The US Department of Justice said that approximately 27% of Louisiana inmates are being held beyond their release dates



CNN

The US Department of Justice said in a report on Wednesday that the Louisiana Department of Corrections is keeping more than a quarter of prisoners behind bars after their scheduled release date.

According to the Department of Justice, between January and April 2022 alone, approximately 27% of those released from LDOC custody—nearly 4,100 people—were detained beyond their release dates.

Of those who were detained beyond their release dates, 24% were held for at least an additional 90 days.

“Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic abuse by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which resulted in the routine confinement of people beyond the dates they were legally entitled to release,” said Christine Clark, Assistant Attorney General, who heads the Department of Justice. Civil Rights Division.

The Justice Department launched the investigation in 2020, saying the state’s over-the-top cases stretched for years without any action being taken. The report noted a decade of “systemic deficiencies” in the country.

“These violations are largely caused by and exacerbated by systemic deficiencies in LDOC policies and procedures related to receiving sentencing documents, calculating release dates for incarcerated individuals, and training staff,” the department said in a letter accompanying the report. .

The Justice Department said it could sue the state if it does not rectify these issues within weeks, the letter continued, but would prefer to “resolve this matter through a more collaborative approach.”

“The Constitution guarantees that persons imprisoned in prisons may not be detained after their release dates, and it is the primary duty of the State to ensure that all persons in its custody are released on time,” Clark said.

Ken Pastorek, a spokesperson for the LDOC, said in a statement to CNN that the department is reviewing the report and that it will “continue to work with the Department of Justice through this process.”

Mercedes Montanes, executive director of the Promise of Justice Initiative, a New Orleans nonprofit that supports and advocates for people’s rights in the justice system, told CNN that the report’s findings are “terrible” and “frankly worse than we could have imagined.”

“That’s what the Department of Justice is here for,” Montagne said. “We were screaming, we were screaming, we were crying from every rooftop… For advocates like us, that validates it. It’s invigorating to know that the full power of the federal government is going to come down here and hold people accountable.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

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