top of page

Welcome to Crime and Justice News

Will DOJ Probe Help Solve Louisiana 'Overdetention' Problem?

About 200 Louisiana inmates are held beyond their legal release dates every month among the 12,000 to 16,000 prisoners freed each year. The average length of additional time was around 44 days in 2019, according to state corrections data obtained by lawyers for inmates. Until recently, the state warned families that the wait could be as long as 90 days, reports the New York Times. In most other states, prisoners and parolees set for immediate release are processed within hours, although those times can vary, particularly if officials must make arrangements to release sex offenders. In Louisiana, the problem of “overdetention” is endemic, often occurring without explanation, apology or compensation.

The practice is wasteful. It costs Louisiana taxpayers about $2.8 million a year in housing costs. “The state has not made liberty, or taxpayer money, a priority in how they run their prisons,” said William Most, a lawyer in New Orleans who has filed two class-action lawsuits on behalf of overdetained inmates. “To our clients, it is an extremely scary experience because they do not know why they are being held, when they will be free or how they can get free,” he added. “All they know is they should not be behind bars.” In December 2020, the Justice Department opened an investigation into how the state determines the release of its prisoners who remain behind bars despite being eligible for immediate release. The investigation is expected to find widespread violations of a federal law that guarantees prisoners their “rights, privileges or immunities.” The probe may end in an agreement to overhaul procedures used to calculate time served and the replacement of the state’s outdated corrections computer system, CAJUN. Prisoners’ rights groups say that federally mandated changes would do little to overcome the core problem in Louisiana’s troubled criminal justice system: a belief that an inmate’s freedom is worth less than everyone else’s. James Le Blanc, who has run the corrections department for 14 years, acknowledged that the state has “had a problem with immediate releases” since at least 2012. He said the department had halved waiting times from an average of more than 70 days a decade ago.


Recent Posts

See All

Trump Decries 'Rampant' Crime, Biden Attacks His Felonies

Donald Trump repeated his characterization of Black communities as dangerous and depressed on Saturday, courting voters in Detroit, a city he has called “hell” and “totally corrupt” as his campaign h


A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

bottom of page