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After years of struggle for public approval, a new jail for Lafourche Parish became an official reality in late-December and is expected to receive its first inmates some time early in 2019.

A grand opening ceremony was held in December at which Sheriff Craig Webre thanked the public and his staff, referring to the event as a “a historic and monumental day in the Lafourche Parish criminal justice system.”

The $40 million jail’s design and features have been praised for offering better margins of safety to officers and inmates. The old jail, just across the street from the new structure at La 3185 and Veterans Boulevard, and its landscaped grounds, has been a subject of criticism for years. In addition to safety issues the old jail had serious infrastructure issues due to age and other factors.

“Today is an historic and monumental day in the Lafourche Parish criminal justice system,” said Sheriff Craig Webre during his remarks at the ceremony. “My staff and I are forever grateful and honored to be part of and witness to what is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Webre said of the jail opening.

Officially named the Lafourche Parish Criminal Justice Complex, the 125,000 square foot project was praised as an opening of a welcome development not just for its physical amenities, but how they allow for better meshing of a philosophy based on desire accomplish, in Webre’s estimation, what the word “correction” implies.

Webre has long been a proponent of operating programs that can aid willing offenders to lay down foundations for new lives after incarceration, creating benefit not just for the inmates but the public at large.

“For far too many years we have cycled people in and out of the revolving door of the jailhouse,” Webre said. “Some of these individuals, as a practical matter, are serving a life sentence 30 days or six months at a time.”

Prior programs that focused on rehabilitation found severe limitations, often due to infrastructure. The new jail’s capacity of 533 inmates — nearly double that of the old jail — is a number that Webre has maintained will eliminate the overcrowding that has at times plagued his jail operations in the past.

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