Phelps in DeQuincy to reopen as transitional work program - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Phelps in DeQuincy to reopen as transitional work program

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DEQUINCY, LA (KPLC) -

The Louisiana Department of Corrections announced today that former DeQuincy prison, C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center, will reopen as a transitional work program for non-violent offenders.

"Repurposing Phelps as a TWP honors the Department's commitment to area leaders to find the best possible use but in a fashion that encourages education, training and self-support, in an effort to reduce incarceration and recidivism rates," said DOC Secretary, Jimmy LeBlanc.

The program will be open to 300 adult males who are non-violent, non-sex offenders and who are within four years of their release date.

Participants without previous job training or vocational certification will have the opportunity to achieve certification in an "in-demand" skilled trade.

"The TWP provides increased opportunities for offenders to enhance existing skills or to obtain new skills for in-demand jobs such as welding, carpentry and plumbing," said LeBlanc. "It also provides employees (in southwest Louisiana as well as other areas of the state) with qualified employees to meet business and expansion goals."

Upon completion of the program, participants will leave with approved employment and residence plans and plans for employee retention.

"Direct and indirect job creation in Southwest Louisiana associated with Sasol and other projects is tremendous — 20,000 jobs estimated in this area alone," said LeBlanc. "There is a definite role that Corrections can play in meeting the demands for an accessible, skilled-labor workforce across various industries."

On Friday, the DOC also issued an RFP or "Request for Proposals" to potential contractors to run the TWP at the former Phelps site. That contractor would be required to acquire and maintain accreditation with the American Correctional Association just as state corrections facility do.

The contractor would also be responsible for routine and preventative maintenance of the facility as well as proper insurance. A pre-proposal conference is scheduled for April 8 and proposals must be submitted by May 13.

Officials hope to move in the first round of TWP participants in late summer, early fall.

The DOC closed Phelps on Nov. 1, 2012, claiming it was old, inefficient and costly to keep open. When the facility closed, it housed nearly 900 inmates and employed just under 300 Southwest Louisiana residents.

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