Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office speaks out on jail incident

Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office speaks out on jail incident
Jason Cartwright, John Kurtz, John Coleman, Jordan Legros, Cody Carroll, David Wade Clark, Michael Duplechian, Manson Adams, Terry Landry

JENNINGS, La. (KPLC) - Two deputies and seven inmates have been arrested in connection with the beating of another inmate at the Jeff Davis jail, according to Chief Deputy Chris Ivey with the Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office.

The inmate who was beaten sustained black eyes, bruises, swelling, and 2nd degree burns. Ivey says he was booked into the parish jail on July 2, on first-degree rape charges and the attack happened on July 3.

“The incident occurred sometime in the evening,” Ivey said. “One of our investigators listening in on jail phone calls discovered that something had happened in the jail so they alerted the warden to go in and check on it.”

Ivey says they reviewed the surveillance video inside the jail and confirmed an inmate had been beaten up by several other inmates. The inmate was taken to American Legion Hospital to be treated. Ivey says he was then brought back to the jail and placed in isolation in the visitation room.

“Our detectives began their investigation,” Ivey said. "During that investigation, they interviewed several of the inmates identified through the video. They admitted to beating the inmate. At that time, there were implications that two of our employees were planning it and discussing that this happened. At that time our investigators looked into that and discovered that the allegations were true and that these two were involved."

Deputy Jason Anthony Cartwright, 33, of Jennings, was arrested and faces charges of malfeasance in office and 2nd degree battery, while Deputy John Kurtz, 38, also of Jennings, was arrested and faces charges of malfeasance in office for their, quote, ‘knowledge and involvement in the planning to inflict bodily harm to the inmate’.

Ivey says Deputy Cartwright had a connection to the inmate’s alleged victim.

Both have been terminated according to Ivey, who says they don’t know if the deputies picked out specific inmates or if they were chosen at random.

“They violated numerous policies before even getting to the criminal charges,” Ivey said. “We are responsible for these inmates that come in. The majority of them are pretrial so they haven’t been convicted. Even if they are convicted of a crime we are still responsible for taking care of them and making sure they are fed and have medical treatment and are treated right. You know, just like any other person would want to be treated. The jail system is to limit their freedom. It’s a punishment in a way, but you cannot harm them. That’s not our place."

Sheriff Ivy Woods issued a statement saying "The personnel involved, violated departmental policies, put in place, to ensure the safety of the inmates that are housed in the correctional facility. They were involved in the initial planning to harm an inmate; which is a criminal offense.” The Sheriff added,” I know it’s a difficult job to work in corrections every day, but I will hold my employees accountable for their actions. The duties of the correctional deputies are to maintain the safety and security of everyone within the facility. I am very disappointed in the actions taken by these two deputies. Both deputies were terminated this afternoon.”

The terminated deputies are being held in a different correctional facility at this time.

“There’s going to be a lot more training in the near future,” Ivey said. “This is going to be one of the things discussed in that training. These people are inmates, but they are people and we have to take care of them. The warden has been instructed by both the Sheriff and me to increase ethics training. Things to make sure they don’t violate the inmate’s rights and make sure it’s a safe work environment for both sides.”

The following inmates are facing charges of second-degree aggravated battery:

The following inmates are facing charges of second-degree battery:

The Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office began moving the inmates into the new jail on Tuesday, according to Ivey, who says 17 new employees will be hired for the new jail.

“With the new jail we have a better way of separating violent criminals from nonviolent criminals,” Ivey said. “Sex offenders, anyone who is considered a threat to others or a threat to themselves, we have the capability in the new jail to isolate them. There are more cameras. The technology is there to be able to monitor them better. We’re going to have more employees also because it’s a larger facility. It’s air conditioned, where the old one is not. We have more lights and it’s set up better for the correctional officers to be able to monitor the inmate’s movements without actually having to go into the cells. Hopefully this will keep any incidents from occurring between the inmates and between the inmates and our employees.”

Ivey says this incident could have been prevented if one of the other employee’s had spoken up.

“Detetives are still working the case,” Ivey said. “There’s a possibility that other employees could be disciplined. We don’t think there are going to be any more criminal charges, but there is the possibility some of the employees could potentially be disciplined or go through remedial training so we make sure nothing like this happens again.”

Ivey says as this is a criminal case, it will go before the DA’s Office.

The investigation is ongoing.

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