KATC Investigates

Jun 19, 2013 11:57 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Over Crowded Jail, Civil Rights Violated?

Too many inmates in jail...That's the problem over in St. Landry Parish where the jail is over capacity.

The max is supposed to be 232 inmates, but today the jail is up to 258... And the sheriff's office says the numbers keep growing.

Several inmates say they've been forgotten. Many have been in jail for months without seeing their court-appointed attorney and not only that-- They haven't been officially charged by the District Attorney's office. That means their case can't go forward, and they must remain behind bars.

That's the case for Angela Butler, who's been waiting 16 long months for her case to be heard.

"I've never been billed on anything, I haven't been charged or nothing," Angela Butler said.

Which is why Angela is still in jail, and frustrated with the justice system. She was arrested in March 2012, and charged in connection to an armed robbery.

"I feel like sometimes I'm going to get lost in the system. And it's a real hard feeling," Butler said.

She's just one of several inmates who are still waiting...Waiting to be charged by the District Attorney's office. Tony Cooper had to wait seven months.

"It's just the system can't get nothing done, just you know, got to wait. And month after month, after month, and it's like, nothing happening," Tony Cooper said.

KATC's investigation found that some inmates have served nearly double the amount of time their sentences would have called for. And everyday spent in jail is costing tax payers hundreds of dollars a day...Thousands of dollars a month.

"I started seeing 600 days a defendant was in jail without being brought to court billed, then that's serious for me," Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said.

So serious that Sheriff Bobby Guidroz sent an email in April to the District Attorney's office and the Public Defender's office, pleading that they move forward on cases where inmates had been in jail for 208 days...530 days...and even 697 days without being charged.

"I want justice, you know I want it to be fair. We play by the rules, and I expect the justice system to play by the rules for the accused," Guidroz said.

So someone like Angela Butler can have a chance.

"I've made a mistake, and the system really do needs to work with us instead of against us," Butler said.

Our investigation found that a total 27 inmates weren't being charged by the District Attorney's office.



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