Calcasieu officials to push changes in work release program

(Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Why would a violent offender from New Orleans be imported to Calcasieu Parish to participate in a work release program?

That's just one of the concerns about offender Dustin Pleasant, the man arrested for the murder of Brittany Grosse last December.

Pleasant was arrested for shooting a police officer in New Orleans in 2005, but was still eligible for a work release program at a local restaurant because he was nearing completing of his sentence.

Pleasant committed suicide in prison.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said he is working with House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, to get legislation allowing sheriffs to charge inmates the cost of ankle bracelets if they are in a work release program.

Mancuso thinks work release programs serve a good purpose.

"We know what they're going to do if they get out of jail … they got no job … they got no money … they got no future. We know what they're going to do. The majority of them are going to continue to commit the crimes that they were committing when they got into jail. Or do we at least try, at no cost to the taxpayers, to give them employment, to where they'll have a little money in their pocket, and they're paying their own way? At that point, when they enter that program, the taxpayers are not paying for their incarceration anymore. They're paying for their own incarceration," Mancuso said.

Mancuso said since the Grosse murder, they no longer accept work release inmates from outside of Calcasieu Parish.

The parents of the 21-year-old murdered woman support what will likely be called the Brittany Grosse Law.

Pam Laborde, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, commented on the matter on Friday.

Laborde explained how the program works. Here is her statement:

"An offender is recommended for the Transitional Work Program (TWP) by the warden or jail director of the facility where the offender is housed. There are eligibility criteria that the facility staff look for as well as the offender's disciplinary history. The recommendations are forwarded to DOC - Office of Adult Services which confirms eligibility and looks at suitability as well.  

Generally, an offender within three years of his/her discharge date can be recommended for the Transitional Work Program. Those offenders with certain crimes (aggravated arson, armed robbery, attempted murder, attempted armed robbery and those sentenced as habitual offenders) are generally only eligible during the last six months of their incarceration. Also understand that just because an offender is eligible does not mean that they are suitable for the program.  We do look at a number of different factors when reviewing TWP recommendations.

It is not uncommon for an offender to be placed in a TWP that is not in the same area as where they live or were convicted. There are many considerations that go into placement, including availability of TWP slots in a particular program, education and skill level of the offender, demand for certain jobs by employers, etc. If the offender is assigned to a facility that has a TWP, the warden or jail director may request to keep the offender there if the recommendation is approved. Other times, Headquarters may make the placement based on the factors discussed above."

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