- MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s state prisons agency has done an inadequate job ensuring that violent criminals aren’t assigned to work in the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion, the state’s legislative auditor concluded in a report released Monday.
None of Louisiana’s nine prisons fully complied with department requirements for the trusty programs, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office found in its review .
The programs give certain minimum-security offenders privileges not available to the general prison population. Some even get to work outside prison, depending on the trusty level they are assigned. They earn a small paycheck or time off their sentences for the work. Some live in Louisiana State Police barracks while they work in state government buildings.
A third of the trusties working in Baton Rouge state buildings had committed violent crimes that should have made them ineligible, but the corrections department “said that these trusties have less stringent eligibility requirements because they have difficulty finding eligible trusties to fulfill its contracts for labor crews,” the audit found.
Eight of the nine state prisons had $3.9 million worth of contracts with state and local government agencies to supply work crews including 347 offenders in the last budget year, the audit says.
Auditors said the corrections department developed rules in 2011 about the trusty programs to make sure inmates were “classified to appropriate custody and security levels.” For example, inmates who committed a violent crime within in the last 10 years can’t be given the fewest restrictions and most offsite job options.
In his written response, Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said prison policies have been reviewed and updated as a result of the audit, but he dismissed the audit’s conclusion that a lack of compliance data means inmates aren’t being uniformly evaluated. He said prison officials are able to look at each prisoner’s record and make decisions accordingly.
“Due to the subjective nature of the information described above, it would have very little intrinsic value to the (corrections) administrative staff,” LeBlanc wrote.
The report is available at: http://bit.ly/2hq02j2
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