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What is behind the push to change the name of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison?

9 months 1 week 2 days ago Thursday, October 12 2023 Oct 12, 2023 October 12, 2023 6:22 PM October 12, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - What's in a name? For metro councilman Darryl Hurst, it's a lot.

"When you talk about changing the name of a facility, you talk about giving it an identity," he said.

According to the District 5 councilman, and a number of community leaders, the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison is misnamed.

"It's not a prison, it's a jail," Hurst explained.

By definition, a prison is where convicted offenders go to serve out their sentences. The parish prison is a pre-trial facility where innocent-until-proven-guilty people await trial.

There are other issues at the facility some argue are more concerning than the name.

"What you saw today was a lot of broken cells, a lot of broken and dangerous places that they had to shut down for that reason, but there are also some other places where if you touch the wall, the cinder blocks crumble, the plumbing doesn't work," Hurst said. "This summer, the air conditioning went out where you not only had the inmates in 100-degree weather, but you also had the workers there as well."

When it came up at Metro Council Wednesday, the measure failed.

Hurst blames the failure on a lack of discussion among councilmembers and sticker shock—a simple change in the name would cost around $385,000.

"They heard $400,000 and got scared, but most of that is really uniforms. The real number was about $20,000 to $40,000 with changing signs and decals on vehicles," Hurst explained.

He says changing the inside of the prison starts with correcting what's on the outside.

"It's no different than when they took Robert E. Lee off of certain buildings and turned it into Liberty High because it sent the wrong message," Hurst said. "Saying that a prison is here in EBR Parish owned by the local municipality is wrong."

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