The Sheriff of Caddo Parish in Louisiana, Steve Prator, is strictly opposed to coming prison reforms that would result in the release of over 60 of his 350 prisoners.
Prator wants these prisoners to wash cars, change oil, and cook in the kitchens to help save the county some money. This led the critics into saying that he is treating prisoners like property and that this may be some form of “modern slavery,” especially since almost the entire prison population is violent African-American offenders.
“In addition to the bad ones, and I call these bad, in addition to them, they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchens, to do all that where we save money,” Prator said. These programs both save the prison money, and keep the inmates busy doing tasks that will help them, should they ever return to civilian life.
He continued, “I don’t want state prisoners. But they are a necessary evil,” he admitted.
A law that was signed by the Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards during the summer that aimed to reduce the state’s imprisoned population by at least 10%, through retroactively reducing drug sentences and other crimes deemed socially acceptable, like theft. While the law would save Louisiana over $200 million over the next 10 years, the cost to society has not yet been tallied. However, activists point out that Louisiana has an incarceration rate almost double the national average.
A video clip gained more attention when Black Lives Matter activist – and white man who is convinced that he is black – Shaun King shared it on his Twitter account on Thursday, and accused the sheriff of racism.
However, in all his media dealings, Prator had not once mentioned race. Prator fought back against King’s accusations, declaring, “My many years of public service prove beyond any doubt that I view all persons equally,” in a statement. He continued by saying that “To say or imply any differently is untruthful.”
The reason King and others of the activists, and media reporters have seized on to the racial aspect of these particular comments is that the Louisiana’s overall population is approximately 32% black, but are the most strongly represented of any race within the prison system – both in Louisiana, and otherwise.