C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center's 54 years as a state prison will come to a quiet end when the facility officially closes its doors at 6 p.m. today., reports the American Press in Lake Charles, La. The inmates have been gone for six days, as have the wardens. Weeds have begun to overtake much of the landscaping, and the vegetable fields that surround the medium-security facility have been picked clean and the yield shipped to Angola State Penitentiary.
Most of the 269 employees have left too, save for a few, like Gina Pitre, who stayed on to help shut the place down and help representatives from Angola load equipment. The state closed the prison as a cost-cutting measure. Jimmy LeBlanc, head of the corrections department, said the move will save $2.6 million this fiscal year and $11.85 million over the next two fiscal years. The last of the nearly 900 prisoners who were housed at Phelps were shipped to Angola on Friday, leaving the once-bustling prison yard eerily empty. “You're watching your livelihood drive away basically,” said Marcus Myers, Phelps' chief of security. He said he began working at Phelps at age 19 and has remained there 22 years, currently residing on the prison grounds. “It's terrible, very sad and depressing.”