The Jeff Davis Police Jury announced plans to purchase 17 acres of property for the new proposed jail. The acreage is located west of the Highway 90 overpass in Jennings, across the street from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
Ten million dollars in state capital outlay money will help pay for the property, estimated at $272,000 dollars. In a press release, Police Jury President Donald Woods said, “We hope to complete all state requirements, such as the appraisal and environmental study, within three months. At that point, we will be able to close on the property and secure the title within a total of 150 days.”
Sheriff Ivy Woods explained after clearing acres of trees, “the frontage on Highway 90 is going to be 215 feet and it runs all the way back to the railroad tracks at 1,669 feet. It kind of makes an L shape.” Construction and property plans allows for a new 200 bed facility to be built immediately and also allows for expansion in the future. During a press conference held at the police jury building on Tuesday, District Attorney Mike Cassidy said the new jail would help the criminal justice system immensely.
“We have to sometimes go through the dockets, that would be the judge, the sheriff and myself, to see who do we let go and who do we keep. A larger jails means more criminals would be held,” said Cassidy. While Cassidy summed up the feelings of representatives, police officials and jury members, the final purchase is dependent on voters. Donald said it would be impossible to secure funding without a voter approved ten-year half-cent sales tax. “Without it, Baton Rouge legislators will not give us the ten million until we can prove we can maintain, fund and operate the jail.”
The tax is the only item on the May 3rd ballot. Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm. Should the tax fail, Donald said they would re-introduce the tax or a millage on a future ballot.