La. leaders break ground for new women’s prison
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s been six years since the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel was submerged in the 2016 flood.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 1, aimed to put those days behind us.
“We’re gonna have a facility here that is state of the art, that makes sure that we have every opportunity for vocational training and education,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards.
After the flood, about 1,000 incarcerated women were evacuated to higher ground. The flood water destroyed the facility, leaving heavy damage and mold behind.
Since then, those inmates have been housed at several locations, including the once shuttered Jetson Youth Center in Baker. But soon, they will have a new building.
“This facility will provide more than just a house women sent to us or to stay in custody by our court system. It will provide a place for them to have the opportunity for a new beginning,” said Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc.
This new prison will have more than 900 beds and will have a modern layout with spaces strategically designed to enhance rehabilitation, education, and medical and mental health needs. As a former inmate at the prison back in 1999, Montrell Carmouche provided input for what it should have. She said the focus on mental health means the world. According to Carmouche, losing her mom to suicide when she was nine years old resulted in the actions that landed her in prison. While she was there, the trauma of her mother’s death was never addressed.
“And once I was released from prison, I re-offended and ended up having to do 20 years in federal prison,” explained Carmouche. “And I really feel like if I had the tools that I needed to prepare me for society once I was released from St. Gabriel, that that never would have happened.”
She said she is evidence that when you have the right people in the right positions to help, it is much easier to re-enter society as a productive citizen. The project comes with a price tag of $150 million and is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.
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