Auditor: Prisons struggle to track inmate release dates

The agency that runs Louisiana’s state prisons isn’t doing enough to track inmate release dates and parole eligibility, a Louisiana Legislative Auditor report says.
Department of Public Safety and Corrections officials say a new policy ensures supervisors review some time calculations but the department doesn’t have the resources to review every inmate’s situation.
The auditor found five of 40 computations tested had inaccurate information, based on the supporting documentation, resulting in inaccurate release dates or parole eligibility classifications. In addition, 21 of 40 computations tested did not have reviewer initials or other support to indicate the sentence computation was reviewed by someone other than the preparer.
“Calculating offender release dates is a complicated process,” DOC Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said in his written response to the audit. “Each legislation session that results in a change to laws that impact time computation requires the Department to develop a method to implement the change and clarify the impacts of the change to existing laws and adjust training accordingly.”
In cases when changes to the law are forward-looking only, staff continues to have cases that must be tracked while following the old laws, he added.
Last year, the corrections department implemented a new procedure in which supervisors review 25 time computation cases per month, LeBlanc said, but resources are not available to have supervisors review every case.
The auditor’s office says the department also “does not have adequate controls in place” for the pharmacy inventory at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center and the automotive fuel inventory at three other facilities.
Department officials say they will stop accepting unused medications donated by nursing homes, though the practice “saves tax payers thousands of dollars each year,” because the volume of donations is too difficult to track without additional staff. Officials also plan to implement a new fuel card system.
The auditor’s office says department spending remained relatively steady over the past five fiscal years. Lawmakers cut state funding in fiscal year 2016 but increased it over the next two years.
Salaries and benefits increased in recent years due to market adjustments that went into effect in fiscal year 2018 and the transition of Allen Correctional Center from a private facility to a facility operated by the Department. The increases were offset by reductions in sheriff housing payments in fiscal year 2019 as part of state criminal justice reinvestment initiatives, the auditor’s office says.

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