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Revealing audit describes how Louisiana's prisons responded to pandemic

2 years 10 months 3 weeks ago Monday, June 28 2021 Jun 28, 2021 June 28, 2021 9:12 AM June 28, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - According to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's office, a recent analysis of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections revealed that while the DOC performed well in relation to certain areas of pandemic-safety, administrative challenges and a failure to collect much-needed COVID-related information proved to be problematic.

An audit report says DOC pandemic protocols complied with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, medical isolation, screening, visitation, PPE, social distancing, and transfers. 

However, despite the DOC's regular contact with facilities, it did not appear to implement a process to verify that facilities were following protocols. 

According to auditors, between March 2020 and January 2021, DOC administered 21,110 COVID-19 tests to 8,211 prisoners in state correctional facilities and found about 40 percent of prisoners had a positive result. 

However, auditors say the DOC did not collect the same COVID-19 information for state prisoners in local correctional centers, even though approximately half of state prisoners are housed in these facilities. 

DOC also faced challenges in providing programming and video visitation services for prisoners. 

Auditors added that out of 1,100 potential candidates, the Furlough Review Panel approved 100 prisoners for furlough, and DOC furloughed 68 of these prisoners. DOC’s existing staffing challenges were exacerbated as well because of an increase in staff absences. 

From March through December 2020, correctional facility staff used 1.5 million hours of leave, which was a 21.7 percent increase over the prior year, and worked 1.2 million hours of overtime. 

A detailed audit report can be viewed here

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