(7/25/18) — Last week a former Richwood Correction Center (RCC) employee claimed he witnessed inmates being abused and mistreated during his employment at RCC.
Parents of inmates reached out to us scared for their loved ones.
“I’m afraid for his life”, says Jamie Pickering. Her son is an inmate at RCC. She says when she talks to him his words frighten her.
“I’m so afraid to miss a phone call because not knowing what’s happening to my son from one day to the next.” says Pickering.
Former correctional officer John Robert claimed that officers beat inmates at Richwood, and that he got fired for refusing to do it.
When asked about the accusations made against the facility, Kevin Sumrall, the Development Executive at the LaSalle Management Company which runs RCC, referred to Robert as “a disgruntled employee that got terminated.”
He says Robert’s claims are 100% false. “That type of problems are not here at Richwood Correctional Center.” says Sumrall.
Pickering claims her son shared with her disturbing instances of physical abuse at the hands of guards. She says her son alleges one of the guards hit him on the head so hard he has trouble hearing out of one his ears. And that when he is in lockdown, or protective custody, he wasn’t given a mattress and had to sleep on concrete for weeks at a time. She says her son told her he was only getting fed once a day, not three times as required by law.
Robert claimed he saw exactly what Pickering described. Claiming inmates went weeks without showering, brushing their teeth, or having access to toilet paper.
Sumrall says these accusations are not true. He says inmates shower and brush their teeth daily. They have access to meals three times a day but are not forced to eat.
Sumrall says “We’ve passed every DOC audit we’ve had here. Inmates are never denied toilet paper. We serve meals three times a day.”
He says just because these men are behind bars does not mean they are treated as less than human.
“We’re not here to punish those inmates. We don’t hold their crime against them.” says Sumrall
He says nor do they abuse the inmates.
“In a prison setting you have to use force at times to gain control.” But Sumrall says it never gets beyond what is necessary. “We have zero tolerance for corporal punishment.” says Sumrall.
Pickering tells us she still fears what goes on inside RCC.
“I’m afraid of what the guards are doing.” says Pickering
When asked what would he tell parents of inmates who are concerned about the safety of their loved ones, Sumrall replied, “All we can tell them is we follow the policy and procedure.”
He says the prison’s main goal is to rehabilitate and recover, not ridicule.
“Our job is to carry out the sentence. It’s part of our ministry to help individuals get to the next level.” says Sumrall.
If prisoners feel they are being treated unfairly they can file a grievance and proper action will be taken.
Ken Pastorick with Louisiana Department of Corrections confirms RCC is not under investigation and just passed their most recent audit, in April 2018, with “flying colors.”
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