Ouachita Correctional Center
The Ouachita Parish Correctional Center has been in operation since 1963. The facility was capable of handling approximately 180 offenders at inception and there were approximately 26 deputies from the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office working. In 1985 the old C dorm was built giving the center an additional 64 beds for a total of 244. In 1999, a large-scale renovation and enlargement project was conducted at OCC for a total of 736 beds. The jail staff joined the correction staff in 1999 for a total of 40 deputies working under our roof guarding 360 offenders. In 2005 the State Fire Marshal and Health Inspector granted the facility an emergency increase in bed space for a total of 1162 beds because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
During 2006 a new booking area was completed with extra holding cells along with a new dorm called E dorm which holds 120 offenders divided into two pods called 14 and 15. In 2009 the emergency increase stopped and the temporary buildings were replaced with a permanent structure that opened October 17, 2010 housing 100 offenders. At present OCC has a maximum bed count of 1062 and today’s count is 1001 with 124 full time deputies.
These offenders range from maximum to minimum security status. Offenders that have been sentenced by the state courts (Department of Correction offenders), parish court (Parish Sentenced), and offenders that have not yet been to trial (Pre-trial) make up the offender population at OCC. Furthermore, approximately 83 of these 1001 offenders are females, making OCC a co-ed facility. Several new programs have been added to the standard GED classes and AA. Freedmen, Anger Management, Faith Bible Institute along with Celebrate Recovery are working with the offenders to decrease the 822 repeat offenders from the 1001 daily count.
OCC staffing consist of a Warden, Deputy Wardens, Division Lieutenants, Master Sergeant, Staff Sergeants, Shift Sergeants, Corporals, Investigator, Chaplain, Medical Personnel and Deputies who perform various job task daily. The facility structure includes Administration, Booking, Medical, Operations, Security and Transport. The Administrative Division is responsible for the overall management of the facility. Personnel activities, budgetary matters, etc. fall under the direction of Warden/Deputy Wardens. The Booking Division handles approximately 40 individuals a day whether being booked into jail or out of jail. Different agencies have sting operations in the area and the booking department may push around 70 individuals through the booking area. A couple of years ago a Court Room was added into the law library to hold pleas which is operated by the Booking Master Sergeant. The Operations Division deals with offender records, offender funds, inmate commissary, offender work details, purchasing, food service, compound maintenance, farm operations, and grounds care. The Medical Division is responsible for health care of all offenders housed at OCC varying from dental, medical and physical. Twice a week a Psychologist visits the offenders to ensure their well being. Just recently an AIDS Doctor was added to the contract. The Transport Division handles medical and court movements all over the parish. You rarely see a transport vehicle on the compound because of the constant movement during the week. The Security Division handles offender movement, housing, feeding, discipline, personnel training and the Cell Extraction Response Team (C.E.R.T.).
The operation of OCC is the responsibility of the Sheriff, however funding comes directly from the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. OCC has a yearly budget of approximately 10.8 million dollars. The funding for this budget comes from parish taxes, as well as money from housing DOC offenders. The facility has several million dollars in assets including buildings, land, vehicles, office equipment and farm equipment.
The Indigent Defender Board (IDB) now has accessibility to clients who are offenders at OCC through the technology of video phone conferencing. The video phone conference provides the offender and his IDB attorney a private confidential consultation without the offender leaving OCC or the attorney leaving the confines of his or her law office.
It is a future hope that this same type of video phone conference technology may be employed for offender visitation which would allow the offender visitation privileges with family members seven (7) days a week instead of alternating weekends.