Apr 29, 2014 7:42 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
Plans are in the works for a new jail in Jeff Davis Parish, which would replace the current jail that's more than a half century old.
Parish officials today announced plans to purchase 17 acres of land just west of the U.S. 90 overpass in Jennings. The new facility would be within city limits and just a few miles away from the parish courthouse, if voters pass a tax this weekend.
The parish negotiated a price tag of $272,320 for the property. There's already $10 million secured in state funding to build the new jail. All the parish has to do is come up with the money to maintain it.
"It's greatly needed in Jeff Davis Parish. When this jail was built, it was probably adequate, but now there is more crimes, more different times of crimes in Jeff Davis Parish. We need a bigger facility," said Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff Ivy Woods.
Woods said the new jail is long over due. Some of the cell structures are crumbling, and with only about 65 beds, sometimes inmates are let go. Taxes to pay for the jail have been voted down by voters multiple times in the last 15 years.
"It failed due to location, and people really didn't want it in Jennings, in downtown Jennings," Woods said.
Parish officials said location won't be a problem with the proposed location. They said it's not in the middle of town or near private residences.
Money to maintain the jail is still needed. This Saturday parish residents will have a chance to vote for a half-cent sales tax, which would be used to maintain the jail.
"Hopefully, we've done all our homework, answered all the questions, and we can get a 'yes' vote Saturday, so we can proceed with this jail," said Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury President Donald Woods.
If the parish gives the project the green light, officials said the new jail could be completely built anywhere from a year and a half to two years.