Last month, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex opened its doors to inmates and staffers. The Transitional Work Facility is giving offenders a fresh new start.
Inmates are settling into a brand new space and this time around, they have a lot more responsibility and room to grow. Armen Alexandrian, the program manager says it's not about doing time, but doing time wisely.
"We're providing a transitional housing for them, which includes job readiness, employment, and cash savings,” said Alexandrian. “We want to build their self-esteem before they're released again."
While some hold down jobs outside the facility like at area restaurants, others are learning certain skill sets making products.
"(They’re making) trash can liners, recycling bins, dog beds, mattresses, laundry bags, shower curtains,” said Nashelette Wheeler, LAPCOOR Deputy.
It's all about giving them an opportunity to stay out of the system. Although they do pay a per-diem rate, it offers them a chance to save up for the future.
"A lot of offenders may not have family or a support system,” said Alexandrian. “So, before they leave, we want to make sure they are set up with any kind of assistance that we can do to make them successful as they exit."
The facility went from 9,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet. Staffers like Judy Freeman say the open, clean design makes all the difference in overall morale.
"It was a very depressing atmosphere not just for us, but also for the residents,” said Freeman. “So, I think it's a win-win all around.”
1808 Eraste Landry Rd, PO Box 90665,
Lafayette LA 70509