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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines


LAWRENCE COUNTY - NOVEMBER 22, 2022 - In July 2021, RQAW was hired to by Lawrence County Commissioners to study the existing jail facility, and future space needs and how those might be accommodated with a new facility.

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

The current jail has the capacity to hold up to 180 inmates. The jail population was increasing over the last ten years, and according to the study is expected to increase over the next 20 years. The jail is considered full at 144 inmates.

The Lawrence County Jail has seen the high as 204 inmates back in 2018 and projections of reaching population of 300 in the future.

There were several factors that indicate the jail population will continue to rise at the time. The number of processed inmates has increased, due to drug crimes, and domestic abuse.

The length of stay has increased over the last eight years.

However, during the Lawrence County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham reported the lowest jail population he has seen in 31 years.


TOTAL COUNT - 91 - 46 percent capacity

MALES - 72


LEVEL 6 - 5

DOC - 6

Note: Lawrence County Sheriff reported a total jail population of 86 during the Lawrence County Commissioners meeting today. However, the numbers released did not reflect the total. Therefore, we used the numbers he presented today as the total. This week the sheriff reported a total 75 inmates at one time this week.

" In my 30 years I have never seen the jail population under 90," said Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham.

However, the Lawrence County Commissioners wanted the sheriff to communicate we have not stopped making arrests. " We are still making arrests but, efficiencies in the justice system have made this possible to which I will let Judge Bob Cline speak about," said Branham.

Lawrence County deputies continue to work criminal cases and make arrests and have no bearing on why the jail population is down.

Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline

" Repeat offenders will be sent to the Indiana Department of Corrections, but those who have just made a mistake we use house arrests, and other things, to get these people back on track," said Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline.

" I can share that 100 percent of those sentenced to be in prison need to be in prison," said Cline. The revolving door of repeat offenders are being addressed in the Lawrence County courtrooms.

Due to the population decrease the county has seen a reduction in food costs which has led to a surplus, among other savings to the county according to Sheriff Branham.

The longest person that has been lodged in the Lawrence County jail has been housed there since July 6, 2021 and is awaiting sentencing. 12 other inmates have been housed for approximately six months.

The Lawrence County Justice system has been finding ways to make the more efficient, making sure people that belong in jail and are a threat to the public are there, But cooperation among the Lawrence County Prosecutors office, Lawrence County Public Defenders, and Lawrence County Superior Court Judges John Plummer III, Judge Bob Cline have proved to be working.

Greg Day, Lawrence County Sheriff' elect told the Lawrence County Zephyr previously that the county officials now need to be looking at making improvements out of the existing jail to extend the life from the facility.

These will require some expenditures to the taxpayers, but this will be pale in comparison to the $35 Million dollar in hard costs of building a new correctional facility with an actual cost of $46 Million.

All of the officials report they will be working to make sure the public safety is a priority and at the same time making sure the taxpayers also are considered in cost reduction and efficiency.

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