Sheriff Steve Prator
Photo: KTBS

Louisiana Sheriff Wants to Keep Inmates Locked Up to “Wash Cars and Pick Up Trash”

There’s currently a feud going on between the Governor of Louisiana and Steve Prator, the Sheriff of Caddo Parish. It stems from some recently passed criminal justice reforms set to go into effect next month that will free inmates who shouldn’t be in jail. The reforms are expected to to reduce Louisiana’s prison population by 10 percent over the next decade and help save the state money.

So why is the Sheriff  Prator pissed off about this development? Well, for a number of reasons, but mainly because it means that there will be less slave labor inmates to pickup trash and wash cars, of course.

Here’s what he said at a press conference:

A further look at Sheriff Prator, the correctional facility his department oversees and the parish’s criminal justice system as whole reveals a much larger problem we’ve become all too familiar with: systemic racism.

In 2015. the New York Times reported that prosecutors had been striking black jurors from criminal cases at alarming rates. “If you repeatedly see all-white juries convict African-Americans, what does that do to public confidence in the criminal justice system?” asked Elisabeth A. Semel, the director of the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley’s law school.

Only 44 percent of residents in Caddo Parish are black, but they make up 83 percent of the defendants in court cases. According to a study of 332 trials, prosecutors struck black jurors three times as often as they struck white jurors.

The Times reported, “No defendants were acquitted when two or fewer of the dozen jurors were black. When there were at least three black jurors, the acquittal rate was 12 percent. With five or more, the rate rose to 19 percent. Defendants in all three groups were overwhelmingly black.”

There’s even a Confederate monument outside of the courthouse.

To make matters worse for defendants, Louisiana State University conducted research in 2004 and released a paper that pointed out how underfunded the parish’s public defenders office was. This means that defendants who could not afford to hire proper counsel were not getting adequate legal representation in a criminal justice system that’s allegedly designed to ensure fair trials. More often than not, this disproportionately affects minority communities.

But when it comes to problems with Caddo Parrish and the Sheriff’s department specifically, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2008 it was reported that the Caddo Correctional Center was overcapacity, and it’s not hard to imagine why, given the reports of the tainted jury selection process that overwhelmingly discriminates and convicts people of color. The jail was designed to hold 1070 people, but there were 1500 inmates.

When that report came out, Sheriff Prator told KSLA News, “The crime rate has come down 27% in 11 years but that’s because arrests are up 40% in 11 years. If you want crime to keep coming down we gotta keep making arrests and we gotta have somewhere to put them.”

Within the jails there were also reports by Human Rights Watch about the mistreatment of patients who are HIV positive. S. Wright, the Caddo Parrish Correctional Center Nursing Director, told the organization, “Why don’t we do routine HIV testing? We cannot afford to treat someone who was identified as HIV-positive. It sounds cold, I know, but that is the reality.”

But back to Sheriff Prator, who been in charge for 15 years and has a history of being a complete and utter piece of shit.

It was reported by the Informer in 2015 that he lied about the conditions of the jail that he oversaw and routinely lied about the number of inmates who were being held. When inspectors would visit the jail to check on conditions, he would put inmates in buses and drive them around the jail to hide them from the inspector’s view. He also allegedly covered up evidence for one of his deputies that was busted looking at child porn on a work computer. There’s also the “Caddo Club,” which is apparently a group of over 300 people people who are in the Sheriff’s good graces. They are often granted Sheriff-related business contracts and manage to avoid being charged for their criminal wrongdoings, which apparently happened a lot.

Which brings us back to Prator’s current disapproval of reforming Louisiana’s criminal justice system that’s clearly broken.

“Many of those scheduled to be released have not been properly vetted and are a danger to our safety and property,” Prator said at the press conference. “Seasoned multiple offenders are getting a break at our expense. If you are the victim of a crime out there, you should be very concerned about this.”

That isn’t true. And considering that he needs to make sure that inmates can still “change the oil,” his true motivation for being opposed to the legislation seems questionable.

“These reforms are based on the most in-depth study of the criminal justice system ever done in Louisiana’s history,” Tucker Barry, the governor’s press secretary, told the Shreveport Times. “They were done in comparison to penalties in other conservative southern states and the recommendations will move Louisiana in line with those states that have seen a reduction in their incarceration and recidivism rates.”

“Louisiana’s prison population and recidivism rate have not only stabilized but declined as a result of similar reforms made by the Louisiana Sentencing Commission,” Barry added. “These new laws expand upon those reforms that have already shown to reduce the incarceration and recidivism rates.”

If you need any more proof that Prator is a truly terrible human being. Here’s a video of him in 2015, giving the middle finger, inside of a church, to the district attorney.

 

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