A DeRidder woman's plea for her incarcerated son to be moved closer to home has been heard.
Justo Bustamante is now in the Vernon Parish Jail where his mother, Patricia Robinson, will be able to visit him. Robinson had made tearful pleas for the transfer, due to serious health problems she believes will cut her life short.
When we contacted her late Wednesday afternoon, Robinson didn't know her son had arrived at the Vernon Parish Jail. She says said she was thrilled and urged other families not to give up on staying connected with their loved ones in prison.
Robinson had been trying since February to get her son transferred from River Bend Detention Facility in East Carroll Parish. She admitted her son stabbed another man in a fight and should be punished. But Robinson feared, due to her personal health problems, she might never see him again unless he was moved closer to home. Her medical problems include multiple sclerosis and chronic hepatitis C.
When we arrived to talk to her, two of her children helped the 54 year old down the steps of her little trailer to a chair outside. She agrees her son should be punished for stabbing another man in a fight. "He was even so drunk he said he don't remember stabbing the boy with the knife, but he did. It was his knife. Okay? He did what he did. He didn't fight it. He took a plea bargain and he said, 'Okay, Mom, if I did this I did this and I deserve what I get,'" said Robinson.
But she has not been able to visit Justo because he's been incarcerated at River Bend Detention Facility at Lake Providence, in East Carroll Parish, where he's serving a six year sentence for second degree battery.
She said she's been too sick to travel four hours there and four hours back to visit. "His father died when he was five. So I raised him and we were really close. He did do wrong, but I need to see my son. I don't want to die without being able to visit my son and see him and let him know that I love him. And as long as I have a breath I'll try to stick by him and that's what a parent's supposed to do," said Robinson.
Robinson said Beauregard and Vernon Sheriff's Departments have tried to help her get her son transferred closer so she can visit him. But it seemed the transfer was hung up on the River Bend end. Her fear was that her time might run out. "It would be the greatest gift that I could get at this point in my life. All the money in the world. They could come up with a million dollars and say well we can't do it, but here's a million dollars. I don't want a million dollars. I want my son close to me. I want my son. It would mean the world to me," said Robinson.
A spokesman for State Department of Corrections says they would like to be able to put offenders in close proximity to their families, but cannot always do that because there are more offenders from South Louisiana than there is bed space. Says DOC Communications Director Pam Laborde, "It's an unfortunate circumstance of incarceration."
Laborde said wardens at local facilities can work out transfers between them. She said in this case, there's no record of the offender requesting a transfer from the Department of Corrections.