LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Public defenders in Calcasieu Parish have filed a motion aimed at freeing about 400 more inmates from jail in Calcasieu. They say it’s in line with what the chief justice of the state supreme court says should be done. However, the district attorney’s office disagrees.
The motion asks for an immediate hearing to consider the release of inmates who do not pose a serious danger to the community, bond reductions, and reconsideration of sentences of those who are within six months of release. The suit says the move is in line with a letter from the chief justice of the state supreme court that urges judges to work for solutions to reduce the chances for an outbreak in local jails.
Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier opposes the move saying the release of offenders listed in the motion would pose serious dangers to the community.
“The bonds and the release of about 413 people - Some of these people have violent criminal histories," DeRosier says. "The public defenders office refuses to recognize the difference between those who have significant violent criminal histories and those who are currently charged with a non violent crime. They can be both. What needs to happen is each of these cases needs to be analyzed and adjudicated on its own merits. It is going to be impossible for a panel of six to nine judges to have 413 hearings. That’s just not appropriate.”
As well, he says some inmates on the list should not be included because they are already serving sentences under the State Department of Corrections.
However, felony staff attorney of the local public defenders office Natasha George says safely and swiftly depopulating the corrections facilities is a matter of life or death for all including corrections officers, workers, health care professionals, attorneys, their families and even inmates who have not been convicted of crimes.
George says depopulation of the jail will enable those who become ill to be treated and appropriately isolated. She also says it would cut down on staff attrition fueled by panic and reduce prisoner violence and help flatten the community curve.
No word yet of a hearing on the motion.
The Chief Justice of state supreme court’s letter :