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Sheriff Sam Craig Increases Mental Health Opportunities To Inmates

Last updated on Thursday, February 28, 2013

(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Sheriff Sam Craig presented the Commissioner with the annual jail report.

In 2012, Sheriff Craig was able to arrange for a clinical psychologist to come to the jail bi-weekly to evaluate inmates who were in segregation, or who might have mental health issues.

"Regular access to a mental health provider is something the jail had never had previously and so far it seems to be very beneficial," says Bill Johnson, jail commander.

Craig requested the county council Tuesday night to allow him to bring in the psychologist once a week to see inmates.

"It would cost $20,000 a year to do that," Craig says. "But the benefits are well worth the money. I know how some people feel about inmates. But this is something I feel strongly about. They are still people and they need to be able to be treated."

Craig say in September 2012 the psychologist visited with 15 inmates and did 2 mental health evaluations. In November 2012 she saw 41 inmates and did 16 evaluations.

"The program is working and the inmates are getting the help they need," Craig says. "I am also looking at this at a liability issue. If it can prevent an inmate from hurting themselves or another inmate or jailer it is worth it."

The jail was opened in 1990, with a capacity of 88 inmates. The jail double-bunked the facility in 1992, to increase that capacity to 168 inmates.

In 2012 the average daily population was 114 inmates, with a low point of 93 in April and a high point of 135 in June. The average length of stay for an inmate during 2012 was 23.3 days.

"That is quite an accomplishment," Craig says. "In 2011 we were at 135, in 2010 150 and in 2009 162."

Craig credits the reduction in the inmate population to the judges, community corrections and probation programs.

"We are finding other alternatives then just housing prisioners," Craig says.
Craig says it cost the county to house inmates.

"Meals cost between $1 to $1.25 per inmate, per meal," Craig says. "Then you have the cost of housing them and the cost of medical treatment. If the number of population increases then the county would have to look at building another facility."

Other highlights of the report were the following:

In 2012 the top ten reasons for which people were arrested and taken to the jail on charges of:
Failure to appear: 375
Court commitments: 194
Thefts: 179
Petition to revoke probation: 178
Operating a vehicle while intoxicated: 164
Battery: 117
Public intoxication: 105
Possession of a controlled substance: 98
Driving while their driver's license was suspended: 98
Possession of marijuana: 76

In 2012 there were no in-custody deaths and no escapes or attempted escapes.
The jail held one juvenile, who was waived into adult court.

The jail has a disciplinary segregation cell block with a capacity of 4 inmates, 4 medical segregation cells, a padded cell that was completely renovated in Sept. 2007 and a holding tank with a rated capacity of 12 inmates.

The following programs and services are available to inmates at the jai: GED classes, a literacy program and college correspondence classes. These programs are offered once a week.

A variety of religious services are available and offered several times a week. Volunteers conduct and oversee these programs.

Inmates can also become trustees. These inmates do various jobs inside the jail, including working in the kitchen preparing meals and doing laundry.

Inmates who qualify, may participate in the Pathways to Recovery program. This program covers numerous life skills, including education, finances and substance abuse counseling. There are also AA and NA meeting held at the facility.

The Jail contracts with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for medical treatment of inmates. The doctor visits the jail weekly and is on call 24-hours a day. There is also a full-time and part-time nurse on staff.

In 2012 the jail staff acquired a TASER and all the staff was trained and certified to use it. They also acquired 2 electrical stun belts, to be used for jury trials when visible restraints are not permitted and for high risk transports. The department also acquired new handcuffs, shackles and transport belts to replace worn out equipment.

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