NEW ROADS — Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres told members of the Police Jury’s Detention Center Committee on Thursday that the structure of the parish’s work release program will soon change through a partnership with East Feliciana Parish.
During the special meeting, Torres told jurors and parish officials that turbulence in the local economy had dramatically decreased the number of jobs available to Pointe Coupee’s work release inmates.
Officials said when the Sheriff’s Office took over the program four years ago, about 55 inmates had jobs in the parish. That number has dwindled to 15, officials said.
Instead of operating the program just in Pointe Coupee, Torres said, the parish’s program will be consolidated with the work release program at Dixon Correctional Institute near Jackson in East Feliciana Parish.
Torres said that under the terms of the new agreement, work release inmates would be assigned to jobs in East Feliciana Parish but remain housed in Pointe Coupee’s recently built minimum-security facility, which has been redesignated as a disciplinary camp.
“What that means is we have to incur the costs, from a sheriff’s perspective, to actually facilitate this,” Torres told the committee. “Now we’ll be able to collect the funds from the state to house the inmates.”
The parish currently receives a $10 per diem, per inmate for work release prisoners, said Capt. Steve Juge of the Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office.
The disciplinary camp designation Juge said, means the state would pay the Sheriff’s Office $24.39 per inmate, per day.
Torres said the state Department of Corrections already has approved the reclassification of Pointe Coupee’s minimum-security facility.
“That doesn’t mean a whole lot in the real world because a work release inmate is a DOC inmate,” Torres said. “But that new status means we would take and reclassify the inmates from a work release inmate to a straight DOC inmate.”
Torres said he hopes to arrange a contract between the Sheriff’s Office and the parish government affirming the new prisoner work release arrangement by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Juror John Pourciau, the committee’s chairman, told the sheriff he could expect the jury’s complete support in regard to the work release program changes.
“I think work release is one of the best things going for us because it’s one of the things — proven over time — that is consistently having some success,” Torres said.