Concerned staff at Tensas Parish Detention Center meets with warden, sheriff; employee says “nothing will change”

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TENSAS PARISH, LA (KTVE/KARD) — “Nothing will change. They don’t care about us.”

That’s what one staff member tells KTVE/KARD after Friday’s meeting on unsafe working conditions inside of the Tensas Parish Detention Center. This corrections officer says the facility is plagued with Covid-19 cases, the staff is overworked and underpaid, and leadership there isn’t listening to their concerns.

The meeting happened inside of the detention center, where employees met with the warden and sheriff. An anonymous corrections officer, who fears losing her job, tells us that many inmates are seriously sick, and says she even contracted Coronavirus.

She says she has been working three weeks straight without a day off. She alleges there’s no air conditioning, and at least four inmates are on ventilators after contracting the virus while in the facility.

She adds that they just got PPE last week, and says for months, no one was wearing masks or practicing social distancing. She says Sheriff Rickey Jones simply said there’s not enough money in the parish to give them a raise and that things will stay the same.

Meanwhile, this staff member accuses Warden Pat Smith of focusing on the wrong issues; spending time reprimanding employees about their hair color and styles—rather than addressing employees’ concerns for their health and safety.

We reached out to Warden Smith, who directed us to Sheriff Jones. We approached Jones as he was driving off, called the Sheriff’s office and sent an email, but have not heard back. 

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