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New Jail Sparks Controversy for Residents in Lafayette's North side

More than two dozen residents of Lafayette's North side express their concerns about plans to build a new jail on Willow Street.
Posted at 10:44 PM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 23:44:49-05

Some of Lafayette's community leaders hosted a Town Hall meeting tonight. Members of the community got a chance to raise questions and concerns regarding a new jail that is set to open on the North side.

The meeting took place at St. Anthony Catholic Church, where more than two dozen residents spoke out against the initiative.

Councilman Kevin Naquin said the decision was made from a business standpoint.

"Being that the land was available, right next to the sheriff, the thought was hey. What does it look like if we re-locate? What could the parish d with the existing jail? Could we use that to tear it down and enhance the courthouse because the courthouse has been robbed of the opportunity because the courthouse complex makes great money, but then the jail is costing us more than what we can take," Naquin said.

Naquin said at the peak of the pandemic, the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center could not meet the guidelines for social distancing inmates.

Long-term North side residents like Laura Constantine said a new jail should be built somewhere else.

"Every, time something bad needs to be built, they put it on the North side," Constantine said. "Anything that's good, they put it on the South side and building a jail right here, if the prisoners escape, there's a school right there, they can do harm to the children and it's going to de-value our property."

Community Leader Chris Williams said he also believes additional locations should be considered.

"We've only been discussing one site all along," Williams said. "Do you think we can do the way they did with the Heyman Center when the community got together and we can actually sign in today and we can present that to Councilman Rubin and he can say, 'Look, my constituents are asking me to look at maybe some other options. Options B, C or D."