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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Jail Count Rise to 135 inmates as Indiana Department of Corrections make changes

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JUNE 20, 2023 - Lawrence County Sheriff Greg Day told the county commissioners that the jail counts now have risen.


The Indiana Department of Corrections has changed its transport arrangements which is not working well, as well as for sheriffs across the state.


" Half of the DOC prisoners were sentenced last week but is now taking longer to get the prisoners transported to the Indiana Department of Corrections," Day noted.


Inmate Counts:


Males - 111

Females - 24

DOC - 11

Parole - 3

Level - 6 - 17



With the increase in inmates Sheriff Day reports the jail is having some maintenance issues.


There are issues with the elevator, sallyport door, and exit and entrance doors.


A recent justice study in calls for the construction of a new jail facility as the 1990 jail has met its life span. Lawrence County Commissioners have two jail studies that call for the construction of a new jail and justice center for Lawrence County.


Former Sheriff Samuel Craig had a jail study conducted that was ignored by the Lawrence County Commissioners at the time, and Former Sheriff Mike Branham had a jail study completed in July 2021.


The new jail will have a final cost of close to $60 Million excluding a proposed Justice Center that will have courts, probation offices and public defenders' offices on one campus.


The Lawrence County Justice Study was completed in July of 2021 at the request of the Lawrence County Commissioners.


Below is a copy of a news story on the Lawrence County Zephyr that was featured in July 2021. The Lawrence County officials and legal teams have been working to keep the jail population down.


The study of the existing jail and set to identify the immediate needs and future space needs and how those might be accommodated with a new facility.


This report will look at the current jail and issues surrounding the current correctional facility.


Over the last 15 years, Lawrence County's population has remained relatively constant, decreasing only slightly from 46,203 to 45,496. There is no indication that the county's population will decrease significantly in the next 20 years.


The jail population though has been increasing with a rated bed capacity of 180 beds, which 144 dedicated to males and 36 are dedicated to females.


The jail is considered full when the jail population reaches 144 inmates. During a recent Lawrence County Commissioner meeting the jail population was at 164 inmates with 127 males, 37 females, 1 Level - 6 felon, and 11 Department of Correction inmates.


This left the jail at 91 percent capacity. The population over the last several years has been consistently over the classification threshold of 142, and there were several months in 2020 when the average daily population was above the capacity.


There are several factors that indicate the jail population will continue to rise. The number of processed inmates has increased over the last several years due to drug crimes, drug related crimes and domestic abuse. These offenses have led to longer average length of stay.


The length of stay in the last eight years is increased to 47 percent.


There has also been a total of 15 level six Department of Correction inmates who have been housed in the facility over the several years. This is in part due to Indiana State legislatures passing House Bill 1006.


Female offenders have also increased over the past ten years, with only 36 dedicated beds to females. In 2000, it was rare that even 12 female beds were needed during that period of time.


The Lawrence County Jail constructed in 1990 for 88 beds with the operational capacity of 70 beds. The jail was double bunked in 1992 to increase the bed count to 168.


Correctional facilities see deterioration after 20 years due to several factors which include inmates abuse the facility and being open 24 hours.



There are plumbing fixtures, doors and locks, HVAC equipment some of the components become obsolete and are no longer manufactured. Therefore, parts are customed made parts and are very expensive to replace.


According to the report the challenges that have been presented will be best accommodated with a new facility and cannot be remedied through additional renovations.


A proposed construction of a new facility will have a hard construction cost of $35, 063,819. The construction and Occupant Related soft cost are not included in the construction costs and could range from 25 to 35 percent of the hard construction costs.


Those soft costs are associated with financing, design services, furniture/equipment, and staffing and operational costs. These costs can add $7.3 Million to a estimated cost of $42,427,220. The bond issues will have the final costs close to $60 Million by the time the final payments are due.


In accordance with House Bill 1006 Lawrence County sent letters to each surrounding county in regard to building a regional jail. This included Brown, Jackson, Greene, Martin, Monroe, and Orange Counties and did not respond and a regional jail was not analyzed in the study.


Note the Greene County Jail was just recently renovated, and Jackson County discontinued their juvenile detention center to house adult inmates.


The surrounding counties have a net available bed count of 440-450 beds available. The data projections indicate that the jail population over the next 20 years may be high as 300. This will require inmates to be transported to other surrounding jails.


Proposals for the repurpose of the current jail once a new facility is built would be for other detention type projects like work release. Although repurposing the jail for Community Corrections can provide future expansion capabilities there will be operational challenges and maintenance issues that will need to be addressed.


In addition, there will be significant construction costs associated with a project like this due to existing construction and other upgrades required.


The location of the jail would be prime real estate for demolishing the facility and making the area ready for new development.


Note: The study is only a proposal, and no decision has been made at this time.


The justice study has just been recently released to the public with the public able to look at the proposals and results of this study.


Former Sheriff Mike Branham has asked the commissioners to form a committee of three to look at the issue further.


No other information has been released on the committee findings following the recent recommendations or where the county commissioners stand on moving on with the recommendations.


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


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