BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Parish is one step closer to building a new parish prison as city-parish leaders unveiled the results of a study Thursday night.
A new EBR prison is something that has been talked about for quite some time and is now closer than it has ever been to becoming a reality.
The study, released by Loop Capital Financial Consulting Services, shows a number of problems standing in the way of funding a new facility. Stephen Goldsmith headed up the study, which was revealed about six months after Metro Council members first requested it. He said the most severe problem is the prison population.
"A lot of folks are there for a very long time and some of them are not there because they've committed serious crimes. A lot of them are there, in fact, just because of the few options that there are to money bail or the fact that they're poor," Goldsmith said.
The study identifies a number of remedies, including creating more intervention services. That is something EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore said currently is non-existent in the parish.
"There are a lot of folks in jail that could be out of jail getting even more benefit, more can be with families being beneficial as long as we have those things set up on the outside which we don't have now, but we're going to have to get there," Moore added.
Implementing certain intervention plans would not only reduce the space shortage but also save the parish money. According to the study, EBR currently houses 1,594 inmates. Another 500 to 700 that will not fit are sent to other parishes. The price tag for house inmates in other areas totals to roughly $5.5 million each year.
Councilwoman Tara Wicker said she was shocked by the price.
"That number in itself is staggering and I think that it's a huge cost to the community and we're really not answering the problem," Wicker said.
Wicker was among those sitting in on the discussion Thursday. She said the new information is a powerful tool in addressing the issue and paving the way for a much needed, new facility.
"It's like peeling back the layers of an onion though and I think that what we've been able to identify is that this is a multi-level issue and we all need to be at the table to make sure we're part of the solution," Wicker added.
The report will serve as a guide for city-parish leaders as they move forward with the plan for a new prison.