On a motion by Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) President Skip Russell (District Eight), the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission this morning voted to negotiate a contract with the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) to assume operation of the parish jail on Road Camp Road.
The vote was 4-0-1, with Sheriff Mike Stone abstaining.
Since 2008, the commission has contracted with LaSalle Corrections to staff, operate, and maintain the facility.
The target date for the changeover is July 1, 2013.
The commission is made up of Stone, Russell, Ruston Police Chief Steve Rogers, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney Bob Levy, and is chaired by LPPJ’s Joe Henderson (District Nine).
In accordance with LA RS 15:848, et seq., the commission owns the jail (on behalf of the Lincoln Parish Taxpayers), and is ultimately responsible for the facility. Funding is provided by a one-quarter cent levy on sales within the parish that collects about $2 million/year.
Cost overruns are made up from the jury and the City of Ruston at a ratio of 85/15. Over the past few years, that has overage has amounted to several hundred thousand dollars.
Russell’s motion state:
“…that we accept the recommendation of the Jail Study Committee, and that the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission take over the management and the operation of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, and that we contract with Sheriff Mike Stone to manage the day-to-day operations of the detention center. And I’d also like to include in this motion that we authorize Chairman Henderson of the Detention Center Commission, along with the representative from the City of Ruston, to negotiate the contracts and the agreements with both Sheriff Stone and LaSalle Management, to effect this change, and that a suggested date of transition might be July the First. And also include in that motion that those – any contracts or agreements be brought back to this commission for final approval.”
RPD Chief Rogers seconded.
Another motion by Russell authorized the commission to expend funds as necessary to fund the transition, and it was seconded by Henderson. The motion limited the funding to what the sales tax provides only.
During discussion, DA Levy suggested that such a cap might be too restrictive, and that cost might be more than the tax brings in.
A maximum amount above the tax was discussed ($200 to $250 thousand), with those monies to be funded from the jury and the city at that 85/15 ratio.
In lieu of that cap, a friendly amendment was proposed by Henderson to include revenues from Department of Corrections prisoners, work release earnings, telephone toll fees, and commissary earnings as also available to pay the transition costs.
In the motion Henderson stated, “…that the transitional costs would come from ‘revenues,’ instead of the state motion of one quarter cent sales tax.”
At present, those monies are kept by LaSalle, in addition to the nearly $30/day per prisoner that is paid to them by the parish.
Both the amendment and the motion passed on a 4-0-1 vote, with Stone again abstaining.
Props are due LPPJ President Skip Russell for what happened this morning.
Over the past couple of years as jail costs spiraled out of control – with the LPPJ and the City of Ruston on the hook for the overages – we witnessed much hand-wringing over what to do and what agency was responsible.
But nobody ever stepped up.
Immediately after his election as jury president in January, Russell took it upon himself to get the interested parties together and work to find a solution that could see the jail operating within its budget.
He didn’t ask permission – he just did it.
Such a thing is called leadership.
Whatever else Russell does or doesn’t do in the future as a public servant, his work over the past couple of months with the jail issue should earn him the undying gratitude of Lincoln Parish Taxpayers.
This is not to minimize the efforts of ALL the interested parties that helped get to where we are today, but there has to be someone who is willing to be the facilitator between the various interests.
Well done, Mr. Russell.
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