Richard A. Webster, Verite

Richard A. Webster, Verite

Before coming to Verite, Richard A. Webster spent the past two and a half years as a member of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network. He investigated allegations of abuse against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and claims of racial and economic inequities within Louisiana’s Road Home recovery program following Hurricane Katrina. Webster previously was a member of The Times-Picayune’s investigative team, reporting on numerous special projects including “The Children of Central City,” an in-depth look at childhood trauma through the lens of a youth football team; “A Fragile State,” a multi-part series on Louisiana’s mental health care system; and “Dying at OPP,” which examined the deaths of inmates in Orleans Parish Prison.

JPSO settles two use-of-force cases, including one that led to autistic teen’s death

By: - November 23, 2023

Jefferson Parish is forking over an unknown — but likely significant — amount of cash after the sheriff’s office settled two high-profile lawsuits this fall that involved deputies using force against teenagers. In September, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office settled with the family of Eric Parsa, a 16-year-old boy with severe autism who died nearly […]

Entrance to Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola

After court order, ‘abhorrent’ prisoner health care at Angola could soon face federal oversight

By: - November 11, 2023

Health care for thousands of prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola could soon be under the oversight of a federal court, following a Monday ruling by a Baton Rouge judge who wrote that medical treatment now offered to prisoners “is not care at all,” but instead “abhorrent cruel and unusual punishment.” U.S. District […]

A view from the corridor of a prison with an incarcerated person inside cell doorway.

Louisiana sees one of the steepest drops in granting parole, early release

By: - October 19, 2023

The number of people granted parole and early release from prison has dropped precipitously across the country over the past several years, with Louisiana experiencing one of the steepest declines, according to a new report. That drop, however, likely resulted, in part, from a series of reforms to the state’s criminal justice system that made […]

an incarcerated person stands behind bars in a prison corridor

Louisiana pardon board denies clemency hearings to five on death row

By: - October 14, 2023

The Louisiana state Board of Pardons voted Friday against granting clemency hearings to five Louisiana death row prisoners, ending a monthslong effort to spare the lives of more than 50 people condemned to death. Over four hours, the four-member panel in Baton Rouge heard impassioned testimony from attorneys, from still-grieving families of murder victims and […]

an incarcerated person stands behind bars in a prison corridor

Their son’s prison death was under investigation. The funeral home found evidence in his body bag.

By: - October 1, 2023

Patrick LeBranch Jr. had just viewed the body of his brother at the Richardson Funeral Home of Jefferson in River Ridge when the funeral director pulled him aside. Something strange had happened, LeBranch said the man told him. He handed LeBranch a bulky, clear plastic bag sealed with red tape. On the front, in all […]

A view from below of thick mesh fencing and barbed wire

He fled a traffic stop in Louisiana. Now he’s in prison for life.

By: - September 9, 2023

Markus Lanieux thought his prayers had been answered when, in the summer of 2021, his attorney informed him that she had struck a tentative deal with the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office that would secure his freedom after 12 years in prison. The 46-year-old son of a sugarcane farmer had been dreaming of this day […]

Court rules against sheriff who had ex-deputy arrested, strip searched over email criticism

By: - August 16, 2023

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit took just eight hours last week to rule against St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith in a civil rights lawsuit that alleged Smith had a former employee arrested for making disparaging comments about him in private emails. Former deputy Jerry Rogers sued the […]

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies Kyle Hart and Ryan Moring wrestle Teliah Perkins to ground, put their body weight on her and handcuff her after responding to an anonymous complaint about a woman riding a dirt bike without a helmet.

Video of mother’s arrest raises questions about 25-foot buffer law

By: - June 9, 2023

A 14-year-old boy fixed the lens of his cellphone on two St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies in May of 2020 as they wrestled his mother, Teliah Perkins, to the ground. The deputies pinned her face to the driveway of her Slidell home, digging their knees into her back and legs as they handcuffed her. The […]

Close up of metal handcuffs

Feds say Jefferson Parish deputies may have violated law in death of autistic teen

By: - May 28, 2023

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office may have violated the civil rights of a 16-year-old autistic boy under the Americans with Disabilities Act when deputies pinned him to the pavement, handcuffed and shackled, as officers sat on his back for more than 9 minutes, according to a “statement of interest” filed this month by the U.S. […]

Police officers could get whistleblower protection for reporting misconduct

Bill that would make it illegal to be within 25 feet of police advances to House floor

By: - May 9, 2023

A controversial bill that would require people to stay at least 25 feet away from law enforcement officers while engaged in their official duties sailed through a House committee last week in the Louisiana Legislature and is now scheduled to go before the full House of Representatives, despite strenuous objections from civil rights groups. Its […]

an incarcerated person stands behind bars in a prison corridor

As critics note problems of mass incarceration, local jails add more beds

By: - April 7, 2023

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s standing as one of the world’s most incarcerated places is often blamed on prison and jail admissions from major population centers like New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. But an explosion in new beds and pretrial detention rates in local jails across the state’s rural parishes has played an even greater […]

The utility belt of a police officer holds a handgun and a baton

ACLU settles suit over alleged beating of Black motorist by officer with history of misconduct

By: - April 4, 2023

A Black man who says  police officers  slammed him to the ground, knocked him unconscious and falsely arrested him after a racially motivated traffic stop has reached a legal settlement with the Marshal’s Office in Jackson, Louisiana, a town of about 4,000 people just north of Baton Rouge. The alleged attack happened during an August […]