LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Families whose loved ones were inmates in Calcasieu correctional facilities before Hurricane Laura, wonder why they have not yet returned.
First the inmates were sent out of town because Hurricane Laura was threatening. Now they have to stay out of town because both the parish jail and the sheriff’s prison are too damaged to house inmates.
There are about a thousand prisoners. About 200 are state prisoners, convicted and servicing time with the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Another 800 or so are parish prisoners. Some are serving time for parish offenses while others are awaiting trial.
Sheriff Tony Mancuso says they cannot bring them back yet.
“Obviously we have taken a devastating hit to our facilities here. Until we can bring inmates here and house them safely, and what I mean by safely is that the roof doesn’t leak, the door are working properly, the fences are all up around the jail which, look, we’re working feverishly every day. You can see the construction work going on,” said Mancuso.
Mancuso says those who have issues concerning conditions, treatment or medical care should make a complaint with the facility where they are being housed and obviously have other avenues to complain.
But he says they do what they can to provide information and answer questions of family members. As a parent, he understands that people would like their children or other loved ones nearby.
Mancuso says they want the inmates back, some of whom work at the facilities.
“We want them back here too. We want to run the facility the way we normally run it. We’re not running things like we normally do and we’re ready to get back to some normalcy,” he said.
Plus, he says it costs money to house them elsewhere.
He says if inmates have a court date in lake Charles, they transport them here or arrange for video conferencing.
Right now, there’s limited intake housing for those arrested.
“People continue to break the law, we continue to make arrests every day, we try to give them time to bond out of jail, a significant amount of time to bond out of jail. If they cannot make bail, then we have to ship them to a facility outside of Calcasieu Parish that has room to take them,” he said..
So far, no estimates as to when repairs at jail facilities will be complete and inmates returned to Lake Charles.