Elayn Hunt Correctional Center celebrates 40th year

Darian Graivshark
Celebratory cake at the Elayn Hunt open house January 29.

To celebrate their 40th year in excellence of public safety and corrections, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center hosted an open house.

The open house took place on January 29 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. It was an opportunity for both previous and new employees to come together and celebrate. A few of those who celebrated were past wardens of the correctional center, including the one who began it all: Ross Maggio, Jr.

The biggest challenge when I first started to open the center was getting the support of the community. I went through the extra effort to hire local people, though. Once I did that, I really started to get the community's support,” Maggio said.

Maggio was previously a warden of Angola prison, and had about seventy-five employees that followed him to Elayn from Angola. Elayn Hunt Correctional Center originally began with a staff of 500 employees and 800 permanently assigned beds for inmates.

I was always really strong on discipline. Even some of the inmates that transferred here wanted to go back to Angola to get away from my discipline at Elayn,” Maggio said.

Since Maggio has retired, he rides horses, plays a role on the Board of Directors for Landmark Bank in Louisiana, and even has a farm. On June 1, he will be turning 80.

The Correctional Center has grown of the last forty years, and one new program they have introduced for offenders is called the Transition Program. The Transition Program was a way to focus on changing the behavior of offenders, as well as lessen the amount of write-ups that occurred. Deputy Warden Perry Stagg and offender David Berry are the creators behind the program.

We pair those who are in here for life with those who are transitioning dorms,” Stagg said. “The program lasts forty-five days, and we focus on issues like financial, parental, and substance abuse, to name a few. Our mentors in the program are trustees here.

The program has really made a difference, because a lot of the offenders have someone that care about

them for the first time in their lives. Our mentors are really looking to better the lives of these offenders once they are out in the community again.”

The program originally began in April of 2017, but reforms and improvements were made in April of 2018. Stagg has even presented at a New Orleans National Conference about the Transition Program for other centers that may be looking for ideas on improvements.

Another way the Correctional Center keeps offenders involved is with The Walk Talk Louisiana’s Progressive Prison News Magazine.

Raymond Bender, an offender and the Editor of The Walk Talk, said, “We try to make The Walk Talk different. We try to include things that aren’t just about prison. Sometimes it’s about sports, Supreme Court rulings, or even what’s happening in clubs at the center. I’ll even interpret complicated legal words so inmates and residents can understand rulings in simpler language.”

The magazine is published quarterly, and resident’s in St. Gabriel are able to subscribe to the magazine if they’d like. The magazine gives offenders the opportunity to stay up-to-date on things happening within the community, as well as in the world.

Follow Darian on Twitter @dariangshark.