BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — More people die in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison than any other parish in the state, according to a study published by the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.
Today the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison (EBRPP) Reform Coalition hosted a press conference to discuss what they call is a crisis in the EBRPP.
Andrea Armstrong, Professor of Law at Loyola University New Orleans, College of Law, published a report on Louisiana Deaths Behind Bars, highlighting the glaring differences in deaths inside of the EBRPP compared to other locals jails.
“If we just look at the data from East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, we see that it is one of the deadliest facilities in the state,” Armstrong said.
The study took a screenshot of deaths in prisons between 2015 and 2019. They requested records from 132 facilities across the state and the majority of them, including the state agency responsible for prisons, provided detailed and unredacted death records, according to Armstrong.
But that was not the case at EBRPP.
“It was really only the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison submission that included redactions and, in particular, the redactions were for the type of illness from which people died,” Armstrong.
She believes this information is critical to better understand the health care system inside the facility.
“It means that it is a lot harder to assess the performance of the institution of the systems,” Armstrong said. “It’s really helpful for understanding the ways in which Louisiana Prisons and Jails function similarly to nationwide trends and prisons and jails and how we are also different.”
BRProud reached out to the East Baton Rouge Sheriffs Office and asked why they redacted the records. They responded by email saying, “You would need to contact city-parish as they are overall health care at the parish prison and employ correct health which handles all medical.”
“So what the sheriff will often say is, ‘I am only responsible for security not for health care,'” Armstrong said. “But it is the responsibility of the sheriff’s office to document which deaths occur and the causes of death and it’s not that that information isn’t available on the form, which the sheriff’s office prepares and submits but that they actively chose to redact that information from those forms”, said Armstrong.
Other than these redactions, Armstrong says the sheriff’s office did respond timely to records requests during their research.
According to information collected by Armstrong and her team, 60% of deaths inside EBRPP are due to some sort of medical condition.