Former Hunt nurse claims abuse common at prison, DOC officials disagree

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

ST. GABRIEL, LA (WAFB) - A former Elayn Hunt Correctional Center nurse said she believes abuse by guards against inmates is commonplace at the St. Gabriel prison. Prison leaders say though they do not believe the woman's story.

The allegation comes just a week after six Hunt guards were put on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into claims they brutally beat an inmate. The former Hunt nurse said she is not surprised by the pictures that sparked the recent allegations, saying she saw much worse during her time at the prison.

"Those photographs that I saw, that was minor in comparison to what really goes on. Some of these officers take it upon themselves to be God, not just judge, jury, and advocate, but God, and in some cases, they're acting like the Devil himself," she said.

The former nurse did not want to be identified, but said while she never witnessed an inmate being beaten, she did see signs of what she believed was abuse of inmates by guards.

"I saw the aftermath. In my position, you never really see the actual beatings, especially as a female because it's done by the male officers. You can hear it going on, but you don't actually see it," she said.

One incident she said she did witness though was an inmate being kicked out of a wheelchair and shoved to the ground by officers. "Here's this ill individual trying to help himself in shackles and in chains doing the best that he can and these officers are just showing extreme force and taking advantage of the situation, she added.

WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked, "And that extreme force, that shoving and kicking, those were things that you saw?"

"Yes," she replied.

She also said she reported the incident after it happened, but that nothing was done about it.

"It never gets to the proper channel or the proper authorities and so it stops at a certain level," she said. "There's a serious problem there with bottle-necking."

The Department of Corrections said they do not believe her claims. A spokesperson for the department released the following statement to 9News:

Never reported any allegations until she resigned and the department immediately investigated and could not substantiate any of those claims. In fact, during an interview following her resignation, admitted to department investigators she had never witnessed any physical abuse towards and offender. Our question is why didn't she immediately report these to her supervisors or intervene?

The former nurse though claims she made several reports to her supervisors as the incidents happened, but that they went nowhere. She said she eventually chose to resign rather than go along with what she claims to be constant abuse and a culture of cover ups.

"You have to ignore a lot of the blatant behaviors that go on, the unfairness that should not be happening and the brutality that should not go on," she said.

After seeing WAFB's report into the recent allegations of excessive force, she said she could no longer stay quiet and hopes that the ongoing investigation sheds more light on what she calls a serious problem at the prison.

"Something needs to be done about Elayn Hunt, plain and simple," she said. "It's just time."

The DOC said the other claims of excessive force at Elayn Hunt are still under investigation and the six officers are still on paid leave.

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