Jurors attend state convention

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SHREVEPORT — Parish leaders from across the state joined together to hear ideas on many of the state’s problems at the Louisiana Police Jury convention Thursday-Saturday.

Jury members Willie Dunbar, Joe Parker, Jimmy Jernigan, Jerry Beatty, Carey Cook and president Melvin Ferrington attended the event, bringing back with them new information on different areas in the parish.

Ferrington had to leave the convention early due to a family emergency.

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Jernigan said there were different committee meetings that each could attend.

“There were a lot of different and interesting committees that met,” he said. “It was a good experience and a good turnout.”

Jernigan said he attended meetings on juvenile justice in Louisiana’s parishes, and learned a lot from his encounters.

“The main topic of discussion was prison care for juveniles and how the jails are overpopulated,” he said. “There is so much crime going on, every parish is having the same problem, and not just with juveniles.”

Jernigan said juveniles who cause problems only have so many places where they can be housed in the state, and that those spaces are running out.

Jernigan said he learned it costs approximately $300 a day to house juvenile inmates, and that forces many parishes into funding things they can’t afford.

“The costs are killing us, especially the medical costs,” he said. “When prisoners get to jail you have to take care of them, and with the overpopulation and rise in juvenile problems, that is eating parishes up.”

Jernigan said he also attended a meeting on highways, in which jury members from all over Louisiana where given news they did not want to hear.

Jernigan said the state announced they were planning on giving 5,000 miles of highway in the state over to parish control, leaving maintenance costs up to the governing body that controls them.

“The juries can’t maintain what they have in most parishes, and they really can’t handle what the state is wanting them to take over,” he said.

Jernigan said the state planned on getting the roads up to higher specifications before turning them over, but most juries in attendance had no intentions of making the switch.

“There was a big meeting among the juries and they said they would be totally against parishes taking in any state.”

Jernigan said Gov. Bobby Jindal also attended the conference as a guest speaker and gave an update on the state.

“He mainly talked about the economy and how we can get people to stop from leaving the state,” he said. “He gave some good examples of new industries in northern and southern Louisiana that have created new jobs and allowed people to stay.”

Jernigan said the conference was a success for all that attended.

“We were able to go and learn about some new things to help our parish,” he said. “That is always a good thing in my eyes.”