Jail population almost at capacity, inmates battling COVID

BEDFORD – The Lawrence County Jail is at 87.2 percent capacity and now dealing with a 1/3 of the inmate population suffering from COVID-19.

“We went 18 months with not one case of COVID,” said Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham in the commissioners meeting Tuesday morning. “Unfortunately, the other shoe has dropped and a 1/3 of our inmates have the virus and we have not yet completed testing. I am sure that number will increase by the time we finish testing everyone.”

Currently, there are 157 inmates in the jail, of those 132 are males, 25 are females, two Level 6 felons, one Department of Correction hold, and two parole holds.

“Two years ago at this same time we had 152 inmates incarcerated,” Branham said.

Sheriff Branham says they are taking the steps to keep the virus from spreading.

“The jail is almost at capacity, and we don’t have a medical unit,” he added. “It’s difficult.”

Inmates were and are offered the COVID vaccine.

“Only a handful would take it,” added Sheriff Branham. “We then offered incentives, extra funds on their commissary account. Several agreed to take the vaccine but at the last minute changed their minds. Only about 10 percent of the jail population are currently vaccinated.”

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