Inmate families afraid for incarcerated relatives as deputies test positive for COVID-19

Inmate families afraid for incarcerated relatives as deputies test positive for COVID-19

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) Ten Calcasieu deputies have COVID-19 according to Sheriff Tony Mancuso and another 60 are in quarantine, due to their contact with those deputies.

The sheriff says most cases are mild.

Still, the situation has caused families of inmates to fear for the health and safety of their loved ones in jail.

A woman who wishes to conceal her identity, says she has two relatives in the Calcasieu jail and she fears their health is in jeopardy;

“Even though these people have done wrong they don’t deserve a death sentence. They don’t deserve to die for COVID 19,” she said.

However, Mancuso says three to four hundred inmates who qualified have been released. He says those who remain do get proper care.

“There’s no way that we are going to knowingly mix and mingle anyone in our facility that has the COVID virus or is known to have the COVID virus,” he said.

Still, the woman thinks more inmates should be allowed to stay home during the pandemic, to ensure safety.

“There are 24 people in each dorm, four to a table so they are not practicing social distancing. Two toilets, two sinks and one water faucet with no cleaning chemicals,” she said.

But Mancuso says they will only release inmates if ordered by a judge.

“We’re doing everything possible to make sure our inmate population is safe. And we do have a systematic system in place to move them together, to process them together, and to continue that until we know their threat is over, in other words the fourteen days has completely gone by,” he said.

And Mancuso says their record speaks for itself.

“We have not had a positive case in the correctional facility, we are doing everything the right way,” he said.

Mancuso points out one way to avoid the problem.

“There is an easy solution. If you don’t commit a crime, if you don’t beat up your wife, if you don’t go out and sell drugs, if you don’t go out and steal, you’re not going to have to worry about this issue,” he said.

The jail and sheriff’s prison can hold up to 1500 and Mancuso says right now they have about 900 in order to provide distancing and quarantine when needed.

Since no visitation is allowed at the jail, inmates are receiving three free phone calls on Sundays, though the family member we talked to complain calls are sometimes cut short and that there are long lines because inmates must take turns using phones.

The sheriff says they are trying to make arrangements to provide video calls for inmates to make up for the suspension of visitation at the jail.

Mancuso has taken other measures to limit face-to-face contact between his staff and the public, while still providing services. Details are in the news release below:

The sheriff has taken other measures to limit face-to-face contact between his staff and the public, while still providing services.

Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in our area the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is making adjustments to some services currently offered. CPSO offices are remaining fully staffed and ready to serve the public, but to keep the public and deputies safe we are limiting the amount of public in the building at one time. The following offices have minor changes.

-CPSO ID/Records Department: Please call (337) 491-3642 to set up an appointment for fingerprints.

-CPSO Bar Cards: Please call (337) 491-7960 to set up an appointment for bar cards. We are also asking you please print out the bar card application and have it filled out prior to your arrival to limit the time you will be in the office. You can find the application on our website at www.cpso.com under the Special Investigations tab.

- All CPSO Law Enforcement Centers: If you are needing assistance from a LEC please call and schedule an appointment.

Bell City / Hayes LEC: (337) 491-7939

Carlyss LEC: (337) 491-3810

Central LEC: (337) 491-3626

DeQuincy LEC: (337) 494-4590

Iowa LEC: (337) 491-3629

Moss Bluff LEC: (337) 491-3627

South Lake Charles LEC: (337) 431-1331

Sulphur LEC: (337) 491-3625

Starks LEC: (337) 491-6659

Vinton LEC: (337) 494-4568

-CPSO Administration: To speak with Sheriff Tony Mancuso or Chief Stitch Guillory please call 491-3715 and they will attempt to handle your concerns over the phone, if possible. Although Sheriff Mancuso believes in an open-door policy, we will not be taking walk-ins or issuing Honorary Commissions at this time to protect the health of the community and our department.

The public is encouraged to conduct business over the phone or online if possible. The public is required to wear a mask while conducting business at the Sheriff’s Office and will be subject to a health screening completed by a deputy upon arrival.

There is no change at this time to visitation at the CCC or CSP; visitation will remain suspended until further notice.

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