No timeline for Jeff Davis jail opening

<p class="p1">JENNINGS — Already several months overdue, parish officials said Tuesday they still do not have a timeline for opening the new $9.4 million regional jail which has been under construction since 2016.</p><p class="p3">Police Jury President Donald Woods said the last he heard the jail was to open May 15, but that time has passed with no new update.</p><p class="p3">Weather, problems with installing and delivering equipment and unpaid bills by the contractor, has set the project back several times, he said.</p><p class="p3">“I’m just looking forward to it opening so we won’t have to talk about the new jail,” Woods said.</p><p class="p3">The final project punch list will determine when the facility can open, he said.</p><p class="p3">Police Jury legal counsel David Bruchhaus told police jurors in Mary that the parish cannot accept the project as substantially complete for occupancy until everything is completed to satisfaction of the contract.</p><p class="p3">Chief Deputy Chris Ivey said the Sheriff’s Office has hired six of 17 new employees needed for the jail. The others will be hired once the opening he set, he said.</p><p class="p3">“When it is completed we can start training our guys  but it is going to take a week or two to get to know the operation,” Ivey said.</p><p class="p3">About 62 inmates from the old parish jail will be relocated to the new facility for a “soft opening” before some 100 inmates from Concordia Parish are returned to Jeff Davis Parish. More than 100 inmates are being held as part of a joint service agreement with Concordia Parish because the Jeff Davis Parish jail is at capacity, Ivey said.</p><p class="p3">“And I anticipate this jail will be full all the time too,” Ivey said.</p><p class="p3">The new jail will save the parish nearly $50,000 a month it currently pays to house inmates in Concordia Parish. The parish currently pays $25 a day per inmate to house 100 inmates in Concordia Parish due to overcrowding of the current 62-bed parish jail.</p><p class="p3">“And that has been an issue since we took over,” Ivey said.  “We don’t want to have to let criminals go because we don’t have the space. We want to be able to hold them till they can go to court and get released.”</p><p class="p3">Once completed, the jail will measure 31,000 square feet and house 200 male and female inmates. Trustees will be housed in separate areas and assigned work in the kitchen, maintenance department and janitorial service to save the parish from having to hire additional personnel.</p><p class="p3">It will include holding and isolation cells, a booking area, medical office with exam room, a central command center, kitchen and separate recreation yards for male and female inmates.</p>””<p class="p1">Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chris Ivey shows Police Jury President Donald Woods how correctional officers will be able to monitor inmates and control doors from a central command center located inside the parish’s new regional jail. When completed, the facility will house 200 male and female inmates.</p>Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
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