BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An inmate sentenced to a combined 60 years in prison for attempted murder and theft walked off a job site Monday, Aug. 26, and the incident has left many asking why that man was a trustee to begin with. The 9News Investigators went looking for answers.
“This is an anomaly. We’re talking about this hasn’t happened in the past 15 years or so at headquarters,” said Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman, Ken Pastorick.
Pastorick is referring to Grant Bailey Jr., 39, who was working at the DOC headquarters in Baton Rouge. Around 1 p.m. Monday, officials say he walked off the job. About 45 minutes later, the Baton Rouge Police Department found him walking along the levee. He was arrested and slapped with two additional charges: resisting an officer and fugitive from justice.
Bailey was originally in prison for what he did in 1996 in Webster Parish. He was to serve a 50-year sentence for attempted second degree murder and 10 more years for theft. On July 1, 2019, he was transferred to Dixon Correctional Institute in East Feliciana Parish. Then on July 11, he became a trustee at DOC headquarters in Baton Rouge.
“These folks know that they have a good assignment. Being able to leave Dixon Correctional Institute every single day and come to downtown, interact with the public, work outside of prison. It’s as normal as you can get to a normal lifestyle,” said Pastorick.
Senator Dan Claitor played a big role in justice reform in Louisiana.
“The judge said, ‘You’re getting ten years. I sentence you to ten years with the Department of Corrections.’ That’s not entirely so,” said Sen. Claitor.
“Because the crime happened in 1996, back then, the statute was 50% serve rate on that particular crime,” said Pastorick.
That means for a violent crime, such as the attempted second degree murder charge for which Bailey was convicted, he only had to serve 25 years of the 50-year sentence. Now, the law has changed, requiring inmates to serve at least 75% of their sentence for a violent crime. For a non-violent, non sex crime, like Bailey’s theft, inmates must serve at least 35%. So of his 10-year sentence, roughly three and a half years is what Bailey needed to serve. To this day, the law remains at 35%. It’s why Bailey only has to serve roughly 28 years of his total 60-year sentence. Plus, his good time release would have been Nov. 1, 2024. Because that’s only five years away, he qualified to have trustee status. Sen. Claitor says good time is used as an incentive by prisons.
“Good time is a device where the Department of Corrections or parish prison hopes to gain good behavior from prisoners,” said Sen. Claitor.
In this case though, Bailey was not a model prisoner. That means he could now lose his good time credit, as well as his early release date of 2024. DOC officials say additional charges could be pending for Bailey. DOC now has to calculate if his release date will change and if so, what it will be moving forward. Bailey is no longer a trustee.