What agencies comprise the Department of Public Safety and Corrections?

The set-up of the Department can be confusing to many people.  Constitutionally, it is one Department. Practically, the Department is divided into three areas:

1.      Corrections Services - overseeing the assignment and care of adult offenders, including those under Probation and/or Parole supervision,

2.      Public Safety Services - comprised of Louisiana State Police, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Highway Safety Commission, and

3.      Office of Juvenile Justice - responsible for juvenile offenders.

Each entity reports directly to the Governor.  The Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections oversees Corrections Services.

Why aren’t all DOC offenders housed in state facilities?

At present, there are more than 36,000 offenders serving time for state felonies.  Louisiana simply doesn’t have the capacity to house all of these offenders in state correctional facilities.  Capacity at state facilities is just under 19,000.  Therefore, the state relies upon parish and private facilities throughout Louisiana to house and care for offenders.  The state reimburses these entities for housing offenders.

Does the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections have rules for offenders and how are those rules communicated to them?

As part of the orientation process, offenders are notified of the rules and procedures that govern them while incarcerated.  “Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Adult Offenders” is also known as the “Offender Rulebook” and offenders have access to the rulebook at all state correctional facilities, as well as local level parish and private jails where state offenders may be assigned.  As such, when offenders have questions or concerns, they should refer to the Offender Rulebook for guidance and proper procedure in dealing with their concerns.  We encourage families to understand that part of the rehabilitation process for the offender while incarcerated is learning to accept responsibility for oneself and following the rules and procedures for obtaining information or addressing grievances about situations that affect him or her.   Any correctional officer or the offender’s classification officer will be able to assist them should they need help understanding appropriate procedure.   As such, inquiries should be initiated by the offender through the appropriate staff member where he/she is assigned and not through a family member.

How does an offender file a grievance about a particular issue?

Offenders are first encouraged to speak with staff if they have an issue of concern or need.  However, if for some reason communicating with a staff member is not helpful, they are asked to put their concerns in writing and submit the letter to appropriate staff.  Lastly, if these mechanisms do not answer their question or address their grievance, they may submit the issue through the Administrative Remedy Procedure (ARP).

The Department and all local jails housing state offenders have established Administrative Remedy Procedures (ARP) through which an offender may, in writing, request a formal review of a complaint related to any aspect of his incarceration.  Such complaints include actions pertaining to conditions of confinement, personal injuries, medical malpractice, time computations, or challenges to rules, regulations, policies, or statutes. Through this procedure, offenders shall receive reasonable responses and, where appropriate, meaningful remedies.

How can an offender be transferred to another facility?

Offenders are assigned to facilities based on custody classification, space availability, level of care designations (medical and/or mental health), and many other contributing factors.  While DOC would like to make assignments with only geographical considerations in mind, it is not possible to do this based on the demand for beds in various areas of the state.  As such, offenders are placed in locations that best meet their needs and the space needs of the Department.  Written transfer requests should be initiated by the offender to the Warden of the facility at which he/she is assigned.  The request should include specific explanations for the transfer.  When offenders are moved into state operated facilities, they are usually first processed through the Adult Reception and Diagnostic Center (ARDC) at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (for males) or the Louisiana Correctional Center for Women (for females) before being assigned to a permanent location. Headquarters does not get involved in specific transfer requests, as assignments are coordinated through the appropriate classification process at the assigning facility or local jail.

How can I obtain an offender’s release date?

If an offender’s release date has been calculated, you can contact the Department’s automated system at 225-383-4580 with the offender’s name and either his/her date of birth or DOC number to find out his/her release date, facility or P&P District Office to which he/she is assigned and contact information for those locations.  If there is no date available on this system, the time calculation has not been completed yet and callers are encouraged to call again later.  This system is automatically updated and will have the information as soon as it is available.  If a person has recently been sentenced to DOC custody, it can take up to 12 weeks to calculate a date as the Department has to receive official paperwork from the sentencing court in order to calculate the offender’s release date.  For additional information on time computation related issues, you can call our automated system at 225-342-0799.

What if the offender disagrees with the time computation used to determine a release date?

Every offender is sent a copy of his or her Master Prison Record document reflecting the calculation of their sentence when the calculation is complete.  If there are questions about time computation, offenders housed in state facilities should write the Records Office at his/her assigned facility.  For offenders housed in local facilities, he/she is advised they may submit his/her questions in writing following the Administrative Remedy Process.  While offenders often ask family members or friends to contact the Office of Adult Services on their behalf about time computation questions, the offender should be encouraged to follow appropriate procedures to ensure that staff has the information and time needed to respond to his or her concerns.

Can offenders earn credit for participation in certain educational or rehabilitative programs?

Offenders who participate in Certified Treatment Rehabilitation Programs can write the program coordinator if he/she has questions about their eligibility for program credits.  Credits for program completion can take up to 90 days, though they are usually awarded within a few weeks.  They are prioritized based on the offender’s discharge date.    Offenders who do not agree with credits given for any particular program may file a grievance under the Administrative Remedy Procedure as noted in Time Computation Section.

How does an offender sign up for educational and rehabilitative programs?

Offenders may request to participate in programs through Classification in state facilities and through Program Coordinators at the local facilities.  Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate person by the offender.  Staff in state facilities and/or Program Coordinators at local facilities may then enroll eligible and suitable offenders in programs based upon identified need and other suitability factors.

How does an offender get into the Transitional Work Program (formerly known as Work Release)?

An offender’s work release eligibility date is noted on the Master Prison Record as “WRE.”  The Office of Adult Services will automatically evaluate an offender’s eligibility for this program when he or she becomes eligible.  If an offender has questions about his/her eligibility for the Transitional Work Program, he/she should write the Records Office at the facility where they are assigned.  Unless precluded by law or Department regulation, in general offenders are eligible for the Transitional Work Program up to four years prior to their discharge date.  There are some instances in which an offender’s eligibility is limited to the 6 months or 12 months of his or her incarceration, based on his offense and time served.  Staff will be able to assist the offender in understanding when he or she will be eligible for Transitional Work Program participation.

Eligibility does not ensure placement in the Transition Work Program as there are usually more offenders eligible then there are jobs available.  The Department makes every effort to place eligible offenders in the program, although it may not be for the entire period of their eligibility.

What are the Department’s procedures for allowing offenders to make phone calls?

All offenders should only have access to telephone services through the provided phone system at the facility where they are assigned.  Each offender at state operated correctional facilities is limited to having up to 20 approved numbers on his/her master telephone list.  This includes all family, personal and legal contacts.  Changes to the offender’s master telephone list can be made on a quarterly basis and is directed by the administration of the facility.  To set up billing accounts for phone service or if there are problems receiving calls, family members may contact 1-800-844-6591 for telephone related inquiries.  Offender telephone services are currently provided by Securus Technologies.  The staff at this number and website will not be able to assist in approval of contact lists.

Offenders housed in local level facilities must utilize the phone systems that are set up in those facilities.  Information on how to use the system can be obtained from the staff at the assigned facility by the offender.

In no instance is an offender allowed to possess or utilize a cellular telephone while incarcerated.  Family and friends are warned not to send or bring cellular telephones to offenders and doing so will result in prosecution for introduction of contraband into a correctional facility and may be subject to a fine up to $2000 and up to five years in prison.

What are the rules for visiting offenders?

Offenders are permitted to request up to 10 approved visitors.  The offender is responsible for initiating the request to have an individual added to his list, as well as for ensuring approved visitors are advised of changes in his or her visiting privileges.  The offender is given information on the process for adding or changing his visiting list and staff are available to help him where needed.

All prospective visitors must complete the application and mail it to the facility the visitor wishes to visit.  Parents/Legal Guardians shall be required to complete the application for minor children (under the age of 18) and shall sign the application on behalf of the minor child.  Faxes of the application are not acceptable.  It is important that the application be completed fully and all questions answered honestly.  Failure to provide all requested information may result in a delay in the processing of the application or a denial of visiting privileges.

Visitors are sent information relative to the rules and procedures for visiting with the application for being considered as an approved visitor.

You are reminded that the offender may also refuse a visit at any time and staff may terminate visiting at any time for security reasons or if the offender or visitor violates the rules governing visiting. 

Visitation is considered a privilege (not a right) and violation of rules may result in termination of the visit, loss of the offender’s visiting privileges, banning of the visitor from entering the institution or its grounds and/or criminal charges as circumstances warrant. 

A few helpful reminders:

Visiting with Individuals Convicted of Sex Offenses

Offenders who have a current or prior conviction for a sex crime involving a minor child family member, or who have a documented history of sex abuse with a minor child family member, are ineligible to visit with any minor child, including their own biological or step-child.

Offenders who have a current or prior conviction for a sex crime involving a minor child who is not a family member are ineligible to visit with any minor child. However, at the Warden’s discretion, such offenders may be authorized to visit with their own biological child. The legal guardian shall submit a written request and shall accompany the minor child during the visit. If approved by the Warden, the visit may be contact or non-contact at the Warden’s discretion.

The Warden may consider special visits for offenders who have successfully completed or are participating satisfactorily in sex offender treatment when the legal guardian has submitted a written request and accompanies the minor child during the visit.

The legal guardian may be permitted to name another individual (other than the legal guardian) who is on the offender’s visiting list to accompany the minor child for a visit.  The legal guardian shall provide a written, notarized statement authorizing a specific individual to accompany the minor child. 

How are disciplinary matters handled as it relates to offenders? What about their right to appeal?

Offenders are put on notice about how the disciplinary process works while incarcerated and the procedures are outlined in the rulebook.  They are also advised of their right to appeal at the time of a disciplinary hearing and the appeal must be submitted to the facility at which the hearing occurred.  Any issues regarding disciplinary matters should be handled through these procedures.  An offender who needs help understanding these procedures may ask staff at the facility where he or she is housed for assistance.

Can offenders receive packages and mail (letters and publications) from family and friends?

Upon intake into a state facility, offenders are provided information in writing about the Department’s rules for handling of offender mail, utilizing the “Notification of Mail Handling” form.  Offenders are not allowed to receive packages or publications from their families.  However, family and friends are allowed to send correspondence, which must be addressed to the facility to which the offender is housed and must include the offenders name and DOC number on the envelope.  Offenders may receive standard size greeting cards through the mail. However, musical greeting cards are not allowed. In addition, do not send cash or stamps through the mail or photographs that have a hardback. These particular items will be rejected and cash will be confiscated.

Can I send money to an offender?

Money – Offenders can receive money in the following ways:  

  1. via walk-up locations for Money Gram;
  2. via internet at www.jpay.com;
  3. via JPay kiosks;
  4. via mail to JPay at P.O. Box 531370, Miami Shores, FL  33153; or
  5. via telephone at 800-574-5729

Details on sending offenders money can be found at: http://doc.louisiana.gov/communicate-with-offenderssend-money

Funds cannot be sent to offenders from other offenders or the families of other offenders without prior approval of the Warden. Funds cannot be sent to offenders from ex-offenders or their families, or employees and their families

If an offender has questions about their financial account, they are encouraged to ask staff or write a letter to Inmate Banking where they are assigned and a written response will be provided explaining the finding of their account review.  Offender families will not be given information relative to offender bank accounts.

How can I access hearing schedules for the Board of Pardons and Parole?

Pardon Board and Committee on Parole hearing information can be found at:  http://doc.louisiana.gov/louisiana-board-of-pardons-and-parole/

How can I check on the medical/mental health of an offender?

Due to confidentiality, release of medical/mental health information is strictly governed by regulation.  If you are inquiring about a specific offender and are not authorized by regulation to access this information, appropriate release of information forms must be on file and then only authorized staff members may discuss this information with you.  In these cases, you should contact the facility where the offender is housed.  Please be aware that even in instances where one is authorized to access this information, only general information will be shared over the phone.

Offenders are oriented on how to access the medical staff 24/7 at the facility where he or she is housed through established sick call procedures.  In serious medical situations, any staff member will assist an offender in obtaining medical treatment.  Medical staff will make a determination about his/her treatment.

How can I report suspected abuse or mistreatment of an offender?

Serious concerns of abuse or mistreatment that puts an offender in immediate danger, should be directed to the Warden of the facility where the offender is housed.  

How can I obtain demographic information on Louisiana’s prison population?

Please visit the “Statistics” section of this website.

Does the Department allow the purchase of inmate records?

Under Louisiana law, particularly the provisions of R.S. 15:574.12, the records of offenders (past, present or future), in the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Corrections Services is confidential and cannot be disclosed, directly or indirectly, to anyone. This is not to say that some information, in the hands of another state agency or subdivision of the state, is not available. However, pursuant to state law, while held by this Department, that information is confidential. Consequently, we are unable to accommodate any request for any kind of data sharing on any terms.

How do I apply for the restoration of firearm rights?

The only way to seek restoration of firearm rights is to apply for a pardon with restoration of firearms rights. More information on clemency can be found the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole page.

How do I apply for the restoration of voting rights?

In Louisiana, the right to vote is automatically restored upon completion of your sentence of imprisonment, probation, or parole.  Once an offender has completed a sentence of imprisonment or supervision, they will receive documentation from the facility where they were incarcerated or from the probation officer stating that they have completed the sentence (if this document is lost, an offender will need to contact the P&P District Office where they were supervised or the Clerk of Courts Office).  They will take this documentation to the Registrar of voters’ office with a completed voter registration form, where their name will be restored to the voting rolls. 

If convicted before the current state constitution took effect, which was January 1, 1975, an offender must apply for and receive a pardon from the governor to regain your right to vote. 

Voters must register to vote at least 30 days prior to an election.  If a voter registration application is mailed to the elections office, it must be postmarked at least 30 days prior to the election in which the voter intends to vote.