Incorrigable incarceration are the only words that can describe what the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and the Louisiana Department of Health are planning to do with inmates, on both sides of the process; who contract the Novel CoronaVirus.

If you contract the disease you will be moved to Angola.  Typical american injustice manifested in Louisiana.  news_saldana_jena_law_01_ms

Louisiana plans to house local and state inmates with coronavirus at Angola and Allen Correctional

The Louisiana Department of Corrections and Public Safety plans to house inmates who test positive for the coronavirus, including those from all over the state who have not been convicted of crimes, at one of two state prisons, the department said.

Local sheriff’s offices with the resources to treat jailed coronavirus patients at their local jails should to do so, said Ken Pastorick, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. Operators of local jails not equipped to treat coronavirus patients, as well as other state prisons, can transfer inmates with COVID-19 to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which is often referred to as Angola, and to Allen Correctional Center, according to the plan.

Angola is located in East Felicia Parish, near St. Francisville. Allen Correctional Center is in Allen Parish, between and north of Lake Charles and Lafayette.

Lawyer Mercedes Montagnes, director of the Promise of Justice Initiative, said she had “massive concerns” with the state’s plan to house inmates with COVID-19 at the two locations. Montagnes, whose nonprofit organization focuses on criminal justice issues in Louisiana, has filed litigation against the state and DOC over conditions at Angola, including a lack of air conditioning on death row and problems with medical care at the maximum-security prison, the latter of which is still pending.

“It would seem to me that transporting and concentrating sick individuals at facility that houses the elderly and incredibly vulnerable people could be a recipe for disaster,” Montagnes said.

The state’s inmates serving life and death sentences, which include many elderly or aging inmates, are housed at Angola.

The DOC did not respond to WDSU’s questions sent Friday addressing Montagnes’ concerns.

In a Thursday email, Pastorick said the DOC has been in “constant contact” with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and individual sheriffs regarding the plan, and the DOC advised them to contact the state agency “if they need us to house any inmates with COVID-19.”

“We would encourage local facility’s that have the capacity of negative air pressure cells to isolate that inmate in place, versus putting an infected prisoner on the road with a corrections officer,” Pastorick said in an email.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office plans to transfer any inmate in its custody who tests positive for COVID-19 to one of the state facilities, Capt. Lee Scott, a spokesman for the agency, said earlier this week. No inmates at the Northshore facility had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday.

Those with COVID-19 who are taken to Angola will be housed Camp J, a housing unit DOC shut down in May 2018. The unit previously provided the most restrictive settings for prisoners who were typically segregated. The Department of Corrections closed Camp J two years ago in part to move away from solitary-like conditions and in part due to infrastructure problems.

The Corrections Department identified “several hundred beds” between Angola and Allen Correctional Center, “but we believe the local level has capacity to isolate some positive inmates,” Pastorick said.

As of Thursday, no state inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, the department said in a news release.

Two Corrections Department employees who worked at two different state prisons have tested positive, however, DOC administrators said in a statement. Other employees who had contact with the infected staff members were sent home to self-quarantine. Inmates who may have been exposed have been quarantined and are asymptomatic with no fever.

Montagnes said she was concerned about the distance between hospitals and the two prisons chosen to house coronavirus patients. Angola’s “obscure” location is farther away from a hospital than some local jails, she said. She also questioned if Angola was equipped with ventilators, which are already on short supply in the state.

“I would want to see documentation that experts and epidemiologists have reviewed this plan and advised this course of action,” Montagnes added.

Montagnes said transferring pretrial inmates from local jails to state prisons could make it more difficult for them to get out on bond, adding that Louisiana should be taking more steps to reduce the jail and prison population amid the public health crisis.

The DOC did not respond to questions from WDSU on Friday addressing Montagnes’ concerns.

DOC’s protocols

All of the 32 state-housed inmates who were been tested for COVID-19 had negative results, the DOC said. The agency said in the release DOC has been able to collect the samples from inmates and send them to the Louisiana Department of Health for testing. Despite her concerns with DOC’s plan, Montagnes said she was pleased with the amount of testing of inmates that’s so far taken place in state prisons.

Here are some of the steps DOC is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the agency:

  • Suspension of visitation, volunteering, and tours
  • Screening of all staff and vendors prior to entering institutions
  • More frequent sanitizing of frequently-touched surfaces
  • Hand soap and paper towels are frequently restocked in the bathrooms
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the institutions
  • Minimized internal transfers of inmates on a case-by-case basis
  • Education of staff and inmates on COVID-19