Caddo Parish, La., Sheriff Steve Prator is angry about the new Louisiana sentencing and parole laws going into effect on November 1. The sheriff complained loudly that the new laws pose a threat to public safety and weren’t well vetted before the Louisiana legislature approved them last fall, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Prator isn’t just concerned about the impact on public safety. He also appears worried about their effect on the bottom line of his office. During a press conference last week, the sheriff complained about the so-called “bad” prisoners he thought might commit other crimes once free. He also objected to the release of the “good ones” from prison as well.
“In addition to the bad ones — they are releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen — to do all that where we save money,” Prator said. He described these good prisoners as “the ones you can work.” That’s the one that you can have pick up trash or work the police programs. But guess what? Those are the ones that they are releasing.” Criminal justice advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana were appalled by the sheriff’s remarks. “Jails are not supposed to incarcerate people just because they need work done – that is slavery,” said the ACLU’s Marjorie Esman. Many of the state’s 64 sheriffs help pay for their regular law enforcement staff and operations by housing and working state prisoners originally from other parts of the state. They directly benefit from Louisiana’s highest-in-the-world incarceration rate. Some sheriffs have grown so dependent on the revenue that the state prisoners produce, they would have budget troubles without them. Some sheriffs have even borrowed money to build larger jails so they could house more state inmates.