EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Death and humane treatment in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison were the focus of a statement released by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The seemingly unprompted statement came amid unanswered questions in the death of Shaheed Claiborne.
Days after the death of his mother, the late civil rights activist Rev. Betty Claiborne, Shaheed Claiborne was taken into custody while breaking into a detox center, arrest documents state. He was later able to take his own life while in parish prison.
Neither the jail nor city-parish has oversight over healthcare policies and procedures in the jail. Instead, those procedures are managed by third party vendor, CorrectHealth.
Since January, WAFB investigators have attempted to call and email CorrectHealth about medical decisions made before Claiborne’s death; those calls and emails have not been answered.
Read Mayor Broome’s full statement below:
“As Mayor-President, the safety and well-being of every citizen in East Baton Rouge Parish is a top priority. This includes making certain those who are incarcerated are treated humanely. Many have voiced concerns about the safety and health care of those confined to EBR Parish Prison. Discussions about treatment and even deaths at the jail have caused concern among many in the community.
Recently, Sheriff Gautreaux, Warden Grimes and I met with the advocates for prison health care to discuss their concerns. While the prison health facility has recently gained accreditation by the National Association of Correction Facilities, we understand the ongoing concerns that have been shared.
City-Parish government oversees the current contract with Correct Health for the medical services at EBR Parish Prison. I am sure they will be forthcoming and clear about the current status of prisoner health care at the facility.
Correct Health has been operating under parameters of a contract originally drafted in 2016. Our current contract ends this year. A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued by summer for a new contract. We will be working with professionals and with concerned citizens in drafting the RFP to make certain that we obtain the best model for care moving forward. We will listen to all interested parties to make certain that their voices and concerns are heard. In addition, I am committed to working with the Sheriff, Metro Council, advocates and others to carve a compassionate and effective path forward to address necessary improvements needed for individuals housed at the EBR Parish Prison."
In September of 2019, activists from different groups in the East Baton Rouge Prison Reform Coalition lined up outside a metro council meeting hoping to tell council members about the concerning number of deaths it says are coming from inside EBR prisons and jails. The group claimed it learned of 16 inmates dying while in custody since 2017.
In a Facebook post made Feb. 9, the group claimed it knew of 40 inmate deaths since 2012.
“Those deaths ranged from a 17 year old boy whose death details were horrific and totally avoidable to the sustained and documented torture of a 72 year old man who was only in the prison due to an enormous bail amount for a misdemeanor. In Dr. Martin Luther King Day of 2020 the death toll increased,” the Facebook post stated, referencing Claiborne’s death.
The group could not immediately be reached Tuesday, but is expected to “demand answers” at the metro council meeting Wednesday, Feb. 12.