Study slams East Baton Rouge Parish Prison safety

Study slams East Baton Rouge Parish Prison safety

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Researchers from the Promise of Justice Initiative say 25 men died in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison between 2012 and 2016 and argued most of the deaths could have been prevented.

"Despite our vast experience in locking people up, city and state officials can't provide safe conditions for the people we incarcerate," said Loyola University law professor, Andrea Armstrong, who co-authored the study for the Promise of Justice Initiative.

Of the 25 men killed, 22 had not been convicted of the crimes they were accused of committing, the study indicated.

"The deaths are not only preventable, but they are the predictable result of over-incarceration, understaffed jails and prisons, and of a punishment mentality," Armstrong said.

The report indicates it's too difficult for local jailers to monitor prisoners because of a troublesome floor plan and outdated facilities. The sheriff's office says they've been complaining about similar issues for over a decade.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore called for a new prison Wednesday at the Rotary Club.

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But researchers say the facilities are not the only reason prisoners have died, claiming prison workers are inadequately prepared to provide medical or mental healthcare. A number of clinics where prisoners used to go for treatment have closed in the last decade.

"When you take someone's freedom away, you have an obligation to ensure their safety," Rev. Alexis Anderson said.

The sheriff's office says its training programs have improved, but noted corrections officers are not medical personnel. The city-parish provides the actual medical care.

The Promise of Justice says local and state government needs to invest more money into the system by hiring more qualified workers. They are also asking the city to hold hearings on jail conditions.

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