Angola prison

Angola State Penitentiary 

Recent attempts to settle a 2015 lawsuit alleging woefully inadequate inmate medical care at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola haven't produced a resolution, but a federal magistrate says both sides will continue to talk.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Bourgeois Jr. held a settlement conference last week with attorneys for Angola inmates and the state corrections department.

"After a period of negotiations, the parties were unable to reach a resolution at this time; however, the parties will continue negotiations themselves and will contact the Court again should a follow-up settlement conference be desired," Bourgeois wrote Friday.

Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick presided over a bench trial of the lawsuit last fall. At the trial, an attorney for Angola inmates described medical care at the maximum-security prison as "abysmal" and claimed it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The state contends that Angola's inmates receive quality medical care.

In May, Bourgeois issued an order instructing both sides to negotiate and "make a good-faith effort to settle the case" without the court's involvement.

The class-action lawsuit claims Angola inmates have suffered unnecessary pain and suffering, exacerbation of existing conditions, permanent disability, disfigurement and even death as a result of "grossly deficient" medical care.

The day after the suit was filed in May 2015, the state corrections department's now-former medical director, Dr. Raman Singh, acknowledged that Angola's 6,000-plus inmate population is challenging due to the number of elderly prisoners and those with chronic diseases.

The suit claims Angola’s medical care grew worse after the closure of Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge, which used to serve prisoners with medical emergencies. The facility was closed in 2013 during the reorganization of the state’s charity hospital system.

The state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc and Angola's wardens are defendants in the suit.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.