The state of Louisiana has found itself in hot water with the U.S. Justice Department after it was revealed the state violated constitutional law.
The DOJ announced Wednesday that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections violated the 14th Amendment by holding people in incarceration long after their scheduled release dates.
“LDOC is deliberately indifferent to the systemic overdetention of people in its custody,” the DOJ statement read.
“For more than 10 years, LDOC has been on notice of its overdetention problem and has failed to take adequate measures to ensure timely releases of incarcerated individuals from its custody.”
The 14th Amendment, which was passed in 1868 in the wake of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, carries a due process clause.
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristin Clarke, of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, explained the unconstitutionality of Louisiana’s practices.
“The Constitution guarantees that people incarcerated in jails and prisons may not be detained beyond their release dates, and it is the fundamental duty of the State to ensure that all people in its custody are released on time,” she said.
“Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic violations by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections that have resulted in the routine confinement of people far beyond the dates when they are legally entitled to be released.”
“We are committed to taking action that will ensure that the civil rights of people held in Louisiana’s jails and prisons are protected. We stand ready to work with state officials to institute long overdue reforms,” she concluded.
As reported by WWL-TV, the DOJ’s concerns were echoed by the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“As the prison capital of the world, Louisiana has a responsibility to end the needless brutality of over-incarceration,” the ACLU’s statement read.
“Too many people in our state, disproportionately people of color, face lengthy incarceration and are needlessly separated from their families and society.”
According to the DOJ’s findings, 26.8 percent of the people released from LDOC’s custody between January and April of last year were held longer than they should have been.
One and four of those individuals were over-detained by at least 90 days.
The DOJ also highlighted the added costs being heaped onto the state due to their illegal actions.
“In this four-month period, LDOC had to pay parish jails an estimated $850,000 in fees for the days those individuals were kept in custody beyond their lawful sentences,” as stated by the DOJ.
“At this rate, this unconstitutional practice costs Louisiana over $2.5 million a year.”
As reported by WDJT-TV, a representative for the LDOC released a statement on behalf of the state institution promising it will review the DOJ’s report and, “will continue to work with DOJ throughout this process.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.