A lawsuit the ACLU filed Monday alleges that a Louisiana judge worked with a private organization that supported her election campaign to extort bail defendants for cash before trial.
Filed by the Louisiana ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the lawsuit claims that Judge Trudy White sentenced more than 300 defendants to use the services of Rehabilitation Home Incarceration (RHI), despite some of them having already posted bail. Defendants that post bail are supposed to be allowed to go free until their trials, but these defendants were allegedly forced to pay an up-front fee of more than $500 and monthly installments of at least $200 or RHI would threaten their re-arrest, according to an ACLU statement.
“This is a disturbing example of our justice system being twisted beyond recognition by a scheme to make money,” an SPLC spokesperson said. “People who had already paid their bail were held ransom and extorted out of hundreds and thousands of dollars.”
White paid RHI owner Cleve Dunn Sr. for marketing services during her 2014 reelection campaign, and Cleve Dunn Jr. served as her campaign chairman, WNGO reported.
The lawsuit claims that White violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of individuals sentenced to pay for RHI. Many of the defendants were unable to afford the hundreds of dollars required by the service and were forced to go back to jail before trial, despite having already paid bail.
Henry Ayo, a defendant sentenced to the program, claimed he paid the company $1,000 in the four months before his trial because the company said he would be otherwise be re-arrested. Despite his payments, Ayo claimed the company didn’t monitor him at all, apart from his making required phone calls that were rarely answered.
Other judges in Louisiana do not use RHI’s services, according to a report from WAFB. RHI did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication.
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