Sheriff Seal starts cleanup

Published 8:15 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012


The Daily News

Within hours of his inauguration Monday, Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal got to work fulfilling his pledge to clean up the parish. He started at midnight with a sweep of the jail, the source of numerous complaints in recent years.

The “massive shakedown of the entire jail” was designed to get rid of cell phones, weapons, drugs and any other contraband that might be present, said Chief Deputy Mike Haley.

All inmates were handcuffed and placed on waiting Department of Corrections busses while tactical teams from Rayburn Correctional Center, Angola, Dixon Correctional Institute and Elayn Hunt Correctional Center conducted a thorough search of the jail.  

The DOC tactical teams, assisted by Washington Parish deputies and Franklinton police officers, confiscated three cell phones and one charger, hydrocodone pills, miscellaneous non-narcotic pills, a syringe, tobacco, a cigarette lighter, a razor, a small amount of money and a 10-inch piece of aluminum which was being made into a jailhouse knife, said Haley.  

Numerous bags of trash and other non-allowable items, which had accumulated over a period of time, were also removed from the inmate living areas.

Warrants will be issued for the inmates who possessed the contraband and Seal’s office says it will work closely with the District Attorney to prosecute those who committed the additional crimes while incarcerated.

A total of 110 officers, including 77 from the Department of Corrections, 17 Washington Parish deputies and 16 Franklinton police officers, participated in the sweep.  Eight DOC canines also took part in the search.

The “shakedown” was accomplished with no resistance from the inmate population, although one offender was slightly injured while restraints were being applied, said Haley.  The injured inmate received a minor cut on his arm and was transported by Northshore EMS for treatment, he said.

Seal said he appreciates the group effort that jump-started the process of getting the jail in proper order.

“I want this operation to serve as a wake-up call to anyone who commits crime in Washington Parish that we will pursue them, we will catch them and we will place them in a clean but tough jail,” he said. “Warden Robert McDaniel and his staff will turn this jail around and make it function the way in was designed to.

“Our operation tonight is only the beginning of our efforts to attack crime in Washington Parish. We will continue to intensify our pressure on the criminal element in our parish. As I stated in my inaugural address earlier in the day, criminals in Washington Parish need to be looking over their shoulders because we are coming after them.”

Those who disobey the law and are caught will find themselves in a strict, but humane facility, he said.

“We will operate a constitutional jail,” Seal said. “It will be constitutional and it will be operated in the proper manner, but it will not be a happy place in which to live.  

“I find it unconscionable that inmates have not had mattresses or adequate sanitary supplies. I have instructed Warden McDaniel to purchase necessary mattresses and sanitary supplies so that we can operate a jail that meets legal standards. I have also instructed the jail staff to develop an inmate disciplinary process and grievance system. Inmates will be held accountable for their actions while they are incarcerated in the Washington Parish Jail.”

Seal thanked DOC Secretary James LeBlanc, Warden Bobby Tanner of Rayburn, Warden Burl Cain of Angola, Warden Steve Rader of Dixon, Warden Howard Price of Hunt and Franklinton Police Chief Donald Folse “for their willingness to provide tactical support for this operation.”

He also expressed his gratitude to the Franklinton Fire Department for installing outside security lighting and to Northshore EMS for providing standby emergency medical personnel during the jail cleanup operation.

For more on the jail, see The Sunday News.