A privately owned work-release program in Covington run by close allies of St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain has been closed since March, when an inmate escaped and allegedly kidnapped his ex-girlfriend.

In the wake of that episode, state Department of Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc said he would no longer allow local sheriffs to outsource work-release programs without first going through a competitive selection process -- a step Strain skipped when he hired Northshore Workforce.

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