Jail Population Continues to Climb

(BEDFORD) – Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham told the commissioners on Tuesday morning that if the jail population continues to climb, officials will see the number of incarcerated inmates in the 200s by summer.

Sheriff Mike Branham

As of Tuesday morning, there were 162 inmates in jail. Of those, 124 were males, 38 females, seven Level 6 felons, four Department of Correction holds and one parole violation.

“Numbers are still higher then the should be for February,” says Sheriff Branham. “On Monday we had 172 inmates. If this continues, we will see numbers over 200 this summer.”

The average daily population in January was 166 with a length of stay at 29.7 days.

Sheriff Branham says numbers would be a lot higher if it was not for a new law.

State lawmakers ultimately decided they didn’t want people sitting in jail just because they couldn’t afford bail.

Criminal Rule 26, which set Indiana’s new pretrial release protocols, was adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2017 but it didn’t take effect statewide until Jan. 1, 2020.

The new system requires that inmates be released on bond or recognizance unless they present a “substantial risk of flight or danger to themselves or others.” It also mandates that an evidence-based risk assessment be used to help make that determination.

“It’s allowed a number of low-risk offenders to be released instead of sitting in jail for days or weeks because they can’t afford a bond or they appear in court,” Sheriff Branham added.

Sheriff Branham reported several repairs have been made at the jail.

The elevator that is used to transport meals to inmates from the kitchen in the lower level of the jail to the cell blocks was not working.

The jail spent $4,000 to replace an electronic board. They were then told they needed to keep backup parts on hand or they could face several months waiting for parts. Sheriff Branham is seeking prices for those needed parts.

The dishwasher was also repaired at a cost of $2,000 for parts. Sheriff Branham praised the maintenance crews who installed the parts, saving the department labor costs.

In other business:

Tim Morrow was given permission to use the Lawrence County Courthouse lawn on President’s Day for the reading of the Constitution.

Russell Wilson, a Marine Corp vet, spoke to the commissioners and praised Veteran’s Affair Officer Brad Bough. Bough helped with filing a VA malpractice lawsuit. Russell suffered a spinal cord injury in 2011 and had surgery at the VA in Indianapolis. Doctors put a screw in his spine which has since shifted. Russell had a second surgery on June 4, 2019. During that surgery doctors broke off the screw and left the remaining piece inside him. Russell now lives in constant pain but refuses to take addictive pain medications. The VA is refusing to do anything to correct their mistake.

The commissioners appointed Jo Ellen Brinegar to replace Janie Craig Chenault on the Redevelopment Commission.

Lawrence County Highway Director David Holmes

Lawrence County Highway Director David Holmes says the beams have been set on Bridge 121 on Williams Silverville Road. The deck will be poured this week.

Highway crews continue to cut brush, repair culverts and do ditch work and replace street signs that have been stolen or damaged.

Holmes will meet next week with INDOT and CSX railroad officials on the progress of bridge 150 on Mill Creek road. The bridge is part of a federal aid program.

Valerie Luchaeur

The Emergency Management Mobile Command Center air conditioner was repaired by Roots RV.

Emergency Management Director Valerie Luchaeur reported the backup antennas are up at the jail.

“If we lose our tower, we now have these antennas in place,” Luchaeur said.