By Paige Nash
A brand-new women’s jail facility has been in the talks for a while now, but it looks like it may finally be happening. The Webster Parish Police Jury is hoping to enter into a contract with an architect to get the prison built soon. The prison will be located on about 5 acres of property on Penal Farm Road. So far, the plans include a 100 x 100 building with parking and an exercise area. It is expected to cost $214,000 to complete the build for the new facility.
This amount will be included in the new budget. The budget has not been approved yet, but the jury will be holding a public hearing seeking approval on December 6.
In the meantime, pending the contract with the architect, the jury decided to go ahead and make a motion to move forward with the clearing of the land.
District 3 juror Daniel Thomas agreed with the jury to have the land prepared now.
“Winter is coming on. Is there any way to get it speeded up as far as the clearing? It’s a lot cheaper and a lot easier to do it now versus 30-40 days,” said Thomas. “It’s a lot different to fill stump holes with dirt, than filling them with mud. I mean it’s going to haunt you from now on if you don’t.”
Public Works Department Superintendent Teddy Holloway agreed and will be overseeing clearing the timber, stump removal and preparing the land for the build.
Standard procedures including a land survey and a geotechnical survey will take place following the completion of the clearing.
Parish attorney Patrick Jackson said, “There’s a little bit of work we have to do, but all of that can come after you get it cleared off.”
The current jail is located on the fourth floor of the Webster Parish Courthouse which is owned and maintained by the WPPJ. The upper floor has served as housing for inmates for over 25 years. Substantial amounts of money have been contributed towards much needed repairs and updates over the years, but it is now beyond fixing.
With an extensive list of issues, including plumbing, air-conditioning, pests, paint, and space, it is going to cost more to fix those problems versus beginning from nothing and building a new facility.
Originally the idea was to move the jail to the Camp Minden grounds, near Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Facility, where the men’s prison is located. After that plan fell through the jury and Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker began working together to consider other options, which ultimately led to the location on Penal Farm Road.
Currently there is no estimated completion date.
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