He wants to keep his convict car wash open.
In the midst of the Louisiana’s incarceration reform, one local sheriff is unhappy that the “good prisoners” who wash officers’ cars will get their freedom early due to a new state law.
“In addition to the bad ones, they are releasing some good ones that we use everyday to wash cars, change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that, where we save money,” Sheriff Steve Prator of Caddo Parish said in a press conference this week.
Once the “good prisoners” are released under the new law, the Caddo correctional center could be sent more state prisoners who have longer terms and are more likely to run away if put on work release, Prator said.
Prator later explained the term “good” inmates referred to state prisoners who are eligible to work but have lesser felony charges compared to others facing release who have criminal histories including murder, domestic violence, and battery. State inmates serving a hard-labor sentence can be required to work as part of their court-ordered sentence.
The disgruntled sheriff was griping about the Justice Reinvestment Act, a series of 10 bills that was passed by Louisiana Legislature in June that aim to change Louisiana’s reputation as the most imprisoned state in the country.
— Nick Lawton (@NickLawtonKSLA) October 5, 2017
But Prator is OK with the high rate of incarceration if that means keeping repeat offenders off the streets.
“Lets face it. Somebody (has) to be number one and we got some bad dudes around here,” he said. “We got some folks that need to be in jail.”
Prator explained the state needed to focus on rehabilitation before they “open the gates and flood the streets” by releasing 192 felons in Caddo Parish.
State officials told CBS affiliate KSLA they don’t know where Sheriff Prator got the number of 192 inmates. When the Justice Reinvestment Act goes into effect, 35 inmates in the district will be released.
“Nearly all of the releases are people who would have been released within a few months of November anyway,” Shauna Sanford, L.A. state communication director said.
Officials said the reforms will make communities safer and reduce the number of reoffenders. But Prator thinks that won’t be the case. He gave several examples of individuals who are repeat offendenders who will be released early. Prator speculated his department will deal with these offenders again, in addition to offenders who are being held in surrounding jails but will return to their homes in Caddo.
“This isn’t Mayberry,” he said, referencing Andy Griffith’s fictitious idyllic TV community. “These are people who are carrying ARs and breaking into houses and stealing our cars.”
“I’m not for keeping people down that have stolen something and maybe made a mistake,” he continued. “But if they’re out there dealing dope and shooting one another and shooting us and possibly shooting our kids. . .these people need to be locked up until we’re sure they’re not going to reoffend.”
However, the new legislation applies only to non-violent offenders who qualify for “good-time” release, state officials said in response to Prator’s statements.
Prator said officials should slow down and evaluate offenders instead of “just wholesale opening the doors of the jail up” next month. He claimed the Louisiana Sheriffs’ association was against the legislation, which was decided behind closed doors.
State officials said each qualifying offender’s record will be reviewed prior to release, the association was not against the act, and all meetings were open to the public.
“If Sheriff Prator had these questions or reservations as this process was unfolding over a year ago, he could have taken advantage of many opportunities to participate in the process,” a statement from the Office of the Governor said.