OPP Construction Entails Best Correctional Practices

3 February 2013

The new Orleans Parish Prison and warehouse facility will draw upon best practices for correctional centers.

New Orleans City Business

OPP construction entails best correctional practices

New Orleans City Business

4 February 2013

By: Gary Boulard, Contributing Writer

An era of modern, high-tech inmate housing is beckoning as the structural steel for the new Orleans Parish Prison nears installation on a dense swath of land between Interstate 10 and Tulane Avenue.

“We are very close right now to opening the warehouse, kitchen and central power plant,” Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman said of the $224 million project to build a new prison in the 2900 block of Perdido Street.

“Our projected date of occupancy is for the end of March,” Gusman said of the first phase of work that began more than a year ago.

Phase two is the big one: the building and completion of the 1438-bed prison itself, which is expected to wrap in early 2014. The 165,000-square-foot structure will include two courtrooms, a booking and inmate processing center, and what is known as a sallypoint that will help facilitate a more seamless movement of inmates coming in from the outside to the custody of the sheriff.

Designed in accordance with American Correctional Association standards, the new prison has built into it natural light and ventilation requirements, with each of the housing units also having an adjacent exercise yard, said Gerald Hebert, president of Grace & Hebert Architects, designer for the facility.

“The goal is to create an environment where you treat people properly,” Hebert said, “and if you do that, you reduce a lot of the issues inside the facility.”

“The new style gives us the ability to look at all the cells at one time,” Gusman said.

According to industry studies, the adoption of the direct supervision model almost always results in a marked decrease in all varieties of inmate behavior crime, from rapes and assaults to murder and suicide.

Money for the project has come primarily from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is paying for as much as 90 percent of the work.

“It’s a process to be sure,” Gusman said of the FEMA system for payouts. “They don’t just put money in a bank and let you draw from it. You have to constantly amend your requests to show them progress, which so far has worked for us.”

Additional money is coming from a $63.2 million bond Orleans Parish voters approved in the fall of 2008.


Project description: 1,438-bed jail that includes intake and processing center, visitor center, kitchen, warehouse and offices
Project cost: $224 million
Start date: September 2011
Expected completion date: Early 2014
Peak construction employment: 150-160
Developer: City of New Orleans
Project manager: joint venture of Kwame Building Group, Montgomery Watson Harza and the Ozanne Construction Group
Construction team: Woodward Design + Build, The McDonnel Group, Julian Engineering, Huseman Associates, Food Facilities Planning and Design, Billes Architecture, Grace & Hebert Architects, Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, Archer Western/McDonnell Group

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