Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Saturday, May 31, 2014 6:33 PM
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said no changes need to be made to the Calcasieu Correctional Center’s trusty program, although two trusties walked off work sites in the past week. Both were caught within a day’s time.
“I don’t want the public to lose confidence,” Mancuso said. “There’s nothing going wrong; there’s no procedures not being followed. This is what happens sometimes when you have programs like this.”
Mancuso said the jail has 283 trusties, about 150 of whom are nonviolent offenders who work outside the jail. Trusties work at Burton Coliseum, McNeese, the West-Cal Arena, Sowela, the Sheriff’s Office farm and maintenance garage, and on litter crews and other special details, as well as for public works and animal control, Mancuso said.
It would cost about $5 million to hire the same-size staff at minimum wage, although the economic impact could be as high as $10 million, he said.
“I’m not trying to justify. I’m trying to say there’s a purpose of why we use trusties,” Mancuso said.
“We’re trying to teach them that there are privileges if you work hard. In jail, your privilege is you get a contact visit. You get to see your mother, your father, your children, your wife, your girlfriend, in person, face to face. That’s a privilege you get for being a trusty.”
When Shane Keith Hilton, 34, left a work detail in DeQuincy on Thursday, he was among four trusties being watched by a supervisor, Mancuso said. The supervisor put the other three inmates in a van and reported the escape. A perimeter was set up, but Hilton was not found until Friday morning, when he was located in Westlake, Mancuso said.
“I don’t know what else we can do,” Mancuso said. “Nobody violated any procedures, nothing went astray or wrong on our end, other than they chose to walk off our work detail. The one that happened yesterday (Hilton) just took off running. ... We set up a perimeter very quickly, but he got off in the woods and got away.”
If an offender is deemed fit to work outside the jail, it is because he is “100 percent” not believed to be a threat to the public, Mancuso said.
The Sheriff’s Office is looking into whether those who escape can be charged with crimes related to the cost it takes to search for them, he said.
The trusties have been reminded of the ramifications of attempting to escape, Mancuso said.
Posted By: Dodatnomo On: 6/3/2014
This program is a good one, thank you for not taking away these privileges from the ones who are doing right. If you have ever had a family member in this situation, being able to work outside, even just a little and then seeing your loved ones for a visit is something to look forward to and to work for. For some, this is the discipline they need to get their lives together and to come out better than they went in.
Posted By: Laynie Hebert On: 6/2/2014
Title: Trustee takes personal info from pet adoption application
Just thought I would share an experience I had years ago.
I went in to the Calcasieu Animal Shelter to look at the cats up for adoption. A lady working at the shelter showed me the animals that were available. I found a cat that I wanted to adopt. The shelter employee gave me an application to fill out. There was a man sweeping the area where I was filling out the adoption form. It was a Calcasieu Parish Trustee. He was very polite and seemed to be a very good worker. I never worried about my safety while I was at the shelter.
My application was approved. I paid the adoption fees while the trustee went to get the cat. He came back with the cat in his arms. He handed me the cat and smiled. Then he wished me good luck. I was very happy with my experience at the shelter.
Days later my Mom came in with the mail. She held up a letter that was addressed to me. My Mom asked me who it was from. I told her I had no clue who it could be. She asked me if I would mind if she opened it. I told her she could.
My Mom opened the letter and told me the person's name. I told her I did not know this person. My Mom looked at the return address. She freaked out. She started reading the letter which was two pages in length. Then she really got upset. She kept saying "Oh no" and "I don't think so". I was completely lost. I couldn't get her to tell me what the letter was about.
My Mom immediately pulled out the phone book and started making calls. First call was to the police. ??? I still had no idea what was going on. A minute later I realized why my Mom was SO upset.
That letter came from the trustee at the shelter. The guy was about to be released from jail and he wanted to take me out for dinner as soon as he got out. I understood why my Mom was SO upset and scared. I had just turned 18. My Mom was very worried that this guy would show up at our house. He had the address as well as my other personal information. From what we were told by the shelter, he must have taken my personal information off of the adoption application.
My Mom spoke with the police. They told her the trustees are not allowed to have contact with the public. They promised to look into it. My Mom asked the cops what they were going to do about it. The officer told her there was nothing he could do about it because no crime had been committed. My Mom asked the officer why this trustee was in jail. She was told that information was confidential. Which makes no sense to me.... :'( My Mom told the officer that it was o.k. for the inmate to know all about me but it was not o.k. for us to know about the crime he committed. The officer told my Mom that he did not have a history of violence. I remember seeing my Mother's eyes filling up with tears. She was frustrated and also very scared. Seeing her like this really scared me. I did not leave the house unless I absolutely had to.
Thankfully I never heard from the trustee again.