Committee to meet regarding new Bienville Parish jail

By Paige Nash

The Bienville Parish Police Jury (BPPJ) decided to form a “Jail Committee” that is to include jurors Vic Fowler, Darryl Ryder, Michael Nelson, District Attorney Danny Newell and Sheriff John Ballance. This committee will meet to discuss ongoing issues with the current Bienville Parish Jail and the possibility of building a new one to house men, women and juvenilles.

Opening a new jail for the parish has been a topic of conversation on a few other occasions, but BPPJ Vice-President Darryl Ryder does not think the issue is being resolved quick enough.

“We need to be going back to the table to consider what we are going to do in Bienville Parish as far as housing all of our inmates. We discussed building a new jail. Some money was available through some kind of grant. That never happened, but the problems still continue to grow,” said Ryder. “I hate to tell you crime is not going away. This is something we do not need to drag our feet on.”

The decision to form the committee was made following discussion regarding the new juvenile detention center to open in Jackson Parish on August 1.

BPPJ Secretary/Treasurer Rodney Warren and Sheriff John Ballance attended a recent meeting with the sheriff in Jackson Parish where a contract was offered to neighboring parishes. The contract to reserve a bed at the new facility would cost the BPPJ $38,325 per year when not in use. It would cost $63,875 per year if the bed was occuppied. That equals $105 per day that they bed is unoccupied and $175 per day that it is occupied.

Currently juvenilles arrested in Bienville Parish are being housed at Ware Detention Center in Coushatta. Last month BPPJ was billed $4,425 from Ware. Year to date the police jury has spent approximately $10,200 of their $25,000 budgeted for juvenilles.

As of July 1, Ware almost tripled the cost per bed at their facility. They were previosly charging $110 per day and the current price is now $310.

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Community Coordinator Deanna Culverhouse Curtis urged the jury to please consider the contract with Jackson Parish.

She said, “We need these beds. Ware Detention Center- we do not have a contract with them. If a bed is not open at Ware, we can’t get there. We do not have a place to put them anymore.”

Curtis reminded the jury of a recent case in the parish when a juvenile committed armed robbery and was arrested. She said, “They turned right back around and let him go. Within that afternoon, he did it again with a gun. We do not have a place to put them anymore. I know that it is expensive, but we have got to have a place to put them. It has gotten out of control.”

Ryder agreed, “When you do not have a place to people who need to be incarcerated, you put them back on the streets. When you put them back out on the streets there is a potential that something could happen, not only to sombody else’s family but to your own family. We have a responsiblity to do what needs to be done. It falls on the parish and police jury. We need to come together and have a meeting. Put some heads together and see what kind of plan we can put together.”

Ryder believes that building a new facility will pay for itself over time.

He said, “People that we are paying now to house our inmates, they will be paying us to house theirs.”

The committee will be meeting soon to look more in depth at resolutions, proposals and funding.

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