About a thousand inmates from the state's only women's prison are now being housed at various lockups, including privately-run facilities, after the St. Gabriel facility flooded in this month's storms.
The Jetson Center For Youth, a deteriorating juvenile prison in Baker that was abruptly shut down in 2014, is preparing to absorb some of the female offenders.
The Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women was the only state prison to flood. Now, still submerged in water, the facility sits shuttered due to mold concerns, said Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokesman Ken Pastorick.
There are 678 LCIW inmates being housed at C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy. That lockup was shut down in 2012 after the corrections department said it was too costly to run, but it's been partially revived as a private work release facility run by Louisiana Workforce LLC in cooperation with the local sheriff, Ricky Moses of Beauregard Parish.
Paul Perkins, a longtime corrections employee who now owns Louisiana Workforce, said he only operates out of the back portion of Phelps. The prison as a whole is still owned by the corrections department, he said, and the area where the women are being housed is a separate zone from where male work-release inmates live.
The Louisiana Transitional Center for Women, a private lockup run by LaSalle Corrections, is housing 221 of the LCIW inmates, Pastorick said.
And 47 of the displaced inmates are being housed at the Avoyelles Parish Jail, while 39 remain at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
The total relocated is 985.
Prison officials originally said about 1,200 were preparing to evacuate LCIW. Pastorick said he is working to confirm what accounts for the remaining number of inmates.
The St. Gabriel area sustained heavy flooding, but nearby Elayn Hunt Correctional Center was not affected, Pastorick said.
Jetson, the shuttered youth prison, is being fixed up in preparation for the possible transfer of LCIW inmates, said Office of Juvenile Justice spokeswoman Beth Touchet-Morgan.
It will take some four to eight months before LCIW is renovated and inmates can move back in, Pastorick said.