Louisiana Sheriff Admits He Needs Prisoners for Free Labor

A Louisiana sheriff gave a chilling reason for why he does not support his state’s recent criminal justice reforms, which would free many nonviolent offenders currently incarcerated as part of the country’s most populous prison population.

Sheriff Steve Prattor of Caddo Parish wants to keep them behind bars to exploit their cheap labor. He said it was a “necessary evil” to “keep a few, or keep some out there.”

“That’s the ones that you can work, the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs — but guess what? Those are the ones that they’re releasing,” Prattor said during a press conference on Thursday. “In addition to the bad ones… they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen… well, they’re going to let them out!”

Louisiana recently enacted a series of laws termed the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package, which will save the state millions of dollars and reduce the prison population by 10 percent. According to the new laws, most of the prisoners eligible for release will come from parish jails and not state prisons, and they have been jailed for less serious offenses.

Louisiana has become something of a “prison capital,” as it imprisons more of its citizens then any other U.S. state and its incarceration rate is 13 times China’s. And an overwhelming majority of its incarcerated population is black or Latin American. Based on 2010 census data, blacks make up 32 percent of the total state population, but represent two-thirds of the incarerated population.