Progress being made on new jail

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 30, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / October 30, 1999

HAHNVILLE – St. Charles Parish’s new correctional center is nearing thestage where passersby can see visible progress.

“Everything’s in the works,” Maj. Sam Zinna observed Thursday. The targetdate for opening the facility is April 2001.

The 590-bed facility, located on a 63.24-acre site on Louisiana Highway3127 at Killona, is finishing the site preparation stage at present.

Project manager Russell Williams of Acadian Builders in Gonzales began work on Sept. 15, clearing a sugar cane field, installing water lines anddoing test borings of the soil to determine how much pile-driving will be necessary.

Total price tag on the site preparation alone is $422,000, Zinna pointed out. By the end of 1999, bids for construction will be advertised, receivedand opened, followed by contract signing and arrival of men, equipment and material.

Construction of the new correctional center is anticipated in January, with 14 to 16 months completion time.

A total of 30 acres have been cleared for the construction, with the remainder of the acreage left in cane until necessary for future expansion, Zinna said.

Depending on the timetable by the eventual construction contractor, the hiring and training of additional corrections staff will be conducted. Bythe time the facility is ready to admit inmates, Zinna plans to have the staff hired and trained.

Inmates themselves won’t arrive all at once, he continued, but over several weeks as the staff adjusts to the inmate population and the facility itself.

Meanwhile, the present 119-inmate facility on the third floor of the St.

Charles Parish Courthouse in Hahnville will be converted to a juvenile facility. It is hoped, Zinna added, to also briefly hold adult inmates thereas well for court dates, following federal guidelines against allowing adults and juveniles from coming into contact.

Some modifications will be necessary to accommodate juveniles, including classroom space and more staff space, which will reduce the capacity to 60, Zinna estimated.

The correctional center construction is being financed by $12.5 million in20-year bonds, approved on March 25 for the St. Charles Parish LawEnforcement District, the debt to be repaid by anticipated housing fees for holding prisoners for the state Department of Corrections.

The remainder of the estimated $15.5 million cost will be met by theparish government’s capital outlay funds.

Zinna added the planned jail will include separate maximum-, medium- and minimum-security sections and a separate section for female inmates.

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