Terrance Carter’s untimely death has shocked and saddened us all. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
A lot of questions about what happened on Saturday remained unanswered.
Mr. Carter’s death raises important questions about the conditions of Angola’s disciplinary camps. It also raises concerns about how prisoners with grave mental health concerns are treated within Louisiana’s prisons. Angola recognized his issues relating to mental health as early as October 2014. It is unclear whether Mr. Carter’s reported requests for assistance, including asking to be placed on suicide watch, were addressed.
Mr. Carter’s attorney reached out to Angola’s mental health service as recently as last week. Her phone calls were not returned.
These events follow decades of documented concerns from loved ones, advocates, and public servants regarding the provision of mental health care and the excessive use of solitary confinement at Angola. In 2013, for instance, Congressman Cedric Richmond and four other members of Congress called for an investigation into “the egregious and extensive use of solitary confinement and other troubling detention practices” throughout Louisiana’s prisons but especially at Angola. As far back as 1991, the state knew of serious issues in the provision of mental health care at Angola. The state’s failure to address these long-standing and well documented concerns has led to this tragedy.
Read this Nola.com letter from Reverend William Barnwell to learn of Terrance Carter’s life, commitment to change, and redemption.