News Briefs

Louisiana's no. 1 in prisons, Caillier looking to retirement and more.


According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice, Louisiana still has the highest incarceration rate in the nation. For every 100,000 Louisiana residents, there are 814 prisoners serving more than a year behind bars. Across the country, state incarceration rates rose by 1.6 percent, while federal inmates increased by 5.1 percent. As of June last year, there were 36,745 people in Louisiana incarcerated by the state, an increase of 1.8 percent from the previous year. Nationally, 1 in every 138 ' some 2.1 million people ' are behind bars. ' RRF


"I, Larry J. Caillier, am retiring and am requesting my annual leave payment."

That was the surprising one-sentence note delivered to the Opelousas City Budget Committee last week by embattled Opelousas Police Chief Larry Caillier. The usually defiant Caillier was indicted on five counts of malfeasance in office by a state grand jury last month ' and those indictments only relate to Caillier's alleged orders to his officers not to respond to fights at a battle-of-the-bands competition last September. The grand jury is scheduled to meet twice more concerning allegations that Caillier misused more than $200,000 in federal funds.

Caillier has declined comment on both matters and has yet to file an official resignation letter. ' SJ


The Multicultural Arts Association held its seventh computer workshop and give-away this past weekend at the J. Carlton James Activity Center. The workshops aim to help bridge the digital divide by teaching low-income, disadvantaged youth about assembling and operating used computers donated by local companies and organizations. In its fourth year, MAA has recycled approximately 175 used computers and aims to hold another workshop in the fall. "It gives an opportunity to a kid who would normally not have any opportunity to work on a computer," says organizer Je'Nelle Chargois. "And then they get to take them home." Anyone interested in donating old computer parts or volunteering to help the students reconstruct and use the machines can call Chargois at 232-4262 or Don Thibodeaux at 984-4445. ' NS


The University of Louisiana Foundation has announced its Distinguished Professor of the Year and Excellence in Teaching awards. This year's Distinguished Professor is Dr. Jack Damico, the Doris B. Hawthorne Eminent Scholar in Communicative Disorders, who established UL's doctoral program in applied language and speech sciences. Three educators earned the Excellence in Teaching Award: Anne Broussard, professor of nursing, Tom Sammons, professor of architecture, and Dr. Jeff Sandoz, assistant professor of educational foundations and leadership. The awards recognize commitment and effectiveness in teaching and instructional innovation. ' MT


The Acadiana Bureau of The Advocate recently added reporter Richard Burgess to its Lafayette office. Burgess, a native of Pineville, La., is a veteran of both The Daily Iberian and The Daily Advertiser, where he spent the last five years. "It's an absolute blue chip [hire] for the paper," says Acadiana Bureau Chief Patrick Courreges. "We're lucky a guy like this is sticking around in the state, much less coming over to our paper." Burgess replaces longtime Advocate reporter Angela Simoneaux, who joined the Lafayette Parish School System earlier this year as a coordinator for its Schools of Choice program. Burgess is covering courts, college and environmental issues for the Advocate's Acadiana Bureau. ' NS