A WAFB 9NEWS/PAUL GATES INVESTIGATION has revealed at least three inmates working to clear land for a new swimming pool at the home of the warden of the West Feliciana Parish Prison. Sheriff's Department equipment was also being used on the project. Louisiana law prohibits the use of prison inmates as labor to benefit the owners of private properties.
The work being performed by inmates on private land, for private gain, appears to be common and done with the approval of West Feliciana Parish Sheriff Austin Daniels, Paul Gates reported.
Three inmates were observing hauling tree stumps Friday from the new home of Tommy Tubbs, warden of the West Feliciana Parish Prison. They have been working there for nearly a week. Sheriff's deputy Beau Bryant was observed using sheriff's department equipment to clear, clean, and level the warden's yard at the spot where a swimming pool is being put in. Several trees had recently been cleared and cut into firewood by the prisoners. "They come out here and help me a little and make a little extra money," Bryant said.
One of the inmates, who says he's being held at the West Feliciana Parish Prison on behalf of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, told WAFB 9NEWS he was not happy about the task but did not have a choice. "I got to just do what I'm ordered to do, you know," the inmate said. As the inmate was being interviewed, Warden Tubbs walked out of his home. When Tubbs was asked by reporter Paul Gates about what kind of situation he had going on there, Tubbs replied, "trouble". The warden then returned to his home without further comment and then inmates were driven away from the property in the back of a pickup truck.
Reached by telephone, Sheriff Austin Daniels said the Department of Corrections would probably tell him it was wrong for inmates to be doing that sort of work. A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said late Friday the department would look into the matter.
While, Louisiana law appears to prohibits the type of work being done on the warden's property, it does allow prison labor to be used to benefit the community as whole, such as work on a school, or picking up roadside trash.