When a prisoner calls home to talk to his mother, son, or daughter, that call costs his family about 15 times more than it would if the same number were dialed outside the prison walls. These costs vary from one jail to the next, but every Louisiana prison receives a hefty kickback from the collect phone calls inmates make simply to stay in touch with their friends and families.
The U.S. Justice Department is asking to join a class action lawsuit that accuses Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman of overseeing a jail that routinely subjects prisoners to brutal, inhumane conditions.
The federal agency filed a request Monday in federal court, asking to be included as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in April by the Southern Poverty Law Center contending the jail's conditions violate the U.S. Constitution.
To see if detained immigrants are being locked up unlawfully for long periods of time, a civil rights group is seeking to get the Vermilion Parish sheriff to turn over documents on immigrants who've been jailed since 2009.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Mike Couvillon Wednesday. The group says the sheriff has refused to hand over the documents, citing privacy concerns.
The group charges sheriff's offices may be holding immigrants longer than federal law permits.