KINDER, LA (KPLC) - GEO, the private managing company of Allen Correctional Center, is pulling their management contract with the facility beginning Aug. 20.
The relationship the town of Kinder has with the correctional center runs deep, from employment to partnerships, and many say they're shocked by the sudden question regarding the facility's future.
"We really didn't know what was going on, we heard rumors but nothing concrete," said Kinder Mayor Wayland LaFargue.
He said he was notified of GEO's plan to end their management contract with the state-funded facility this past Thursday.
In a statement from the company, GEO cited state budgetary constraints. The center has been operating as a jail facility for a year, which the company said they hoped was temporary.
Read the full statement below:
"We're proud to have been able to partner with the Louisiana Department of Corrections to provide high quality management services at the state-owned Allen Correctional Center over the last two decades. Due to state budgetary constraints, over the last year, the Center has been operating as a jail facility, which we had hoped would be temporary. Unfortunately, continued state budgetary constraints will not support returning the Center to a full service correctional facility with robust rehabilitation programs, and therefore, we have regrettably reached the decision to discontinue our management contract at the Allen Correctional Center. We appreciate the partnership and support of the Louisiana Department of Corrections over the last two decades, and we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition as our management tenure ends at the Center at the end of August."
This still raises major concerns for the parish and the town of Kinder.
"GEO is probably the third largest employer for Allen Parish and it's going to affect our community dramatically with revenue and utilities," said LaFargue. "People don't realize the utilities they use. The employees...where are they going to go? I'm guessing 200 some have been there 20-plus years, that's devastating to a family."
LaFargue said the correctional center also provides the town with grass cutting services and help with work on area schools.
"They've been very good to us, but this short notice and hearing this, everybody's scrambling to find out what lies ahead in the future for us."
The State Department of Corrections says its intentions are to maintain a facility at Allen Correctional Center, however, nothing is definitive at this time.
"I hope something transpires in the next few months. I hope someone takes it over. That's the big problem. If we can solve that problem, it means a lot to Allen Parish and Kinder."
The Department of Public Safety and Corrections says it will meet within a week to review available options.