LAO: Louisiana prisons have difficulty tracking inmate release dates

According to a new report by the state’s Legislative Auditor’s Office (LAO), the Department of Public Safety and Corrections officials is having trouble keeping track of inmate release dates and parole eligibility.

The department simply doesn’t have the resources to review every inmate’s release information– a sad state of affairs for Louisiana’s criminal justice system.

The LAO found 5 out of 40 computations tested had inaccurate information, resulting in inaccurate release dates or parole eligibility classifications.

It found that more than half–21 out of 40 computations tested– did not have the required reviewer initials or other documentation to prove that the inmate’s sentence computation had been reviewed by someone other than the preparer.

“Calculating offender release dates is a complicated process,” DOC Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said in his written response to the audit. “Each legislation session that results in a change to laws that impact time computation requires the Department to develop a method to implement the change and clarify the impacts of the change to existing laws and adjust training accordingly.”

Last year, the corrections department implemented a new procedure stipulating that supervisors must review 25 time computation cases per month, LeBlanc said, but they don’t have enough people to review every case.

The LAO also found that the department “does not have adequate controls in place” for inventories at several facilities. The pharmacy inventory at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center and the automotive fuel inventory at three other facilities are inadequate, according to the LAO review.

In response, the department said it will stop accepting unused medications donated by nursing homes, although the practice “saves tax payers thousands of dollars each year.” Donations are too difficult to track without additional staff, they say. They also plan to implement a new fuel card system in response to the audit.

Good news for the department, according to the LAO report, is that spending remained relatively steady over the past five fiscal years.

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