• Bill Raines

Lawrence County Justice Study - Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge John Plummer

LAWRENCE COUNTY - (November 30, 2021) - The Lawrence County Zephyr is continuing its coverage on the Lawrence County Justice Study requested by the Lawernce County Commissioners.

Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge John Plummer III

In today's feature, we look at the Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge John Plummer perspective as it relates to the justice system in Lawrence County.

Tomorow we will look at Lawrence County Circuit Court Judge Nathan Nikirk into the Criminal Justice Study.

Superior Court I Judge John Plummer III, in his reply to the study noted that there is a very significant drug problem in Lawrence County which is driving up the jail numbers up. Inpatient treatment options exist in some cases which has allowed the court to place qualifying inmates into rehabilitation and reduces the jail population on a pre-trial basis.

"There is an unfortunate disconnect and poor working relationship between the local courts and county council due to a long-standing separation of powers issue that the county council struggles to understand," said Plummer.

According to Plummer " despite significant efforts over the years, the county council seems reluctant to fully address the low pay of court staff despite the results of a fairly recent study supporting raises when compared to other counties of similar size,"

It should be noted in his statement this was conducted prior to the Lawrence County Council passing the pay raises in the 2022 budget cycle.

" It would be beneficial to all if the county council would try to work with the judges, not against them; this would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of certain criminal justice issues within Lawrence County," noted Plummer.

Judge Plummer looks to alternative programs to incarceration which include pre-trial releases like house arrest, with daily and weekly reporting.

In Lawrence County alternative courts have been established which included problem solving courts such as Domestic Violence Problem Solving Court which is the first of its kind in the State of Indiana, and Problem-Solving Court - also known as the Drug Court in Lawrence County Superior Court II.

Recently, a Veterans Court has been established to help those who serve in the military.

Another issue that was concerning it was noted a local deputy public defender failed to meet with his clients before court and causing delays. This public defender lived over four hours away.

The cooperation between both the Lawrence County Council and the courts have improved since the survey was last taken.

It should be noted that Lawrence County spends over $8 Million a year in the local criminal justice system. The grants and programs implemented by the local justice system from community corrections, probation and other pre-trial programs have saved the county significant amount of money.

Without the pre-trial programs currently in place the cost of justice system will be significantly higher according to data.

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