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Lawrence County Jail Housing Record Number Of Female Inmates
Updated June 17, 2015 7:47 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(BEDFORD) - Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham says a record number of female inmates were being housed in the jail on Friday.

"We had 38; that is the highest number yet," Branham told the Lawrence County Commissioners Tuesday morning. "That had me concerned going into the weekend with that many females being housed at the jail."

Branham says the increase in the women's population is do to increased drug activity.

"I remember back in '91 when we had one block in the jail that would hold 8 women and that was all we ever needed," he added. "The offenses then were an occasional public intoxicated charge or check deception. Now we are holding high-level felons for a much longer time. Many have been bonded out and then re-offend and now don't have a bond and most of the charges stem from drug activity."

Officials were able to move some male inmates to other locations, creating room for the additional female inmates.

"We moved the men around, changed some things and did all we could do and can now house 39 females," Branham says. "But if we have more than 38 we will have some problems."

One solution is to transport the female prisoners to the Orange County Jail.

"We will only do that as a last resort," Branham says.

But doing that will cost the county money - $30 a day - plus any medical expenses and an officer's time to transport the inmate back and forth to court proceedings.

"We have the $30 a day in our budget, but the rest would cost us extra," Branham says.

As of Tuesday morning there were 116 inmates house in the jail, of those 29 were females.

In other business:

Lawrence County Highway Superintendent David Holmes reported crews are finishing up paving in District 1 and will begin paving in District 3 on June 29.

Crews are also mowing in all three districts.

Bridge crews continue to work on Bridge 89 on Guthrie Road over Salt Creek and everything is on schedule.

Crews tore down the old bridge to replace it with a new one. It should take about 70 days to complete the new bridge.

Crews are currently setting the new beams for the bridge.

On Thursdays officials will use a sensor to test the beams to see if the bridge weight limit can be increased. In May officials lowered the weight limit to 16 tons.

"Basically they will place sensors on the beams and test the vibrations caused by different vehicles as they cross the bridge," Holmes says. "Its a new technology and we are hoping to come up with a solution."

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Commissioner Bill Spreen asked Holmes about the Lawrence County Welcome sign, which features the names of astronauts from Lawrence County.

Holmes says the sign had to be removed after the county was contacted by INDOT officials saying it was too close to the roadway after they expanded the highway.

"Now I am just waiting to hear from them on where it can be placed," Holmes says.

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Sheriff Branham reported that the public address systems for the courthouse and courthouse plaza arrived Monday. Crews will now begin installing the system.

The county spent $13,000 which included the cost of both systems.

Sheriff Branham says the wireless system will allow officers to notify courthouse staff and those conducting business in the buildings to weather emergencies, like tornado warnings, or other events, like a possible bomb threat.

The system also includes a message board for those that are hearing impaired.

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Commissioner Bill Spreen asked Sheriff Branham about the wheelchair lift now working at the courthouse.

Because of the numerous problems the company that installed the wheelchair lift had, they are replacing it with a new one at no cost to the county.

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The commissioners signed an agreement with the Lawrence County Growth Council, Crane and Radius Indiana to conduct a land study in Lawrence County.

The agreement allows the group to use the county's geographic information system.

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Stellar officials will hold two meetings about the renovations to the courthouse grounds.

The first meeting will be a contractors meeting on Wednesday at 10 at Bedford City Hall to prepare contractors to submit bids for the project.

The second meeting will be the opening of those bids on June 29 at 3 p.m. At Bedford City Hall.



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