(BEDFORD) – Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham released his annual jail report Tuesday morning during the commissioners meeting.
The jail was opened in July 1990 at 1420 I Street. At the time, the facility housed 88 inmates. The Security Center was then double-bunked in 1992, increasing the capacity to 168. The indoor recreation room was converted to dorm housing in 2016 to increase the capacity to 180.
The Security Center houses a disciplinary segregation cell block with a capacity of 4 inmates, 4 medical segregation cells, a padded cell (renovated in 2007), and a holding area with a rated capacity of 12 inmates.
From Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 21, 2020, there were 1,580 inmates processed into the Lawrence County Security Center which averaged 4.3 bookings per day. There were 1,618 inmates released from the Lawrence County Security Center during the same time period. From Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019, there were 2,016 inmates processed into the jail which averaged 5.5 bookings per day. There were 2,001 inmates released during the same time period.
The 2020 average daily population was 142 with a low point of 104 inmates in April and a high point of 182 in March. The average length of stay for an inmate during 2020 was 33.7 days. Compared to the 2019 average daily population of 158 with a low point of 130 in February and November and a high of 198 in July. The average length of stay for an inmate in 2019 was 28.8 days.
The substantial reduction in arrests and average daily population from 2019 to 2020 is attributable mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts that were made by the Courts, Prosecutor’s Office, and Public Defender’s Officer. Their goal was to reduce the population at the jail of non-violent, low-level offenders in the beginning days of the pandemic. The reduction of offenders was also contributed to efforts made by the local police department. They made all efforts to strive towards a reduction in booking numbers by issuing citations, rather than taking low level, non-violent offenders to jail.
There was one in-custody death in 2020, however there were no escape attempts reported. Sheriff Branham also reported the number of juveniles held in the facility during 2020 were zero.
The Security Center submitted claims to the Indiana Department of Corrections totaling $84,425 for holding IDOC offenders and parole violators during 2020. The lump-sum payment for sentenced Level 6 felons for 2020 totaled $223,839.96.
The Security Center held an average of 10 IDOC offenders per day in 2020.
The Lawrence County Security Center submitted claims to IDOC totaling $11,480 for holding IDOC offenders including Level 6 felons during 2019. The Security Center held an average of 13 IDOC offenders per day in 2019. The IDOC stopped paying per diem for Level 6 offenders in July 2019, opting instead to pay counties an annual lump sum for housing Level 6 felons.
Listed below are the top ten reasons why a person was booked into the jail during 2020:
- Meth: 341 (Possession of Meth – 308, Dealing Meth – 33)
- Operating a vehicle while under the Influence: 281
- Failure to appear: 281
- Marijuana: 219 (Possession of Marijuana – 206, Dealing Marijuana – 13)
- Battery: 196 (Domestic Battery – 109, Other Battery – 87)
- Petition to revoke probation: 182
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: 177
- Resisting Law Enforcement: 127
- Unlawful Possession of a Syringe: 122
- Theft: 98
Listed below are the top ten reasons why a person was booked into the jail during 2019:
- Meth: 420 (Possession of Meth – 344, Dealing Meth – 76)
- Petition to revoke probation: 3 53
- Failure to appear: 282
- Marijuana: 269 (Possession of Marijuana – 258, Dealing Marijuana – 11)
- Operating a vehicle while under the Influence: 243
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: 239
- Battery: 182 (Domestic Battery – 79, Other Battery – 103)
- Unlawful Possession of a Syringe: 180
- Resisting Law Enforcement: 166
- Public Intoxication: 154
On-site programming was suspended in March 2020 due to general restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, as well as unwillingness from volunteers to come to the Security center for programming. Programming will resume when it is safe to do so.
The Security Center has an “inmate work” program, utilizing low-risk inmates for various jobs inside the Security Center, including working in the kitchen preparing meals, doing laundry, and general cleaning. There are eight inmates who work a combined 50 hours per day, every day. If Security Center staff had to be utilized for these tasks, it would cost the county an additional $752.50 per day or $274,662.50 per year, based on starting jail officer’s pay.
The Lawrence County Security Center contracts with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for a physician and, as of October 2019, a full-time and part-time registered nurse. The physician comes to the jail weekly and is on call 24 hours a day. The Security Center has a licensed clinical social worker through Advanced Correctional Healthcare who visits the jail weekly to treat the mental health needs of the inmates.
The Security Center has a need for additional storage space for the paperwork that they are required to keep. The paperwork continues to accumulate at a considerable rate. There is also a need for additional room for other materials which officials need to keep on hand, such as inmate uniforms, shoes and bedding materials.
In addition to the need for more storage space, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased usage of the Security Center’s video court technology.
“We currently have one room with video court equipment, and three local courts using the video court system on an almost daily basis, as well as other counties occasionally requesting use of the system,” Sheriff Mike Branham wrote in his report.
The Lawrence County Security Center is the only facility that is in operation 14 hours a day, seven days a week and is beginning to show its age as it has been in continuous operation for 30 years.
- Deterioration of the concrete ramp leading to the upper level of the public entrance to the building.
- Poor drainage from the top of the ramp and entryway area, allowing as much as 2 inches of water into the lower level lobby during periods of heavy or prolonged train
- Parts for security doors within the Security Center are becoming increasingly difficult to find (motors) and are very expensive due to having to custom fabricated (relays).
In late April/early May 2020, the Security Center elevator broke down. The elevator is another piece of equipment that is in use all day, every day for the last 30 years. Parts for it are difficult to find. The decision was made by the county to completely replace the elevator control panel and all associated equipment. The work on the elevator was completed in July 2020.
The Lawrence County Security Center is currently understaffed by 6 officers. This was determined per a jail staffing analysis conducted by Bill Wilson.