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Constable calls meeting about misdemanor jail "a waste of time"

1 year 4 months 2 weeks ago July 22, 2015 Jul 22, 2015 Wednesday, July 22 2015 July 22, 2015 6:15 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Chris Nakamoto

BATON ROUGE- Tonight, Constable Reginald Brown is sounding off after a meeting about opening the city's misdemeanor jail ended with no results.

The meeting was held on June 11 with top law enforcement brass and Baton Rouge City Leaders. Days after that meeting, Clerk of Court Lon Norris sent an email out to the attendees. That email requested that they send information to the Clerk regarding financial information to associated with the operation of the jail. To date, Norris said his office has not received any information, and plans to open the jail can't proceed until they get it.

"Basically it wasted everybody's time," Constable Reginald Brown said. "It's very concerning because we bring all these people together to address a concern at request of those persons who requested it, and we don't hear anything after."

Last year, lawmakers dedicated money for a misdemeanor jail in Baton Rouge. That jail would be used to clear the backlog of nearly 100,000 outstanding bench warrants. Today, the jail in the basement of Baton Rouge City Court sits unused and empty. Currently, all courts collect a $50 bench warrant fee from offenders who don't show up. That fee is supposed to fund the misdemeanor jail.

However, the money sits untouched since it needs Metro Council Approval before it can be spent on the jail.

"We offered a plan," Brown said. "We were waiting to get the word to go and when to go. We didn't get any word. We still didn't get any word. We are at a quandary as to what to do."

That plan Brown was talking about included opening the jail in September for two weeks. However, it's unclear if that is still the plan since the Clerk of Court hasn't heard anything following the June 11 meeting.

For Brown this is personal, because he's instructed his employees that they need to be on standby for the jail's possible opening.

"I blocked people taking vacation because of this and for taking leave time," Brown said.

We reached out to several city leaders tasked with organizing the meeting about opening the jail. Our calls weren't returned.

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