Work release program slated

Sheriff Jason Ard and Paul Perkins, of Louisiana Workforce, LLC, have entered into an agreement to bring a work release program to Livingston Parish.

Ard said he decided to start a program to help rehabilitate inmates. Ard said several inmates have told him they don’t know what they’re going to do once they’re released from the detention center. Most had no jobs and in some cases no housing, he said. In his experience, within weeks, those same inmates were back at the detention center, he said.

“This program will hopefully help them transition out of the system and into society,” Ard said.

The plan calls for taking the majority of the Department of Corrections Inmates housed at the Livingston Parish Detention Center and putting them to work. To get the program off the ground, these inmates will continue being housed at the Livingston Parish Detention Center.

Ard plans to build a Work Release facility next door to the Livingston Parish Training Center on Woodside Drive in Walker.

To be eligible for the Work Release program, inmates would have to be serving time for nonviolent crimes and have less than three years left to serve. The Department of Corrections is screening inmates for participation in the program, Ard said.

The Work Release program will match inmates with open positions in Livingston Parish.

“Parish business leaders are supportive of this program,” Ard said. “They are looking forward to the skilled and reliable workforce we’ll now be able to offer.”

Ard is confident this program will help teach inmates about work ethic and responsibility.

“Once inmates get released from the Detention Center, they’ll have a plan to be successful,” he said.

Ard said he hopes this program will be active — with inmates working at local businesses — within three to four weeks.

Louisiana Workforce operates Work Release programs in Pointe Coupee, West Feliciana, Iberia, Terrebonne and East Baton Rouge parishes. About 900 inmates participate in the programs.

Perkins retired as deputy warden at Angola with 27-years service. He then served as chief deputy with the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office for five years. Perkins started his management company, Louisiana Workforce, eight years ago.