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Lawsuit Brought For Illegal Detention

Despite completion of sentences, plaintiffs remained in custody for five additional months

NEW ORLEANS – The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center of New Orleans has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two individuals, Jessie Crittindon and Leon Burse, who were held in custody for five months after their release dates.

Mr. Crittindon and Mr. Burse were in the custody of the Orleans Parish Sheriff and housed in the River Bend Detention Center in Lake Providence, Louisiana through an agreement with the Sheriff of East Carroll Parish. In August 2016, both Mr. Crittindon and Mr. Burse had their criminal charges resolved and were immediately entitled to release. However, they remained in custody until January 2017 – five months later. Neither Sheriff’s Office nor the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections acted to ensure the men’s release from custody.

“It is the responsibility of these public officials to make sure that they have legal authority to hold persons in custody,” said Emily Washington, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center. “These defendants knew that Mr. Crittindon and Mr. Burse were entitled to release. Not only did they fail to set them free, but they blatantly ignored months of outreach by these men and their families. They were repeatedly informed that people were being over detained and they took no action.”

In both cases, freedom was only granted once counsel became involved. In the case of Mr. Crittindon, he was released the day after a formal petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed, demanding his immediate release. Similarly, Mr. Burse was only released after counsel reached out to Orleans, East Carroll, and the Department of Corrections about Orleans prisoners being over detained at the River Bend facility.

The suit names officials with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO), the East Carroll Parish Sheriff’s Office (ECPSO), and the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C). It seeks redress for violations of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as violations of the Louisiana Constitution and state law, including due process, false imprisonment, and emotional distress.

A copy of the Complaint is available here:

Complaint

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