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Tangipahoa temporarily lowers jail head count while addressing recent escapes

1 week 5 days 19 hours ago Thursday, May 30 2024 May 30, 2024 May 30, 2024 2:45 PM May 30, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

HAMMOND — The sheriff-elect of Tangipahoa Parish said Thursday that the inmate population at the parish jail has been reduced temporarily as guards deal with the aftermath of two escapes.

Four prisoners broke out in separate incidents last weekend. Two were apprehended within a day, but two others were still at-large Thursday. 

"We have a fair number of incarcerated individuals that are being housed outside the parish, simply because we do not have enough room for them," Sheriff-elect Gerald Sticker told members of the Rotary Club at a meeting Thursday. 

To make sure a counting error like this does not happen again, Sticker said they are planning to require every inmate to wear a bracelet with an infrared tag inside of it that would make keeping a headcount easier. 

Earlier Thursday, he had posted on Facebook that tending to jail issues would be a key part of his administration when it begins July 1.

"We've known from Day 1 of our commitment to taking this agency and parish in a new direction that the jail would be a pivotal piece of that plan," the sheriff-elect posted. "While this current incident is no surprise, it's not acceptable, and it furthers our awareness that major changes to the entire jail system, not just its structure, must remain one of our most critical priorities."

He said the jail has had "long-standing security and staffing challenges," fueled in part by low pay — $13 per hour.

"You can go to Chick-fil-a and they make more," Sticker told the Rotary members.

He said he'd like to see a raise for jail employees but wants to weigh options before asking residents to raise taxes to pay for them.

Sticker says it is not only the job of the prison to keep citizens safe, but also the inmates. 

"We have a job to do. We have a responsibility to the citizens to make sure that the jail is secure and a responsibility to those inmates, the men and women who are incarcerated, to make sure that they are secure, to make sure they are safe." Sticker said. 

"Look, ultimately they need to be where they are, but that's somebody's spouse. That's somebody's child. They need a safe environment where they can serve their time."

To also deter inmates from coming back, Sticker mentioned he wants to restore a ministry program and also set up a G.E.D program and even a trade-school program — all with the hope that criminals can better themselves and become upstanding citizens. 

The four inmates who escaped last weekend were gone for hours before their disappearance was noted — and then only after a family member of one of the escapees called the jail. Still at large are Omarion Hookfin, 20, of Hammond, and Jamarcus Cyprian, 20, of Amite.

Hookfin was being held after being accused of taking part in a 2022 home invasion and homicide; Cyprian was doing time for armed robbery.

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