Justice Department Finds Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Violates the Constitution By Incarcerating People Beyond Their Release Dates
Two former correctional officers at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, were sentenced today for their roles in assaults on a handcuffed inmate in January 2017. Adrian Almodovar III and Charles Philson III previously pleaded guilty to depriving the inmate of his constitutional rights while acting under color of law.
“The Justice Department is committed to holding correctional officers who deprive inmates of their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment accountable to the public,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to obtain justice for victims of these atrocious crimes.”
“The vast majority of law enforcement officers maintain a high standard of conduct and perform their duties with honesty, integrity, and bravery. Law enforcement officers at every level should be held to a high standard and those who deprive citizens of their civil rights and undermine the public trust should be held accountable. I want to thank the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and Louisiana Office of the State Inspector General, and our staff for their efforts in this case.”
"Along with our partners, the FBI will aggressively pursue allegations wherein correctional officers abuse their position of power and authority to deny persons their constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Anderson. “The FBI is appreciative of its partnership with the LA Department of Corrections to root out correctional officers who choose to break the law and physically abuse defenseless inmates.”
“Corrections Officers are given great authority and trust, and when they abuse that trust, it undermines the entire system,” said Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street. “Physically abusing a handcuffed inmate can never be tolerated. It was entirely appropriate that these individuals be prosecuted and punished. The Louisiana OIG will continue working these criminal cases with our law enforcement partners for as long as necessary to protect the integrity of our system. I want to thank U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice for all their efforts on this case.”
During his previous plea hearing, Almodovar admitted to unlawfully striking inmate J.H. on multiple occasions while J.H. was handcuffed. He also admitted to failing to intervene to stop his fellow correctional officers from using unlawful force on J.H. Almodovar further admitted to unlawfully striking a second inmate, L.B., in the head while L.B. was handcuffed. Almodovar was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Philson previously pleaded guilty to witnessing other correctional officers using unlawful force on J.H. and failing to intervene to stop them. He was sentenced to 12 months probation.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Baton Rouge Resident Agency Office and the Louisiana Office of the State Inspector General. Trial Attorney Christopher J. Perras and Assistant United States Attorney Cal Leipold also assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Zachary Dembo of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.