Louisiana is considering the sale of prisons and the closure of an inmate isolation unit to cut costs during difficult budget times, reports the Advocate in Baton Rouge. “Everything has to be put on the table,” state Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said yesterday. In the past week, the corrections department made $1.2 million by selling a piece of property that was used to distribute newborn cattle. Also for sale: 2,000 acres on the Mississippi River near Hunt Correctional Center.
The sale of two other prisons could net the state $70 million. The state is grappling with heavy financial problems. The Jindal administration is in the midst of trimming the $25.5 billion state operating budget to absorb a $108 million deficit from the fiscal year that ended in June. In the fiscal year that starts next summer, the shortfall is expected to be at least $1.6 billion. Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater instructed state officials to submit plans for reducing state spending by 35 percent in the upcoming budget year. At the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, some inmates are housed in a unit known as CCR near the prison's front gates. CCR is an isolation unit that has been home to inmates such as convicted serial rapist Jon Barry Simonis and, more famously, the Angola 3, a group of prisoners who sued the state for keeping them in solitary confinement.