KATC Investigates

Jun 20, 2013 12:11 AM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Inmates Forgotten? D.A. Admits Mistakes


KATC continues its investigation of alleged civil rights violations in the St. Landry Parish jail. Some inmates say they've been forgotten by the justice system. Many have been stuck in jail for almost a year--not charged for their crime, and not getting their day in court.

It's not only led to over-crowding in the jail itself...It's a violation of the Constituion.

We've brought you the stories of Angela Butler and Tony Cooper--Two inmates who still haven't been charged by the District Attorney's offce. Only the District Attorney's office can formally charge someone.

The D.A. admits they've made mistakes.

"When you handle thousands of cases every month there are going to be times where things slip through the cracks," St. Landry Parish District Attorney Earl Taylor said.

Dozens of inmates are waiting to be charged...and have their cases move forward. Here's what we uncovered:

Of the over 200 inmates in jail right now, 36 sat in jail for over 60 days without being formally charged. And right now...27 are still waiting to be arraigned.

But District Attorney Earl Taylor has been tackling these cases--Ever since he got an email back in April from St. Landry Sheriff Bobby Guidroz. Guidroz said the hold-ups had led to over-crowding.

"I'm aware of the jail crowding. I told the sheriff that we were going to do everything that we could to try to move the cases. That's our committment. We're not perfect though," Taylor said.

While the District Attorney admits his office has made mistakes when it comes to inmates getting their day in court...He says there's another problem. And that's when their court appointed attorney's don't visit them in a timely manner. And the D.A. has no control over that.

"The protection built into the law is their lawyer...To file what-ever action he determines necessary in order to protect the rights of his client," Taylor said.

Many inmates are having to wait--admits District Defender attorney Ed Lopez, who oversees all court-appointed attornies.

"There's not a lot of excuse. That's something we all have to improve on. and I've told our people that," Ed Lopez said.

"They're over worked, they have a lot of clients, and they do not visit the jail as much as they should," he said.

Improvement...is something the D.A. says they're working on as well.

"We will in this area where people have fallen through the cracks, we will certainly try to make sure that doesn't happen again," Taylor said.

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