Bill looks to open city jail permanently
BATON ROUGE - In an effort to reduce crime in East Baton Rouge Parish, one state legislator is looking for ways to keep the city jail open 24 hours a day.
The city jail can hold up to 150 people, but sat empty on Tuesday because of the Mardi Gras holiday. A bill filed by Representative Alfred Williams of Baton Rouge would change that.
The plan could generate new revenue for the parish, as well as reduce crime and lower the population at the parish prison. Opening the city jail 24 hours a day proved successful during past warrant roundups, and now some want to find ways to keep it open permanently.
"We have to be in favor of anything that reduces crime," said Baton Rouge Constable Reginald Brown.
Right now the jail only takes in people for misdemeanor crimes and it's only open Monday through Friday during the day. Williams hopes to fund the city jail around the clock by using money from warrant recalls.
"It's a win-win and it reduces crime," Brown said.
Brown hopes the threat of jail time will reduce the number of warrants on his books, which right now number more than 100,000. Brown said some people have dozens of warrants under their name.
"We target 5, 10, 15, 20," Brown said of individuals and their warrant totals. "We found some even with 30. Because that's the attitude, 'oh it's just a misdemeanor.'"
Brown also thinks the jail could potentially bring in revenue as people will likely come pay off their warrants or bond out of jail.
"When taken in, a lot of misdemeanor prisoners bond out rather quickly," Brown said.
Representative Williams was out of town Tuesday and unavailable for comment. But Constable Brown expects to meet with him and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux later this week.