Inmate at center of early release mix-up now suing Department of Corrections officials
BATON ROUGE - A former inmate who has been in and out of prison in recent months due to a 'human error' is suing two high-ranking Department of Corrections officials, claiming that the department re-arrested him to keep him from speaking to the media.
Nickolos Marchiafava was one of about 1,900 inmates released in late 2017 after the passage of sweeping criminal justice reform in Louisiana.
Marchiafava was featured in a WBRZ report less than two weeks after his release in December. At that time, he was staying at a homeless shelter as he searched for a job to support himself. According to another report from the Advocate, Marchiafava soon secured a job and stayed out of trouble in the 45 days following his release.
But after he was featured in those news stories, officers came looking to put him back in jail. Prison officials said Marchiafava's early release was a mistake, and he agreed to go back to prison on Jan. 22 after the Department of Corrections chalked his release up as a "human error."
He was released a second time in February and has stayed out of prison since.
The lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of Marchiafava names Secretary James LeBlanc and Deputy Assistant Secretary Natalie LaBorde as the defendants. It says the DOC repeatedly miscalculated the number of days remaining in his sentence ahead of his release. It also cites the WBRZ and Advocate stories as the reason for Marchiafava's re-incarceration, claiming that the actions taken by the department were a reaction to criticisms he voiced in those reports.
The lawsuit specifically references another Advocate story in which LaBorde said the department checked on Marchiafava's file after being made aware of those two original stories. It goes on to say that his arrest caused him to lose all headway he had made following his November release, which included an apartment and his new job.
Marchiafava is now seeking a trial and damages for what he says was a violation of his First Amendment rights.