The state-of-the-art correctional complex houses 600 inmates and includes work release, a medical unit and spaces for inmate programs.
The Daily Comet
August 24, 2018
Although there have been some construction delays, the Sheriff’s Office believes the new Lafourche Parish jail will be worth the wait.
Construction on the 127,000-square-foot facility at La. 3185 and Veterans Boulevard near Thibodaux is now scheduled for “substantial completion” on Sept. 14, the Sheriff’s Office announced. The final completion date will be 60 days later, and inmates will be moved there beginning Dec. 1.
Because construction had been delayed by weather conditions, a grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 28, said Lt. Brennan Matherne.
The $40 million jail will accommodate up to 600 inmates and will be operated as a “direct-supervision facility” where officers will interact and work with inmates, Sheriff Craig Webre said.
The Sheriff’s Office purchased 42 acres last year for $962,775. The jail will not stretch over the whole property, but the land couldn’t be subdivided for sale.
The new jail will implement evidence-based prisoner reentry initiatives to help inmates get back onto their feet, the sheriff said.
“I am most excited about the many opportunities to make positive changes in peoples’ lives and assist them in becoming productive citizens,” Webre said Friday. “It brings to the parish a modern jail facility which is safer and has sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the parish.”
As a direct-supervision facility, officers will interact and work with inmates, Webre said.
“The research has shown that is a much more effective model that reduces assaults on guards and inmates and has a better outcome for behavior management,” Webre said. “It will offer us a once in a lifetime opportunity to affect the future of corrections and quality of life for the citizens we serve for the next century.”
Webre believes the direct supervision of inmates will also help prevent incidents such as the one reported Tuesday when an inmate was charged with sexually assaulting two other inmates.
Webre said the new facility will give correctional officers the ability to monitor inmates at all times.
“This is another example of why we believe direct supervision is necessary,” the sheriff said. “Having a correctional officer in a housing unit around the clock has been proven to deter such behaviors.”
The current jail, which was built in 1976, is outdated and overcrowded, the sheriff said. Guards patrol the cell blocks at the existing jail every 15 to 30 minutes. In a direct supervision setting, a guard will be with the inmates 24 hours a day. Non-compliant, maximum-security inmates will still be on lockdown.
Inmates are scheduled to be relocated from the existing jail to the new facility from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2, Matherne said.
“We will be making arrangements for inmates currently being housed outside of the parish to be moved thereafter,” Matherne said.
The new facility will also bring additional jobs to the area, Matherne said.
“Some hiring and training of new employees has already been done ahead of the facility opening, and additional hires are scheduled to be made once the facility opens,” he said.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.