Friday’s Detention Center Commission Meeting

We were out of town last Friday, and were unable to cover an afternoon meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission. However, one of our ace correspondents sent us this report, for which we are sincerely grateful.

It was smiles all around the table at the end of the Friday afternoon meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission. Warden Jim Tuten presented a fairly detailed and overall positive report on progress made since July 1 when management of the DC was transferred from LaSalle to Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone on behalf of the Commission. Tuten reported that progress was being made on repairs to the air conditioning system: replacement parts to upgrade the controls on the system were ordered and due on-site soon. The front gate is completely operational for the first time in years, and only awaits completion of the upgrade to the facility’s central control room and installation of the exit control stand (which allows exiting vehicle drivers to open the gate) to be fully automatic. Installation of the fence on the back side of the property means the perimeter is fully fenced for the first time since it was built. Other repairs and replacements, as to kitchen equipment and door locks and protective systems, are either complete or well on their way to completion.

Application has been made or is planned to be made soon, to increase the allowable inmate population from 200 beds to around 240 to 245; beds are in place now for the 200 currently permitted by applicable regulations.

Plans are also in place to have employees attend the police academy. Employees attend an abbreviated course, which does not include defensive driving training which is required for patrol officers but not for corrections officers and personnel. Completion of training results in certification which entitles employees to added state supplemental pay.

Some personnel changes were discussed: there is new leadership in the kitchen, and the Warden reports the food is “much improved” and that the facility is now able to provide higher-quality meals at a cost of less than $2.50 per inmate per day. More than 80 security cameras have been installed and are operational, with more to follow. These have already proven their value, in that they provided incontrovertible evidence that some claims being made by an inmate against the facility were groundless.

A brief discussion of the special requirements and costs associated with keeping juvenile inmates included information that some preliminary, long-range plans for a possible juvenile facility as well as increased capacity for female inmates are being formulated. “The problem,” opined Tuten, “is, of course, where to get the money to build these facilities.” Having a facility for these could greatly reduce the cash costs of having these inmates housed elsewhere, and could even generate some cash if inmates from surrounding areas could be housed in any extra available space. “Juveniles must by law be separated from adult inmates by sight, sound, and contact, which almost mandates a separate facility.” Tuten stated. The need to house females separate from males often results in tying up several beds’ capacity for one female inmate. Because of this, currently all female inmates are housed in the Claiborne parish facility.

Overall, most of the smiles were generated when Tuten reported that, with housing of Department of Corrections inmates, reductions in overtime worked by employees and improved management of the DC’s commissary, work release and other programs, the facility has generated an income of almost $250,000 since the change of control on July 1st. While expenditures for repairs and improvements are expected to be on the order of $1.17 million when completed, the Commission members, all of whom were present, agreed the improved cash position of the facility is certainly good news, and Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) President Skip Russell was first to offer praise and congratulations to Tuten and Stone for the results they have achieve so far: “The people of Lincoln Parish certainly owe you a debt of gratitude for all your hard work and success.” This was seconded by DA Bob Levy and other Commission members.

Tuten requested that the Commission authorize advertisement for bids to (1) upgrade three sides of the existing (old) perimeter fence, once side of which does not belong to the facility but to an adjacent property owner; and (2) construct a fence inside the perimeter fence, to serve as an emergency evacuation area in case inmates need to be evacuated for fire, this being required by regulatory agencies. The Commission approved both requests unanimously.

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One Response to “Friday’s Detention Center Commission Meeting”

  1. CitizensAll Says:

    Only item I see missing is a report from the former mayo of Jonesboro, about the quality and efficiency of LaSalle’s jail in Jackson parish. He’s studying it from the inside…
    I wonder how the food is there?

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