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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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New Lafourche jail to hold grand opening Dec. 19

New Lafourche jail to hold grand opening Dec. 19

Following weather delays, the end of construction is near on the new Lafourche Parish jail, officials said.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office will commemorate the occasion with a grand opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Dec. 19. The event will be livestreamed on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Preparation for opening the 118,095-square-foot structure at La. 3185 and Veterans Boulevard near Thibodaux is underway, Lt. Brennan Matherne said.

“The contractors are working on cosmetic things like touching up paint in certain places, adding caulking and little odds and ends all over the facility,” Matherne said. “With a facility of that size, those little odds and ends take a while to do.”

Lettering for the jail’s signage is being completed and much of the furniture has been set up, Matherne said.

“Ultimately the structure is all but ready now,” he said. “Most of the furnishing is in place, everything from inmate beds, tables and chairs and permanent fixtures like countertops.”

The general contractor originally projected construction to be wrapped up in September, but the project was delayed by an unusually wet summer, Matherne said.

“That was the predominant factor,” he said. “With any building project you run into snags here and there, and with such a large project with so many facets obviously some of those things came up.”

Inmates will be relocated from the old jail into the new facility sometime after the first of the year, Matherne said.

“We have a process for moving inmates,” he said. “We’ve shipped inmates out of parishes for some time now, so we’re well-versed in moving inmates from one secure facility to another. This will be a similar process. It will be simply across the street instead of another parish.”

The $40 million jail will accommodate up to 533 inmates and will be operated as a “direct-supervision facility” where officers will interact and work with inmates, Sheriff Craig Webre said.

The Sheriff’s Office purchased 42 acres two years ago for $962,775. The jail doesn’t stretch over the whole property, but the land couldn’t be subdivided for sale.

The current jail, which was built in 1976 and houses 245 inmates, is outdated and overcrowded, the sheriff said. Correctional officers patrol the cell blocks at the existing jail every 15 to 30 minutes. In a direct supervision setting, a guard will be with the inmates 24 hours a day. Non-compliant, maximum-security inmates will still be on lockdown.

As the grand opening approaches, the Sheriff’s Office plans this week to continue employee training, testing systems and simulating daily activities, Matherne said.

“This coming week we’re scheduled to operate out of the new facility in some aspects,” he said. “For example, cooking meals in the new kitchen, operating the computers, doing laundry and things of that nature. There’s a lot of opportunity for us to use the new facility to test things out before moving the inmates.”


-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.