Parish jail Facebook postings emerge
St. Mary Parish Mark Hebert
Image is from a Facebook page and made available by KATC Channel 3, Lafayette.
St. Mary Parish Sheriff Mark Hebert said there is an ongoing investigation with charges pending today resulting from a video and photos from inside the parish jail that shows inmates wielding weapons and using a cell phone.
Some will be charged with crimes and some will face disciplinarian hearings, he said.
Two Lafayette television stations reported Friday that video and pictures of prisoners with cell phones and weapons from inside the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center surfaced Thursday on social media.
“I will tell you that anybody and everybody involved in bringing in the contraband will be charged,” Hebert said. Since the investigation continues he would not comment on whether jailers had any role in contraband coming into the facility. All the participants in the video have been identified, Hebert said.
Hebert said the sheriff’s office received information around 3:30 p.m. Thursday regarding the pictures and video posted online. A search of the jail was immediately conducted with all the contraband items seen in the pictures and video confiscated, including cell phones, without incident, he said.
KLFY 10 first reported a video that goes on for three minutes and 38 seconds with inmates yelling expletives and what appeared to be threats. An inmate is seen in one of the videos apparently talking on a cell phone as he lies partly concealed in a bunk bed. Another inmate was holding up a substance inside a plastic wrap.
A video shown on the KATC web site shows five inmates, some in sagging pants and at least one repeatedly grabbing the area of his crotch, singing and dancing while a voice, apparently from the person filming the party-like occasion, hummed a beat and encouraged the group. Toward the conclusion of the video segment KATC posted, an inmate is heard repeating “I am high” a couple times.
Hebert said the jail does not have regulations on how inmates wear their clothes except to say that they must wear them.
Photos posted on the KATC website show inmates holding about three-foot long sticks with the appearance of a mop handle; some posed in a threatening posture. Two photos show a wrapped shank similar to a screw driver. Another photo shows two inmates posed in aggressive postures with one holding a stick to the head of the other who is holding an object to the neck of the man with the stick.
KLFY reported that one picture of an inmate apparently posing with a cell phone in the jail yard is dated May 8.
Hebert said the investigation into when photos or video were taken is ongoing.
Fighting the introduction of contraband, including cell phones with video capabilities, is something law enforcement officials are fighting across the country, Hebert said. There is technology to scramble cell phone signals but that technology is rendered useless because federal law makes it illegal to do so, he said.
“This is a major concern because it becomes a security issue,” Hebert said. “We take this very seriously. … It is a real challenge. … We conduct shakedowns every day. There are times we catch contraband before it gets into the facility. You get frustrated at times but you just don’t quit.”
Melissa Canone, a reporter at KATC, said the station received a news tip to look at the Facebook page of Spencer Bourda and that was where the video and pictures were discovered.
Bourda, 23, of the 100 block of Blakesley Street in Franklin, was arrested June 12 on warrants for resisting an officer with force, battery on a police officer and possession of Schedule I marijuana, possession of Schedule I marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and abuse of toxic vapors.
The warrants stemmed from a May 22 incident where an officer attempted to stop and identify Bourda. While the officer was trying to identify Bourda, he threw the narcotics on the ground, kicked the officer and fled the scene on foot, Franklin Police Chief Sabria McGuire said.
Bourda had been featured in The Daily Review’s Most Wanted edition.
A snapshot of a Facebook page that KATC said belonged to Bourda states, “Dis how it goes down who said wolf c dnt run da parish”
Wolf C is one of the dorms in the prison.
Canone said Bourda bragged at 9 p.m. Thursday in a posting on the Facebook page that while someone had informed on him about his Facebook posts and his telephone had been taken, when he got back in his dorm he had another smartphone, he posted.
The Facebook page with the video has been taken down.
Hebert said the investigation will examine how the prisoners got items they were not supposed to have.
“We will look at what led to this point,” Hebert said. “We will look at what procedure they took to get the contraband.”
The videos are the latest in a series of incidents at the facility where inmates appear to circumvent jail authority or control.
Two prisoners were arrested at the jail and charged with inciting to riot for a disturbance that occurred there March 2. According to incident reports obtained through a public records request, a group of about 25 prisoners took over a room in which they had been isolated as jailers conducted a shakedown for contraband in Wolf D dorm. Two or three hours later, after employing escalating measures, a “chemical agent was used, the offenders became compliant, and were extricated from the classroom,” one of the reports stated.
Contraband found and listed in the documents included a hacksaw blade, shank, cell phones, a phone charger and what looked to be a tattoo needle.
Two prisoners, one accused of murder and the other a convicted thief awaiting trial on other theft charges, escaped the facility Feb. 2
Without specifying details, Hebert said corrective measures were taken for issues involved in the escape.
The pair escaped around 10:30 p.m. after placing cement blocks in their bunks “to give the appearance someone was sleeping in the bunks,” according to an arrest affidavit. St. Mary Parish spokeswoman Traci Landry said the prisoners were discovered missing around 4 a.m. The prisoners escaped through a hole they made in the ceiling leading to a crawl space, eventually making their way outside where they could be seen on video monitors running toward the railroad tracks behind the facility, the affidavit said.
The escapees were apprehended by Lafayette police two days later.
Not all inmates are monitored 24 hours a day but “certain people and certain areas are monitored 24/7,” Hebert said of the Centerville prison.
Zachary Fitzgerald and Jean McCorkle contributed to this report.