Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso. (Michelle Higginbotham / American Press)
Dustin Belast Pleasant
Last Modified: Sunday, February 03, 2013 1:24 PM
An internal review of the local inmate work-release program is under way, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.
The Sheriff’s Office began the review after program participant Dustin Belast Pleasant, 26, killed co-worker Brittany Grosse, 21, near Big Daddy’s Sports Grill in south Lake Charles, where they both worked.
Pleasant was serving a six-year term for assaulting an officer, but was within a year of his release.
The murder took place on Nov. 30; one week later Pleasant hanged himself with a blanket in his cell at Angola State Penitentiary.
Mancuso said that when the internal review, being handled by Warden Vic Salvador, is complete, he will release any new standards the agency plans to institute.
“We have some new ideas we’re working on,” the sheriff said. “We’re trying to get our attorneys to look at some of the legality of it, make sure we’re not breaking the rules or engaging in anything that would violate their rights.”
Mancuso said the Sheriff’s Office has already begun doing more checks on the 25 inmates in its work-release program.
“As far as our documentation, we had made checks and everything was fine. But I think we have a better way of keeping track of the inmates than what we’ve done in the past,” Mancuso said.
“I strongly believe what we did was appropriate, but in light of what happened we have to challenge ourselves and ask, ‘Is there a better way that is safer for the public?’ ”
A review by the state Department of Corrections, which runs the work-release programs statewide, is also ongoing, spokeswoman Pam LaBorde said.
“We are looking at scenarios and numbers for two months of (work-release) applications for placement, among other things,” she wrote in an email.
After the review is complete, department staff will make recommendations to Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc, she said.