Mancuso: Nothing wrong with trusty program

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

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.