LPPJ Refers Jail Expansion to Finance Committee

Discussion of Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone’s proposed $3 million jail expansion plan took up the entire hour of last night’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Public Property & Buildings Committee meeting.

The committee did not reject or approve the proposal outright, but instead voted to send it to the jury’s Finance Committee to discuss it further and figure out just how to pay for it.

Stone, Lincoln Parish Detention Center (DC) Warden Jim Tuten, and Architect Mike Walpole presented a repeat of what was explained at last week’s DC Commission meeting – a 96 bed dorm for trustees, and a 10 bed segregation wing for inmates with mental or other special issues.

According to Stone, housing overflow inmates at adjoining parish facilities is costing the Lincoln Parish Jail some $300 thousand annually. If he had additional room at the DC, that money would be saved, and would pay for any expansion.

However, as the building actually belongs to the police jury, they would have to fund it. For that amount, a bond sale would likely be required, and the jury would be the entity responsible for repayment.

Jury Administrator Courtney Hall noted that the State Bond Commission requires a dedicated revenue stream prior to approval of any bond issue. All public entities in the state must seek that agency’s approval for borrowing.

Jury President Jody Backus (District 7) voiced concern that future state funding could be cut, which is a major source of jail revenues. The jail houses prisoners on behalf of the Department of Corrections, and is paid a daily per diem of $24.39 for service.

Said Backus, “My concern is the state. What are they going to do next spring? The $24, they could cut it in half.”

Stone said that Governor John Bel Edwards promised him that would not happen. “They need us. I really don’t think that’s going to happen,” Stone said.

Randy Roberson (District 4) noted that the jury had just learned of the issue four days ago, and that more time was need to review the financing.

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