Lafayette

Nov 22, 2010 11:32 PM by MIKE MAGNOLI

Dad Says UL Should Have Sent Texts During Inmate Escape



     What went wrong with UL's text message alert system last Friday when an inmate was on the loose on campus?  Did the college not think it necessary to warn students or was there a technical glitch?

     The father we spoke to for this story is raising those questions and several others in lieu of last week's incident.

We received a statement from UL...it reads in part, "The inmate was not a violent offender... and did not pose a threat to students."
    
But Paul Champagne isn't satisfied with that.
    
He emailed the Dean of Student Affairs 2 months ago.  Paul's daughter is a UL Education student and she lives on campus with her baby.
Paul champagne says his daughter called him very upset and scared after an inmate working on UL grounds jumped onto her balcony and stole things: Paul says UL police were made aware of the incident and he was told it happened on other balconies on campus too.  The dean responded with a phone call.

"He told me, Mr. Champagne, that is a risk, there'd be no more inmates working in student areas,"

Paul says he believed the dean was serious, and he was a little less apprehensive when UL tested it's emergency notification system early last week.  Paul received the test message.

"someone should have sent a message to this thing (his phone) a convict is on the loose, stay indoors.  I don't want the inmate population around my daughter or grand-daughter,"

But the head of the Corrections Program for the Parish says the inmate was a petty thief, not a violent criminal.  He was doing time for a phony credit card transaction.  Rob Reardon tells us,  no violent criminals are allowed on campus and the inmates who are mowing lawns and picking up trash at UL are two weeks shy of the end of their sentences.

Reardon says, "All of the people in these programs are going to be back in the community in two weeks, they don't pose a very big risk."


And the UL administration agrees with that assessment and  that's why administrators did not activate the text messages.
    
As for the future of inmate workers on campus- that's a question we'd still like to get an answer to.

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