It's a day that officials with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office have been waiting over three years for: the ribbon-cutting of the LPSO Public Safety Complex at 1825 W. Willow St.

It (the LPSO Public Safety Complex) encompasses our transitional work program, our training and visitation

It's a facility that is very much needed in Lafayette Parish, mainly because of overcrowding issues at the jail in Downtown Lafayette, a facility designed to hold between 300-400 prisoners — but currently holds over 900 prisoners. While the downtown correctional center, run by Lafayette Consolidated Government, is a maximum security facility, this five-building, $24 million project will house minimum security inmates and those who are working jobs outside of the jail.

“It (the LPSO Public Safety Complex) encompasses our transitional work program, our training and visitation," says Director of Corrections Rob Reardon with LPSO. "We’re going to have some secure housing for those individuals that are on the road crews…and we’re also going to have a warehouse which is going to encompass our laundry, our inmate industries, our inmate processing center and a maintenance there for the sheriff’s office.”

When Reardon talks about the multi-building complex, he uses the phrase "cost-effective" when describing it. He says the facility's yearly operating cost will be revenue neutral. Reardon says the average cost per bed is $16,000, compared to the national average of $30,000 to $40,000 per bed.

In order to save money, the cinder block walls have not been painted. The floors are concrete. Reardon says nearly a million dollars was saved with inmate labor, labor that includes all of the landscaping at the site.

The ceilings are high so inmates can't cause trouble. The facility itself is "very staff intensive" says Reardon, because "we don't want our employees to hate coming in to work." Inmates will be transported to the new facility over the next few weeks.

It's managing the resources we have and developing for the future

The building sits on 29 acres, but it isn't using all of the 29 acres — as of now. Reardon says each building has the capacity for expansion. "It's managing the resources we have and developing for the future," says Reardon. It's a complex that has been projected out for the next 50 years.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony is Wednesday at 10 a.m. There will be a public open house on Saturday, where tours will be conducted from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., every hour, with the last tour beginning at 2 p.m. There will also be a job fair hosted at the facility on April 5, looking for workers for the new facility.