Breaux Bridge – The Breaux Bridge substation of the St. Martin Sheriff’s Office, serves as a rehabilitation center of sorts.
The sheriff’s office has several programs in place working to reduce the recidivism rate, or the rate at which offenders repeat their crimes.
The G.E.D. program is offered to all inmates, but isn’t mandatory. The program helps inmates prepare for re-entry into the community.
The process begins when an inmate shows interest in getting a G.E.D. The inmate is tested to find his beginning grade level. Inmates attend class, taught by other inmates, twice a week. After attending class for six to eight weeks, the inmates are tested again to find their new grade level. Once a certain grade level is reached, a pre-G.E.D. test is administered. Students who score high enough on the pre-G.E.D. test the actual G.E.D. test.
The current G.E.D program is new. “It is still in its beginning phases,” said Major Robley Picard, warden of Corrections II, “We started it in October of 2010, and since then we’ve had 11 participants graduate and earn their G.E.D.”
Earning a G.E.D. gets an inmate not only a diploma, but good time credits as well. It takes 180 days off of their sentence. It also counts toward certified treatment and rehabilitation credits.
Another program of the sheriff’s substation deals with road crew trusties.
Upon arrival, an inmate can apply to be a trusty. The sheriff’s office then runs a complete criminal history, a background check, gets medical history and past disciplinary history while incarcerated. After careful scrutinizing, if the inmate fits the criteria, he is classified as a trusty.
The sheriff’s office decides what job the inmate will do – work in the kitchen, on cleaning staff, on maintaining some of the buildings or equipment, or on the road crew.
The goal of the substation is to rehabilitate the inmates who serve time there. It prepares them for life outside the compound walls by giving them skills they may not have had when they walked in.
“It’s a corrections facility,” said Picard, “not just another jail.”
The sheriff’s substation’s purpose is to keep criminals off of the streets. However, its goal is also to reduce repeat offenders and to send inmates back into society with the ability to succeed.
The substation holds state and federal inmates, exclusively, for non-life threatening crimes. State inmates have been convicted and are serving out their sentences there. Federal inmates are awaiting trial.
The substation, on average, houses about 50 federal and 170 state inmates.
The Sheriff’s Office, is paid per diem for each inmate by the state and federal government, lessening the burden on local (parish) tax payers.