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  • Bill Raines

Lawrence County Justice Study - A Closer Look

By: Bill Raines

Lawrence County Zephyr

LAWRENCE COUNTY - (November 28, 2021) - In July 2021, RQAW Corporation was hired by the Lawrence County Commissioners to study the existing jail facility and future space needs and how those might be accommodated with a new facility.

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

The primary focus of the study was to focus on adult detention and evaluated 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 ten years, with a projection that the jail population will continue to increase over the next 20 years.

The average life span of correctional facility is approximatel 20 years, with the current jail being constructed back in 1990.

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

Indiana House bill 1006 has also contributed to demands and jail population with the housing of Level-6 inmates in the jail facility.

The facility has seen a high as 204 inmates back in 2018 and projections are to see the population as high as 300 inmates.

Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham has asked for a committee of three people including one person from the Lawrence County Commissioners to sit on the committee and to look deeper into the study. The committee will convene after the first of the year.

Lawrence County Zephyr will look into the study and provide Lawrence County residents some of the information contained in the report from Lawrence Circuit Court Judge Nathan Nikirk, Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge John Plummer, Superior Court II Judge Robert Cline, and Juvenile Referee Anah Gouty.

Those who contributed to the study include Lawrence County Commissioner Rodney Fish, Wally Branham, Dustin Gabhart, Mike Branham Sheriff, Gregg Taylor, Chief Deputy, Kyle Foddrill, former Lawrence County Jail Commander, Dan Bush, Maintenance Director, Chad Shew, Director of Community Corrections, Nedra Brock- Fleetwood, Chief Probation officer, and Sam Arp, Lawrence County Prosecutor.

Lawrence County Zephyr will look into the Lawrence County Justice System from crimes statistics, and look into the county's justice system.

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