Work starts on $146M Louisiana women’s prison

September 1, 2022 GMT

ST. GABRIEL, La. (AP) — Work has begun in Louisiana on a $146 million women’s prison to replace a prison that flooded six years ago, and a ceremonial groundbreaking was held Thursday for the new Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

“I know that this new and improved facility is going to enhance access to education and vocational training programs such as cosmetology, horticulture, welding and computer programing – just to name a few,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “This new facility will provide more space for these reentry and vocational programs than we had at LCIW before it flooded. That’s great news, and is going to help us rehabilitate a lot more women.”

The 938-bed prison in St. Gabriel will be the first state prison to be built since 1989, when the Raymond Laborde Correctional Center opened, the state Department of Corrections said in a news release. It’s expected to be finished at the end of 2024.

ADVERTISEMENT

“For six years, the state has worked with FEMA to agree on whether to renovate or rebuild,” the news release said.

The price has gone up $32 million just since August 2021, when a plan to borrow up to $46 million toward its cost was approved.

The new prison is going up on the west side of Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, the opposite side from the original Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women.

Some women have been housed at Hunt since the prison flooded on Aug. 31, 2016. Others have been held at a closed juvenile prison in Baker, the Louisiana State Penitentiary and local facilities, the department said.

“Today’s groundbreaking marks the end of a very trying season for both the staff and the females housed at LCIW, and a new opportunity for our state in how we facilitate corrections and reentry preparation,” said Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc. “The LCIW flood brought many challenges, but it also created an opportunity for us to design and build a new space that will help us better carry out our reform mission and transform the individuals we incarcerate.”