New jail is needed in JDP
New jail talks make everyone from elected officials to taxpayers uneasy. While we all agree jails are a necessary part of society, the cost and locations of such facilities always face much opposition.
Jails and prison facilities are overcrowded across the world and in Jeff Davis Parish (JDP), the situation is no different. Many times, people cannot fathom how certain criminals are still roaming the streets. The truth is, cramped jail space keeps many people from spending time behind bars though our law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the public would like to see tougher consequences. Those kept behind bars in the parish are usually accused of serious drug offenses or violent acts.
On top of this, the one place to hold female offenders in JDP is the parish jail yet there is space for just a handful of women. Our officials usually have their backs up against a wall when determining who must remain behind bars or who will be released; the State Fire Marshal’s Office does keep an eye on such facilities, so simply cramming more inmates into one cell is not a legal option.
JDP does need a new parish facility. The current parish jail is a much older facility that is in need of major upgrades and ample space. On top of this, we need a larger facility that can house more inmates so people know this parish means business. This would not only enable the Jeff Davis Sheriff’s Office to keep more offenders behind bars; it would also allow our police departments to make more arrests without only issuing citations or court summons due to overcrowding. A new facility just might curb criminal activity, too, since offenders would realize there is more space to hold inmates and not such an easy chance of getting away with a crime.
Obviously, the project needs to be both beneficial to law enforcement and communities as well as cost-effective. While the parish does have some money it could put toward a jail, the fact that so many local officials, including Sheriff Ivy Woods, Sen. Dan Morrish, Rep. Johnny Guinn, District Attorney Michael Cassidy, Police Jury President Donald Woods and former State Sen. Jerry Theunissen, are going to bat for the project in Baton Rouge is a good sign that taxpayers will not be footing a large bill. Our officials know a new facility is desperately needed but they also know residents are tax-weary.
While nothing is set in stone right now, a new jail is something our communities should support as long as the pros far outweigh the cons.
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