Sheba Turk / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- Thursday marked a major milestone in the construction of a new Orleans Parish jail.

Officials say it will play a major role in transforming the city's criminal justice system.

The flag was raised in front of the newly completed structure, which will eventually include inmate housing, an intake and processing center and an administration office.

The old facility was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, but officials came back better than before with state of the art technology for monitoring the 1200 inmates that it will be able to accommodate.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman stressed that once the new jail is finished, all of its operations will finally be consolidated into one facility, and that has not been the case in the past.

'It's kind of a crazy thing. Jails ought to have one way in, same way out. Unfortunately right now we operate currently with about eight facilities. We used to operate with about 11 or 12 facilities and different ways out, different ways in. This really isn't the way to have a jail,' Gusman said.

'What we are talking about is an opportunity to really reduce the operational costs for the long-term citizens of New Orleans. This is not about beds. This is about operational long terms costs and making a safer environment for the inmates and employees that work there,' said Jerry Hebert with Grace & Hebert Architects.

Gusman said he expects the new jail will be completed by February next year.

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