PTA Voices Strong Opposition Over New Allen Parish Jail

February 14, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

It is no secret the Allen Parish Jail is busting at the seams. All 43 beds stay full year round. "A new jail would help Allen Parish financially about $300,000 a year. That's what it's costing the police jury to ship prisoners out to other parishes for Allen Parish," said Allen Parish Sheriff Harold Brady.

The current jail sits adjacent to Oberlin Elementary, but the new 100 bed facility proposed by the police jury would be built behind the Allen Parish Sheriff's Administration Office. While it is more than 350 yards away from the school house, Oberlin PTA President Cleopatra Pete says it is still too close. Pete says they have the opportunity to move the jail from being near the school.

"My biggest fear is that someone breaks out of the prison, molesting our children, raping our children, running from the police into the schools and taking our teachers hostage. There is a number things that can happen and everyone is saying it hasn't happened and we've had a jail by the school for years, but as we all know it only takes one time," said Pete.

"It doesn't matter where you put the jail, there's always a risk. It could be here or it could be downtown, or out there in the woods somewhere. There's always a risk no matter where you put the jail," said Sheriff Brady.

Pete says a safer alternative would be 42 acres west of town on Highway 26. The property is also owned by the sheriff's department. However, at a recent police jury meeting she was told it would cost too much to hook into the city's sewer system at that location.

"There's a new facility for our Allen Parish School Board, which is right across the street from the 42 acres," explained Pete. "And our question to them is why can't you tap into the sewer?"

Sheriff Brady says after sewerage upgrades it would cost the parish nearly two million dollars to hook the jail up to the city's sewer system. He says bottom line it is the police jury's responsibility to build a jail.

"Build us a new jail that is all I'm asking. When I took office that is the number one thing I wanted to address," said Sheriff Brady. "We still don't have a jail. We need a jail for the safety of our entire community. This would be a state of the art facility."

Sheriff Brady says the other area off highway 26 is residential and they have also heard concerns from residents opposing the facility to be placed there. The police jury is expected to start accepting bids on the project some time next month. Meanwhile, Pete has started a petition in opposition of the project as proposed right now.