U.S. Justice says Louisiana jails holding prisoners beyond release date

File – File image of a prison in the United States. – FILE / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

The U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday that prisons in the southeastern state of Louisiana are widely holding inmates beyond their court-ordered release dates.

«There is reasonable cause to believe that the Louisiana Department of Corrections and Public Safety (LDOC) routinely holds individuals in its custody beyond the dates they are legally entitled to be released, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment,» a department statement reads.

A report of a year-long investigation examining incarceration patterns has concluded that correctional institutions have violated the rights of more than a quarter of prisoners.

In this regard, it has accused state officials of denying due process rights for timely release, failing to implement adequate procedures, and ignoring repeated calls to overhaul the system.

«For more than 10 years, LDOC has been aware of its excessive detention problem and has failed to take adequate steps to ensure the timely release of those incarcerated in its custody,» the missive continues.

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, has assured that the «Constitution guarantees that incarcerated persons cannot be detained beyond their release date, and it is the state’s fundamental duty to ensure that all persons in its custody are released in a timely manner.»

«Legally sentenced persons should not serve a day beyond their officially designated release dates. Louisiana is wasting money in incarcerating people beyond their release dates and incurring legal fees to defend lawsuits filed by over-detainees,» said Duane Evans, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.