community. It is a terrible loss, and my thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer and his children. Bridget and I will miss him greatly." Boustany and Pelican were both out in front of the ACORN scandal in August and September. Boustany was one of the first members of Congress to react to news of the ACORN videotape last September. The day after the news broke, on September 11, 2009, he called for a House Oversight investigation of the group's tax prep activities. TPM has reported that Pelican published an investigative report on ACORN in August 2009, one month before the O'Keefe videotape was released. The report alleged that ACORN had evaded federal taxes on a number of occasions. Was there coordination between Boustany, BigGovernment, Pelican, and O'Keefe? What role does Jennifer LeBlanc play at the Pelican Institute? Who funds the organization? There's still a lot more to learn here, but this is shaping up to be a very interesting scandal.Leia and WileECoyote have done awesome work updating information on the various networks behind O'Keefe and Pelican. Pelican appears to have strong ties to the Reason Foundation, and Pelican founder Kevin Kane and Breitbart's relationship deserves closer examination, among other things. Let me know if you want to get deep into the Louisiana muck.

March 12, 2008 Express News
A small plane crash Monday night killed a Louisiana businessman whose private prison services company, Premier Management Enterprises, was at the center of a public corruption investigation that last year forced the resignation of Bexar County Sheriff Ralph Lopez. Patrick LeBlanc, 53, died with the pilot while trying to land in rough weather in Lafayette, La., according to a family friend and local press reports. LeBlanc and his brother, Michael LeBlanc, co-owned Premier and LCS Corrections Services, which build or service prisons in several states, including in three South Texas counties. The brothers' company remains the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation into "contracting irregularities," a bureau official confirmed. "He had great integrity and honor, unlike what some of you guys tried to do to him," said Ron Gomez, a close friend and partner in a small weekly newspaper that published its first edition last week. Gomez said LeBlanc went into the news business as a response to negative publicity about his company's role in a Bexar County corruption probe that caused him to lose a race last fall for state legislative office. Premier Management Enterprises, which has operated jail commissaries in Texas, was at the center of a Bexar County district attorney's investigation involving a foreign vacation gift to Lopez and cash payments to the sheriff's top aide, John Reynolds, before, during and after the company was given commissary contracts. The LeBlanc brothers have repeatedly denied all wrongdoing and have not been indicted or formally accused of any crime related to the Bexar County jail commissary contract. But Lopez resigned and pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges for accepting a Costa Rica golf vacation from the LeBlancs, while Reynolds last month was sentenced to 10 years for demanding thousands of dollars in "consulting fees" and charitable donations from Premier. The FBI took over from state authorities, and over the last several months, agents have interviewed Lopez and Reynolds as part of their respective plea deals. FBI Special Agent Erik Vasys said the bureau was well aware of LeBlanc's death but declined to discuss whether the tragedy might affect the investigation.

March 11, 2008 The Advocate
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate a single-engine plane crash that killed two people Monday night, including Lafayette businessman and civic leader Patrick LeBlanc. LeBlanc, 53, of Youngsville, co-owner of LCS Corrections Services, and a pilot from Opelousas were killed in a plane crash Monday night near Abbeville. Jason Aguilera, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, has identified the plane as a Cessna 210. Aguilera said an initial investigation indicates the pilot, believed to be R. Solomon Reed. 60, of Pavy Road in Opelousas, was attempting to land in Lafayette. The crash happened on La. 82 in Vermilion Parish. The flight originated in Jackson, Miss., the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office said. LeBlanc was a leader in the Lafayette Jaycees, was active in the Acadiana Home Builders Association and last fall ran an unsuccessful campaign for state House of Representatives District 43.

Louisiana Department of Corrections
Jul 24, 2016 theadvocate.com
Recidivism-reducing programs in Lafayette, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Monroe canceled State funding for programs designed to help former inmates under state supervision stay out of jail has been cut from four Louisiana cities, including Lafayette, that offer the services as part of a larger round of budget cuts within the state Department of Corrections. Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe received notice in June of the cancellation of state contracts for the programs, effective July 1. The programs, known as "Day Reporting," serve as an alternative to sending former inmates back to jail if they violate their probation or parole on technical violations, like missing drug tests or appointments with their supervisor. Offenders involved in the programs remain under strict supervision and undergo behavioral treatment in effort to keep them from committing new crimes. Cathy Fontenot, the newly installed warden for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, said the agency will continue offering drug-testing services that were available through the day-reporting program. She said the agency is focusing on its re-entry programs, which the state has funded through the next year, in effort to provide those social services to offenders before they're released from jail, instead of after. "We are going to provide for the people we know need this treatment," Fontenot said. State-funded programs in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Covington and Bossier City will stay open. A total of 759 offenders statewide went under day-reporting supervision during the last fiscal year, more than double the number served in each of the four years prior, according to figures from the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Adult Probation and Parole oversees the programs and is losing about $8.8 million in funding through budget cuts effected when the new fiscal year started July 1. Cutting funding for the centers will end up costing the state some $300,000 each year, as more state offenders will be sent back to jail if they break probation or parole, said Ken Pastorick, the department's communications director. Day-reporting programs in Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe were operated by GEO Reentry Services, which also operates programs in Baton Rouge, Covington and Bossier City. All six were opened last fall. The Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe programs were removed from the company's website by Friday afternoon. A spokesperson did not respond in time for this article's publication. GEO Reentry services is owned by the Florida-based GEO Group. The corrections company operates detention centers around the globe, including four in Louisiana.Along with canceling half of the state's day-reporting contracts, the state corrections department has also reduced the amount paid per inmate to two state-owned but privately operated prisons. Per-diem inmate rates for Allen Correctional Center, operated by GEO, and the Winn Correctional Center, operated by LaSalle Southwest Corrections of Ruston, will be reduced from more than $31 down to $24.39. That's the rate paid to local jails. Pastorick said the reduction in funding will effectively turn them from prison institutions to jails, which are meant to serve inmates serving shorter sentences. Each will lose more than $4 million in funding.

March 13, 2012 The News Star
The Department of Corrections is counting on privatizing the state prison in Avoyelles Parish, closing two other facilities in Rapides and Caddo parishes and increasing employee retirement contributions to balance its budget. Corrections Secretary James Le Blanc said Tuesday that his budget-balancing plan calls for closing the J. Levy Dabadie Correctional Center in Pineville, transferring its 330 low-risk offenders to the Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport and then selling the Avoyelles Parish prison to a private company. The plan also calls for closing the Forcht Wade residential substance abuse facility in Caddo Parish and moving those inmates to David Wade Correctional Center in Homer. Privatizing Avoyelles would be simple, Le Blanc told the House Appropriations Committee, because "it actually is the same prison as Allen and Winn," which already are run by private companies. "It's an identical footprint." Le Blanc said it would save $10.58 million by privatizing Avoyelles Correctional Center and $2.8 million by transferring inmates there from Dabadie. Citing differences in salaries, Le Blanc's presentation showed the average pay for a corrections officer at Avoyelles was $63,000 but at a private facility it was $30,400. Under questioning by Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, he said the pay at Avoyelles includes benefits, boosting the amount 40 percent, and that employees there have extensive experience, so they are higher on the pay scale. The $30,000 at a private facility did not include benefits.

March 13, 2012 WAFB
The House Appropriations Committee, the group that controls the money, met Tuesday morning to hear how different agencies are handling budget cuts. James LeBlanc got his turn to talk about the Dept. of Corrections' $53 million cut. "We think we can do this without any major difficulty," said LeBlanc. "Obviously, logistically there is a challenge to do something in a prison like this. But you know the biggest issue is the staff that are involved." LeBlanc says part of getting the budget under control is to sell the Avoyelles Prison to a private company and close two other prisons in North and Central Louisiana. "Avoyelles employees, the ones that do not get hired by the private prison, can move to Angola," says LeBlanc. He says the average cost of an employee at Avoyelles is $64,000 per year, including benefits. LeBlanc says the private prison's pay will be substantially lower.

December 7, 2010 Daily Comet
The private corrections company that operates a work release program for the Louisiana Department of Corrections on Savanne Road has been cited in a state Inspector General’s report that alleges forging of documents at its East Baton Rouge Parish location. The report concerns forging of documents “to favorably pass an audit by Department of Corrections auditors.” One of its recommendations is that all Louisiana Workforce locations in the state – which would include the one in Terrebonne Parish – be audited to ensure that all terms of agreements between the state agency and the company are adhered to. Reggie Felker, who was transferred from the Terrebonne site to become assistant warden in East Baton Rouge, after a Terrebonne inmate escape, figured heavily in the accusations. Felker’s supervisor, Edward Boeker, admitted to investigators that he directed Felker to take the actions. The company, the report says, has taken disciplinary actions against both. “Felker admitted in an interview that he altered at least 26 of the documents to make them appear to be authentic so that they would pass inspection by the DOC auditors,” the Inspector General’s report reads. Louisiana Workforce operates work release programs in Point Coupee, West Feliciana and Terrebonne parishes. Inmates who are part of the program are sent out to work for private employers as a transition toward entering society once their time of incarceration is done. At the Terrebonne location workers are housed, and are transported to their jobs elsewhere, although some do work on site. Lafourche operates a work-release program, with quarters for inmates on U.S. 90 near the Queen Bee lounge. The forged documents were employer agreements – showing that the people who hire the inmates understand the rules – and no economic fraud or on-site security issues were involved. According to the Inspector General’s report, some of the agreements had been filled out by employers but not signed, and in some cases signed but with no printed name on them. “This was purely a documentation problem,” said Inspector General Stephen Street. “Had they simply let the DOC audit go forward the consequences would be that they would have been given 30 days to correct the problem. However what they did by forging these documents, dummying them to deceive auditors, they took a potentially not serious problem and made it more serious.”

August 29, 2004
New agreements need closer look.  While a footnote to the most urgent business at the latest meeting of the State Bond Commission, we are nevertheless heartened by the pledge of Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc to watch out for the state's interests when making deals with private groups.  State government has become deeply involved with "cooperative endeavor agreements" that are essentially contracts between the state and businesses or nonprofit organizations.  From prisons to art museums, arrangements for financing or administering facilities traditionally built or operated by the state have become commonplace.  Some of these agreements have become enormous financial drains. The worst, probably, was an agreement with Tallulah authorities that requires the state to continue paying rent to the owners of a private prison there even after the state stopped using it as a juvenile prison.  The beneficiary of that deal was the company headed by cronies of Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, even if the cooperative endeavor agreement was negotiated formally between the state and Tallulah.  State government should not be allowed to contract away its responsibility to taxpayers and recipients of public services, or users of public buildings, after private negotiations with interested parties. Not, at least, without meaningful debate and disclosure of the circumstances and the options - not only those approved, but those dismissed.  (Sunday Advocate)

February 27, 2004
Gov. Kathleen Blanco rejected advice from one of her transition committees and reappointed Richard Stalder as secretary of the Department of Corrections.    Opposition to the controversial veteran chief of the state prison system subsided after she created a new and separate justice system for juvenile offenders, Blanco said at a press conference Thursday.  Stalder first started working in the prison system in 1971 and has been secretary since 1992, when then-Gov. Edwin Edwards appointed him. Former Gov. Mike Foster reappointed him.  Stalder is among several top Foster aides Blanco is keeping.  "I did a fair search," Blanco said, and Stalder "can do as good a job as anybody."  Stalder "rose head and shoulders" above every other candidate she considered for the job, she said.  Asked for specific ways he improved corrections in his 12 years as secretary, Blanco said Stalder brought "serious" reform to a once-troubled prison system.  Stalder agreed to help create the new juvenile justice system and let it remain independent of the adult prison system, she said.  Much of the criticism of Stalder focused on the deal he signed to lease a privately owned juvenile prison in Tallulah.  The deal devolved into a financial and legal disaster. The state was sued over conditions at Tallulah and continues to make lease payments, although the Legislature voted to close the prison.  The Associated Press reported last month that the committee advising Blanco on her choice to run the prison system picked three finalists, none of them Stalder. A minority of committee members pushed to have Stalder added as a finalist.  The state's sheriffs backed Stalder. The state pays sheriff's offices $22 a day per prisoner to house state inmates in parish jails.  Several have financed new jails based on revenues from housing state inmates.  "I took into consideration what each of the groups were interested in," Blanco said.  As corrections chief, Stalder must work on better preparing inmates for their re-entry into a free society, Blanco said.  Teaching them skills and improving literacy rates among inmates is one way to help cut the numbers of released inmates committing crimes and landing back in prison, she said.  The state is also plagued with a disproportionately high percentage of black people in prison, Blanco said.  (Advocate)

March 12, 2003
Richard Stalder is in the prison business.  As secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections for 11 years, Mr. Stalder is primarily responsible for keeping adults behind bars.  To understand the department's priorities, just follow the money: A dozen years ago, Louisiana spent $3 million more on probation, residential and day treatment programs than on juvenile jails. Now it spends at least $27 million more on jails than on services.  Lawmakers and citizens ought to keep that in mind as the debate over juvenile justice -- and the Tallulah youth prison in particular -- heats up during this spring's legislative session.  The notorious prison is on the table because closing it would get rid of unnecessary prison beds and generate savings that can be put to better use.  Sadly, getting rid of the Tallulah prison has proved trickier than juvenile-justice reformers and fiscal conservatives had hoped. Three friends of former Gov. Edwin Edwards own it, even though taxpayers are footing the construction bill. Despite contract terms that would let the state stop payment, bond rating agencies on Wall Street have told state officials that they plan to hold Louisiana responsible for the debt anyway.  Last month the administration said it had been negotiating with the Edwards cronies to buy the prison outright.  (Nola.com)

January 28, 2003
Louisiana lawmakers should strip the Department of Corrections of its oversight of young offenders and close down one of the state's four juvenile prisons, a group of legislators was told Monday.  Secretary Richard Stalder said shutting down a prison is unfeasible for space and financial reasons and that lawmakers should first consider taking the responsibility for juvenile rehabilitation out of his agency.  The Casey Foundation offered the most potentially contentious recommendation, suggesting that Louisiana close one of the state's four youth prisons.  That could save the state about $16 million to $20 million a year, money that could be spent on other programs that aim to rehabilitate delinquents in their communities, said Joseph Liu, a senior associate with the nonprofit group.  That suggestion was immediately embraced by opponents of the Tallulah prison in northeast Louisiana, a lightening rod of criticism since the state took it over from a private company in 1998 after a federal investigation revealed abuse and neglect of teens at the hands of guards and fellow inmates.  Stadler also said the state is still on the hook for paying the bond debt on privately owned prison, the result of a cooperative endeavor agreement inked in the early 1990s.  Under the agreement, the government is obliged to continue paying the annual bond debt on the facility.  If lawmakers move to close the facility by stopping those payments, the state's bond rating would be in jeopardy, he said.  Commissioner of Administration Mark Drennen confirmed after the meeting that Wall Street bonding agencies have threatened to penalize the state if the agreement is breached.  One option is being considered is for the state to buy the facility, taking on the debt instead of paying it for the private company.  That could save some money on interest payments, he said.  (Capital Bureau)

Louisiana Juvenile Justice Commission
March 7, 2003
The state's Juvenile Justice Commission gave its approval on Thursday to a proposed overhaul of Louisiana's juvenile justice system.  The far-reaching proposals include the possible closing of one of the state's four juvenile prisons and the creation of a new state agency for juvenile justice and family issues.  The idea is to redirect the state's focus away from putting juveniles in prisons and toward cheaper and more effective community-based alternatives.  Although the recommendation doesn't name the prison, most of the commissioners and speakers agreed it will probably be the high-security prison at Tallulah.  The Tallulah complex would not sit idle.  The state could use it for older juvenile offenders or juvenile offenders sentenced to adult prison, as a medium-security adult prison, or convert the prison for some other purpose, commissioners noted.  (Advocate)

Louisiana Legislature
Feb 26, 2021 myarklamiss.com

Louisiana senator files legislation to end private prison contracts

NEW ORLEANS, La. (KTVE/KARD) — A bill to end private prison contracts in Louisiana has been introduced to lawmakers. Senator Karen Carter Peterson has introduced a bill for the 2021 legislative session to end and ban private prison contracts in Louisiana. According to lawmakers, beginning in January of 2022, SB16 would bar any state and local government entities from entering into or renewing a contract with a private, for-profit prison company. The legislation also says no Louisiana inmate will be housed in a for-profit prison after January 2028. Senator Carter Peterson had this to say about the legislation: “Our criminal justice system is broken. For too long, we’ve allowed corporations to line their pockets and make millions off of the backs of incarcerated people. For-profit prisons regularly sacrifice safety, exploit prisoners, and lobby for harsher sentencing laws – all to help their bottom line. “Louisiana has the highest percentage of our citizens behind bars in the world, and a disproportionate amount are people of color. We need a complete overhaul to reform the system and end this cycle that tears apart our communities. That begins with making sure the corrections system is about justice and redemption, not private profiteering off of punishment.” SENATOR KAREN CARTER PETERSON ON LEGISLATION TO END FOR-PROFIT PRISON CONTRACTS IN LOUISIANA.

May 19, 2012 The News Star
When state lawmakers return to work Monday, they’ll have 14 days to wrap up some of the more controversial issues in what has been described as a contentious and highly partisan session. Final adjournment is at 6 p.m. June 4. Some hot topics, particularly statewide private school vouchers and weakening teacher tenure, were approved in the first two weeks, leaving retirement reform and the budget as the final controversial issues to settle. The proposed sale or privatization of the Avoyelles Correctional Center died without a floor fight, as did a proposed merger of LSU-Shreveport and Louisiana Tech University and a proposal to hike college tuition or raise fees.

April 18, 2012 Times-Picayune
A proposal to privatize Avoyelles Correctional Center appears to be in trouble, as House members in favor of the measure sought Wednesday to shore up support by dropping a planned sale of the facility. Bolstering the argument that there may not be enough support for House Bill 850, which would seek proposals for privatizing the prison, was Rep. Henry Burns' decision to put off a vote on the bill after stripping language that would have sold the building and land to the company that would take over the prison. "I think if you have the votes, you move the bill. Apparently, he didn't," said Rep. Robert Johnson, who represents the district that includes the prison and has been the most vocal critic of the privatization plan. Burns, R-Haughton, said the measure, "certainly has a much better opportunity now" that the prison won't be sold. But he acknowledged that not all of the 61 House members who voted to make the bill more palatable by dropping the sale would support privatizing the facility. Burns said he will bring the bill back in about a week, after lawmakers have a chance to mull the reduced proposal.

April 18, 2012 The Town Talk
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy went on the offensive Wednesday against Gov. Bobby Jindal's efforts to privatize prisons in Central Louisiana. Roy, who has testified against Jindal's plan in front of the state Legislature, said the prison plan will create "significant issues" to several governmental entities in the region, including both his city and Pineville, as well as the England Authority. The Jindal administration, later in the day, abandoned its plan that called for the sale of the Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport. Jindal, however, said he would like to bring in a private company to run the prison, allowing the state to save money by laying off workers and eliminating insurance and benefits to those employees. The budget Jindal proposed also does not include any funding for the J. Levy Dabadie Correctional Center in Pineville, and calls for sending that facility's 330 prisoners transferred to the Avoyelles prison. House members voted 62-43 on Wednesday to revamp the bill, removing the sale of the Avoyelles prison and allowing for a private contractor to take over operations. The bill would allow for nearly 300 employees to be laid off and is said to generate $35 million for the state's "rainy day" fund. The House didn't make a final decision on Wednesday whether to support the bill as rewritten. Roy called the plan "gimmicky" and said it "actually puts us on a long-term road to being in a worse place than when we started." One of Roy's chief executives, retired Dabadie warden T.W. Thompson, also opposes the privatization of Avoyelles Correctional Center and the Dabadie closure. "I believe in my heart that the state of Louisiana has a responsibility for good government, and part of good government is the responsibility to take care of the mentally ill, sick and inmates," said Thompson, stressing that he was speaking his personal opinion and not on behalf of the city of Alexandria. The mayor's three main issues against the plan are that it decreases public safety, doesn't generate any actual savings and could open up the door for inmate crews to be "sold" for private enterprise. "The question is not one of facility and industry, that is about being able to run prisons. The question is solely about money," Roy said. Not only have multiple studies shown that privatization of prisons leads to an environment that is potentially more dangerous to the public, history in Louisiana has shown that while it might work in the short term, it's not a sustainable business model. "In Louisiana our forays into this have not produced measurable and clear results that privatization is better, so why are we doing it?" Roy said. "It all hinges on public safety," said Thompson, who began working for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections in 1978 and retired in 2008 after 30 years. "... I understand the governor is trying to bring fiscal responsibility to this state. However, public safety is paramount. I cannot stress that enough."

April 18, 2012 The Town Talk
Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy went on the offensive Wednesday against Gov. Bobby Jindal's efforts to privatize prisons in Central Louisiana. Roy, who has testified against Jindal's plan in front of the state Legislature, said the prison plan will create "significant issues" to several governmental entities in the region, including both his city and Pineville, as well as the England Authority. The Jindal administration, later in the day, abandoned its plan that called for the sale of the Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport. Jindal, however, said he would like to bring in a private company to run the prison, allowing the state to save money by laying off workers and eliminating insurance and benefits to those employees. The budget Jindal proposed also does not include any funding for the J. Levy Dabadie Correctional Center in Pineville, and calls for sending that facility's 330 prisoners transferred to the Avoyelles prison. House members voted 62-43 on Wednesday to revamp the bill, removing the sale of the Avoyelles prison and allowing for a private contractor to take over operations. The bill would allow for nearly 300 employees to be laid off and is said to generate $35 million for the state's "rainy day" fund. The House didn't make a final decision on Wednesday whether to support the bill as rewritten. Roy called the plan "gimmicky" and said it "actually puts us on a long-term road to being in a worse place than when we started." One of Roy's chief executives, retired Dabadie warden T.W. Thompson, also opposes the privatization of Avoyelles Correctional Center and the Dabadie closure. "I believe in my heart that the state of Louisiana has a responsibility for good government, and part of good government is the responsibility to take care of the mentally ill, sick and inmates," said Thompson, stressing that he was speaking his personal opinion and not on behalf of the city of Alexandria. The mayor's three main issues against the plan are that it decreases public safety, doesn't generate any actual savings and could open up the door for inmate crews to be "sold" for private enterprise. "The question is not one of facility and industry, that is about being able to run prisons. The question is solely about money," Roy said. Not only have multiple studies shown that privatization of prisons leads to an environment that is potentially more dangerous to the public, history in Louisiana has shown that while it might work in the short term, it's not a sustainable business model. "In Louisiana our forays into this have not produced measurable and clear results that privatization is better, so why are we doing it?" Roy said. "It all hinges on public safety," said Thompson, who began working for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections in 1978 and retired in 2008 after 30 years. "... I understand the governor is trying to bring fiscal responsibility to this state. However, public safety is paramount. I cannot stress that enough."

April 18, 2012 Gambit
Louisiana House Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, the sponsor of HB 850, which would privatize Avoyelles Correctional Center, today introduced an amendment that would prohibit the sale of the facility to a private operator and limit any private management contract to ten years. The House voted 62-43 to adopt Burns' amendment but deferred, for today, any further votes on the bill. The bill's original language — which passed the House Appropriations Committee last week in a 13-11 vote — called for a sale and a 30-year management contract. Another amendment by Rep. Ken Havard, R-Jackson, also introduced today, would ban any management contract that requires a minimum population at Avoyelles if it's handed over to a private operator. A request for information on the sale of state-owned prisons last year called for responses to base guaranteed state per diem payment estimates to be based on a 96 percent occupancy. A response from Nashville, Tenn.-based operator the Corrections Corporation of America went further, calling for a minimum occupancy guarantee from the state.

March 13, 2012 The News Star
The Department of Corrections is counting on privatizing the state prison in Avoyelles Parish, closing two other facilities in Rapides and Caddo parishes and increasing employee retirement contributions to balance its budget. Corrections Secretary James Le Blanc said Tuesday that his budget-balancing plan calls for closing the J. Levy Dabadie Correctional Center in Pineville, transferring its 330 low-risk offenders to the Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport and then selling the Avoyelles Parish prison to a private company. The plan also calls for closing the Forcht Wade residential substance abuse facility in Caddo Parish and moving those inmates to David Wade Correctional Center in Homer. Privatizing Avoyelles would be simple, Le Blanc told the House Appropriations Committee, because "it actually is the same prison as Allen and Winn," which already are run by private companies. "It's an identical footprint." Le Blanc said it would save $10.58 million by privatizing Avoyelles Correctional Center and $2.8 million by transferring inmates there from Dabadie. Citing differences in salaries, Le Blanc's presentation showed the average pay for a corrections officer at Avoyelles was $63,000 but at a private facility it was $30,400. Under questioning by Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, he said the pay at Avoyelles includes benefits, boosting the amount 40 percent, and that employees there have extensive experience, so they are higher on the pay scale. The $30,000 at a private facility did not include benefits.

March 13, 2012 WAFB
The House Appropriations Committee, the group that controls the money, met Tuesday morning to hear how different agencies are handling budget cuts. James LeBlanc got his turn to talk about the Dept. of Corrections' $53 million cut. "We think we can do this without any major difficulty," said LeBlanc. "Obviously, logistically there is a challenge to do something in a prison like this. But you know the biggest issue is the staff that are involved." LeBlanc says part of getting the budget under control is to sell the Avoyelles Prison to a private company and close two other prisons in North and Central Louisiana. "Avoyelles employees, the ones that do not get hired by the private prison, can move to Angola," says LeBlanc. He says the average cost of an employee at Avoyelles is $64,000 per year, including benefits. LeBlanc says the private prison's pay will be substantially lower.

June 7, 2011 The News Star
The House Appropriations Committee by one vote rejected Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to sell three state prisons. With a 13-12 vote, committee members sided with testimony from families of prison employees, Avoyelles and Rapides parish residents and Avoyelless Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle arguing that it wasn't a good deal for the state or for the people involved. "We made a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the game's not over," Misty Dubroc, whose husband works at Avoyelles Correctional Center, said following the vote. Stopping the sale of the Avoyelles facility and the currently privately operated Winn Parish and Allen Parish correctional facilities does not stop the threat of the prisons closing because of a budget shortfall in the Department of Corrections. Jindal administration officials argued that the state could save money by selling prisons. "This is a sensible step that needs to be taken or needs to be explored considering the budget challenges we face," said Stephen Waguespack, Jindal's executive counsel. "Other states have done this." Now that the sales issue is over, DOC Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc says he will now turn all of his attention toward getting the Senate to plug the $27.5 million hole in his budget after the House stripped funding.

April 27, 2011 The News Star
Legislation calling for the sale of three state prisons is on hold and might not be revived if state lawmakers find other ways to cover holes in health care and education funding. Gov. Bobby Jindal said Tuesday he will not move forward with his plan to sell prisons in Avoyelles, Allen and Winn parishes until the Legislature has a chance to see if other revenues are available to cover reductions in health care and education programs. The governor's announcement came in the wake of growing criticism of his plan. Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville, one of the strongest critics of the plan to sell prisons, said he was happy to see that the governor is willing to accept alternatives. "I'm glad to see he's starting to realize this is not the best way to proceed," Johnson said. "In recognizing that this is such a bad deal, he is starting to show some leadership, which is welcome." Jindal would not say that he is giving up on the idea, just that he would wait until the Revenue Estimating Conference meets and see if it recognizes increased state revenues that lawmakers could substitute for the $87 million in revenue from the sales. That amount of money is included in the proposed budget being debated during this legislative session.

February 9, 2011 The Advocate
The Jindal administration is asking companies to detail how much they would charge the state to care for inmates in Allen and Winn parishes if two state prisons are sold to ease budget problems. Responses to the Request For Information, or RFI, are due Friday as part of a possible move toward selling the correctional centers. Private companies oversee Winn Correctional Center in Atlanta, La., and Allen Correctional Center in Kinder. Winn is managed by Corrections Corporation of America while Global Expertise in Outsourcing, Inc. operates Allen. Selling the prisons is still just a possibility at this point. However, a sale would force the state to pay the new owners for the care of inmates at the medium security centers. Some elected officials are nervous about how much the state would end up paying. Michael DiResto, spokesman for the Division of Administration, said Wednesday that the RFI is “for planning and information gathering purposes.”

February 16, 2008 The Advocate
Gov. Bobby Jindal has about $600,000 on hand after paying expenses related to his transition office and inauguration. The governor is uncertain how the remaining money will be spent, his press secretary, Melissa Sellers, said Friday. Jindal set up a nonprofit organization to raise money for his transition and January inauguration. The organization’s latest financial report was released 5 p.m. Friday without a description of the nature of expenses or overall totals. The report covers contributions and expenses after Jan. 14, when Jindal was sworn into office. The report shows $782,821 in expenses and $251,020 in contributions. One of the biggest expenditures was $202,478.11 to the Baton Rouge River Center, where Jindal held a legislative luncheon and a ball for his inauguration. Jindal also used the money he raised to pay for staff, pizza, coffee, cabs and more than 400 FedEx shipments. Other big expenses: $65,841.11, LSU, where Jindal had his transition office. $39,059, The Bautsch Group. $13,927.34, Jet Logistics. Jindal set a $10,000 ceiling on contributions. Contributors giving the maximum amount were Ciber, CH2M Hill, Allergan, Helis Oil & Gas Co., Andersen-Wells, Robert A. Wolf, The GEO Group, Gary & Beth Chumley, Northrop Grumman, Affiliated Computer Services, SSH Management and Conoco Phillips Company.

October 21, 2007 The Advertiser
The involvement of his opponent's company in a Texas jail contract investigation may have helped Page Cortez capture the House District 43 race in Saturday's election. Complete but unofficial returns show Cortez, R-Lafayette, with 7,742 or 55 percent of the vote and Patrick LeBlanc, R-Youngsville, with 6,218 or 45 percent. Cortez replaces state Rep. Ernie Alexander, R-Lafayette, who chose not to seek re-election to the District 43 seat. "I'm tickled to death that it turned out the way it did," Cortez said Saturday night. "I think that ultimately the people of District 43 said their priorities are roads, ethics and teamwork." Cortez is the owner and operator of La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries and Stoma's Furniture in Lafayette. He previous worked as a teacher and coached at Catholic High of New Iberia and Lafayette High. LeBlanc, 53, owns and operates LCS Corrections Services, a private jail company, as well as Premier Management Enterprises, which provides commissary services to jails in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. He also has been associated with the architectural firm The LeBlanc Group and LeBlanc Construction Company. This race heated up in recent weeks when unopposed state Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, and unopposed state Rep. Joel Robideaux, I-Lafayette, through their political organization Leadership for Louisiana, ran ads opposing LeBlanc's candidacy because of the Texas investigation. The Bexar County, Texas, sheriff resigned and pleaded guilty to accepting a free trip to Costa Rica from LeBlanc and his brother, and not reporting the contribution. The sheriff's campaign manager also pled guilty for accepting donations from LeBlanc's company to a phony charity, then pocketing the money. The FBI continues to investigate interstate aspects of a commissary contract the LeBlancs had with the Bexar County jail.

October 10, 2007 The Advertiser
Ethics reform is the buzzword of the fall 2007 election cycle. Everybody from the gubernatorial candidates to state House and Senate candidates have jumped on the bandwagon calling for sweeping ethics reforms. The two candidates for House District 43 in Lafayette Parish are no different. Both said they support ethics reform. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, and Patrick LeBlanc, R-Youngsville, both newcomers to politics, signed the Blueprint Louisiana contract, which calls for adoption of the best ethics laws in the nation. But ethics is at the heart of this particular race for another reason. Premier Management Enterprises, a company LeBlanc co-owns with his brother, Mike, is involved in a Texas investigation that took down a sheriff and the sheriff's campaign manager. The FBI continues to investigate. Bexar County, Texas, Sheriff Ralph Lopez was forced to resign and pled guilty to three misdemeanor charges: gift to a public servant, failure to report a gift and tampering with a governmental record. Some time after Premier Management Enterprises was awarded a contract to provide commissary services to Bexar County prisoners, the LeBlancs took Lopez and other sheriffs on a golfing trip to Costa Rica. Patrick LeBlanc has said the trip was a conference of several sheriffs his company conducts business with to discuss escape attempts, gang threats and the lockup of immigrants. The LeBlancs also own LCS Corrections Services, which operates private jails in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. Some of them have experienced escapes by prisoners. As part of an Aug. 31 plea agreement, Lopez agreed to provide information to the Texas Rangers, FBI, District Attorney's Office and others about all transactions, legal and illegal, involving, among others, Michael LeBlanc, Patrick LeBlanc and Premier Management Enterprises. On Sept. 25, Lopez's campaign manager, John Wayne Reynolds, who chaired a benevolent fund board that awarded the LeBlancs the commissary contract, pled guilty to three counts of pocketing more than $22,000 in checks Premier Management had made payable to the Optimist Club Scholarship Fund. The Bexar County District Attorney did not file charges against the LeBlancs. Documents show Ian Williamson, who was a one-third owner in Premier Management at the time, signed the checks given to Reynolds. Patrick LeBlanc said Williamson is no longer a partner in the company. LeBlanc maintains he and his company are innocent of wrongdoing. He said the sheriff was at fault for not reporting the Costa Rica trip. Trips like that are just a part of doing business, he said. "There is nothing unethical or inappropriate about taking clients on trips, be it public or private," LeBlanc said. His company was duped by Reynolds, LeBlanc said. They believed they were donating to a legitimate organization, he said. In late September, the Bexar District Attorney's Office completed its case and turned it over to the FBI. FBI spokesman Erik Vasys told The Daily Advertiser the investigation is ongoing. There are interstate aspects of the case, such as letters, e-mail and telephone communications, that crossed state lines and are still under investigation. He was unable to say more. "Nowhere in ... the official public record that they used to get the plea deal do they mention my involvement in any way other than as a stockholder in this company," LeBlanc said. "You don't see them investigating me, questioning me, calling me a target." Interviewed Friday, LeBlanc again said elected officials should be able to accept free trips if they are approved by the ethics commission and are for legitimate reasons. While both House District 43 candidates say they're for ethics reform, they seem to disagree to some extent on what it means. Cortez disagrees with LeBlanc's assertion that doing business with government is the same as doing business with oilfield companies. "To try and woo somebody with gifts and money and trips, the taxpayers ultimately pay for that," he said. Cortez said legislators should be required to provide full financial disclosure for themselves and their families, making is clear where they derive their money and whether they have state contracts or do business with the state. Then full disclosure needs to be applied to local governments, he said. "What is ethics reform?" LeBlanc said Friday. "It's an overused word. The bottom line is we need to provide more teeth to ethics laws so they can be enforced."

March 19, 2004
Gov. Kathleen Blanco collected more than $1 million from private corporations and individuals to spend on her inauguration activities and in her transition to the governor's office, according to figures released Wednesday. The Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield for the state Department of Corrections, donated $5,000. Wackenhut Corrections, which runs the Allen Correctional Center in Kinder, donated $10,000. LCS Corrections Services, which owns a private prison in Basile, contributed $4,000.  (Nola.com)

June 6, 2003
Lawmakers continue to negotiate about legislation to rework the state's juvenile justice system, as some senators Thursday questioned a decision to direct a substantial chunk of money from a prison closing to beef up community programs to the rural Delta region of the state.  When House Bill 2018 passed the House this week, lawmakers included an amendment that earmarked 40 percent of the savings -- no more than $3 million -- from closing the youth prison in Tallulah for residential or day-treatment programs in the surrounding parishes. Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, whose constituents work at the prison, said the measure is necessary to protect needed jobs in one of the most impoverished areas in the country.  But several members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee criticized the decision to specify the use of the money that the state will save when juvenile offenders are transferred out of the troubled Tallulah facility by either Dec. 31, 2004, or May 31, 2005. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, said the Legislature should not make a commitment to maintain a certain number of state jobs in a particular community.  The Tallulah prison has been the focus of much criticism in recent years, in part because of allegations of inmate abuse by guards and other juveniles at the prison. But critics have also zeroed in on the unusual cooperative endeavor agreement signed by the Corrections Department in the 1990s that keeps the state on the hook to make $3.4 million annual debt payments on a facility it does not own.  (Times-Picayune)

May 23, 2003
A group of inmates at Tutwiler Prison for Women is giving state prison officials more time to implement their plan for relieving overcrowding at the prison.  Attorneys for the inmates Thursday withdrew their request for a second preliminary injunction requiring the state to take immediate action.  The 60-year-old prison was built for 364 inmates but has held as many as 1,000 in recent months.  Serwer said the plaintiffs do not support transferring inmates to private, out-of-state prisons -- one of the steps Campbell has taken since his appointment in January. Alabama has sent 140 women prisoners to a Louisiana prison and has plans to send about another 150 eventually.  (AP)

May 13, 2003
Legislation to overhaul Louisiana's juvenile justice system was approved by a Senate panel Monday after lawmakers amended the bill to hand off the chore of implementing and paying for the sweeping changes to next year's Legislature and a new governor.  The panel approved not only Senate Bill 957, which aims to create a framework for changing the juvenile justice system, but also SB 963, which would transfer all juvenile offenders out of the prison in Tallulah by next summer. Cravins and other proponents say the money spent on that facility could be used to expand the state's residential and day-treatment programs.  After the meeting, Trey Boudreaux, undersecretary of the corrections department, said the 12-month timeline to remove juveniles from Tallulah might not give the agency enough time or resources, saying the agency is constrained by expected increases in the costs of contracting with nonprofit groups that run residential programs and future judicial assignments of young offenders to secure facilities.  The state currently spends $14.8 million on the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth-Madison Parish unit, the formal name for the Tallulah prison. About $3.4 million must be spent on maintaining the debt service on the prison, which leaves $11.4 million that could be spent on other programs, according to the department's analysis.  (Times-Picayune)

November 15, 2002
Louisiana's $89 million juvenile justice system, which locks up youths mostly for minor, nonviolent crimes, and jails black youths more often and for more time than white youths, badly needs and overhaul so that judges can help young offenders address their problems closer to home, a Baltimore philanthropy has concluded.  That and other findings from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's study of how Louisianna deals with young offenders were detailed at the New Orleans City Council chamber Thursday night in the last of a series of public hearings held by a commissioner studying ways to reform juvenile justice.  Many people in the audience held up signs urging the state to close its juvenile prison at Tallulah, a privatelty owned facility.  Judge Mark Doherty of Orleans Parish Juvenile Court told the audience that he has "grave fears" for youths in the state's juvenile prisons, which he said offer them "broken jaws, broken bones and destroyed lives."  This week, Doherty ordered the state Corrections Department to get any youngster from his court out of the Tallulah prison and into "an alternate secure care facility for the purpose of treatment and rehabilitation."  (Times-Picayune)

October 4, 2002
Former Gov. Edwin Edwards and two other men were ordered Wednesday to report to federal prison on Oct. 21 to begin serving their sentences in the riverboat corruption case.   Suspended Insurance Com-missioner Jim Brown also received a reporting date, Oct. 15, for being convicted of lying to an FBI agent about an insurance company liquidation.   Edwards, his son Stephen, Baton Rouge businessman Bobby Johnson and Brown must surrender at a yet-to-be designated prison unless the U.S. Supreme Court steps in and grants the men bail.  (Advocate)

September 24, 2002
An appeals court ruling Monday has put Edwin Edwards on the verge of becoming the second governor in the state's history to go to prison.  The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans unanimously declined to rehear Edwards' appeal of his convictions in the riverboat casino corruption case.  The court also rejected the requests of Edwards' son Stephen, Baton Rouge businessman Bobby Johnson, former Edwards aide Andrew Martin and Eunice cattleman Cecil Brown.  The 5th Circuit's ruling means that the Edwardses and Johnson could be ordered to a federal penitentiary within a few weeks.  (Advocate)

September 9, 2002
Edwin Edwards and his son, Stephen, asked an appeals court Thursday to let them stay out of prison while they appeal their riverboat casino corruption convictions.  Edwin Edwards said the issues raise important questions that apply not only to his case but to the future defendants and to the entire legal system.  "And hopefully, if the court looks at the the issues, it will conclude that a new trial is in order," the former governor said.  A unanimous three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit on Aug.23 upheld the convictions of the Edwardses, Baton Rouge businessman Bobby Johnson and two others.  (Advocate)

August 27, 2002
Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards said Monday he expects to be ordered to federal prison within a month while he keeps fighting his racketeering and fraud convictions.  "If I go, I will obey the rules, I will serve my time," said Edwards,75.  "I will hope to live long enough to get out."  He was found guilty in a scheme to extort millions of dollars from businessmen hoping to get lucrative riverboat casino licenses from the state during and after his fourth and final term in office, which ended in early 1996.  Edwards was convicted along with his son Stephen, longtime friends Cecil Brown and Andrew Martin- who are serving prison time for convictions to separate cases- and businessman bobby Johnson.  (AP)

August 12, 2001
Louisiana has more prisoners than it knows what to do with.  With more than 36,000 inmates behind bars, our state locks up more people per capita than any other.  Hundreds of inmates are in parish jails because of crowding in state prisons.  To get a grip on the runaway incarceration rate, lawmakers last spring cut many drug sentences in half and did away with mandatory minimum sentences for many nonviolent offenses.  But that law just took effect, and it is unlikely to lead to the release of many current prisoners.  Given this situation, it makes no sense for Louisiana prisons to be poised to take 500 inmates from Alabama.  Granted, the prisons vying for the out-of-state inmates are privately owned and operated, and state officials apparently can't stop them.  That doesn't make it sound policy, though.  (Times-Picayune)  

Madison Parish Correctional Center
Oct 27, 2021 theadvocate.com
Lawsuit: Multiple inmates stabbed at Louisiana prison where guards were indifferent to safety

Three inmates were stabbed at a local jail run by a private prison company because staff were deliberately indifferent to their safety, a new lawsuit claims. Attorneys with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and Casey Denson Law say inmates at the Madison Parish Correctional Center in Tallulah were able to attack each other repeatedly over the span of five months. They blame a lack of oversight in the prison, which is managed by North Louisiana-based LaSalle Management. Beginning in 2014, the Madison Parish Sheriff contracted with LaSalle to run the facility - one of several local jails across the state run by the company. The jail also houses sentenced prisoners with the Department of Corrections. When inmates James Murray, Latavius Paschal and Antoine Henderson arrived at the jail to await trial, the lawsuit says they were housed with belligerent DOC inmates as well as pre-trial detainees with track records of attacking newcomers. Murray was stabbed first, following "increasing tensions, attacks, and stabbings" in a unit housing both pre-trial detainees and DOC inmates, the lawsuit says. No guard ran to his aid, and he was later taken to the hospital for fear he had a punctured lung. The inmates held responsible for the stabbing "were known to present a serious risk of harm to other prisoners and detainees," the lawsuit says, but they were still housed with people awaiting trial. Even when the jail reassigned inmates to a single unit called "J-Dorm," making it pre-trial only, there were still problems, according to the complaint. The jail "held every pre-trial detainee at MPCC on one dorm without regard to age, behavioral history, custody needs, pending charge, enemies, or any special needs," the lawsuit says. "In the complete absence of any classification system for pre-trial detainees, J-Dorm became an increasingly violent unit." A group of 12 Tallulah inmates housed in J-Dorm regularly attacked those not from the area, according to the complaint. Several of these inmates "openly beat" Murray and stole his possessions after his first attack. Paschal was stabbed repeatedly with a knife, slipped in his own blood and fell to the floor, where several Tallulah inmates continued to stab him, the lawsuit says. Henderson, another inmate, had to bang on the dorm door for 15 minutes until a guard responded after he was attacked by several of the Tallulah inmates. The second time they attacked him, he was stabbed despite trying to flee the dorm. The attorneys claim LaSalle staff, at various times, were slow to respond to attacks, failed to write incident reports after altercations, bullied the inmates targeted and spent little time in violent dorms monitoring the inmates. All three men were sent to lockdown after their attacks, where they were not given the chance to exercise and artificial lights remained on 24 hours a day. Despite these conditions, the complaint says the inmates asked to be placed there to avoid J-Dorm. DOC secretary Jimmy LeBlanc, Madison Parish Sheriff Sammie Byrd and LaSalle Management are named as defendants in the lawsuit, along with more than 10 other employees at the jail.  "Secretary LeBlanc, Sheriff Byrd, and all of the LaSalle employees were deliberately indifferent to the people in their care," said Elizabeth Cumming, attorney at the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. "They knew that the conditions they created at MPCC were fatally dangerous, but they failed to correct that danger and Mr. Paschal, Mr. Henderson and Mr. Murray were seriously injured as a result." Scott Sutterfield, a spokesperson for LaSalle, declined to comment on pending litigation. However, he said the company "is firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in our care." DOC spokesperson Ken Pastorick also declined to comment while the lawsuit remains open. Sheriff Byrd did not respond to a request for comment. The inmates were attacked after four different stabbings were reported in January and May of 2020, the lawsuit says. Pre-trial detainees and DOC inmates were housed in the same unit. Between Sept. 2020 and October 2020, three inmates died; one from complications after a fight, another from multiple stab wounds to the chest and the last from an undetermined cause. "Even though the State knows that LaSalle creates conditions that cause people to get hurt and die in prisons it operates, the State has abandoned over a quarter of the people in its custody to these dangerous facilities without oversight," Cumming said. The attorneys argue the inmates' rights to due process and equal protection were violated, among other grievances.

Feb 7, 2021 theadvocate.com

Baton Rouge inmate awaiting trial dies of asthma at Tallulah jail, lawsuit says
A lawsuit alleges a Baton Rouge man died from an asthma attack awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge after corrections staff ignored his pleas for life-saving medical care. The family of Cecil Williams, 20, filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit Wednesday against LaSalle Corrections, LLC, a private company that manages the Madison Parish Correctional Center in Tallulah, where Williams died. LaSalle did not reply to a request for comment. Records show Williams was arrested last February on attempted first-degree murder and other counts and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Police say he had mugged and shot a man Feb. 19, then he and another man put the victim in the trunk of a car before releasing him later. After his booking, Williams complained of breathing problems and was taken to the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. He escaped, fled and holed up in a home near Scenic Highway, triggering a four-hour standoff that ended after law officers fired chemical irritants into the house. The prison transferred Williams to Tallulah last July. At Tallulah, Williams told the staff he had no albuterol medication left to control his severe asthma, which he had had since childhood. The lawsuit says that, during an asthma attack July 9, an on-duty nurse told him to "stop playing ... and wait" after he struck the door to a dormitory near her work station. Williams then collapsed onto the floor in front of the nurse, who did not attempt to help him, the lawsuit says. The family claims that a prison guard who arrived also did not render aid, but told other inmates to drag Williams into the dorm. The officer “just assumed that Williams had passed out from an asthma attack,” the lawsuit says. According to the lawsuit, other guards also wouldn't attempt to resuscitate Williams but that several inmates did for about an hour, without success. An Emergency Medical Services crew arrived later, found no pulse or heartbeat and pronounced him dead, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit says an inmate in possession of a contraband cell phone took a video of the inmates attempting to revive Williams. The video, provided to The Advocate by the family's lawyer, shows a group of people in a circle around a man's body while two of them attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation. "You've been on that floor for an hour...c'mon," one man says. He then identifies where he is: Madison Parish, Tallulah, Louisiana. Williams' mother, Karnasha Williams, not a party to the lawsuit being brought on behalf of Williams' children, said her son did not receive proper care. "He didn’t get the proper medical attention that he needed," she said. "Basically, from what I’ve seen and heard ... they watched him die."

Pine Prairie Correctional Center

Evangeline Parish, Louisiana
Louisiana Correctional Services
Jul 10, 2021 wwno.org

Study Finds 'Shadow Wins' Common For Louisiana Immigrants Hoping To Challenge Long Detention Stays In Court

For Phillip, an asylum seeker and a former attorney from East Africa who lived at the Pine Prairie Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center for more than a year, detention felt like prison. "You put on a uniform just like in prison. You're known as a number just like in prison, Phillip, who asked to go by his middle name for fear of retribution, said. "Officers look at you like some piece of crap. You have officers that will ask you, 'What are you doing time for?'" In May 2020, Phillip filed a habeas corpus petition in hopes of securing a court-ordered release on the grounds that his detention had become punitive and was therefore unconstitutional. His petition was denied that June. By October, he was able to appeal and had been granted a 7-hour deposition, in which he intended to make his case. Just days later, ICE released him and his case was dismissed. Phillip's case is one of 499 that took place in Western Louisiana between 2010 and 2020 that Tulane University Law School's Immigrant Rights Clinic reviewed in a year-long study. The study's findings were released in a report called, "No End in Sight." The study found that Phillip's case is part of a trend - ICE releases immigrants who use habeas corpus petitions to challenge their detentions rather than allowing their cases to be heard in courts. Immigrants with habeas corpus cases in Louisiana's Western District Court spent an average of 13 months in detention before filing their petitions. Only five of the cases researchers reviewed were resolved with a court-ordered release from detention through habeas corpus. Immigrants seeking asylum or facing deportation are not entitled to the same rights as defendants facing criminal charges - like the right to a probable cause hearing if they are arrested or the right to a court-appointed attorney. That is because immigration matters, including detention, are considered civil and not criminal. "That sort of ruling maintains the legal fiction that someone who's been in immigration detention for a year is facing meaningfully different conditions than someone who's been incarcerated," Mary Yanik, director of the Immigration Rights Clinic, said. Like many of the for-profit detention centers that have opened in Louisiana in recent years, Pine Prairie was formerly a prison and is owned by one of the largest private prison companies in the United States, the Geo Group. Despite the similarities between these centers and carceral facilities in Louisiana, immigrant detention can only be deemed constitutional if the conditions are not punitive. For immigrants who have spent several months or even years in detention with no clear idea of when they will be let out or deported, filing a habeas corpus petition is a last resort to secure their release. The writ of habeas corpus protects against unlawful imprisonment or detention by allowing someone in government custody to go before a magistrate judge, who can decide whether further detention is justified. Philip filed his petition because he said his life in detention felt like imprisonment by a different name. "It is a prison," he said. "I would say they have just tried to sanitize [it] by calling it a detention." Aside from being in ICE custody for more than six months, Phillip noted in his petition that he was at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, were he to contract it in the communal living space where he lived, because of pre-existing health conditions. He had previously had deep vein thrombosis or blood clots in his leg, and had been diagnosed with hypoglycemia. In a 2001 Supreme Court decision on immigration case Zadvydas v. Davis, justices ruled 5-4 that indefinite detention of deportable immigrants is unconstitutional. In his majority opinion Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that if an immigrant has spent more than six months in detention and deportation will not happen in the "reasonably foreseeable future" the government may have to release the detainee or cite a special reason for keeping them in custody. But Yanik and her team found that most habeas corpus cases in Wesstern Louisiana are not fulfilled. Most petitioners are simply detained and released before they can get a day in court. These releases from ICE custody before a habeas hearing are called "shadow wins," because even though the detainees get what they want - their release

- they don't get their formal vindication in court, and the district court never gets to weigh in on detention limits. "[Phillip is] very aware that the way his case was resolved means that someone else in his position will start over from the beginning," Yanik said. "And so everyone's just filing and fighting these cases individually, until ICE will hopefully release them and give up. But that overall problem of really prolonged detention is not is not being addressed." Shadow win releases can come several months after detainees have filed a habeas petition, prolonging their releases even longer. The reports found that the courts began allowing ICE to take roughly 60 days to respond to habeas petitions, despite ordering response deadlines of 20 or 21 days. Other barriers to habeas petitions include a $5 filing fee and the requirement for detainees to update their addresses with the courts by mail whenever they are transferred to different facilities. Yanik said her clients have been transferred in the middle of the night without notice from the government to them or to their family members or attorneys. "There's this constant instability," she said. "And when that happens, even though the government, who's the other party in the case, made the decision to transfer you on a whim, it's the detained person's responsibility to update the court." Phillip said he was moved at least four times after he filed his habeas petition. "I would have to keep on changing addresses with the court every week," he said. The immigration rights clinic's report recommends that the court move quickly in deciding habeas corpus cases, to ensure that immigrants do not spend even more time in detention. It also suggests decreasing time limits for ICE to respond to petitions and removing requirements like filing the petition on a specific court-issued form. Ultimately, it suggests that many of the for-profit detention centers in Louisiana, like the ones that Philip stayed in, should close.

Jun 22, 2021 prnewswire.com

Louisiana: Groups file complaint against GEO-of-immigrant-rights-groups-file-dhs-complaint-urging-an-end-to-the-horrific -conditions-and-abuse-at-pine-prairie-ice-processing-center

RFK Human Rights, ISLA, and Coalition of Immigrant Rights Groups File DHS Complaint Urging an End to the Horrific Conditions and Abuse at Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center The for-profit detention center, run by the GEO Group, repeatedly used racially-driven solitary confinement practices and failed to provide basic necessities like clean water and medical services--demonstrating how ICE's jails often fall dangerously short of the agency's own minimum standards of care.

NEW YORK, June 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, in partnership with Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA) and 15 other social justice and advocacy organizations, has filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on the horrific conditions and systematic human rights violations at Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center in Louisiana. The for-profit detention center, run by the GEO Group, used prolonged and often racially-driven solitary confinement practices to the point of constituting torture under international human rights law. RFK Human Rights and ISLA's investigation also found that Pine Prairie repeatedly failed to provide people with basic necessities, including clean water, medical services, and access to legal counsel—demonstrating how ICE's jails often fall short of the agency's own minimum standards of care. The coalition of immigrant rights advocates who signed onto the RFK Human Rights and ISLA DHS complaint include ACLU of Louisiana, Al Otro Lado, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Cameroonian American Council, Center for Constitutional Rights, Freedom for Immigrants, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Louisiana Stop Solitary Coalition, National Immigration Project, Operation Restoration, Project South, Puentes New Orleans, Rapid Defense Network, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and the Tulane Immigrants' Rights Clinic. The complaint details several urgent demands for DHS to address the conditions at Pine Prairie, including immediately ending the routine, inhumane use of punitive solitary confinement, expanding the release of people on immigration bond, and placing people who have contracted COVID-19—and those who are at risk of exposure—into proper medical isolation units rather than solitary. The agency has been given 30 days to respond. While no amount of reform can justify ICE's jails, the coalition involved in the complaint recognizes that these measures could vastly improve the quality of life for people currently detained at Pine Prairie as they await a determination of their immigration status or face deportation and removal proceedings, and hopefully lead to greater, systemwide change. "What we've seen in Pine Prairie is horrifying and, by no means, an exception," said Homero López, legal director for ISLA. "ICE continuously uses private prison companies, including the GEO Group, in an attempt to cover the human suffering that they carry out. Those private prison companies are more than willing to inflict and ignore the misery that immigrants suffer in order to line their pockets and gain more profits. This is the reality for tens of thousands of people who are locked up in ICE's jails across the country and it's time for DHS, and frankly all of us, to demand better." "Who occupies the White House might have changed but the problems within the U.S. immigration system remain just as harrowing and demand our attention," said Sarah Decker, attorney at RFK Human Rights. "We hope our investigation and DHS complaint will drive the Biden administration to not only take action against ICE's New Orleans Field Office but to follow through on his promise to close private detention centers for good." For more information on RFK Human Rights and its immigration work, visit RFKHumanRights.org/NOLA_ICE.
Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy

Immigration Services and Legal Advocacy (ISLA) is a New Orleans-based legal services organization that defends the rights of immigrant communities and advocates for just and humane immigration policy. ISLA specifically provides detained immigrants at the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center with pro bono representation under a universal representation model. Through this service, ISLA ensures that detained immigrants' due process rights are protected and that clients do not have to attend these hearings and present their cases on their own.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

We are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy's dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues—championing changemakers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.

October 27, 2011 The Advocate
Authorities in Oklahoma on Wednesday shot and wounded an escaped inmate suspected in a Tuesday morning bank robbery in Evangeline Parish, officials said during a news conference in Ville Platte. Trooper Stephen Hammons, spokesman for Louisiana State Police, said the U.S. Marshals Service Metro Fugitive Task Force in Oklahoma spotted Brian Keith Soileau at a Walmart store in Norman, Okla., north of Oklahoma City. Soileau fled in a pickup believed to be the same vehicle he used after robbing the Guaranty Bank in Vidrine on Tuesday morning, Hammons said. Soileau led the Metro Fugitive Task Force and Oklahoma Highway Patrol on a 35- to 45-minute pursuit, by vehicle and on foot, that ended with an exchange of gunfire, Hammons said. Soileau was struck and was taken to a hospital where he remains in serious condition, Hammons said. The incident occurred shortly before noon Wednesday, Hammons said. “The chase is over,” said Evangeline Parish Sheriff Eddie Soileau, who said he is not related to the fugitive. “I hope the people of Evangeline Parish feel a little safer today.” Soileau had remained on the loose since Oct. 13, when he escaped from the Pine Prairie Correctional Center, a private facility owned by LCS Corrections Services.

June 29, 2006 The Advocate
A former guard at a private prison in Evangeline Parish was sentenced Wednesday to two years and eight months in prison on federal charges of beating an inmate and then asking other guards to lie about the incident. Gilbert Self, 51, of Florine was convicted at trial in February of one count of a criminal civil rights violation and three counts of witness tampering. Self worked as a captain at Pine Prairie Correctional Center, owned by Lafayette-based private prison company LCS Corrections Services. He was accused of beating a Cuban national being held at the prison on immigration violations after the detainee allegedly made crude remarks to a woman guard in July 2003. The guard reported the incident to Self, her supervisor, who then went into the detainee’s cell and punched and kicked the man while he was restrained and lying face down, according to trial testimony. Three other guards who were present have said they repeatedly asked Self to stop and eventually removed him from the cell and sought medical assistance for the detainee. Self asked the guards to file false reports to cover up the beating, telling them that “if he went down they were also going down,” according to a written statement about the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The three guards initially prepared false reports, prosecutors said, but one of the guards decided the next day to tell a supervisor what had really happened. “This is a serious offense, and no one knows better than you the necessity of promoting respect for the law,” U.S. District Judge Richard Haik told Self before handing down a sentence.

February 16, 2006 Montgomery Advertiser
How willing would you be to do business with a company with a record of legal problems, even if it was the low bidder? Most Alabamians, we'd wager, would have some reservations about that -- and Alabamians certainly should have reservations about their state sending prison inmates to a private prison. For years, the Advertiser has expressed serious concerns about the use of private prisons. Nothing reported from the ones involved in state contracts has eased those concerns. The Birmingham News reported this week that the Department of Corrections has begun transferring male inmates to a private prison in Pine Prairie, La. The prison is operated by Louisiana Corrections Service, which also operates a facility in Basile, La., where Alabama has housed about 300 female inmates since 2003. The reason for using these facilities is the chronic overcrowding of Alabama's prison system, which is the subject of constant litigation. The transfer of male inmates -- eventually about 500 of them -- is an effort to ease the backlog in county jails of state inmates who haven't been sent to state prisons because there is no space for them. The overcrowding problem is at present intractable, given Alabama's sentencing structure and its decades of failing to address the shortcomings of a system now bulging with almost twice as many inmates as its facilities were designed to handle. LCS will house the male inmates for $29.50 per day per inmate, but how much of a bargain is that? There are important issues inherent in any private prison operation. This is not someone's hobby; this is a for-profit enterprise. That's fine in most pursuits; in fact, it is the core of the American economy. But incarceration is a solemn obligation of the state. Depriving individuals of liberty is serious business and the state, even though justified in doing so, has an undeniable responsibility to those individuals. A for-profit prison has financial considerations that a state facility does not. It has profit expectations from its investors, and these could all too easily lead to dangerous corner-cutting that compromises the safety of inmates and potentially the public as well. Unlike the state, a private prison operator has no stake in the rehabilitation of inmates vs. the mere warehousing of them. Add to those concerns -- inherent in any private prison operation -- the legal troubles at LSC facilities and it is easy to see why Alabamians should be uncomfortable with this arrangement. Last week, the News reported, a former supervisor at Pine Prairie was convicted of rights violations and witness tampering in the beating of an inmate. Earlier, four guards at the Basile facility were indicted on sexual abuse charges. Problems can occur at state prisons, of course, but there the state has direct authority to act, to set employment standards and to otherwise control the addressing of problems. That is largely lost when private prisons are used. The private prison issue is not going to fade away. LCS is working with officials in Perry County to open a private prison there. The facility, located outside Uniontown, will be ready in a few months. The Department of Corrections says there is no agreement for it to place prisoners there, but clearly there will be great political pressure to do so. This is a poor approach to prison issues. A far better one is broad reform of Alabama's sentencing structure, which now sends to prison far too many people who could serve their sentences in community-based corrections facilities with drug treatment programs and work opportunities -- without presenting a significant threat to the safety of the populace. Funneling non-violent offenders into prisons is always costly and seldom productive. Absent this kind of reform of the current system, inherently unsound practices such as the use of private prisons will continue -- not because they are better, but because they are cheaper.

February 16, 2006 Ledger-Enquirer
Tough on crime, or on taxpayers. Last week, Alabama's prison commissioner went over the wall. And who could blame Commissioner Donal Campbell for resigning? He had been given the literally impossible task of operating an Alabama prison system with too many inmates and not nearly enough money. Not only is he set up for failure, but he is also set up to go to jail himself for not obeying court orders to relieve crowding. Of course, he can't build prisons out of his own pocket, and the Alabama legislature isn't about to spend precious tax dollars on inmates, so what could the commissioner do but throw up his hands and walk away? "I wouldn't want that job," said Lynda Flynt, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission. She knows what she's talking about, having worked closely with Campbell to alleviate crowding. Knowing they're going to have a problem filling a position that includes perks such as being party to a lawsuit, state officials are finally scrambling to do something. On Monday, the state announced that it is going to send 500 state inmates to a private prison in Louisiana. The private prison company there already houses more than 300 Alabama inmates. At $29.50 a day per inmate, that's going to cost Alabama taxpayers about $24,000 a day. That's Alabama tax money that's flowing into the Louisiana economy. If Alabama would build the prisons it needs (or consider sentencing reforms that might ease the stress on the system) some of that cash might stay home. Or some of it might be sent to Alabama counties that are picking up a huge tab for housing state prisoners. As of last December, there were about 100 state inmates being housed in Russell, Lee and Chambers County jails. It costs counties about $30 a day to house a state prisoner, but the state pays the counties about $1.75 a day. So housing those prisoners costs East Alabama taxpayers more than a million dollars a year, while the state is sending more than $8 million a year to Louisiana private prisons. If the Alabama legislature is going to insist that this many people be in prison, then the lawmakers have the moral responsibility to see that there is space to house the inmates. If you're going to be tough on crime, then you're going to have to be tough enough to pay the piper. -- Michael Owen, for the editorial board

February 10, 2006 The Advocate
A former guard at a private prison in Evangeline Parish has been convicted on federal charges of beating an inmate and then asking other guards to cover up the incident. The jury deliberated about 45 minutes before returning a guilty verdict late Wednesday against Gilbert Self, 51, after a three-day trial. Self was a captain at the Pine Prairie Correctional Center, owned by LCS Corrections Services. He faces up to 10 years in prison on criminal civil rights violations and charges of witness tampering. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate civil rights violations committed by those sworn to uphold the law,” U.S. Attorney Donald Washington said in a statement. “… It was Mr. Self’s responsibility to control such violent outbreaks in the facility, not to initiate the violence.” Self was accused of beating a Cuban national who was being detained for immigration violations. Prosecutors said the July 2003 incident began when the detainee allegedly made crude remarks to a female guard. She reported the remarks to Self, who went into the detainee’s cell, punched him repeatedly, slammed his head into the floor and kicked the man inthe ribs, according to guards who witnesses the incident. The guards, who said they attempted to stop Self, told investigators that he later asked them to file false reports to cover up the beating. The guards prepared false reports on the incident, but the next day, one of the men told Self’s supervisor what had actually happened. The detainee, who lost consciousness during the attack, suffered bruising and swelling to both eyes, cuts, and rib injuries, prosecutors said. The injuries were not properly documented at the time because Self asked a nurse to alter her medical report, according to prosecutors, and LCS later fired the nurse for not following proper procedures and sending the detainee to the hospital for treatment.

May 6, 2004
A federal grand jury has joined local prosecutors and civil rights attorneys in bringing charges against employees at private, for-profit prisons in Evangeline Parish. In the most recent charges, Gilbert Self, 49, of Florien, a former captain at the Pine Prairie Detention Center, has been indicted on one count of felony criminal civil rights violation and three counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly beating a prisoner. U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington said Self was arraigned Wednesday morning in Lafayette and released on a $75,000 bond. A tentative trial date is set for July 12 on the four charges, which each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Washington said sentencing in federal court is governed by the U.S. sentencing guidelines, which do not allow for parole. He said the federal charges stem from a government contract with LCS Corrections Services Inc., a Lafayette-based company, which owns the private prison near Pine Prairie and another near Basile. The current indictment alleges that in July 2003, Self assaulted and caused bodily harm to a Cuban national, who was being detained at the facility under the authority of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service. The indictment also alleges that Self obstructed the investigation by trying to persuade three fellow guards to lie to federal law enforcement officials.  LCS owns two private prisons in Evangeline Parish. Both are currently facing ongoing lawsuits. Last month, Evangeline Parish District Attorney Brent Coreil opened an investigation of the South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile in regard to repeated charges of sexual assaults on female prisoners.  (Louisiana Gannett)

September 15, 2003
Lawyer Bruce Rozas, who was handling four sexual harassment cases against LCS Corrections Services Inc., which operates private, for-profit prisons in Basile and Pine Prairie, is now handling seven.  "Following the media coverage, I had three more women come to see me today," Rozas said Friday from his office in Mamou. He said the newest complaints date back to 1998, all involving the same two officers named in his earlier Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints on behalf of Maggie Dupre, a nurse at South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile, and Sandra Whittington, a nurse at Pine Prairie Correctional Center.  Dupre was fired this week after coming forward with her complaints.  According to Rozas, the new complaints show the same  pattern.  He said two of his new clients, Carla T. Zeno and Laurie Ardoin, both claim they were also fired after making complaints about unwanted sexual advances by superior officers.  "I expect that before this is over, we will have many more complaints," Rozas said.  Lafayette-based LCS Corrections Services Inc., which also operates two private prisons in Texas and another in Tensas Parish, referred calls to Sue Fontenot, an Abbeville attorney who represents the company.  Fontenot was unavailable for comment.  (Daily World)

July 7, 2003
A guard at a private prison in Evangeline Parish has been booked on charges of having sex with an inmate.
Todd Daniel Arnold, 22, of Oberlin faces one count of malfeasance in office for allegedly having sex with a female inmate at Pine Prairie Correctional Center, a prison run by Lafayette-based Louisiana Corrections Services.  Arnold was booked into the Evangeline Parish Jail on Monday and released on $7,500 bond, according to jail records.  LCS General Manager Richard Harbison said prison officials began an internal investigation of Arnold on Thursday, after an inmate made a complaint about the alleged sexual contact.  The prison officials met with Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Office investigators Sunday, and Arnold was arrested after giving a statement to investigators when he came to work Monday, Harbison said.  Harbison said Arnold was suspended immediately, pending the outcome of the criminal case.  Pine Prairie Executive Warden Gary Copes said that Arnold had worked at the prison since February 2002. He did not have prior law enforcement experience but had been through a 90-hour training course for LCS guards, Copes said.  Sheriff Wayne Morein did not return calls for comment.  LCS runs four correctional facilities in Louisiana -- including one in Pine Prairie, one in Basile and two in north Louisiana -- and two in Texas.  The Pine Prairie facility holds about 650 inmates. The woman Arnold is accused of having sex with was a Louisiana Department of Corrections inmate the facility had a contract to hold.  The incident comes about two years after the former warden of the Evangeline Parish Jail was convicted on two counts of malfeasance in office for extorting sexual favors from the family members of inmates.  Michael J. Savant, 48, was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation on the charges.  Malfeasance in office involving sexual conduct between an inmate and a jail worker carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.  (Daily Advertiser)

Richwood Correctional Center 
Richwood, Louisiana
Mar 13, 2020 nytimes.com

Pepper-Sprayed Inmates Reach $177K Settlement

NEW ORLEANS — A private prison in northeast Louisiana must pay a total of $177,500 to five former inmates of that prison whose faces were pepper-sprayed while they were handcuffed and kneeling in 2016. One inmate's father said he believed each man was getting about $20,000. “I told my son I'd give him 20 grand to not sign that ... and let the truth come out,” Larry Vinet said Thursday from Charleston, West Virginia. Overall settlement terms, previously confidential, were made public Thursday under a public records request made to the court on Tuesday by The Associated Press. LaSalle Management LLC holds both state inmates and immigrants detained for ICE in Richwood Correctional Center, where an immigrant killed himself in October. That suicide could have been prevented, an Associated Press investigation found. LaSalle also holds immigrants in other prisons. LaSalle is not admitting liability in the settlement with Adley T. Campbell, Darin Whittington, Sidney Stephens, Jareth Vinet and Jimmy Klobas, Magistrate Judge Karen Hayes wrote in minutes made public Thursday morning. All five were inmates at Richwood when they sued LaSalle and six guards in October 2017. Three are now at other prisons and two have been released. The $177,500 is to be paid as a lump sum, Hayes wrote. Her minutes did not state how much each inmate will receive. “As non-binding additional terms of the settlement, defendants agreed to facilitate the transfer of one of the plaintiffs to a non-LaSalle Management facility, and to assist in reviewing the record of a second plaintiff to make sure that his Good Time credits were not affected by the incident giving rise to the lawsuit,” she wrote, noting that lawyers for the five men said those terms have been met. She wrote that attorneys on both sides agreed that “neither they nor their clients will publicly comment further on the lawsuit or the settlement.” “I don't agree with that. I can tell you that right now,” Larry Vinet said. David J. Utter of Savannah, Georgia, who was among lawyers for the five men, had said on Monday, “I'm only allowed to say that the case has been settled amicably.” Jennifer McKay, an attorney for LaSalle, did not respond to a call and email Monday requesting comment or respond to the AP's public records request to her on Tuesday. The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that private agencies which are performing public work are subject to the state's public records law. The lawsuit alleged that in 2016, the five inmates were pulled out of a dormitory, strip-searched and asked about tattoos. After they put their clothes back on they were handcuffed and escorted to an area called the “White House,” where they were accused of being members of a gang and made to kneel and sprayed with “mace," according to the suit. The lawsuit alleged negligence, unreasonable search and seizure, intentional infliction of emotional distress, excessive force, conspiracy, conspiracy with racial animus, supervisory liability and negligent hiring, training, retention and/or entrustment. A federal indictment in March 2018 charged five former Richwood Correctional Center guards with conspiring to assault inmates and filing false reports about the incident. All five pleaded guilty to conspiracy during 2018 and 2019, saying they filed false reports to cover up why the inmates needed medical care. One pleaded guilty to plotting to violate the inmates' civil rights and the others to conspiring to cover up wrongdoing. Four signed statements saying they had sprayed pepper spray into the faces of kneeling, handcuffed inmates; the fifth said he stood by during the spraying. Charges against one of four who used the spray were dropped after his death in an unrelated shooting. The guards got sentences ranging from 15 months to five years. The most detailed statement about the incident was made by former Capt. Roderick Douglas, who pleaded guilty to plotting to violate inmates' civil rights and admitted pepper-spraying two inmates' eyes, then passing the can to other guards.

Sep 6, 2019 knoe.com

Former Richwood guard gets almost 4 years in pepper spraying

(AP) - A former guard at a private prison in Louisiana has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for standing by while others used pepper spray on kneeling, handcuffed inmates, then participating in a cover-up. U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Mona Hardwick says U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty sentenced Christopher Loring on Wednesday in Monroe to 46 months in prison. Loring was the last of four ex-guards to be sentenced after pleading guilty in the October 2016 incident at Richwood Correctional Center near Monroe. Charges were dropped against a fifth after he died. The longest sentence was five years for former Capt. Roderick Douglas, the first guard to use the spray. The prison, warden and ex-guards still face a lawsuit filed by the inmates about five months before the indictment.


Nov 30, 2018 njherald.com
Private prison ex-sergeant guilty in chemical spray cover-up
A former sergeant at a privately-run Louisiana prison has pleaded guilty to covering up an incident in which he and other guards used a chemical spray on five kneeling, handcuffed inmates. Thirty-three-year-old Demario Shaffer was among five Richwood Correctional Center officers and guards indicted in March. Trial is scheduled April 15 for the others. The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release Wednesday that Shaffer pleaded guilty Monday in court in Monroe to one count of conspiring to falsify documents to obstruct and influence a matter within federal jurisdiction. District Judge Terry Doughty scheduled sentencing May 1. Shaffer could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Richwood Correctional Center is a medium-security prison run by LaSalle Corrections in the Ouachita (WASH-uh-tah) Parish town of Richwood.

Aug 6, 2018 hannapub.com
Inmate accused of beating another with padlock in sock
Ouachita Parish sheriff's deputies arrested a Marrero man incarcerated at Richwood Correctional Center for beating another inmate with a padlock in a sock on Saturday. Deputies were dispatched to RCC, which is a private prison, because of a fight that broke out there. Rockeen Jacks, 21, of 915 Demarco Drive, Marrero, was involved in a fight at the prison and produced a sock with a padlock inserted inside it and began hitting another inmate, according to the July 28 arrest report. During the fight, Jacks produced a makeshift knife and struck the other offender on the head and face. He was booked at Ouachita Correctional Center.

Riverbend Detention Center
East Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Emerald Corrections
Nov. 21, 2013 thenewsstar.com

BATON ROUGE — East Carroll Parish Sheriff Wydette Williams is bucking a growing trend of privatizing the housing of inmates by purchasing a private prison for public use. The State Bond Commission Thursday approved the East Carroll Parish Law Enforcement District’s request to issue up to $16 million in bonds to pay off the nearly $12 million debt on the Riverbend Correctional Center, purchase the facility from Western Correctional for $250,000 and make some repairs. In the past few years, Gov. Bobby Jindal has been trying to sell state prisons to private operators but the Legislature rejected that move. His administration has closed penal institutions. Donnie Cunningham, an attorney with the Jones Walker firm who negotiated the purchase, said he got a low price because “it’s not really worth anything to him,” referring to Western Correctional owner Doug White. He said the sheriff won’t issue full $16 million in bonds but he had to get Bond Commission approval for that much to make sure everything is funded. “This is in the best interest of our parish,” Williams told the commission. “It’s also a savings to our parish.” Williams said when he was elected one of his goals was to remove Emerald Prison Enterprises from Riverbend and he did so in September. Cunningham said it’s a good deal because the parish can control its costs for housing inmates. Another bonus is if it owns it, the parish doesn’t have to pay property tax on the facility. Also, corrections facilities make money by housing inmates from other areas of the state and other states. “It will work as long as the Department of Corrections sends you inmates,” said Treasurer John Kennedy, chairman of the Bond Commission. Williams said the prison has a contract with the state Department of Corrections for 40 percent of its beds — 160 — and besides inmates from Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas it has some pretrial detainees from East Baton Rouge and Lafourche parishes. The prison was built in phases in the 1990s utilizing bonds issued through the Bond Commission. The new issue will be at a much lower interest rate than what’s on the original bonds. The first phase needs some repairs, Cunningham said, but the rest is in good shape. Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, said there were problems at the prison and he commended the sheriff for “trying to straighten it out.” Fannin cautioned Williams not to rely on the prison as an employment agency because “the first priority is managing inmates and not job creation.” He said Williams should “hire the best financial person you can find to manage the facility. Put your financial business plan in order.” Inmates now being housed in the East Carroll Correctional Center will be moved to Riverbend, Cunningham said. The attorney said ECDC needs repairs but could be used if Riverbend becomes too crowded. “But he (Williams) would have to spend some money to fix it up.” ECDC was closed by former Sheriff Mark Shumate but Williams reopened it in January. It held 180 inmates and employed 47 people at that time.

August 17, 2012 The News Star
More than 350 state inmates have been removed from the Riverbend Detention Center in Lake Providence after drugs, cellphones, homemade knives and other contraband were found during a massive shakedown. About 100 officers and 17 drug-sniffing dogs from various state correctional facilities conducted the shakedown. The team randomly drug tested 172 state inmates with 40 testing positive. Those 40 inmates and nine others were removed immediately Thursday, and 310 more were removed from Riverbend on Friday. "Obviously, when this much contraband is discovered we need to assess security protocols," said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. "What we're trying to accomplish is reducing the inmate population to a level we believe the staff can handle." Laborde said more than 500 state inmates remain at Riverbend. Emerald Prison Enterprises, with corporate headquarters in Shreveport and Lafayette, manages Riverbend, a private prison leased by the East Carroll Law Enforcement District. Steve Afeman, Emerald's chief operating officer, said he was concerned but not alarmed by what state officials found at the prison. "It always concerns me, but you're always going to find contraband at a prison," he said. Afeman said he suspects East Carroll Sheriff Wydette Williams asked for the shakedown as a tactic to gain control of the detention center's management. Williams, chief executive of the East Carroll Law Enforcement District, has filed a lawsuit in 6th District Court hoping to have Emerald's contract nullified. Former Sheriff Mark Shumate, whom Williams unseated, made the deal with Emerald as a lame duck in March against Williams' wishes. Under the 15-year deal, Emerald is obligated to pay the district $150,000 annually. A hearing on the lawsuit is schedule for Sept. 5. "The sheriff wants to run this facility," Afeman said. "When it gets to the point where a sheriff is nonresponsive, these things start happening." Williams denied that the shakedown was an event he orchestrated as a ploy to pressure Emerald to reconsider its contract to manage the facility. "When you have a facility that is full of drugs and other contraband, it's a legitimate threat not only to the inmates housed there but to the parish itself with this many breaches in security," Williams said. Laborde said state corrections staff remain on site assessing the situation. She wouldn't speculate on whether more state inmates could be removed. In addition to marijuana, cellphones and shanks, members of the shakedown team confiscated cash, MP3 players, thumb drives and tattoo guns.

February 10, 2012 News Star
Sixth District Judge John Crigler issued a temporary restraining order Friday preventing lame-duck East Carroll Parish Sheriff Mark Shumate from turning over the management of the Riverbend Detention Center to Emerald Companies, a private prison management firm. Crigler’s order calls for a hearing on the matter on Feb. 16 at the East Carroll courthouse. The East Carroll Parish Clerk of Court confirmed the order was issued. Sheriff-elect Wydette Williams asked the court to issue the temporary retraining order because he fears the contract would financially gut the East Carroll Parish Law Enforcement District. The sheriff’s office currently manages Riverbend. “It makes absolutely no sense,” Williams said. “It would eliminate more local jobs and place our ability to provide quality law enforcement in the parish in grave jeopardy.” Late last year Shumate closed the East Carroll Detention Center and moved all of those prisoners to the private Riverbend facility in another controversial move. Williams said he doesn’t know the exact impact of turning over the management of Riverbend to a private firm because Shumate hasn’t been forthcoming with the information. Shumate hosted a public meeting about the Riverbend issue Wednesday at the East Carroll courthouse, but after reading a brief statement he left the meeting and declined to answer questions or reveal details about the proposed deal. Williams hopes a judge will demand answers from Shumate. “He’ll have to bring forth information and explain how this would be beneficial to the parish, and I don’t believe he can,” Williams said. “I’ve tried to reach out to him myself, and he won’t respond.” Williams, a former deputy at the East Carroll Parish Sheriff’s Office and investigator for the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, beat Shumate in the Oct. 22 election, but Williams won’t take office until July 1. The sheriff-elect said once he takes office he will explore the possibility of reopening the East Carroll Parish Detention Center.

South Louisiana Correctional Center
Basile, Louisiana
Louisiana Correctional Services
August 1, 2009 New America Media
Some one hundred immigrant detainees at a private prison in Louisiana, angered by what they say are awful conditions, are engaged in increasingly tense protests. Beginning in early July, they’ve staged waves of hunger strikes and provided immigrant advocates with testimonies to gain attention for their complaints. Prison authorities, meanwhile, have been reacting by placing hunger strikers in isolation for days at a time. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency in charge of immigrant detention, has said the solitary confinement isn’t disciplinary, but precautionary “medical isolation.” At least six inmates remain in solitary confinement as a result of the last hunger strike, which began July 27, according to Saket Soni, of the New Orleans Worker’s Center for Racial Justice. He spoke to New America Media via cellphone Saturday afternoon. He was on his way to visit the prison, the Southern Louisiana Correctional Center, a 1,000-bed facility set near rice fields in the town of Basile, a four-hour drive west of New Orleans. The detainees “are facing a severe sense of isolation and desperation,” he says. In a report compiled by Soni and other advocates and published on the center’s website July 30, some 100 detainees acting as “human rights monitors” complain of lack of responsible medical attention, even for serious ailments like leukemia, high blood pressure, and asthma. They also report unreliable, and in some cases nonexistent, phone contact with lawyers and family, a vacuum of information about their deportation cases, and scarcity of soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and even underwear. One detainee reports “rats, mosquitoes, flies, and spiders inside the cell,” one of several shared by scores of detainees. A Jewish detainee says he was denied a kosher diet, while another said the detention center’s food routinely made him sick. These testimonies would put the facility in violation of several standards issued by the Department of Homeland Security for immigrant detainees, according to Soni. But federal officials responsible for the detainees flatly deny they have been subjected to any mistreatment. Philip Miller, acting field office director in New Orleans for Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE, says he visited the Basile facility on July 16 and found its maintenance and pest control program satisfactory. In the July 30 report, one detainee claims there was no soap and toothpaste for three weeks in May, but Miller denies that: “That’s not true,” since inmates receive toiletries upon request. To date, there have been five hunger strikes to protest conditions at the Basile detention center, and they’ve involved some 60 detainees, says Soni. Prison staff reportedly sought to quell these protests by isolating hunger strikers, sometimes even before they began refusing food, according to testimonials from men who participated in earlier hunger strikes. In the report, Joaquin López says that on the morning of July 23 he and four other immigrant detainees in a cell called Wolf 3 were put into the “hole” for planning a hunger strike. The next day, López said, they were brought out of the “hole,” cuffed at the ankles and wrists, and interrogated for two hours, then placed in solitary confinement again, in cells measuring twelve by six feet. He was brought out of the isolation cell to speak with advocates on July 25. Another detainee, Fausto Gonzalez, who has asthma, said that on July 28, over 30 people in his cell, Tiger 2, refused food and voiced their complaints. Guards showed up in black riot uniforms, said Gonzalez, and two men were sent to the “hole.” Soni says he doesn’t know how long the men mentioned in the report remained in solitary, since the limited contact doesn’t allow him to track them. “Solitary confinement as retaliatory punishment for peaceful protest of conditions is unacceptable,” said the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights in a statement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency which oversees immigrant detention, denies any hunger strikers would be punished with solitary confinement, or unduly pressured. Federal detention standards require that a hunger striker be placed in “medical isolation in order to closely monitor the detainee and meet his medical needs,” says Miller, the ICE field officer for detention and removal. Also, says Miller, hunger strikers undergo a medical review and counseling about the health risks they face. Seven national advocacy groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a letter demanding she investigate the Basile, Louisiana prison and the detainees’ grievances. Last month, Napolitano denied a court petition asking for bolstered, legally enforceable detention standards at facilities housing immigrant detainees. Instead, DHS opted to stick with “performance-based” standards enforced by private contractors.

July 30, 2009 AP
A group of detainees at a Louisiana immigration detention center have begun three-day hunger strikes to protest poor conditions there, immigrant advocates said. The news comes just days after Department of Homeland Security officials dismissed a report critical of conditions at its immigration holding centers nationwide. About 100 detainees contributed to a report released Thursday by the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, claiming bleak conditions at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lockup in Basile, La., 183 miles northwest of New Orleans. "It's not fit for a human being," read a comment attributed to Fausto Gonzalez, according to the report a detainee from the Dominican Republic. "There are rats, mosquitoes, flies, and spiders inside the cell and inside the dorm. The ventilation is terrible," he said. "We have tried to complain about all of these problems, and we haven't gotten anywhere. They tell us, 'It's a jail. This is how it is.'" Dora Schriro, special adviser on detention and removal for Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, did not return requests for comment Thursday. Philip Miller, ICE's acting field office director in New Orleans, who oversees five southern states, said the facility was cleaned daily and that he had talked with staff about addressing detainee concerns. "We acknowledge and accept the fact that immigration detention is not punitive in nature," he said. "And we have to take a high degree of caution and a high degree of sensitivity in how we maintain our facility." The Associated Press has requested access to the 1,002-bed complex which is run through private contracts with several law enforcement bodies, including ICE. Dick Harbison, executive vice president of contractor LCS Corrections Services Inc., has agreed to the tour and ICE officials are considering it. Access to immigration detainees is generally limited to family and legal representatives, which staff attorneys at the New Orleans group have become for those quoted in its report. Detainees at Basil are being held on federal charges of staying in the country without authorization, but in some cases local charges as well. Gonzalez is among 60 detainees who have undertaken rotating 72-hour hunger strikes over the last month to protest conditions, said Saket Soni, executive director of the Workers' Center. They would strike for longer periods, Soni said, but the detainees feared inadequate medical care and placement of strikers in solitary confinement could lead to serious illnesses. The conditions outlined in the report are similar to those highlighted in the report released Tuesday by the National Immigration Law Center. Homeland Security officials dismissed that report as being outdated because it used data and detainee accounts no fresher than 2005. The grievances in the latest report are no older than two weeks. Among the report's claims: - A detainee said guards humiliated him and other men by issuing them women's nylon underwear. - A Jewish man said when he requested Kosher food, guards said they didn't know what it was and he was given unsealed food that made him throw up. - One detainee said he has not had phone contact with his family or lawyer for a month because phone cards that they are required to buy take a week to be issued and then do not work in most holding cells. - For about three weeks in May, the jail ran out of soap and toothpaste, said a detainee. - A hunger striker said air conditioning was turned down in his room after he began his protest and he was eventually placed in solitary confinement and pressured to eat. "Ninety-five percent of it's untrue," said Harbison. "Occasionally, an inmate tells you a lie." Harbison said records showed only two inmates had failed to report to the mess hall during the period in which the hunger strikes were to have taken place. Striking detainees reported to the mess so they would not face retaliation, said Soni, but left their trays full.

July 27, 2006 AP
About 320 female Alabama prisoners being housed in Louisiana are being moved to another prison in that state but one closer to Alabama. The women inmates had been housed at a private prison at Basile in southwest Louisiana. They are being moved to J.B. Evans Correctional Center in Newellton, La., which is on the Louisiana-Mississippi line about 60 miles west of Jackson. The move brings the inmates about two and a-half hours closer to the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, prisons commissioner Richard Allen said Thursday. It also reduces travel time for corrections officers. The Alabama Department of Corrections has a contract with LCS Correctional Services to house the inmates to help reduce overcrowded conditions at Tutwiler. The J.B. Evans Correctional Center opened in 1994 and is a medium security facility with the capacity of holding 440 inmates. Allen said it will be used exclusively for the Alabama women prisoners. More than 600 male inmates are also housed in private facilities in Louisiana because of overcrowded conditions in Alabama prisons.

January 25, 2006 Birmingham News
When the Alabama Department of Corrections decided to put prisoners in a private out-of-state prison, women went first. The state opened a transition center for people on parole, and it was for women. A close look at these experiments, however, shows that, for the overall prison population to drop by much, the state may need to turn to alternatives such as expanded drug courts and community-based treatment and sentencing reform. A bill endorsed by Gov. Bob Riley takes a step in that direction by stressing changes in Alabama's sentencing structure. In reaction to a federal court settlement that forced the state to cut the population at Tutwiler Prison for Women to 950, the state Parole Board released several hundred low-level offenders and the state began housing pockets of women in other facilities - the Louisiana private prison, the LifeTech parole transition center and county jails. But Alabama now incarcerates 1,920 women, only a 4 percent drop in three years. And instead of steering female drug offenders into community programs - as numerous government task forces have recommended - the state is locking up more women for drug crimes than ever before. "The path that Alabama has taken over the last four years of renting more bed space for women has proven to be the wrong path," said Lisa Kung, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit law firm that has won settlements over conditions at prisons. In Birmingham, only 40 of 100 spaces are filled in "Second Chance" a federally funded program that allows newly released women to live in apartments and work regular jobs while receiving drug treatment, medical and mental health services. Not enough women are being paroled to fill the slots. Kung agreed that LifeTech is a better option than prison. But she wants the state to use the center for incarcerated women, not probationers. Nearly 40 percent of the women at the private prison in Louisiana will be eligible for parole over the next three years, according to DOC records. Many have served terms of 15 years or more for crimes Kung said often involved abusive partners. She's hoping parole officials will consider letting some of these women into LifeTech, and she has been working with lawmakers on gender-specific parole guidelines that might help cut the numbers of low-risk women locked in private prisons. LCS Corrections houses 320 Alabama women at its Louisiana prison, with a price tag climbing toward $10 million since the contract began in 2003. A prison run by the same company is set to open in Perry County and may end up housing Alabama men. Kung's problem with shipping so many women to Louisiana is that they are housed 900 miles from their children and families and have no opportunities to take the classes that the parole board looks to as signs prisoners are trying to improve themselves. "The inmates housed here have too much idle time on their hands and that defeats the purpose of rehabilitation," inmate Sharron Kay Jones, 47, serving 15 years for solicitation to commit murder, wrote in a letter from Louisiana "There is no rehabilitation here at all." Inmate Paula Settle, 34, of Tuscaloosa, serving 15 years for drug trafficking, signed up for anger management, substance abuse, parenting and trade school classes at Tutwiler. But she was immediately transferred to Louisiana. "There are no classes, programs, meetings, jobs or counselors here. No trades, no furthering education, no chaplain or religious assemblies or functions," she said.

August 16, 2005 The Advocate
A private prison company has settled a federal lawsuit filed by the family of an inmate who died in custody after he was allegedly beaten and denied adequate medical care. Gregory Lee, 35, died June 22, 2003, less than a week after he was transferred from LCS South Louisiana Detention Center in Basile to the state-run Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel for medical treatment. LCS Vice-President Dick Harbison confirmed Monday that a settlement had been reached but declined to discuss the terms. Willie Nunnery, the attorney representing Lee' family in the lawsuit, also declined to offer any specifics on the settlement. "It is a strictly, strictly confidential matter," he said. The settlement of the lawsuit against Lafayette-based LCS comes after prosecutors filed charges last year against guards at the company's two south Louisiana facilities. Gilbert Self, 50, a former captain at LCS's Pine Prairie Correctional Center, was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2004, accused of hitting an inmate and then trying to persuade three fellow corrections officers not to cooperate in an investigation of the incident. Self, who faces one count of violating civil rights and three counts of witness tampering, is set for trial in September. An Evangeline Parish grand jury in June 2004 indicted four guards at the company's Basile facility on charges of malfeasance in office for allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with inmates. LCS officials have said that all of the guards facing criminal charges at the two facilities were terminated after internal investigations.

April 6, 2005 Montgomery Advertiser
From the day the Department of Corrections began talking about sending some inmates to private, out-of-state prisons, the Advertiser expressed serious reservations about the idea, and for several reasons. Nothing that has happened since has changed our view of the practice. Questions raised by female inmates sent to a privately operated prison in Louisiana have prompted a new concern -- whether incarceration there hurts their chances for parole. The private prison in Basile, La., nearly 500 miles from DOC headquarters in Montgomery, now houses about 270 Alabama inmates. Severe overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka, Alabama's only penitentiary for women, led the department to send some inmates there to bring the Tutwiler population down to a more manageable level. The state's short-term options were limited, so using the private prison as a stopgap measure was understandable. But private prisons have a lot of inherent qualities that should concern Alabamians. They are for-profit enterprises, of course, so there are financial pressures that could lead to potentially dangerous cutting of corners. In many cases, they are little more than warehouses for inmates, with few opportunities for work or training. That could be a detrimental factor in parole considerations. As a group of inmates notes in a call for reform, this prison that sits surrounded by Louisiana rice fields offers no classes, no training programs, no rehabilitation groups or any of the things that inmates can point to when they come up for parole consideration. "Down here, the time is not constructive," said Phyllis Richey, an inmate from Muscle Shoals. "We have nothing to do. We're basically housed. That's it." For inmates who are well behaved and are trying to serve their time responsibly and get out of prison, this is clearly frustrating. Rather than having an incentive to improve themselves in preparation for life outside prison, inmates are stuck in a prison far away from their homes and families in Alabama, simply marking time. That's bad enough. The prospect that their parole consideration is affected only makes matters worse. Private prisons are a bad concept. The sooner Alabama can get its inmates out of them, the better.

April 1, 2005 Birmingham News
Alabama female prisoners locked in a rural Louisiana prison are demanding changes they say could give them a fairer shot at parole and curb the state's reliance on private, forprofit lockups. Women at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, some of whom have been housed 500 miles from their families for two years, wrote a Platform for Fair Reform. The two-page document includes reasons for their
concerns and five demands they think would improve their chances for getting parole and leading productive lives. The women have asked for: Objective parole criteria, workrelease opportunities, an end to the parole board's backlog, an end to the ''heinous crime'' designation that prevents some of them from working outside the prison and a chance to face their victims as well as the parole board. The move to the Louisiana prison, 475 miles from Montgomery, makes it difficult or impossible for families to visit, the inmates said. Surrounded by rice fields, the prison has no classes, programs or rehabilitation groups, the opportunities prisoners rely on to show the parole board they have worked to better themselves.

January 21, 2005 The Advocate
The family of an inmate who died in prison held a news conference Thursday to release the details of his death. The family members of Gregory Lee, 35, of Kenner, convicted in 2003 of distribution of cocaine near a church, say he died because he didn't receive proper medical care at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, a private prison in Basile. The family has filed suit in federal court against LCS Corrections Services Inc. and Patrick LeBlanc of Lafayette, Gary Copes, former Lafayette police chief and warden of the facility, and several facility employees. The suit was filed in 2003 and is pending before U.S. District Judge Tucker L. Melançon. Willie Nunnery, the family's attorney, provided the media with a report from an expert his clients have hired. "This case has taken on a new twist," Nunnery said. "It is the intent of his family that the public know what happened to Gregory Lee." According to his death certificate, Lee died June 22, 2003. The medical transfer document from the SLCC indicates he left there June 17, 2003. The autopsy report, prepared by the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office, indicates that Lee died of complications from AIDS. However, a forensic pathologist hired by Lee's family has examined microscope slides -- which the Orleans officials did not do -- and determined that Lee probably died from sepsis, a severe infection. Dr. Robert Huntington III, an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, participated in the news conference via speakerphone. Huntington said sepsis can be the result of infected wounds that aren't treated, and it also can start with pneumonia, bladder infections or heart infections, he said. Nunnery said he also has taken the deposition of two inmates who were being held in Basile at the time Lee was there. Those depositions indicate that the inmates testified Lee was being beaten and sprayed with tear gas. Nunnery said Lee was "hogtied" and beaten, shackled and left in chains for hours. "There can be no justice until the courts deal with the privatization of prisons in this state," Nunnery said. "There should be a massive inquiry into what happened to Gregory Lee. This individual was beaten, and the system sought to hide and cover this up."

October 21, 2004 Montgomery Advertiser
Although it is important to acknowledge that the filing of a lawsuit proves nothing in and of itself, the suit filed by an Alabama inmate housed in an out-of-state private prison raises anew some valid concerns about such facilities. The Advertiser has long had reservations about private prisons and nothing in Alabama's recent experience has alleviated them in the slightest.
In April of last year, Alabama began sending female inmates to a private prison in Basile, La., to relieve overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama's only prison for females. Private prisons are, of course, intended to be money-making ventures, and that creates the potential for some serious problems. Even the most fervent believers in free enterprise -- count the Advertiser among them -- surely can see that the profit motive and the function of prisons are ripe for conflict.  When a state deprives a citizen of liberty for having violated its laws, it also assumes the custody of that individual. That is a solemn responsibility. When an individual is incarcerated for the protection of society, the state is not absolved of the obligation to carry out that incarceration in a constitutional manner.  With a private prison, the pursuit of profit invariably creates the temptation to cut corners, to skimp on safety, personnel, medical attention, nutrition and other facets of the operation. It's simply a bad mix of private-sector motives and public-sector responsibilities. The merits of this particular suit will be determined in court, but the inherent problems with private prisons are something Alabama has to face. They are not an acceptable solution to Alabama's prison problems in the long term, and even their short-term use is questionable.

October 19, 2004 Daily Comet
An Alabama inmate is suing the state Department of Corrections and a private prison company in Louisiana, claiming she was raped after being shipped out of state due to a lack of space.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 1 in Louisiana federal court, claims that guards at the South Louisiana Correctional Center sexually assaulted at least two prisoners, including raping the woman who filed the suit, and that the guards had sex with one another and played cards and drank beer during the night shift. The four guards named in the lawsuit have been fired. Also, an Evangeline Parish grand jury indicted them on charges of malfeasance in office for sexual conduct prohibited for people confined in a correctional institution. All four pleaded not guilty, The Birmingham News reported Tuesday. The lawsuit claims that Alabama prison Commissioner Donal Campbell failed to properly investigate LCS before shipping Alabama women there and failed to implement proper policies and procedures for the oversight of the contract. The inmate who filed the suit claims she got no medical treatment after the assault.

August 15, 2004
Soon after arriving at the South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile in 2003 inmate Gregory Lee died. Attorney Willie J. Nunnery, who is representing Lee's mother, Mae Thompson Lee, is charging that the private, for-profit prison abused and tortured him.
Nunnery is seeking access to prisoners who allegedly witnessed what happened to Lee and a reexamination of the forensic evidence. When the charges where first filed, prison guards said Lee jumped off the top bunk of his cell, hitting his head on the toilet. Nunnery, a civil rights attorney, has a darker theory. He claims that following an altercation after the evening meal, prison guards attempted to punish Lee by beating him. Following the incident, Lee, badly injured from whatever cause, was transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center , a state facility, where he died several days later. Nunnery said he is in possession of photographs taken when Lee arrived at Elayn Hunt. "They were very barbaric pictures," Nunnery said. "If you saw those pictures it would make your stomach turn." The Basile facility and another LCS private prison at Pine Prairie have repeatedly made headlines recently with both female employees and inmates bringing charges of sexual harassment against the company. "I don't understand why there isn't any public outcry to have that place shut down," Nunnery said. (Daily World)

June 11, 2004
Four guards who worked at the Basile Detention Center in Evangeline Parish were indicted Friday for allegedly having sexual contact with female inmates.  An Evangeline Parish grand jury indicted the four guards on charges of malfeasance in office for sexual conduct prohibited for persons confined in a correctional institution. Kenneth Stenson Sr., Horace Edwards, Frank Lenoir and Jeffery Collins will be arraigned July 1 and will face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The indictments follow four days of testimony from investigators, prison guards and 22 inmates at the south Louisiana correctional center.  (AP)

June 7, 2004
Allegations of sexual contact between security officers and female inmates from Alabama at a private prison in Basile are scheduled to be studied this week by a grand jury.  Two prison employees were fired after an internal investigation into the allegations made by female inmates who were being held at the South Louisiana Correctional Center.  (AP)

April 7, 2004
A Louisiana district attorney says he will pursue criminal charges against guards at a private prison over sexual contact with inmates from Alabama, The Birmingham News reported.  About 200 female prisoners from Alabama are being housed at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, where they were transferred last year to help relieve overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison for Women.  The criminal case, involving an incident late last year, is the result of an investigation begun by the Alabama Department of Corrections.  "There is definite misconduct that did occur, and we will follow through with it," Evangeline Parish District Attorney Brent Coreil said Tuesday. He said he has not decided whether to file direct charges or present a case to a grand jury.  The Basile, La., lockup is owned and operated by LCS Corrections, based in Lafayette, La. Alabama pays the company about $23 per inmate per day to house the women.  "ADOC's investigation produced a confession from an employee at South Louisiana Correctional Center, along with subsequent termination of that employee. We then turned our investigative report over to the local district attorney for prosecution," Alabama prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said.  (AP)

February 13, 2004
Investigators are looking into allegations of illegal sexual contact between a female prisoner and a guard at the Louisiana private prison housing prisoners from Alabama. This is the second such investigation involving an Alabama inmate and an employee or employees of Southeastern Louisiana Correctional Center, said Richard Harbison, general manager of LCS Corrections Services. The Lafayette, La., company runs the prison housing about 275 Alabama women. "We do have the district attorney involved in it," Harbison said Thursday. "Which means we're taking it very seriously."   Harbison said the current investigation stems from an alleged incident that occurred about two months ago, but was reported only recently. He said it was not considered an assault. Under Louisiana and Alabama law, sex between prisoners and guards is illegal. The laws are aimed at keeping guards from using their power to coerce or abuse prisoners.  The Alabama Department of Corrections pays LCS about $24 per prisoner to per day. DOC signed the contract with the for-profit company last April because of pressure to relieve crowding at Tutwiler Prison for Women.  Tutwiler Warden Gladys Deese and a DOC investigator visited the Basile, La., prison this week to look into the recent claim, Harbison said.  Deese's visit was already scheduled and part of her duties as warden, said Steve Hayes, an Alabama prison spokesman.  Hayes confirmed that Alabama authorities are investigating reports of an inappropriate incident at the Louisiana prison.  LCS has placed three guards on leave during the investigation. Harbison said not all of them are suspects, that some are suspected of observing improper activity and not reporting it.  Last year, officials at the Louisiana prison investigated another alleged sexual incident between an Alabama inmate and a prison employee or employees. "The first one we were unable to prove or disprove," Harbison said.  LCS had arranged for the inmate who made the first allegation to take a polygraph test. Before the test could be administered, the Alabama DOC transferred to the woman back to Tutwiler, one of a group of 30 inmates who returned last November, Harbison said.  (Advocate)

September 25, 2003
The mother of former South Louisiana Correctional Center inmate Gregory Lee has filed a lawsuit alleging that Lee was beaten and tortured before being transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, where he died.   The lawsuit was filed Aug. 15 in U.S. District Court in Lafayette against Warden Gary Copes, state Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder and unnamed prison guards.  Lee was incarcerated May 6 at the Basile facility to begin serving an eight-year sentence for distribution of drugs, said Willie J. Nunnery, an attorney for Lee's mother, Mae Thompson Lee.  Sometime before June 17, "we believe he was severely beaten and brutalized before he left Basile," said Nunnery, of Madison, Wis.  Lee was transferred from the Basile prison to Hunt Correctional June 17.  He died June 22; his death certificate lists the cause of death as "complications of AIDS."  Nunnery disputes that claim and points to an autopsy report by the Iberville Parish Coroner's Office that found some recent hemorrhage adjacent to Lee's three lower right ribs.  He also has photographs taken post-autopsy that he said illustrate the torture that Lee endured.  The photographs show scrapes on both sides of Lee's back near his shoulder blades, on his face near his eyebrow and on his right elbow and knee.  They also show a cut several inches long on his left shoulder and a large bruise on his left side.  Nunnery said he and Lee's family believe those injuries, especially to Lee's back, occurred when Lee was beaten or struck with some sort of instrument.  If he mutilated himself, like some have alleged, how did he sustain injuries on his back, Nunnery said.  Mae Lee said Wednesday that she wants to know who beat her son and she wants the person or people responsible convicted.  The mother said she felt she had to file the lawsuit to get to the truth about what happened to her son.  "I'm hoping the truth will come out," she said. "The pictures are proof."  In a letter from Hunt Warden C. M. Lensing to state Sen. Arthur Lentini, R-Metairie, Lensing said he received information from Evangeline Parish authorities that Lee had tried to escape the morning of June 17.  Upon capture, "he mutilated himself and while bleeding from the mouth he began spitting at the guards and medical staff," Lensing wrote.  Lee was HIV positive, Lensing wrote.  Lee arrived at Hunt in a paper gown and wrapped in a blanket, Lensing wrote. He was fully restrained. Lensing wrote that there were numerous cuts, bruises and scrapes on Lee's body.  Once at Hunt, Lee was placed on extreme suicide watch until the following morning, Lensing wrote.  Lensing wrote that Lee's "wounds were tended to, he took his medication, his appetite was poor but he did eat and drink."  The suicide watch log indicates that Lee was observed sleeping at 2:01 p.m. About 2:15 p.m., Lee was found dead in his cell, Lensing wrote.  Lensing also wrote that after an autopsy performed by Dr. William Newman of the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office, Newman theorized that an infection in the heart valve, which can be caused by AIDS, led to an arrhythmia which in turn caused sudden cardiac arrest.  Nunnery said he and Lee's family attribute Lee's death to a "major collapse" in the Louisiana prison system, partly attributed to the privatization of some prisons.  "I think they knew he was in such bad shape, they got him out of the private prison system," Nunnery said.  Nunnery also said that federal officials have decided to get involved in the matter.  "I do know it's being taken very seriously," Nunnery said.  Attorney Christopher Edwards, who represents Copes and LCS Corrections Services, the company that owns and operates the Basile correctional center, said he has spoken with security officers and other prisoners who said they saw Lee leap from his top bunk and fall head first into his toilet in a suicide attempt.  The witnesses allegedly watched Lee awake from a daze, bang his head and throw his body against his cell wall, Edwards said.  "I think what happened was a big misunderstanding," Edwards said.  When the family received Lee's body, it was covered with self-inflicted cuts and scrapes, Edwards said.  The escape attempt referred to occurred when Lee was being loaded into an ambulance for his transfer to Hunt, Edwards said.  "He was still mad and angry and trying to run," Edwards said.  The attorney said that Lee's transfer was a common procedure for any inmate deemed a danger to himself or to others.  He also defended the facility's care of its inmates.  "We have policies and procedures written down for the care of prisoners," Edwards said.  Stalder was unavailable for comment late Wednesday afternoon.  Copes, who served as Lafayette police chief from 1987 to 1994, faced federal criminal charges in 1996 in connection with a prison disturbance at the private Tensas Parish Correctional Center.  He was acquitted on a charge of witness tampering, but jurors in the federal trial in Monroe were unable to reach a verdict on one count of conspiracy and six counts of violating civil rights of inmates.  Nunnery has scheduled a news conference today in Lafayette to discuss the lawsuit.  (Advocate)

September 15, 2003
Lawyer Bruce Rozas, who was handling four sexual harassment cases against LCS Corrections Services Inc., which operates private, for-profit prisons in Basile and Pine Prairie, is now handling seven.  "Following the media coverage, I had three more women come to see me today," Rozas said Friday from his office in Mamou. He said the newest complaints date back to 1998, all involving the same two officers named in his earlier Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints on behalf of Maggie Dupre, a nurse at South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile, and Sandra Whittington, a nurse at Pine Prairie Correctional Center.  Dupre was fired this week after coming forward with her complaints.  According to Rozas, the new complaints show the same  pattern.  He said two of his new clients, Carla T. Zeno and Laurie Ardoin, both claim they were also fired after making complaints about unwanted sexual advances by superior officers.  "I expect that before this is over, we will have many more complaints," Rozas said.  Lafayette-based LCS Corrections Services Inc., which also operates two private prisons in Texas and another in Tensas Parish, referred calls to Sue Fontenot, an Abbeville attorney who represents the company.  Fontenot was unavailable for comment.  (Daily World)

September 12, 2003
Two employees who filed complaints against the South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile have lost their jobs.  “They fired them,” said Mamou lawyer Bruce Rozas, who represents licensed practical nurse Maggie Dupre. “They said, ‘We don’t have to give you a reason.’ ”  The prison Wednesday fired Dupre and Bethani Benjudah, a corrections officer. Benjudah has asked Rozas to represent her.  Dupre’s story of alleged continuing sexual harassment and intimidation by prison guards and administrators, along with that of Fonda Autin, a female corrections officer at the private, for-profit prison, was reported Thursday.  At that time, Rozas was representing three women charging LCS Corrections Services Inc., which operates the Basile facility, with fostering an atmosphere of intimidation and sexual harassment.  “I now have four cases and naming three different officers,” Rozas said. “You have to blame management. One complaint is a campfire — four is a bonfire. The problem is clearly at the top.”  Dick Harbison, general manager of LCS, said that now that lawyers are involved, he cannot comment on the case. He referred all calls to Sue Fontenot, an Abbeville attorney who represents the company.  Fontenot said she has just received the case, but from what she’s learned “it does not appear Ms. Dupre’s complaint is meritorious.”  She said that, to her knowledge, Dupre was reprimanded for “a serious violation of policy.”  In the case of Benjudah, Fontenot said “her termination was clearly for good cause. It had absolutely no relationship whatsoever to the claims of Ms. Dupre.”  Fontenot declined to go into any specifics.  Rozas got involved in the matter last year when Sandra Whittington, a nurse at the Pine Prairie Correctional Center, also owned by LCS, came to him with complaints of sexual harassment.  As with the other three women Rozas represents, Benjudah tells a tale of continuing sexual harassment and complaints to administrators that went unanswered.  Rozas has filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in New Orleans.  All laws enforced by EEOC, including sexual harassment, require filing a complaint with EEOC before a private lawsuit can be brought.  (The Advertiser)

September 11, 2003
Two female employees of the South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile have come forward, charging the private, for-profit prison with fostering an institutional atmosphere of sexual harassment and intimidation. Acting on the complaints of Maggie Dupre, a licensed practical nurse at the prison, the Evangeline Parish District Attorney's office has issued a warrant against Capt. Ray Rider, a shift captain at the prison, charging him with battery.  Dupre said her complaint is the most recent against the prison.  "They have other suits like mine," Dupre said. "There was even a rape in the prison. The company won't do anything. Something needs to be done about this prison."  Dupre has charged Rider with a pattern of harassment, including sexually explicit language, fondling and exposing himself in her presence.  Dupre claims that after the most recent incident, in which she alleges Rider commented on her breasts, pulled open her shirt and poured a bottle of water down her chest, he was only given a three-day suspension and required to watch a sensitivity tape.  She had hoped for more. "Other women have had complaints, but this time I had a witness," Dupre said.  "He's back now and he's making my life hell. He basically told me he can do whatever he wants," Dupre said.  Dupre's story is similar to that of Fonda Autin, a female correctional officer at the prison.  She said sexually explicit conversations and touching of female employees is common.  Autin filed a complaint with the company about an incident in July when she alleges a male officer harassed her. "I couldn't make him leave. He has rank over me," Autin said.  She claims that after more than 40 days she has yet to get a response to her complaint. "I could still feel his hands on me five hours later," Autin said of the July incident in which she claims the officer fondled her.  She claims the officer had previously been disciplined for harassing another woman by removing her blouse in front of the prisoners.  "He wasn't back two weeks before he did this to me," Autin said.  "I feel safer around the prisoners than the guards," Autin said. "At least they know if they step out of line there are consequences."  Capt. Caesar, the prison's complaint officer, refused to confirm or deny whether any complaints have been filed with her office. "I cannot talk to you," she said, refusing even to give her first name. Both Dupre and Autin have filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against LCS Corrections Services Inc., a Lafayette-based firm that owns the Basile facility and several others in Texas and Louisiana.  "My last resort was legal help. It is clear the company is not going to protect us," Dupre said.  Both women have retained Mamou lawyer Bruce Rosa to represent them. "It seems starting with Warden (Gary) Copes on down there is a disregard toward enforcing the sexual harassment laws," Rosa said.  Rosa is also representing Sandra Whittington, a nurse at LCS' Pine Prairie Correctional Center.  Copes, as executive warden, is over all of LCS' prison facilities.  Calls for Copes' office were answered by a male voice that refused to give an indentity. That voice asked the nature of the call and then refused to comment.  Copes, a former chief of police in Lafayette, retired from that position under a cloud in 1994 when he was accused of tipping off the owners of a strip club about a pending police sting operation.  Copes went to work with LCS and in 1996.  Rosa said for now his clients will simply have to wait. All laws enforced by EEOC, including sexual harassment, require filing a complaint with EEOC before a private lawsuit can be filed.  EEOC then has 180 days to investigate. If it has not acted within that time frame, it will issue a letter allowing the parties to seek legal action on their own.  "They are flooded with complaints and so many are bogus. I believe they intentionally go slow hoping that many of these situations will work themselves out," Rosa said.  John Berendsen, a case manager with the New Orleans EEOC office where Rosa filed the complaint, said the agency does not confirm or deny whether cases exist.  Dick Harbison, general manager of LCS, referred all calls to Sue Fontenot, an Abbeville attorney who represents the company.  Fontenot's secretary said she was out of the office Wednesday and could not be reached.  (Daily World)

April 16, 2003
The private Louisiana prison where Alabama sent female inmates Monday was the scene of a riot, escapes and other problems that led Idaho to remove its inmates five years ago. The problems occurred at South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basile, La., which is operated by LCS Corrections Services Inc.  Alabama sent 70 female inmates to the prison on Monday and plans to send more, Department of Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell said Tuesday.  Teresa Jones, public information officer for the Idaho Department of Corrections, said Idaho transferred 300 inmates to the LCS prison in the summer of 1997. In September 1997, five inmates escaped by cutting a hole in a fence. Most were recaptured, but one remains at large eight years later, Jones said.  Idaho hired a monitor, who conducted an audit of the prison. In an Oct. 2, 1997, report, he found the prison generally complied with the terms of its contract with Idaho, but also cited problems.  Among them: A riot had occurred in July 1997; the warden was at the prison only two days a week; some cells had the windows painted over with no natural light; and staff training was inadequate.  Jones said Idaho removed all of its inmates by January 1998 and has not used LCS facilities since.  The state also is in negotiations with private prison companies to transfer 600 male inmates. Campbell said Tuesday that no decision has been made on a facility or transfer date.  Gary Copes, executive warden of the company, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 1999 on charges of violating prisoners' civil rights.  The Alabama transfers are part of the state's efforts to resolve overcrowding at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.  (The Montgomery Advertiser)

June 29, 2001
Authorities are saying the inmate who escaped from the Basile Correctional Facility on Sunday night is considered armed and dangerous.  Gerald Matte of Eunice escaped from the private prison Sunday night by overpowering a prison guard and later stole a truck, which he abandoned near Mamou Monday morning.  An all-day search by more than 30 law enforcement officials in the wooded area near where the truck was found turned up nothing.  Detective Joe Demoruelle of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff's Department said Matte is suspected of being involved in at least one of three burglaries in the Eunice area Tuesday night.  A cellphone and a gun were taken in one of the house burglaries, he said.  A review of the calls made from the stolen phone showed that one of the calls was made to the fugitive's sister.  (The Baton Rouge Advocate)

Tallulah Juvenile Prison
Tallulah, LA.
TransAmerican Development Associates (CSC)

January 19, 2007 Times Picayune
The state is preparing to purchase a Tallulah correctional center that for years has been a target of criticism for financial deals and management problems that occurred under a group of private owners with ties to former Gov. Edwin Edwards. The Louisiana Correctional Facilities Corp., a state agency, received permission Thursday from the State Bond Commission to borrow as much as $30 million to buy the facility, which was once known as the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth. The Department of Corrections currently leases the property from the private firm FBA LLC and runs it as an adult substance abuse treatment center. The department intends to keep running the facility for that purpose. Under the current deal, which has been criticized over the years, the state is obligated to make annual payments to FBA through 2020 to pay off the debt that backed the construction of the prison. Even though the state is meeting the payments, the private group in the end would still own the property under the old deal. Under the new plan, the state would pay off the old debt, take ownership of the facility and then pay off the new bonds over the next 13 years. According to the Bond Commission staff, the state would save about $4.2 million over time and FBA will be out of the picture. The Bond Commission's approval is contingent on the state receiving indemnity from a lawsuit related to the facility between the city of Tallulah and the private owners. If that legal step is completed, the state can proceed with the deal. FBA will get $1.6 million that is kept in an escrow account for maintenance costs. Verdi Adam, an FBA partner who is president of the Baton Rouge engineering company GEC Inc., said the partners would have to pay some taxes, debts, legal fees and other expenses with that money. In the end, FBA would have "way below" $1.6 million, he said. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne was the only commission member who opposed the deal. He said the state should not allow the owners to keep the $1.6 million in the maintenance reserve fund. "I have felt, going back a number of years, that the state should acquire the facility by assuming the debt service but not paying the owners," said Dardenne, a former state senator and longtime critic of the deal. "The owners of that facility have done quite well by the state over the years, and I think we have more than fulfilled whatever obligation we have to them."

October 4, 2006 The Advocate
The state wants to buy the infamous Tallulah juvenile prison from its owners, whose politically tinged deal requires the state to keep paying even though its conditions required removal of all the inmates, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday. “At least we would own it instead of them,” Blanco said about the owners, who were political allies of former Gov. Edwin Edwards. Her chief administrative officer, Jerry Luke LeBlanc, said Tuesday, “We felt the solution would be cheaper for the taxpayers of this state.” Within 30 days, LeBlanc said, a deal should be completed to take over Swanson Correctional Center for Youth-Madison Parish Unit facilities, near Tallulah in the northeast corner of the state. State officials are still considering what to do with the buildings once the state owns them, he said. The 700-bed facility was built by private developers closely aligned with Edwards and paid for with $122.5 million in bonds backed with money out of the state budget. Called the nation’s worst “gladiator school,” Tallulah became the symbol of Louisiana’s broken juvenile justice system, which was rife with violence and poor living conditions. Two class-action lawsuits and worldwide human rights groups claimed the treatment at the adult-style prison prepared youthful offenders for a life of crime. The state closed Swanson and by June 2004 transferred all its juvenile inmates. But the state is required to continue paying $3.4 million annually for the next 15 years under a 1994 agreement among the state Department of Corrections, the City of Tallulah and the private prison developer, Trans-American Development Associates. Edwards was governor at the time. Once that debt is paid, TADA continues to own the facility under the agreement. “The state was saddled with a really horrendous deal from a prior administration,” LeBlanc said. “We’ve been trying to work out of the situation for many years.” The primary owners of TADA are George Fischer, a chief of staff, campaign manager and transportation secretary under former Gov. Edwin Edwards; James Brown, former Tallulah state Sen. Charles Brown’s son; and Verdi Adam, a former state highway official, who had business connections with Fischer.

September 13, 2003
A state inspector general's investigation of the school inside the state's juvenile prison in Tallulah revealed missing computers, a potential case of nepotism and a principal who had juvenile offenders make campaign signs for her unsuccessful School Board campaign.  "We consider these findings both singularly and as a whole quite serious, and as such, requiring immediate and unconditional corrective action," state Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard wrote to Inspector General Bill Lynch on May 9.  Lynch and his staff completed their report May 9, but the Governor's Office made the report public Friday only after inquiries by The Advocate.  Westside Alternative School Principal Clara Durr was put on paid leave from May 2 to May 22 while state education officials conducted a follow-up investigation.  Durr is now back on the job and all but one of the 16 computers in question are accounted for, said Cline Jenkins, acting state director of Special School District 1.  Jenkins said Friday the department has upgraded inventory control procedures at the school and that no disciplinary action has been taken against Durr as of Friday.  Meanwhile, internal department audits of the school's Sunshine Club "flower fund" for ill employees and of Durr's school-issued credit card will be completed and forwarded to the Finance/Audit Committee of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education by Oct. 14, Jenkins said.  Westside Alternative High is located behind the razor wire-topped gates of the Tallulah juvenile prison, officially called the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth -- Madison Parish Unit.  Like the schools at the state's other juvenile prisons in East Baton Rouge, Monroe and Bridge City, Westside Alternative High is run under the direct jurisdiction of the state Department of Education through Special School District 1.  On March 18, inspector general's investigators conducted an inventory of computers at the school, but could not locate 16 computers and two printers, costing more than $30,000, according to the report.  Lynch also wrote that Durr improperly commingled the school's public petty cash fund with the employees' private "flower fund" in violation of Department of Education policy.  The report also revealed that Durr hired her son for 20 days as a teacher's aide, in apparent violation of the state's nepotism laws, and had a vocational teacher use students to partially build political signs for her unsuccessful campaign for Madison Parish School Board.  (The Advocate)

September 11, 2003
With the ceremonial signing Wednesday of the state's Juvenile Justice Reform Act, reform advocates called on the next governor and legislature to enact the reforms called for in the legislation.    The reforms include creating a new state agency, the Department of Children, Youth and Juveniles, to be carved from the state corrections, health and social services departments.  The legislation signed into law by Gov. Mike Foster also calls for the closure of the state's juvenile prison at Tallulah within the next 18 months.  (the Advocate)

June 3, 2003
A much-maligned juvenile prison in Tallulah would undergo minor changes and still accept youthful offenders under a proposal put forth by the state's corrections chief.  But one of the chief sponsors of a juvenile justice reform bill, passed Monday and aimed at taking juveniles out of the Tallulah facility, said the proposal defies the will of lawmakers.  Department of Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder said the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth-Madison Parish Unit would no longer accept inmates treated as juveniles.  Instead, the facility, set up to handle inmates under 21 years old, could still be used for youthful offenders treated as adults by the judicial system, Stalder said.  "It really doesn't matter if that adolescent came in as an adult or a juvenile," Stalder said. "He's still the same 18-year-old, and his problems are still the same."  The proposal to keep any youthful offenders at the controversial facility drew the ire of Sen. Don Cravins, D-Arnaudville, a sponsor of a juvenile justice reform bill.  "He either follows the will and intent of the legislation, or we need to find another alternative for him: looking for another job," Cravins said.  The House approved House Bill 2018 on Monday, which requires the state to turn the juvenile prison in Tallulah into an adult prison within 18 months.  Along with taking juveniles out of Tallulah, the bill would form a commission to set up a new juvenile justice department, which would pull together entities spread among several state departments, including corrections, education and social services.  HB2018, sponsored by Rep. Mitch Landrieu, D-New Orleans, cleared the House 104-0. The Senate previously passed similar legislation.  Cravins said the bill should be on Gov. Mike Foster's desk by next week for him to sign into law.  "It's a huge day for Louisiana," said David Utter, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, which has pushed to close the prison.  The prison houses juveniles convicted in juvenile court who can be held up to their 21st birthday.  Under the conversion plan, the facility's educational, therapeutic and life skills units could still be used, Stalder said.  "We will transform that facility from one that deals with juveniles from age 17 to 20 to adults 17 to 20," Stalder said after the bill passed.  Cravins said the intent of the legislation is to keep all juveniles out of Tallulah, not simply to make a change on paper about who is housed there.  Given the near unanimous support for the measures in the House and Senate, Stalder should realize the intent of the legislation, Cravins said.  "I guess we're going to have to spell it out for Mr. Stalder in clear, concise terms," Cravins said.  "It really doesn't matter what you do with it, just so long as it's not for juvenile services at all."  The privately run facility at Tallulah, modeled after adult facilities, has a short, but marred history.  A riot broke out almost as soon as it opened; a state takeover occurred in 1999 and allegations of physical abuse and questions of the propriety of the contract between the state and builder/manager Trans-American Development Associates Inc. became public.  The primary owners of that company, which will take ownership of the facility once the state pays off the bonds, are George Fischer, a chief of staff, campaign manager and transportation secretary under former Gov. Edwin Edwards; James Brown, son of former Tallulah state Sen. Charles Brown; and Verdi Adam, who had previous business dealings with Fischer.  A 2001 legislative auditor's report showed the owners made nearly $9 million in dividends and salaries since 1995.  That deal, along with the allegations of abuse at the facility, lent momentum to the push to reform the juvenile justice system, Utter said.  The measure passed Monday should spur a further look at the deal the state made with the prison's owners, Utter said.  (The Advocate)

May 15, 2003
A compromise proposal to overhaul Louisiana's juvenile justice system by shutting down the much-criticized Tallulah prison and moving to create more rehabilitative programs closer to the communities where young lawbreakers live unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.  A centerpiece of the proposal is to close the secure juvenile facility in Tallulah, formally known as the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth-Madison Parish Unit. The operating money spent on the prison and care of the offenders, which by one estimate is $16 million to $20.6 million, would be used to pay for myriad residential, day-treatment and other programs to work with many juvenile delinquents instead of just locking them up.  The legislation calls for all juveniles to be moved out of the prison by Dec. 31, 2004, about six months longer than was mandated by another bill that passed the Senate earlier in the day. The governor also would be given an emergency option to keep the facility open until May 31, 2005.  Closure of the Tallulah prison in remote northeast Louisiana has become a hot-button issue in recent years, as critics have pointed to what they describe as a pattern of inmate abuse and mistreatment by other inmates and by guards. Also, many of the offenders assigned to the prison are from the New Orleans area and other parts of south Louisiana, making it difficult for the teenagers to stay in touch with parents and other relatives.  (The Times-Picaqune)

May 7, 2003
State Sen. C.D. Jones, who represents the Tallulah area, cast the lone vote against closing the juvenile prison.    Jones, D-Monroe, said some of the problems at Tallulah are not unique to Tallulah. "I certainly don't want to suggest in any way that I'm not interested in the protection of our children," he said.  Jones, saying he also was looking out for the 300-plus employees of the facility, suggested changing the mission to handling offenders age 17 to 21 who have been sentenced as adults.  The committee voted against that provision.  The big problem in the juvenile system is population density, cautioned Elijah Lewis, assistant secretary for Youth Development for the state Corrections Department.  He suggested that closing the Tallulah prison would push more juvenile prisoners together in closer quarters elsewhere.  Cravins told Lewis that, after three years of discussions and studies, the Legislature has to act. "I believe the only way you are going to comply with the will of the people of Louisiana is if you are forced to do it by legislative act, period," Cravins said.  (The Adovocate)

March 2, 2003
Louisiana officials are negotiating with the owners of the juvenile prison in Tallulah on a deal that would eventually give the state ownership of the troubled youth prison.  Under the current agreement, signed in 1994 with the town of Tallulah, the state of Louisiana pays the annual $3.4 million debt service on the prison but will not own the property when the bonds are paid off in 15 years.  Instead, the company that contracted with the town to build the prison, Trans-American Development Associates Inc., will own the buildings.  Drennen has asked the state's bond attorneys to negotiate with the owners of the prison, officially called the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth, Madison Parish Unit, to change that arrangement, having the state take over the bond indebtedness on the prison. The Foster administration will move to do so, he said, only if the owners agree to give up the prison without getting any extra money on top of the state taking over the debt.  That could be a problem for the owners, who also want the state to pay any taxes they incur as a result of the transaction, said David Sherman, an attorney for Trans-American Development Associates.  Sherman said he did not know exactly how much those taxes would be but that they could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The owners also want to keep the money they have put into a maintenance fund to pay for major repairs on the property, he said.  Of the state's four juvenile prisons, the Tallulah facility has come under particular fire. Foes of the prison want to close it, citing a pattern of inmate abuse, not only when it was operated by Trans-American in the mid-1990s but also after the state took it over in 1999.  "I'm shocked that there might be support for buying more prison beds in a state that is overbuilt both in terms of juveniles and adults," said David Utter, an attorney with the Juvenile Justice Project in New Orleans.  Lawmakers last spring considered stopping payment on the debt service, looking to use a provision of the agreement obligating the state that allows the Legislature to stop appropriating at any time it deems it necessary. But bond analysts told state officials that move would jeopardize the state's bond rating, signaling that the Louisiana government is unwilling to make good on its debts.  (Capital Bureau)

February 17, 2003
Louisiana should close the juvenile prison at Tallulah to make way for a new juvenile justice system that offers more treatment and less incarceration, a top judge and New Orleans lawmaker said Thursday.  Tallulah, formerly known as Swanson Correctional Center for Youth, Madison Parish Unit, built in 1994 with a fleet of maximum-security, single cells symbolizes what the state does wrong handling young offenders, they said:  It's punitive, expensive and ineffective.  "The idea of Tallulah is the problem," said state Rep. Mitch Landrieu, D-New Orleans.  Landrieu, who heads a legislative commission formed in 2001 to review juvenile justice, was joined by Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Chief Judge C. Hearn Taylor in blasting Tallulah as a solution to juvenile crime.  The judge decried Louisiana's juvenile justice system as one that "produces a place that throws kids through plate-glass windows," a reference to reports of guard-on-inmate abuses at the Tallulah prison.  Tallulah opened in 1994 as a for-profit prison.  The state took it over in 1999, after a federal civil rights lawsuit found rampant abuse and neglect of the young inmates.  (Staff)

September 20, 2002 
Agreeing wholeheartedly with advocacy groups calling for juvenile justice reform, five candidates in the race for New Orleans Parish district attorney said Wednesday that the state should close the youth prison at Tallulah and create alternatives to locking up troubled children.  Eddie Jordan, James Gray II, Paul Massa and Gary Wainwright met with juvenile advocates at the office of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana.  Dale Atkins had a scheduling conflict, but said later she also is in agreement.  Each endorsed a three-step plan laid out by the Coalition for an Effective Juvenile Justice System, a group of 26 New Orleans organizations.  The group invited all eight candidates for the top prosecutor's job to the event, which had been rescheduled from Tuesday.  Half of the showed up.  The plan calls for closing the 400-bed facility in Tallulah, which holds about 330 juveniles, and putting the money used to house New Orleans juveniles-- an estimated $2.4 million a year-- into local rehabilitation programs.  (The Times-Picayune)

May 29, 2002
Escaping a private-prison contract would shackle the state to a horrid bond rating, Commissioner of Administration Mark Drennen warned the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.  The state spends $3.2 million a year to lease a privately owned juvenile prison in Tallulah.  "I think we need to know how we're going to exit Tallulah," Sen. Don Cravins, D-Arnaudville, said.  "Find a solution so we do not default.  We're either in or out.  I'd rather be out."  If the state's going to make more than $30 million in lease payments until 2019, it might as well go ahead an spend that money on buying the prison, Drennen said.  (The Advocate)

May 29, 2002
Cutting off state money for the juvenile prison in Tallulah could hurt Louisiana's bond rating, jeopardizing many construction projects around the state, Gov. Foster's chief financial adviser said Tuesday.  Commissioner of Administration Mark Drennen's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee comes as many lawmakers are suggesting closing the Tallulah prison.  They cite reports of inmate abuse and say the state's lease to operate the privately owned prison is a bad deal for taxpayers.  Although the lease specifies that the Department of Corrections must ask for financing each year, it also contains a provision letting the Legislature get out of the arrangement by not ponying up money in the budget bill.  (The Times-Picayune)

May 28, 2002
Almost the entire budget for programs to keep young people from going to prison and to provide shelter for runaway youths is in jeopardy.  Also on the table is whether the state should continue financing the juvenile prison in Tallulah, which has been the subject of persistent criticism, said Senate President John Hainkel, R-New Orleans.  Many lawmakers, critical of the facility's lease and concerned about complaints inmates have been abused, have agitated to close the prison, perhaps directing many of the nonviolent offenders to community-based programs.  "I think there is general agreement that Tallulah was born of parents named avarice and greed, "Hainkel told Corrections Secretary Richard Stadler.  The state took over operation of the privately owned facility in 1999, but continues to pay Trans-American Development Associates Inc. rent on the building, which last year came to about $3.2 million.  Stalder said bonding agencies have questioned whether a legislative move to stop paying the rent would jeopardize the state's bond rating.  (The Times-Picayune)

May 23, 2002
If the Legislature decides to close the controversial youth prison in Tallulah, the administration will need time places for its 400 inmates, Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder said Wednesday.  The prison is owned by a  private company, Trans-American Development Associates Inc., but the state took over operations in 1999 after reports of rampant abuse there.  Some lawmakers say it remains a violent place, and they are chafing to quit paying on the state's operating contract with Trans-American.  They have suggested simply not appropriating any more money for the prison as a way to get out of the contract.  If the Legislature decides to close Tallulah, the administration has a conditional agreement to but the now-closed youth prison in Jena for $14.5 million from the Wackenhut Corrections Corp.  The final decision on buying it will be left to the Legislature.  The plan would call for the youths in Tallulah being moved to Jena.  But David Utter, director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, said both prisons are doomed.  "Both Jena and Tallulah will never run safely because of the small rural parishes they're located in," he said.  The small population near the prison often leads to a limited hiring pool of staff who are often not properly trained, critics say.  (The Times-Picayune)

May 23, 2002
State Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder said he may have to put juvenile offenders in parish prisons with adult inmates if the state empties the Tallulah juvenile prison without building, buying or leasing adequate cell space elsewhere.  Stalder, speaking Wednesday to the state Senate Judiciary B Committee, said he'll need up to three years before he can transfer the last of the 400 juvenile offenders from the for-profit Tallulah prison.  Donald M. Fendlason, a 22nd Judicial District judge and president of the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, urged the legislators to reject "Wackenhut's attempt to sell the Jena facility to our state and use your appropriations authority and oversight to force the Department of Corrections to begin developing non-secure alternatives to incarceration immediately."  The state Office of Facilities Planning on May 8 signed a 90-day conditional option to purchase the Jena prison for $14.5 million.   The Jena deal won't go through without the following conditions: The Legislature must appropriate enough funds to operate the prison, estimated at $10 million a year; the state must raise enough money in bonds to buy the prison; and the plaintiffs in the civil-rights juvenile prison lawsuits must agree to allow the state to house juveniles at the Jena prison.   Tim Roche, deputy director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., said states such as Maryland have closed juvenile prisons in far less time than the three years that Stalder said he needs.  Key Louisiana legislators expressed a desire to end the Tallulah contract after a legislative audit report revealed last year that the prison's politically connected owners received more than $8.7 million in dividends and salaries since 1995.   The report also revealed that the investors will retain ownership of the Tallulah prison when the state's lease expires in 20 years.   State Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, who called the contract "a bad deal for the state," suggested to Stalder on Wednesday that ending the Tallulah contract should not be tied to buying the Jena prison.   Both private prisons, which have separate owners, have troubled histories involving riots and allegations of abuse and neglect.  (The Advocate)  

May 9, 2002
Lawmakers told corrections officials to present them with a plan for the possible closure of the juvenile prison at Tallulah, where conditions have outraged advocates of young inmates.   The request Tuesday came after a lawyer explained that the Legislature can legally terminate the Department of Correction's contract with the private owners of the youth prison, without penalty, simply by suspending funding -- a move advocated by Sen. Don Cravins, D-Arnaudville, chairman of a judiciary committee.  The state took over day-to-day operations of the once-private prison in 1999 but continues to lease the building from Trans-American Development Associates through a contract that involves the town of Tallulah.  The state pays about $3.2 million a year to run the Tallulah prison, including a lease to cover debt payments owed on the building by Trans-American Development.   A number of lawmakers have complained about continuing to pay down the debt on a building that a private company will own when it's paid off.  (Leesville Daily Leader News)

May 8, 2002
Louisiana could get out of its legal agreement with owners of the Tallulah juvenile prison simply by not anteing up the money to pay off its debt, a contract lawyer told a Senate panel Tuesday.   The focus of much criticism since shortly after it opened as a privately controlled prison in 1994, the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth-Madison Parish Unit is commonly known by its location in Tallulah.   After repeated reports of inmate abuse, the Department of Corrections took over operations in 1999 from the owner, Trans-American Development Associates Inc., but some legislators continue to agitate to close it.   "It is a scourge to this state," said Sen. Donald Cravins, D-Arnaudville, chairman of the Senate Judiciary B Committee.  Closing Tallulah is complicated by the state's contractual agreement to pay $3.2 million every year on the construction debts of Trans-American Development. Even when the debt is retired, Trans-American Development will still own the prison.   But Laurence Eisenstein, a Washington lawyer, said the Legislature has the authority under the agreement simply to stop appropriating money, thereby canceling the contract and closing the prison.  The Senate committee also heard from parents of former juvenile inmates, who decried the treatment of their children at Tallulah, which houses only boys, and other lock-down institutions.   Mary Fontenette of Breaux Bridge, whose son was released from Tallulah this week, said he was knocked down by a guard in March. Grace Bauer of Sulphur said her son was always injured -- whether a broken nose, a black eye or bruises -- when she visited him at Tallulah.  (The Times-Picayune)

March 28, 2002
The question of how to reform Louisiana's juvenile justice system played out Wednesday before the state Senate Judiciary B Committee.   Should the state close the juvenile prison in Tallulah and spend $20 million to buy and expand the empty prison at Jena?   Or, should the state close Tallulah and redirect funding to community programs?  David Utter, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, said the Tallulah prison -- officially known as the Swanson Correctional Center for Youth, Madison Campus -- remains an unsafe place for juveniles.   The Juvenile Justice Project, a nonprofit law firm, represents some of the plaintiffs in the civil-rights litigation over the state's operation of the juvenile prisons.   Stalder said the state is meeting most of the settlement's prison improvement requirements.   Utter, however, said violence at the Tallulah prison remains a concern. He said more than 25 percent of the 408 juveniles at the Tallulah prison report to the prison infirmary each month with violence-related injuries.   Stalder challenged Utter's assertion, but said he'll investigate it further.   The private 700-bed Tallulah prison opened Nov. 18, 1994, but serious problems led to a number of state takeovers before a final, permanent takeover on Sept. 21, 1999.   Last year, a state legislative audit report revealed that the prison's private owners received more than $8.7 million in dividends and salaries since 1995.   That report led to the Legislature's decision last year to slash $1 million from the $4.4 million proposed for the Tallulah lease.   The $3.4 million "barely pays the principal, interest and taxes" that the investors owe on the prison, Verdi Adam of Baton Rouge said last week. Adam, George A. Fischer of Metairie and James R. Brown of Tallulah are the principal investors in FBA, the firm that owns the Tallulah prison.   The Legislature can end the contract by voting down the appropriation.   "A logical, common-sense decision would be to close the place down," Committee Chairman Cravins said after Wednesday's meeting.   During the 2001 regular legislative session, Cravins and state Sen. Noble Ellington, D-Winnsboro, introduced a resolution requesting Stalder to enter into good-faith discussions on the suitability and cost-effectiveness of buying the Jena prison.   The 276-bed prison, owned by Wackenhut Corrections Corp. of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., opened in December 1998 and closed April 5, 2000, after serious problems led to a temporary state takeover.  Cravins said he originally supported buying the Jena prison because it would be cheaper in the long-run than leasing the Tallulah prison. He has since changed his mind.   "When we have to use juveniles as an economic development tool, it's disgraceful," Cravins said of the studies examining the effect of the prisons on the economies of Madison and LaSalle parishes.  (The Advocate)

July 1, 2001
The three politically connected owners of the juvenile prison at Tallulah may find themselves hauled before a state Senate committee to explain how they reaped millions of dollars in fees and profits from the prison.  The prison owners received more than $8.7 million in dividends and salaries since 1995, at a time when mismanagement led to the eventual state takeover of the prison, according to a May 16 state Legislative Auditor's report.  "I was absolutely sickened to see the profiteering that took place at the state's expense," said Sen. Jay Dardenne, a member of the Senate Judiciary B Committee that oversees corrections issues.  The audit report also reveals that the day after Trans-American refinanced its debt for an additional $7.6 million in 1997, the company paid the three owners $2 million in dividends.  (Sunday Advocate)  

May 27, 2001
The juvenile prison at Tallulah is still a monument to bad Louisiana politics and proof that the private sector doesn't always perform better than government.  It shows how difficult it can be to undo political shenanigans, even when they're revealed to the public, and how costly they can continue to be, even after it becomes clear the public's interest has not been served.  State corrections officials had to step in and take over the troubled private juvenile prison at Tallulah in 1999.  Now, two years later, three politically wired allies of former Gov. Edwin Edwards still own the place, and it's still making them richer at the state's expense.  This is a rip-off, pure and simple.  George Fischer, James Brown and Verdi Adam got the contract to build and operate the prison in the mid-1990s, during Edwards' last administration.  Fischer served Edwards as a campaign manager and head of the state highway department, where Adam was a chief engineer.  Brown, from Tallulah, was a supporter of the former governor.  The three didn't have any experience or background in running a prison.  Imagine that.  Three politically connected characters got a contract to build and run a private prison for the state, and nobody seems to know exactly who picked them to get the pact.  Is this a great state, or what?  We continue to believe that privatization of public prisons is very bad public policy.  We hope, though, that any future efforts to privatize state government functions will be structured to prohibit the privatizers from continuing to rip off the public if privatization fails.  (Sunday Advocate)

May 21, 2001
Although the department of corrections now operates the Tallulah juvenile prison, the private owners of the facility are still raking in money from the state.  The three owners, all tied to former Gov. Edwin Edwards, have made nearly $9 million since 1995 and will make $600,000 this fiscal year despite the state takeover of the troubled facility in 1999.  In addition, once the construction bonds are paid off with state dollars, the three men will retain ownership of the facility, Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle.  The owners, George Fischer, James Brown and Verdi Adam, got the contract to build and operate the private prison in 1994-95 during the last administration of Edwards.  No current or former official will take responsibility for selecting those three men to get a contract to build the prison.  Also involved in the contracting process was Richard Stalder, who has served as secretary of corrections under Edwards and Gov. Mike Foster.  (AP)

West Carroll Detention Center
Epps, Louisiana
Emerald Correctional Management

August 29, 2007 The Huntsville Times
The Alabama Department of Corrections said Tuesday that it will transfer 134 male inmates from a private Louisiana prison to the Limestone Correctional Facility as part of a cost-cutting measure. Prisons Commissioner Richard Allen said the transfer is the first of several required to return more than 1,100 Alabama convicts who are housed out of state. "In an attempt to save taxpayer dollars and eliminate our budget shortfall, we plan to return all out-of-state inmates to Alabama by year's end," Allen said in a prepared statement. "This move will allow us to save an estimated $10 million annually on rented bed space." Prior to Tuesday's transfer, 294 male inmates were housed at the West Carroll Detention Center in Epps, La., at a cost of $26.75 per inmate, per day. Alabama inmates are also kept at the J.B. Evans Correctional Facility, South Louisiana Correctional Center and Perry County Detention Center, all owned and operated by Lafayette, La.-based LCS Corrections Services.

July 22, 2007 Houston Chronicle
The weathered guard tower that looms over the east side of the West Carroll Detention Center here is positioned just a home run away from the village's modest baseball diamond and small public school complex. Requisite cyclone fencing and razor wire surround the perimeter of the compound that can house more then 700 prisoners. And within the walls of the the dingy yellow sheet metal building is a fish house where tilapia are grown. During the past 12 years that the private jail has been operated by Emerald Correctional Management, the approximately 600 residents of this economically challenged northeastern Louisiana town have coexisted peacefully with the medium-security jail. The jail has provided much-needed jobs, while Epps and the surrounding area have provided a source of cheap labor. But with the arrival this month of the first 100 of what is expected to be at least 400 prisoners from the chronically overcrowded and understaffed Harris County Jail, residents and leaders of Epps are taking a closer look at their relationship with the private lockup. Chief among their concerns is the possibility that some of the jail's new inmates might decide to bolt. "It's a half-mile from the high school, so the type of prisoner they're bringing in there concerns me," Mayor Jeff Guice said last week. "I live near the jail, too." Millions to be spent - Harris County began shipping prisoners to the jail as part of efforts to meet Texas' state-mandated prisoner-to-guard ratio of 48-to-1. The county also has spent close to $24 million in guard overtime during the past 16 months. This month, Harris County Commissioner's Court approved spending up to $4 million during the next six months to relocate up to 400 prisoners — and perhaps more — to Epps. Officials with the sheriff's office, which operates the county jail system of more than 9,000 inmates, say that all the prisoners transferred to Louisiana will have been convicted of state jail felonies — nonviolent crimes often involving drug use and with sentences of two years or less. But that information has been slow in making its way to Louisiana. Last week, Epps officials met with about a dozen local residents in a town meeting called in response to the transfer of the big city criminals to this one-traffic-light community. So far, the mayor says, neither he nor the police chief has been able to get information — such as the number of inmates and the crimes for which they were convicted — from the private jail officials or Emerald. "We're trying to get on top of the situation," Guice said. According to the contract between Epps and Emerald, the city "shall have access to all reports and data maintained by Emerald with respect to the operation of the (jail) including, but not limited to, a listing of all inmates and the charges upon which they were convicted." Like the mayor, Police Chief Roosevelt Porter was elected to office in January. He says he is concerned about the qualifications of the guards at the private jail. "I assume they have some training, but I don't know," Porter said. 'Adequate' - Porter's words are of no comfort to Kathelene Donohue, 64, who lives with her three grandchildren, ages 6, 4 and 2, seven miles north of Epps. "He should have known how many prisoners were coming, when they were coming and why they were coming," Donohue said. "It's a private facility and they tell you right up front that they don't have to tell you anything." Both the mayor and chief say they are still reviewing the contract between the city and Emerald. A 2004 Louisiana Department of Corrections audit of the Epps facility described its staffing as "adequate" and stated that inspectors were "totally impressed" with the facility's cleanliness and organization. The audit made no mention of the fish house. Silent on issue - Emerald CEO Clay Lee did not respond to questions about his jail's fish operation. The contract states that all food grown at the jail shall be consumed by inmates and staff or donated to nonprofit charitable organizations. Lee also refused the Chronicle's request for a tour of the jail, saying he was acting on orders of the Harris County Sheriff's Office. HCSO Chief Deputy Mike Smith says Lee was given no such directive. Lee would not discuss the Shreveport-based company's contract with the city of Epps or what the company pays its guards, how many guards the site employs or what qualifications they have. "I'll look so bad in the paper telling you what these guys make, compared to what a correctional officer makes in Texas," Lee said in an earlier interview. A spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections did not return calls about private guard qualifications. Starting pay for Louisiana DOC guards is $1,530 a month — $18,360 a year or about $9.56 an hour — with an increase to $1,700 a month at the end of a six-month training and probationary period, according to the agency's Web site. Few employment options - Though Lee refuses to discuss how much his private guards make, the owners of the only grocery store in Epps say it isn't as much as the Louisiana DOC guards. "We cash (the guard's) paychecks, and I can tell you they make about $6 an hour — or about what we pay our clerks," said Crystal Hale, 33, who runs the Best Way market with her husband, Timmy, 45. The couple describe the area around Epps as "economically depressed" farmland where residents have few employment options beside agriculture. Surrounded by miles and miles of corn fields, Epps is in the lower Mississippi River valley, 400 miles northeast of Houston. Only three of the state jail facilities in Texas are farther from Houston than Epps. But the distance is just one of the hurdles facing anyone making the trip from Houston. In addition to the minimum seven-hour trip by car, visitors must also be preapproved by jail officials. Prisoners must provide background information on any potential visitor. A check is then run on each of those persons, according to jail visitation rules. Visiting hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday — but only on one of the days, not both.

Winn Correctional Center
Shreveport, La
Feb 20, 2016 nola.com
Louisiana considering closing 2 prisons in budget cuts
The Louisiana Department of Corrections is considering closing two privately operated prisons as it tries to cut $14.1 million in spending to help close the state's $940 million budget shortfall. Winn Correctional Center and Allen Correctional Center, are operated by two separate companies. The two closures would save an estimated $4.6 million.  Another option the Department of Corrections is floating -- and the one the department most prefers -- is to temporarily reduce the rate the state pays the two companies that operate Winn and Allen prisons, for a savings of $2.6 million. But under that scenario, the Department of Corrections would also need to temporarily reduce the rate it pays per prisoner to house inmates in jails operated by sheriffs. There is significant risk in closing the two prisons because many of the 1,000 prisoners housed there are unable to be transferred to local facilities because of mental health or debilitating illnesses or because the prisoner is in a special disciplinary unit. "This is going to eventually saturate an already saturated staff, especially as it relates to medical and mental health," Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc told House Appropriations members on Friday (Feb. 19). "It means we'll probably have to let people out of cells that probably should still be in cells and put them in the general population, which will drive up inmate assaults and inmate-on-staff assaults." The proposal for the two private operators of the prisons, LaSalle Southwest Corrections and the GEO Group, sets up a difficult ultimatum: Either accept the lower per-prisoner pay rate or face total shutdown. The department currently pays $31.52 per day; the local rate the department wants to pay is $24.39 per day. Legislators will need to approve new appropriations to pay the lowered rate. After the hearing, LeBlanc said that the department has been in communications about the possibility of lower pay rates, but hasn't received word back that LaSalle or GEO would accept the new payment structure.  "I've talked to LaSalle and got a response in writing, and I think it's been positive," LeBlanc said. "GEO we've not heard a definite yet." In addition to the budget cuts, LeBlanc said the department is having difficulty paying for the upkeep of prisons statewide. There are broken windows that need to be fixed and other maintenance issues, he said, that will have to be delayed under the current budget cuts. "This is a business where you're only one phone call away from disaster," LeBlanc said. "It's going to be a significant strain on our prisons to
take that kind of cut at the end of the year."

May 7, 2015 nola.com

Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America is ending its contract with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to manage the Winn Correction Center, resulting in 252 permanent employee layoffs. Officials of CCA, which operates in Winnfield, alerted the Louisiana Workforce Commission of the layoffs on May 5, saying at the end of the contract, the company will transition management of the facility to DPSC or any other designated service provider. The layoffs are expected to take begin midnight July 3.

Mar 18, 2015 washingtonpost.com
On Friday night, sheriff’s deputies from Winn Parish, La., arrested reporter James West for trespassing at an area prison and discovered a camera-equipped drone among the reporter’s belongings. And early this week, an employee of the prison resigned his position in the aftermath of the arrest and was called an “operative” of Mother Jones by Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan in a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog. “He was working as as guard,” said Jordan. Jordan identified the now-former prison employee as Shane Bauer, who is a senior reporter at Mother Jones, according to the magazine’s Web site. Bauer has a compelling background: In 2009, he was detained while hiking along the Iran-Iraq border and went on to spend 26 months in the isolation ward of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison. “We were held incommunicado,” Bauer wrote in the November/December 2012 issue of Mother Jones. “We never knew when, or if, we would get out. We didn’t go to trial for two years. When we did we had no way to speak to a lawyer and no means of contesting the charges against us, which included espionage.” That piece pivoted toward solitary-confinement conditions for inmates in U.S. prisons. The revelation about Bauer comes after a shadowy incident on March 13, outside the Winn Correctional Center, a state-owned prison managed by Corrections Corporation of America. As Jordan describes the events, his office received a call from the facility around 9:30 p.m. that someone was spotted on prison grounds via a light from a cell phone, and the person left in a rental car when pursued by prison guards. A deputy from Jordan’s shop was able to track down the vehicle and identified the driver as James West, based on his Australian driver’s license. Those biographical details line up with the James West who works as a senior producer for Mother Jones. According to the Winn Parish Enterprise, “it is believed that he was here on assignment from New York.” West was released on a $10,000 appearance bond. Jordan said he and his deputies had no idea what West was doing near the prison. “If I was doing a story, I wouldn’t want to be out there at night. Those guards out there have guns,” says Jordan, noting that interlopers may well be attempting to assist in an escape or to get contraband across prison walls. Nor was West carrying any media credentials, according to the sheriff. “My policy is we extend courtesies to the press,” says the sheriff, who cites his own past in low-power television. Jordan was unsure what West had done with the drone. The sheriff’s office, says Jordan, has it on “good authority” that Bauer was working as an “operative inside the prison” for Mother Jones. Bauer resigned his position early this week, according to Jordan. “Journalists have a right to do stories, but you can’t violate the law while you’re doing it,” says Jordan. Mother Jones just issued a statement to the Erik Wemple Blog about all this: James West was stopped by police while news gathering in a public place and arrested when he refused to show the contents of his camera. Shane Bauer is an award-winning criminal justice reporter. He did not conceal his identity or employment history from CCA. If and when he chooses to write about his experiences, we’ll be happy to discuss it further. (Disclosure: The wife of the Erik Wemple Blog is a staff writer for Mother Jones) Steve Owen, a spokesman for the Corrections Corporation of America, didn’t deny any of the details stemming from Jordan’s account. He said he was “not aware” of any untoward conduct by Bauer but did take issue with the conduct of Mother Jones. The magazine, he says, has not contacted CCA regarding any story that it may be producing on the company or the Louisiana facility. “You would think that tactics like this would be a last resort if you’ve exhausted all appropriate measures,” says Owen. “We’ve always been responsive in the past to media.” He cites a 2012 story in the magazine that carries an ample response from the company.

February 9, 2011 The Advocate
The Jindal administration is asking companies to detail how much they would charge the state to care for inmates in Allen and Winn parishes if two state prisons are sold to ease budget problems. Responses to the Request For Information, or RFI, are due Friday as part of a possible move toward selling the correctional centers. Private companies oversee Winn Correctional Center in Atlanta, La., and Allen Correctional Center in Kinder. Winn is managed by Corrections Corporation of America while Global Expertise in Outsourcing, Inc. operates Allen. Selling the prisons is still just a possibility at this point. However, a sale would force the state to pay the new owners for the care of inmates at the medium security centers. Some elected officials are nervous about how much the state would end up paying. Michael DiResto, spokesman for the Division of Administration, said Wednesday that the RFI is “for planning and information gathering purposes.”

August 13, 2010 Monroe Free Press
Winn Correctional Center inmate Calvin Walker is back in court a third time requesting that 19th Judicial District Court Judge Wilson Fields enforce his February 19, 2010, ruling ordering Corrections Corporation of America to pay Walker $1,700.00 for jewelry W.N.C. officials unlawfully “took” from Walker in January of 2003. Walker, who is completing the last four months of two consecutive 12-year terms for simple theft successfully proved to the court that his jewelry was “jacked” in an awkward attempt by a Winn Correctional Center shift supervisor to “create” an opportunity to steal (his) watch and ring(s). The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2007-CA-1824, Walker vs. Department of Corrections et al, ruled that Walker’s watch and rings were “arbitrarily and capriciously taken against (his) constitutional rights.” The court also took judicial notice that “The Department of Public Safety and Corrections submitted a forged intake property sheet as their evidence provided by Corrections Corporation of America.” Walker said the jewelry, which he “Kept on his person because of its sentimental value,” were his parent’s marriage rings. They consisted of an 18k gold nugget, one inch width band with one-carat diamond offset center; an 18k gold plain one quarter inch width band with five 0.3carat diamonds totaling 1.5 carats; and an 18kgold nugget one half inch band. “Walker said that it was after being placed in the Administration Segregation lockdown unit on July 29, 2004, Case Manger J. Whitaker and three CCA officers forcibly held me down and stripped me of my clothing this is when they found the rings and seized them.” “Later in the day I saw Unit Manager Christopher Myles and told him how Whitaker and three of his henchmen had ‘gangstered’ my property.” Walker says Myles then summoned Whitaker and ordered him to return Walker’s property or turn the rings over to Property Room Supervisor Connie Brinson, to be inventoried and stored in “my Personal Property Bin.” Whitaker was also instructed to issue Walker a copy of the Personal Property Sheet. Walker said the Personal Property Sheet signed by case manager Whitaker was issued to him. Eight months later Walker says a CCA officer in a casual conversation mentioned that Case Manager Whitaker told him he’d “sold Walkers old rings for $1,500.00.” Walker said he immediately wrote Property Room Supervisor Connie Brinson inquiring “as to whether she received his rings from Whitaker.” On April 20, 2005, the Property Room wrote back, “There are no rings in your property.” In 19th Judicial District Court (Docket #537-071 Section 25 Walker vs. Stalder, et al) Corrections Corporation of America Warden Timothy Wilkinson told the court he had Walker’s rings locked in their security safe. District Judge Wilson Fields then ordered the warden to mail Walker’s jewelry to his relatives. Walker says when asked why the rings had not reached his relatives per the order of the court Wilkinson replied, “F__k the Court, I ain’t giving you sh_t.” Judge Fields then ordered Wilkerson through CCA, to compensate Walker $1,700.00. That order was issued February 10, 2010. Walker says Tim Wilkerson still maintains “the judge’s order means absolutely nothing to him.”

January 19, 2006 Daily Town Talk
Former Winn Correctional Center officer Capt. John Charles Roberts pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of oral sex with an inmate and one count of lying to an FBI agent. The first charge is a civil-rights charge. A prisoner has a constitutional right to be free from sexual assault and sexual abuse. A federal grand jury originally indicted Roberts, 43, on two counts of civil-rights violations, for lying to an FBI agent about it and obstruction of justice. U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell will sentence Roberts April 26. Roberts faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $250,000 fine or both on the oral sex charge, and five years, a $250,000 fine or both for lying to the FBI agent. Following any imprisonment, Roberts will be on at least three years of supervised probation. A document signed by Roberts states that he coerced an inmate "to perform oral sex," and "if he didn't do it, he would send him to lockdown with dangerous inmates, and no one would hear (the inmate's) screams."

June 24, 2001
One correctional officer has been fired and another suspended for apparent mistakes that allowed two prisoners to escape outside LSU Hospital in Shreveport.  Winn Correctional Center authorities declined to identify the officers punished over the escapes on April 18.  Inmates Jasen Webb and Buyong Jones fled as they stepped from a van at the hospital for medical appointments.  Jones, convicted of manslaughter, was quickly captured.  Webb, who was serving 16 years for armed robbery, eluded authorities for two days.  He was found hiding under a Shreveport house.  An investigation found that Webb and Jones were able to get out of their handcuffs, waist chains and leg irons because Webb had a small handcuff key, Warden Tim Wilkinson said.  The investigation also concluded that the two officers transporting the eight inmates failed to follow procedure, Wilkinson said.  (AP)