Phelps Correctional Center guards watch as prisoners work in a garden in DeQuincy. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Sunday, September 23, 2012 8:32 PM
The state has decided to close C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center on Nov. 1, but what happens to the facility once it shuts its doors?
The land on which Phelps sits was deeded to the state by Edgewood Land & Logging Co. in September 1955 to be used for a prison.
According to the deed, “full title to said land would ipso facto revert to the grantor, Edgewood Land & Logging Company, Ltd., if the same should be used for any other purpose for any continuous period of three months.”
Edgewood was purchased in March 1966 for $9.5 million by Owens-Illinois. Whether it still owns the rights to the land was unable to be determined by late Friday.
The closing of the prison has been met with sharp criticism in Southwest Louisiana, both because it will put 269 people out of work and because the state informed prison officials of the decision by phone late Friday, Sept. 14, the day the closure was made public.
DeQuincy Mayor Lawrence Henagan, Vinton Mayor Kenny Stinson and Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach met with state leaders this week to voice their concerns.
Henagan said he told the state leaders about the deed, but “I haven’t put a lot about it out because I don’t want people getting false hope, but there might be something there.”
He said that if the prison property were to be returned to private citizens or a corporation, it might be easier to get it privatized because it might be able to be done “without having to wait for the next legislative session.”
State Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said by email Friday evening: “Obviously this does not affect the closure of the prison. As we plan for the disposition of the property after its closure, we will work with attorneys to make sure any disposition of the property will be beneficial to the taxpayers and in accordance with the law.”