Louisiana news briefs
Wed, 2013-10-30 14:25
From The Associated Press.
Divers find body
of missing worker
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Divers have found the body of a missing oil platform worker at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, near the platform that sits in 100 feet of water about 55 miles offshore.
The body, recovered Tuesday, is believed to be that of 38-year-old Peter Voces, a Filipino welder who works for Houma-based Offshore Specialty Fabricators LLC.
Petty Officer Carlos Vega has said Voces reportedly was knocked overboard when an empty “tank barrel” fell on him Sunday evening on a rig south of Freshwater Bayou. The Coast Guard on Tuesday directed all questions to the company, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The platform Voces was working on is owned by Energy Resource Technology GOM, a subsidiary of Houston-based Talos Energy.
Whooping cough up in La., Texas, Ark.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Whooping cough has set a post-1960s record in Louisiana and state officials are asking doctors to keep an eye out for it.
Outbreaks are worse in Texas, where nearly 2,900 cases have been reported, and Arkansas, where numbers are double those of a year ago.
Louisiana’s 169 likely and confirmed cases as of mid-October breaks a record of about 160 for all of last year, said Dr. Raoult Ratard, Louisiana’s state epidemiologist. The disease is cyclical, peaking every three to five years.
The state published a health alert about the disease Monday. Texas published a similar one in August.
Record numbers don’t mean the Bordetella pertussis germ is lurking in every cough. Last year’s vaccination-era record of 48,277 cases nationwide compares to an average of 173,000 a year from 1922 through 1947, before vaccination became widespread. About 18,500 cases were reported nationwide through Oct. 19 this year compared to 40,000 a year earlier, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3rd arrest made
in connection with double shooting
THIBODAUX (AP) — Thibodaux police have made a third arrest in connection with a Sept. 25 double homicide.
Police said 21-year-old Lynes Jones of Thibodaux was arrested Monday and booked with accessory after the fact in the shooting deaths of 19-year-old Tre Scott and 27-year-old Jordy Williams. He is being held in the Lafourche Parish jail on a $100,000 bond.
Police did not disclose Jones’ suspected role in the deaths.
Investigators say the victims were found dead inside a car parked near Thibodaux Elementary School.
The other two suspects, 19-year-old Alfred Starks and 18-year-old Brian Jones, remain behind bars.
Accused ex-priest out of jail on bail
LAKE CHARLES (AP) — A former Calcasieu Parish priest accused of molesting young parishioners is out of jail on bail.
Mark Anthony Broussard, 57, walked out of the Calcasieu Correctional Center Monday on a $1.5 million cash bail.
Broussard is accused of molesting boys while a priest in Calcasieu Parish between 1986 and 1991. Broussard served at Our Lady Queen of Heaven and St. Henry Catholic Church. He also served at St. Eugene in Cameron Parish.
Defense attorney Tom Lorenzi asked Judge David Ritchie in May to reduce Broussard’s bond from $3.42 million to $200,000, an amount Broussard’s family could make.
Ritchie declined to do so but did lower the total bond amount to $1.5 million.
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Republican congressional candidate Vance McAllister picked up the backing Tuesday of the third-place finisher in the 5th District race, Democratic Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo.
Mayo told The Associated Press that he is endorsing McAllister in the Nov. 16 runoff against Republican Neil Riser, a state senator. The Monroe mayor said McAllister, a political newcomer, appeared more willing to work with people of both parties in Congress.
New study calls
on La. to change sentencing laws
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana should shrink its prison population and costs by repealing minimum mandatory sentences for nonviolent crimes, said a study released Tuesday by several right-leaning policy organizations.
The groups suggest that Louisiana could maintain public safety while also reducing a per capita incarceration rate that is the highest in the nation, by making changes to the habitual offender law and locking up fewer people for nonviolent offenses.
The Reason Foundation, a libertarian organization based in California, made the suggestions along with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a Louisiana-based conservative organization, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“Harsh, unfair sentences are putting too many Louisianans in jail for far too long, and at a terrible cost to taxpayers and society,” Julian Morris, vice president of Reason Foundation and co-author of the study, said in a statement.
Nonviolent offenders account for the majority of the state’s inmates, the report says.
By shrinking its prison population, the study says Louisiana could invest more money in rehabilitation programs.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration said it has asked the state’s sentencing commission to review the report’s recommendations. Any changes would need approval from state lawmakers.
Jindal and lawmakers have made modest changes to the state’s sentencing laws in recent years. For example, they’ve allowed certain nonviolent, non-sex offenders to be eligible for earlier release if they meet certain education and treatment benchmarks and created an early release for certain drug offenders who complete substance abuse treatment.
But those changes have chipped away only slightly at a prison population that ballooned from 21,000 in 1992 to more than 39,700 in 2011 after lawmakers passed a number of sentencing laws that disproportionately applied to nonviolent crimes, according to the Reason Foundation study. Prison costs grew by $315 million during the same period, the report says.