- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

JENNINGS, La. (AP) - Jefferson Davis Parish residents received their first glimpse at plans for a new $10 million parish jail and a proposed sales tax to fund its maintenance.

The American Press reports (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb ) Jail Committee Chairman Ronnie Petree and Sheriff Ivy Woods presented the case to build a new jail and a proposed half-cent sales tax for its maintenance and operations during a public meeting Monday night attended by more than 50 residents.

“The current facility, built in 1964, is undersized, outdated, always filled to capacity and in need of replacement,” Petree said.

The lack of jail space in the current 62-bed facility and its current location are also less than ideal, he said.

Plans for the new jail call for a 200-bed facility with room for 160 men, 20 women and 20 isolated cells.

A minimum of 97 percent of the jail space will be used for pre-trial offenders and prisoners with a maximum of six Department of Correction inmates.

A location for the new jail has yet to be determined, but it will be located on a 10-20 acre site within five miles of Jennings and the parish courthouse, Petree said.

The parish has received $10 million from the state’s capital outlay funds to build the new jail, a fete that has never been done and will not happen again, Petree said.

The state has moved $1.3 million from Priority 5 funding to Priority 1 to cover the cost of buying the land and architecture plans, Sheriff Ivy Woods said.

Jefferson Davis Parish voters will be asked to approve a new 10-year, half-cent sales tax to help fund the operation and maintenance of the new jail on May 3. The tax is expected to generate $2.1 to $2.3 million annually.

“In the past, the parish would have had to pay for construction, maintenance and operation,” Petree said. “Now the voters of Jeff Davis Parish will only be asked to pay for maintenance and operations. No construction cost.”

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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