JENNINGS, La. — Jefferson Davis Parish, La., correctional officials will host an official groundbreaking ceremony for the parish’s soon-to-be-constructed jail on June 30. When complete, the new facility in Jennings will span 31,000 square feet and accommodate approximately 200 inmates, more than tripling the county’s current correctional capacity. Construction on the project is expected to last 18 months.
Meyer & Associates of Sulphur, La., was hired to provide design and construction administration work for the facility in January 2015. M.D. Descant Construction of Bunkie, La., which also completed the Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie, is the project’s builder. M.D. Descant was selected from a field of six bidders, all based in Louisiana.
The county’s existing jail — located above the parish’s courthouse — is outdated, in need of costly repairs and contains space for just 65 inmates. Upon completion, however, the new Jefferson Davis Parish Jail will house up to 160 male inmates and 20 female inmates. An additional 20 cells will be reserved for youthful offenders or inmates requiring quarantine or isolation. The county settled on these figures after reviewing the findings of a feasibility study completed in 2012. The new space will allow local offenders to remain within the community, as opposed to be housed in other overflow facilities throughout the region, and will prevent correctional officials from being forced to release inmates early.
"It will mean we will be able to house all our pre-trial offenders in one place," said Sheriff Ivy Woods in a statement to the American Press. "Right now we have 63 offenders housed in Jennings and Concordia Parish is holding 70 others for us. Once we have a new facility we will be able to hold all our own inmates."
At least 97 percent of space in the new jail will likely be dedicated to for pre-trial offenders and inmates, with a maximum of six Louisiana Department of Correction inmates, according to the American Press.
The $10 million project was funded via Louisiana’s capital outlay program, which covered both the purchase of the nearly 18-acre site as well as all construction. The new jail will be the first in the state to be completed exclusively with state funds.