VILLE PLATTE, La. — Some people in Evangeline Parish say a new, upgraded jail is needed. The parish’s police jury is reviewing a few proposals on how to get the new jail built, but aren’t thrilled about any on the table.
One of the proposals is from Sheriff Charles Guillory. His plan would affect other agencies.
He is proposing building a new jail, partially funded by removing administrative roles from the parish’s 911 dispatch department. He says this avenue would prevent closures of a library and health unit and it would not raise any taxes.
“It is business,” said Guillory. “Sometimes people get laid off. We’re trying to do good business. And that’s the case right now. Somebody will have to lose their job.”
The sheriff’s proposal, aside from “abolishing” roles, says 911 and his office would merge.
Liz Hill, Evangeline Parish 911 director says the proposal is concerning.
"I was there from the ground up, and I have two other team members that were there 22 years and one was 19 years,” she said. “This is something that we have worked hard for. To see it just taken away so easily is more than business is business.”
The parish is currently paying $50,000 to $80,000 a month to house inmates in other parishes. The sheriff says it’s because his parish’s jail is not big enough.
He’s proposing a new jail costing up to $85,000 per bed, and having up to 200 beds, adding up to up to $17 million.
"By having a new jail, it would send all the pretrial inmates housed outside the jail... They’d be housed in our jail, the new jail,” he said. “So we wouldn’t have to pay those fees outside. We can save those fees and save for the jail.”
Hill says she is willing to meet with the police jury and sheriff's office to explore the benefits of working together.
“We would prefer that, yes,” said Hill. “That nobody loses their job and that 911 would stay intact the way it is.”
There is some debate as to whether the parish needs a new jail in the first place.
Some people KATC spoke to say perhaps the plan for a 200-bed jail could be scaled back to avoid losing the dispatching agency. Meanwhile, the sheriff says, having a large jail could also generate revenue from housing D.O.C. inmates.
There is a public hearing on this matter scheduled for November 9th at 5:30 p.m. at the Evangeline Parish courthouse.
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