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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Opening of Lafourche jail delayed to 2018

Opening of Lafourche jail delayed to 2018

Delays have pushed back completion of the new Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex to August 2018.

"I guess because we were so thoughtful, it delayed the process," Sheriff Craig Webre said.

Crews began driving pilings for the foundation on Nov. 18 and finished recently, almost a week ahead of schedule. The complex will be located across from the current jail at the corner of La. 3185 and Veterans Boulevard in Thibodaux. Utility work and pouring the slab come next.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office purchased 42 acres last year for $962,775, and a groundbreaking ceremony took place June 18. The jail will not stretch over the whole property, but the land couldn't be subdivided for sale.

Although the Sheriff's Office initially predicted the complex could be finished later this year, it's now expected to be complete by August 2018. Webre said design and cost negotiations caused some delays.

For example, those involved with the project figured out how to design a housing unit for maximum-security inmates and those with special needs so that it would only require one staff member at a time. They also decided to position the medical unit next to the intake unit so a nurse could easily get there.

"We could probably have the jail 25 percent complete if we had simply gone to someone and said, 'Give us a canned, off-the-shelf jail that you built somewhere else and just tell us how much it costs,' and not made any decisions. We would have ended up with someone else's jail, and it would not have been specific to the mission statement of what we're trying to accomplish," Webre said.

The Sheriff's Office is working with Baton Rouge-based GraceHebert Architects and Thibodaux-based Duplantis Design Group for the project. Yates Construction is the construction manager at risk.

For certain elements of the new jail, the Sheriff's Office chose both options presented, such as offering visitation by video and face-to-face. Inmates considered a security threat will have trays of food delivered to their cells, while others will eat in a cafeteria.

Instead of the current block design, the new jail will use direct supervision, with guards and inmates sharing the same space on a more open floor plan. Webre said being in close proximity with inmates will help guards identify potential problems, reduce tension and improve communication.