Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex Cuts the Ribbon

Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office celebrates the ribbon cutting of the new 500 bed correctional complex designed by GraceHebert Architects in association with Duplantis Design Group.

Lafourche opens new correctional center

Houma Today

December 19, 2018

The community celebrated the opening of a new $40 million Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex today.

“Today is a historic and monumental day in the Lafourche Parish criminal justice system,” Sheriff Craig Webre said, welcoming a large crowd of state and local leaders, including Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle and District Attorney Kristine Russell.

Construction of the 118,095-square-foot structure at La. 3185 and Veterans Boulevard near Thibodaux began in 2016 after parish residents in 2014 approved a 0.2 percent sales tax for the project.

Inmates will be moved from the parish jail just across the road in about a month.

Originally built in 1976, the current facility holds about 245 inmates. With little room to expand the aging building, a number of parish inmates are sent to other parishes at an astronomical cost, Lt. Brennan Matherne said.

The new complex will house more than 500 inmates, with room to grow, and will focus on rehabilitation and reducing the rate of recidivism. “This facility is not a jail or a prision,” Webre said.

As a correctional complex, the department’s focus will be on returning a productive citizen to the community. “The greatest promise of hope lies in the area of rehabilitation,” he said.

The department already has more than 40 soft skill programs that educate inmates about things like parenting, job interviews and earning high school or higher education credits. Students from Nicholls State University will help lead some of these programs in the new facility.

As the state and federal governments continue to pass criminal justice and sentencing reforms, Lafourche Parish will work to end the revolving door of the jail, Webre said. “Traditional thinking yields traditional results,” said Seth Smith, Louisiana Department of Corrections chief of operations. “Louisiana deserves better than that, and Lafourche Parish, quite frankly, does better than that.”

Guests were taken on guided tours of the building after the opening ceremony.

Inmates in the new facility will have greater autonomy, living in open dorms of about 50 people, with recreation and other activities available throughout the day. They will be able to go to the medical or visitation rooms of the building, all with direct supervision.

Young inmates and non-compliant or maximum-security inmates will be kept in separate areas.

Near the visitation area are two family rooms where inmates could one day be able to spend the night with their children, putting to use the skills learned in parenting classes. The facility also includes a large medical wing and triage centers in the male and female dorms.

“You have built a place that may be the nicest place in Lafourche Parish where nobody wants to spend the night,” said Matthew Block, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive counsel. “There is just as much of a focus on what happens when inmates are here, as when they leave.”

The new facility will be under the direction of the warden, Capt. Contrell Davis, a 20-year veteran of the parish jail.

“We’re not celebrating incarceration, not celebrating a jail, we’re celebrating change,” Davis said.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.

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