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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Indiana Department of Corrections Stacking up inmates in county jails across the state

LAWRENCE COUNTY - AUGUST 1, 2023 - Lawrence County Sheriff Greg Day appeared before the Lawrence County Commissioners telling the commissioners that the Indiana Department of Corrections inmates are keeping the jail counts higher.


Photo: File Photo


Lawrence County Council members asked Sheriff Day whether the Indiana Legislators could help get the Indiana Department of Corrections to act faster to which Sheriff Day replied " we do not want to upset them, and try to have a good relationship with them, we do not want a bad jail inspection,"


What makes the situation worse is this could cause safety issues due to inmate classifications. The inmate classifications are needed based on the type of security needed for each inmate.


The Indiana Department of Corrections told the Sheriff a couple weeks ago that they picked up their inmates in May and the county is 38th in returning to the Lawrence County jail.


Jail Inmate Counts:

  • Total inmates - 137

  • Males - 104

  • Females - 33

  • Department of Corrections - 20

  • Parole - 3

  • Level - 6 Inmates - 14

The county justice partners have worked to keep jail numbers below 100 between the Prosecutors office, Public Defenders, County Sheriff, Judges, and Probation officers.


However, since the Department of Corrections policy changes this have impacted county correctional facilities throughout the state. Sheriff Day did not elaborate on what the policy shift was.


Photo: Lawrence County Jail


Indiana Legislatures only give county jails $35 a day to hold the state inmate population. These costs do not cover the full cost to hold the state inmates.


In addition, a justice study released in July 2021 from the RQAW Corporation in which the Lawrence County Commissioners hired to study existing jail facility and future space needs and how those might accommodate a new facility.


The primary study was to focus on adult detention and evaluate the future needs of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department.


Currently, the Lawrence County Jail has the capacity to hold up to 180 beds. The jail population has increased over the last 11 years, with projections that the jail population will continue to increase over the next 20 years.


A lot of the jail population is petition to revoke and failure to appear warrants issued by judges for criminals who fail to comply with the terms and conditions of their probation.


Drug crimes, and drug related along with domestic violence crimes have led to longer average length of stay which caused the jail population to increase.


In Judge Cline's court recently an inmate have been jailed for several weeks waiting on evidence to presented in order to get the inmate through the legal system as well as the county jail.


Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Cline has been trying to stay on top of length of stay of the inmates, and get them out of the county jail system.


The county jail system is for short term holds and not to house inmates for long periods of time.


Indiana House Bill 1006 has contributed to the demands and jail population with the Housing of inmates in the jail facility. Last, year legislatures have given Judges discretion on whether Level-6 inmates remain in the county jail or moved on to the Indiana Department of Corrections.


A jail committee was formed to further investigate the need for a new jail facility, however that committee has not reported to the Lawrence County Commissioners in public meeting since the study was released.


The Justice partners prefer a Lawrence County Justice Campus which all the justice partners are all in area together.


Plans originally called for a new jail to be constructed on Beech Street near a retail and residential area in the City of Bedford. No plans have been released on how much it would cost to renovate the existing facility.


The new jail facility will cost approximately $60 million in the life of the bonds that will be needed to include the new jail facility. The cost of a complete justice campus was not reported in the jail study.


There will have to be increase in the current Public Safety Local Income Tax and a bond issued to cover the costs of building a new correctional facility.


Lawrence County Commissioner Rodney Fish, Wally Branham, former Sheriff Mike Branham, Commissioner Dustin Gabhart, former Chief Deputy Gregg Taylor, former Jail Commander Kyle Foddrill, Chad Shew, Lawrence County Chief Community Corrections Officer, Nedra Brock - Fleetwood, Chief Probation Officer, and Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II.


For breaking news, news and information go to lczephyr.org or like/follow the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


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