State Has Kept Thousands in Prison Past Release Dates

Over four months, Louisiana released 4K late, Justice Department finds
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2023 5:20 PM CST
Feds: Louisiana Routinely Holds Inmates Too Long
The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is seen in West Feliciana Parish in 2011.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A federal investigation has found that Louisiana often keeps inmates in prison after they're scheduled for release—sometimes for as long as three months. A report by the Justice Department, blaming "systemic violations," says from January to April 2022, almost 27% of inmates freed by the state's Department of Corrections had been kept longer than they were supposed to be. That amounted to nearly 4,100 people, CNN reports. Nearly one-fourth of them were detained 90 days extra or longer. The Justice Department says the practice wastes taxpayer money and violates the Constitution, per the Washington Post.

The same thing happens occasionally in other state and federal lockups, but the Justice Department put Louisiana on notice, criticizing officials as "deliberately indifferent" to the problem. It raised the possibility of suing the state if it's not corrected in weeks. A spokesman said the corrections department will work with the federal government on the matter. The Promise of Justice Initiative, which advocates for improving prison conditions and is involved in two class-action lawsuits against Louisiana concerning the practice, praised the report. The executive director said the group has raised the alarm before. "It's energizing to know that the full power of the federal government is going to come down here and hold people responsible," Mercedes Montagnes said. (More Louisiana stories.)

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