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FROM: Times-Picayune

Senate panel to consider cost of proposal to close Tallulah juvenile prison

News and views from the Louisiana Capitol

Friday May 09, 2003



Tallulah bill delayed

In the middle of his opening remarks Thursday urging lawmakers to shut down the juvenile prison in Tallulah, Sen. Donald Cravins, D-Arnaudville, was interupted by Mike Baer, the secretary of the Senate. Baer announced that a fiscal note describing the impact of Senate Bill 963 on the budget had been revised earlier in the day, estimating the legislation would cost the state more than $500,000. That required debate on the bill to stop so it can be sent to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration first. Cravins was skeptical. "I don't see how we can say it will cost money," he said. "It ought to save the state some money." The plan for shutting down the Tallulah prison, or at least terminating its use as a juvenile prison, is to take the money spent on operational costs and use it to pay for nonsecure programs closer to where young offenders live. The fiscal note makes reference to this point and doesn't specify what costs would be incurred by transferring the 225 juveniles at Tallulah into other facilities, saying only that it would probably cost some money to maintain the buildings, lay off staff or provide other services at the prison. Sen. Jay Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said all of these questions will be figured out when the panel takes up the bill Monday. Senate President John Hainkel, R-New Orleans, was even more conciliatory, telling Cravins, "It is going to come out (of committee), it is going to be heard (on the floor), and it is going to pass."



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