Department of Corrections promises action after state audit
BATON ROUGE- The Department of Corrections has promised to take swift action following an audit released by the State Legislative Auditor's Office looking into DOC's trustee program.
Trustees are criminals that have been given jobs in and out of the prison for things like janitorial services, grass cutting and trash pick up.
Auditors discovered numerous trusties working in public buildings and beyond, did not meet requirements. That included some that were doing work in state buildings with very violent criminal histories.
"It's pretty concerning," Karen LeBlanc with the Legislative Auditor's Office said. "I don't know if most state employees who have trusties around know that they have people with violent offenses working around them."
The audit looked at the state's program at different institutions including Angola, Dixon Correctional Institute, Elayn Hunt and the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. The audit states, "Policies allow trusties who are assigned to work in state buildings in Baton Rouge to have less stringent requirements regarding crimes of violence. "Thirty three percent would not be eligible because they had crimes of violence such as aggravated battery, manslaughter and aggravated assault with firearms."
"The department needs to have more oversight over the individual institutions and go out and monitor to make sure they are following the policies and to make sure the trusties are eligible," LeBlanc said. "They need to start tracking the trusties in a centralized department or location."
The audit goes on to say, "DOC said these trusties have less stringent eligibility because they have difficulty finding eligible trusties to fulfill its contracts for labor crews."
Tonight, the Department of Corrections is promising to adhere to its own policies that are in place. Those trusties with extremely violent offenses have already been moved, but DOC noted that there has never been a complaint about them.
"These handful of trusties that were identified and didn't qualify have been re-screened and put in the appropriate job to their appropriate trusty level," Chief of Operations for DOC, Seth Smith, said.
In addition to taking swift action, the Department of Corrections says measures are now in place to make sure those criminals who are trusted to work in state buildings actually meet the requirements.
"We're going to incorporate a secondary review to insure they follow DOC regulation so that trusties meet the criteria from this point forward," Smith said.
The audit also scolded trusties at the State Police Barracks. It said staff used their own policy to screen trusties which is different from department policy. The state also found a few trusties there that were not eligible.