LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The Lafayette Parish Council officially approved $408,303 to buy land on West Willow Street to build a new parish jail.

One local leader shared his thoughts as the plan moves closer to reality.

As a community advocate, the president of the NAACP Lafayette Branch, Ravis K. Martinez has decided it’s time to assess the proposed new jail and its location for what it is.

Martinez agrees the parish needs a new jail.  

He stated that he would rather see a spectacular library built in that site than a jail; but it’s time to look beyond location.

“Let’s look beyond that. If this is the wishes of the parish, let’s look at how do we engage the community, how do we bring all the stakeholders to the table and say if the jail is going to be here what’s that impact,” Martinez said.

Martinez said there are best practices out there when it comes to building a jail and its impact on the community in which it sits.

“This is not something new. Most communities are really moving away from building jails but if this is something we’re going to do here in Lafayette then let’s do it the right way,” Martinez stated.

Consuela Gaines of Voice Of The Experience (VOTE) weighs in.

VOTE is a non-profit started and run by formerly incarcerated people, families, friends and allies.

“I think they really need to look at how the Department of Justice determines how or where a facility needs to be built instead of just putting a facility because another facility that the sheriff uses is in the same area,” Gaines added.