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Six years after flood, Louisiana may finally build a new women’s prison. But the cost has exploded. | Crime/Police – New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana 2022-06-20 05:00:00 –

Approximately six years after the complete closure of Louisiana’s only women’s prison as a result of the devastating floods around the Baton Rouge, the state is embarking on a new facility that was originally planned to cost about $ 100 million. not.

During that time, a big problem arose. Thanks to soaring building materials, the estimated price of the new Louisiana Institute for Women’s Correction in St. Gabriel has recently risen by more than a third to about $ 138 million. ..

Officials in the administration of Governor John Bel Edwards discussed shrinking the project or removing certain elements, but eventually decided to build a complete project. Louisiana taxpayers will cover the rest, including the increase, while FEMA covers about $ 44 million for the project.

This project was designed by Grace Hebert Architects. Jerry Hebert, the main owner of GraceHebert Architects, is a close friend of Jimmy LeBlanc, the Secretary of the Public Security Bureau. Grace Hebert has been paid over $ 4 million so far and will earn over $ 6 million in this work.

As with most state building contracts, Grace Hebert’s pricing was set as a percentage of the estimated cost of the project. If the company’s charges are recalculated based on the new costs, Grace Hebert can see the charges increase to over $ 8 million.

However, Jack Berry, director-general of policy at Jay Dardenne, said he did not expect the cost of the deal to increase and Grace Hebert to be the target of a storm.

“I don’t know why that will change,” Berry said.

Hebert did not return the call for comment.

Since the old facility was declared uninhabitable in 2016 Approximately 1,000 female prisoners in Louisiana were detained in temporary dormitories. Some were held at the nearby Elain Hunt Correctional Center, a men’s facility in St. Gabriel, while others were held at Baker’s Jetson Center for Youth, a boy lockup with shutters.

Mr Berry said the project’s launch was delayed for years, primarily because the state had to wait for FEMA to approve some of the funding. Initially, the prison was considered subject to $ 4 million in repair work, but state officials eventually convinced FEMA that it couldn’t bail out the complex.

Just last week, authorities sent a contract listing new price tags to Baton Rouge’s construction company Aker. Alabama-based company Caddell In jail. Once the document has been signed by all parties, the authorities will arrange a pre-construction meeting to lay out the project timeline.

Additional money for the project was approved by the Legislature in this year’s capital spending budget. The State Bonds Commission, which will be held in July, needs to approve part of the project’s funding.

According to DOC Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Bickham, authorities expect the contract to be executed within the next 30 days, with notice to proceed with the project. Work is likely to begin shortly thereafter and will be completed in about two and a half years.

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After the storm The facility sat in the water for about a month.. According to Bickham, when the inspection began to decide on repairs, authorities quickly realized that the cost of the remodeling was just about the same as the cost of building a new campus. Based on LCIW’s status as an emergency operations center, FEMA has agreed to a new and improved project.

“Whatever FEMA was trying to offer us, from a financial perspective, we intended to take advantage of the new facility,” Bickham said.

Over time, the FEMA agreed to invest more money and finally settled at $ 44 million earlier this year. But by then, material costs had risen by about 30%.

“It was a very long, frustrating and painstaking process,” Bickham said. “We are now ready to change the dirt for the first time.”

Campus improvements include expanded medical and mental health care areas, open-concept dormitories, and dedicated space for training disciplines such as welding, Bickham said. Most notably, a new postnatal wing will be added to allow the inmates who gave birth to spend time with the newborn until a specific point in time.

Proponent | Times-Picayune sought to confirm communication between Hebert and LeBlanc while the LCIW project was still under investigation. This is partly because the relationship between architect Hebert and DOC secretary Le Blanc has previously caused controversy.

Hebert had to pay the state a $ 17,216 fine in 2019 after the investigation revealed that the transaction with the DOC under another contract violated state ethics. He and Le Blanc are intimate. The two spouses spent a vacation together in Europe a few years ago. They live walking down the street with each other and share tickets for LSU games.

In addition, Hebert was married to LeBlanc’s niece, and Hebert’s daughter and son-in-law both worked in the orthodontic department, both of whom were soon promoted to executive positions. Hebert’s daughter, Andrea Boutros, was promoted to Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Corrections Bureau in March. Records show that she was selected from 14 applicants.

A correspondence submitted by the DOC to the newspaper (which took more than six months to create) indicates that LeBlanc and Hebert had many private meetings to discuss the project, but department officials had previously held LeBlanc. Will rebuild.

“Secretary General LeBlanc and his leadership team met with the company to discuss the aesthetics and design of the LCIW facility, just like any other company,” DOC spokesman Kempastrick said at the time. Said.

The email indicates that in late 2019, the two personally responded to hash the size and extent of the facility without a leadership team. We are discussing everything from the number of dormitories to the number of beds in each dormitory.

One email from Hebert to LeBlanc simply says “Call me”.

In another contemporary email, Hebert wrote to LeBlanc: I want to talk about what I can do without prejudice. “

Six years after flood, Louisiana may finally build a new women’s prison. But the cost has exploded. | Crime/Police Source link Six years after flood, Louisiana may finally build a new women’s prison. But the cost has exploded. | Crime/Police

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