Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre announced the latest developments regarding the construction of a new jail for Lafourche Parish on Thursday. The new jail, to be called the Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex, is slated to open in 2017.
“Our internal working group met weekly since November 2013 to attempt to solve the issue of funding the new jail,” said Sheriff Webre. “Once the voters agreed to the new 0.2% sales tax, our group continued to meet weekly with a new goal – to plan and construct the new jail. They continue working toward that goal today, but we have also brought in many others to help contribute.”
Webre said James “Jim” Rowenhorst was hired as a consultant to help guide the project. “Jim comes to us as recommended by the National Institute of Corrections, and he was already familiar with the project having done a study for Lafourche Parish Government in 2009,” said Webre. “Jim is a former jail administrator and has worked as a consultant on more than 150 projects in 42 states. He will ensure we are covering every aspect in order to construct a world-class facility.”
Webre said the working group quickly realized they wanted input from community leaders to help plan the facility – not just with regard to walls and beds, but also to discuss initiatives such as educational programs, mental health counseling, medical care, and family participation programs. “Building a jail is unlike any other project with which I’ve ever been involved,” said Webre. “You cannot just put up a bunch of walls to create this building. This is a functional facility where safety for the inmates and officers will be paramount while also serving as a rehabilitation center to return more productive citizens to our community.”
Officials from local governments, law enforcement agencies, the local court system and District Attorney’s Office, public school and libraries, American Civil Liberties Union, and civic organizations were invited to participate in the “Jail Advisory Group”. This group met on several occasions, working to formulate a mission statement for the facility and discuss aspects of programs and the facilities. “The members of the Jail Advisory Group were essential to helping plan the direction and focus of this facility,” said Webre. The group also reviewed presentations by the firms vying to be hired to provide architectural services for the project, aiding in the final selection process.
“We are currently in the final stages of negotiations to hire an architect,” said Webre. “While waiting for that process to conclude, though, we conducted several day-long programming workshops with specialized groups of employees to further pinpoint the architectural needs around the functions of the facility.” Webre added these workshops produced information essential for the architect to begin design work.
Property for the new jail has not yet been purchased, but Webre said they are currently only looking at property in the Thibodaux area to remain in close proximity to the courthouse.
“While we were initially open to the possibility of locating the jail in another area of the parish, we always knew that having the jail remain in the Thibodaux area would be the most cost-effective and logistically-feasible option. This is consistent with the message we presented to the public prior to the consideration of the sales tax proposal.”