People awaiting trial before a criminal court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were coerced into paying hundreds of dollars to a company before they were released from jail – even after they had paid their bail. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana to end the practice.
Even after they were released, people awaiting trial were threatened with re-arrest if they did not pay additional monthly fees to the company, Rehabilitation Home Incarceration, which provides pretrial supervision. The lawsuit describes how the company and its owner worked with East Baton Rouge Parish officials for at least three years to detain people awaiting trial and coerce payments. The company, its owner, Cleve Dunn Sr., and the parish are named as defendants.
In 2015 and 2016, more than 300 people were assigned to the company by 19th Judicial District Judge Trudy A. White. She often made these orders for indefinite periods of supervision without determining whether people were a flight risk or posed any danger. She did not assess their ability to pay the company’s signup fee of $525 and its subsequent monthly fees and other charges.
One plaintiff, Kaiasha White (no relation to the judge), was forced to stay in jail for a month as she and her family struggled to pay both her bond and the company’s signup fee. The jail would not release her until the company said its fee had been paid.
Henry Ayo, another plaintiff, was jailed for two months because he and his wife couldn’t afford to pay his bond and the signup fee. After paying for his release, Ayo was informed by the company that he had to pay $225 a month while awaiting trial, or he could be arrested and jailed again. Ayo and his wife paid the company approximately $1,000. The only supervision he received was being required to make phone calls that often went unanswered.