November 11, 1969 – May 5, 2015

Elbert Hale was born on November 11, 1969, and died at 45 years old on May 5, 2015. Regrettably, there is not much we know about Elbert during his lifetime. Web searches across various sources seem to provide no more than where Elbert went astray during his lifetime. However, as author Bryan Stevenson once said, “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Absent any public information about his upbringing and personality, one can only imagine what Elbert might have been like during his lifetime.

Elbert Hale in his adult life

Elbert Hale in his adult life

Elbert was buried in Clinton, Louisiana. Since he was buried in Clinton, it is possible that his family – and perhaps Elbert – had meaningful ties to the area. Clinton is a small city located in East Feliciana Parish, north of Baton Rouge. The city is home to the Clinton Courthouse, the oldest functioning courthouse in the state, created in 1840. Assuming Elbert grew up in Clinton, he may have witnessed an array of interesting happenings in the city during the 1970s.

Elbert may have witnessed or experienced the effects of the filming of various movies in Clinton. These might include the 1972 werewolf film “Moon of the Wolf,” or perhaps the 1972 Great Depression-based film “Sounder.” Maybe instead, as Elbert became older, he had no interest in these sorts of movies. Instead, Elbert could have enjoyed comedies, romances, or action films. Perhaps Elbert preferred to spend his time outside, playing on or around the Port Hudson railroad.
It’s possible that Elbert often passed the historic Clinton Courthouse while traveling down St. Helena Street during the routine activities of his day. Maybe, on this same street, Elbert got his haircut at the family-owned Ronnie’s Barber Shop.
It could be that Elbert was a religious man who attended services at either the St. Andrews Courthouse, of Episcopalian denomination, or at First Baptist Church during his lifetime.

The Clinton Courthouse

The Clinton Courthouse

Elbert’s life ended abruptly as he awaited trial. According to records, Elbert passed away due to medical causes after spending ten days in East Baton Rouge Prison. At the time of his death, Elbert was on route to Our Lady of the Lake hospital. There appears to be a discrepancy between the prison’s records, declaring his death on May 7, 2015, and other found sources, such as his death record and obituary, which indicate that he passed away on May 5, 2015. The cause remains unknown and is redacted on the prison’s records. Elbert is just one of many incarcerated individuals nationwide whose deaths are largely unknown or overlooked.

Regardless of the paths he went down during his lifetime, Elbert’s death during his brief detention due to insufficient medical care and attention is difficult to make sense of. Elbert, like so many others, may have gone through troubling life experiences or situations that predetermined the circumstances he was offered in this life. Nonetheless, no man or woman should die while awaiting trial, nor should they die while serving their sentences. We hope that the loss of Elbert’s life offers some perspective on the inadequate conditions experienced by  those who are incarcerated.

Author: Lucy Butterbaugh


  • https://live.staticflickr.com/7401/27201109682_4704ca02ee_b.jpg
  • https://richardsonfuneralhomeofclinton.com/tribute/details/994/Elbert-Hale/obituary.html
  • https://www.townofclintonla.com/town-history