A recent look into the Louisiana prison system finds about 200 inmates are held beyond their scheduled release dates each month.

Internal state corrections data also showed that the average additional sentence time was around 44 days in 2019, Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.

The practice of “overdetention” is endemic in Louisiana and costs the state $2.8 million a year in housing costs.

The New York Times report gave a typical example of overdetention through the case of Johnny Traweek, who was told he could be released by a judge after seven months in prison for striking someone with an object while drunk.

Traweek gave away his food and blankets as he waited to be released on May 2, 2018, but it took another 19 days until the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections finished processing his paperwork.

“It’s a bad, bad feeling,” Traweek told the Times. “Every day, I’m getting up and thinking I’m going to get out. And it doesn’t happen. I knew I wasn’t in there for any charge, and still, I have to sit there.”

In a similar case in 2020, a federal judge ruled that the Louisiana Department of Corrections was to blame for the “false imprisonment” of Brian McNeal, who was ordered to prison for 90 days with a release date, after violating his probation, Mike Perlstein reported for WWLTV at the time.

He was held 41 days after his release date.

“Mr. McNeal is one of the thousands of Louisiana people held each year past their release date. Hopefully, this decision will show the Louisiana Department of Corrections that what they are doing is illegal and has consequences, ” McNeal’s attorney said.

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into how the state of Louisiana releases its prisoners. The investigation is expected to find widespread violations of federal law.

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