From the Desk of Sheriff Woods
From the desk of Sheriff Woods,
In July 2013, the end of my first year in office, I explained how my office was working with the Jefferson Davis Parish Police Jury to solve the overcrowded jail situation. I mentioned how our officers and investigators must have the ability to arrest the criminals that endanger our families and our property. To accomplish this, our parish will require a larger capacity jail. This project will not only benefit the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office, but all law enforcement agencies in the parish. A larger capacity parish jail will relieve the municipalities within our parish from the burden of operating their own jails.
In the past, efforts were made to build a new jail but our taxpayers would have had to pay for the construction, maintenance and operational costs - with some funds coming from state government and required matching funds by the Parish to secure the money. However, last year with the help of local officials, legislators and the Governor's office, we were awarded the full $10 million to construct the new jail through State Capital Outlay funds with no requirement to match funding. This has never happened in the history of Louisiana, full funding of the construction of a jail.
On Saturday, May 3rd the citizens of Jefferson Davis Parish are going to have an opportunity to vote for a ½ cent sales tax to fund maintenance and operating expenses for a new jail. It is very important to the future of our parish to provide a safe location for our children to grow up in, for our businesses to thrive, and for the growth of our community. The current jail facility was built in 1964 as part of the court house building. The jail facility is outdated and in need of plumbing and electrical updates. The capacity is undersized, with only 65 beds available for prisoners. The jail may have been adequate in 1964, but it is certainly not for today's parish population.
Currently the Sheriff's Office Warrants Division has over 1,000 outstanding warrants for fugitives that cannot be incarcerated due to jail overcrowding. In addition approximately 200 arrests have been cited and released in the past year due to jail overcrowding. With the construction of a 200 bed jail we can get these fugitives into the judicial system to serve their sentence, speed up the process so victims can get closure and receive restitution.
The State has given us the $10 million to build the jail, but we need the ½ cent sales tax to maintain and operate a larger updated jail which meets current standards for correctional facilities. The new jail would provide new medical treatment options, educational and technical instruction for productive return to community, isolation areas for psychological and medical inmates, and greater capacity for male and female inmates.
Please vote "YES" on Saturday, May 3 for the ½ cent sales tax to fund maintenance and operation of a new jail facility. Invest in the future and safety of our parish!
- Sheriff Ivy J. Woods