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Jails make room for Mardi Gras arrests

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We have discussed before how arrests are up during Mardi Gras and Carnival season. Here is an article showing how area jails prepare for the anticipated increase in arrests. As you can see, law enforcement efforts are increased during this period and you should avoid driving if you have had anything to drink.

If you are ticketed or arrested for DWI or other traffic offense during Carnival or at any other time, please call our offices HARMON, SMITH AND VOURVOULIAS at 504.680.4303 or 504.680.4319 for representation. We also have toll free numbers listed on our web-site. Remember, your driving privileges and in some cases your liberty may be at stake.

Law enforcement officials in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are taking steps to ensure there’s enough space in parish jails for Carnival season.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” said Terrebonne jail Warden Mitch Dupre. “We’ve done it for so many years, it’s expected.”

Both jails are currently full, officials said. Terrebonne can currently house 680 inmates, while Lafourche houses 245.

Thibodaux and Houma draw large numbers of people for the two weeks of parades that begin next weekend, and while officials say major crimes are rare, more people means more arrests and tickets for alcohol-related offenses and other minor crimes.

“I guess we take a look at Mardi Gras as a once-a-year event,” said Lafourche sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bud Dill. “People have invested quite a bit of money when they ride in parades. We try to make it what they expect it to be, a fun day for both the riders and the public.”

In Terrebonne, Dupre said the Sheriff’s Office works with the District Attorney’s Office and judges to move up court dates for those in jail on a misdemeanor charge. An inmate may want to plead guilty, Dupre said, and they are sometimes given credit for time served and released.

Dupre also said deputies and Houma Police officers, who patrol the routes, will give tickets rather than take people to jail if possible.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Dupre said. “If a person is causing an incident on a parade route, they can just be removed and given a summons. If the person is belligerent, out of control, and if it warrants a felony, we will arrest them.”

Dill said deputies in Lafourche do the same thing.

“We try not to arrest people and make it an event. If we can, we definitely issue summons, which we do now because we’re full,” Dill said.

Dill also said the Lafourche Sheriff’s Office often makes room by sending inmates to other parish jails. About 185 other inmates, in Lafourche’s custody, are currently being housed out of parish, authorities said, at a cost of $24 per inmate daily.

Dupre said the Terrebonne jail only moves inmates that are part of the Department of Corrections.

Finally, Dupre said he does his best to move more inmates into the sheriff’s trusties program, who are used during Carnival to clean up the streets after parades. The trusties are housed above the Terrebonne Courthouse Annex.

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About Gary Smith

Gary is a founding member of Harmon, Smith & Vourvoulias L.L.C. Gary represents clients whose cases involve maritime and admiralty law and litigation. In addition to practicing law, Gary serves as a State Senator in the Louisiana Senate.Gary Smith's Google+ Profile

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