NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana has condemned a Louisiana sheriff who said he wants to keep “good” prisoners in jail to use them for their labor.
Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator recently called keeping the “good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars [and] cook in the kitchen” a “necessary evil,” according to the ACLU.
“The criminal justice system is supposed to be about keeping communities safe. Jails are not supposed to incarcerate people just because they need work done – that is slavery,” ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman said. “Sheriff Prator’s comments demonstrate a shocking disregard for the very principles on which our justice system is based and raise serious concerns about his department’s approach to public safety. The criminal justice reforms enacted this year were a historic step forward, but there is clearly more work to do to root out the vestiges of slavery and racial injustice that infect our society and communities.”
Prator made the comments at an October 5 press conference where he discussed the impact of the Justice Reinvestment Act on Caddo Parish.
The slate of reforms calls for a 13 percent drop in prison population statewide, a 16 percent drop in the community service population, and a $154 million reinvestment into research-based programs to aid victims, among other actions, according to the Governor’s Office.