LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The downtown Lafayette jail could soon be moving to northwest Lafayette.
The new location for the jail would be on Willow Street next to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex.
Lafayette Parish council members say the question is not if they need a new jail. The question is where it will be.
They say the downtown jail is outdated and falling apart.
Residents who live in the surrounding neighborhoods of Willow Street, however, voiced their concerns and opposition at a fiery town hall meeting Wednesday night.
“I’m feeling that we don’t need it here. As one of the speakers said, they dump all the trash in north Lafayette, and this is no different,” NAACP Louisiana State Vice President Marja Broussard said.
Broussard is one of the dozens of people who voiced their concerns.
“Certainly hardened criminals don’t need to be in our neighborhoods. We’re not any different from the councilmen saying not to put it in their backyards. We’re not any different from them. They don’t want it there. We don’t want it here. Period,” she told News Ten.
A big issue for many people at the town hall meeting was feeling safe in their homes.
“It was mentioned the airport has a lot of property in that area. Why is it so important that it’s near churches and schools and neighborhoods?” she questioned.
Lafayette Parish Councilman A.B. Rubin says he hears residents’ concerns but added that a new jail has to be built somewhere.
He says in the last two years, the parish has had to spend about $2 million on jail repairs.
“If you’re going to keep putting a bandage on a sore, sooner or later it’s going to bleed through,” Rubin said. “We’ve had five escapees in 20 years. If we continue to put a bandage or we don’t put a bandage, those numbers can increase.”
Rubin says residents at the town hall meeting did bring up valid points and mentioned spots where they’d like to see the jail built instead.
“I will bring that to the council and let them know the voice of the community,” he told News Ten.
On Tuesday, August 3, at 4:30 p.m. the Lafayette Parish Council will vote on purchasing the land next to the sheriff’s facility on Willow Street to build the new jail.
Parish Councilman Rubin is encouraging anyone with concerns to come out and voice their opinions.