Lawrence County Council approves transfer for the public defender’s office

LAWRENCE CO. – The Lawrence County Council approved a $20,000 transfer to help pay for contract court-appointed public defenders.

At the present time, there are four full-time public defenders and two part-time public defenders.

Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Bruce Andis

Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Bruce Andis updated the Lawrence County Council on what the responsibilities are for his office, and how they are working with the county’s Judicial Review Committee in keeping the jail population down and making sure their defendant’s cases are moved quickly through the court system.

In other business the council:

  • Approved a $1,412 transfer requested by Lawrence County Health Nurse Mary Kinser from unused travel expenses to be used to purchase vaccines.
  • Approved Judge Bob Cline’s request for a transfer of $6,000 in funds for the quarterly bonus pay for court personnel.
  • Approved Sheriff Mike Branham’s request to transfer $9,700 for the purchase of Chronos timekeeping system to link their Spillman system with the county payroll.

During the county council meeting, Sheriff Branham advised them that a large amount of overtime was used due to staffing shortages. The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department has one officer in-field training, one is at the law enforcement academy, two have recently been hired and one more is set to be hired.

The council also approved Sheriff’s Branham’s request to hire one correctional officer and one dispatcher. These two requests are to replace openings that are already budgeted for.

Sheriff Branham also gave council members an update on jail numbers, as well as information on how the various government agencies and departments addressing issues in regard to keeping the jail population down.

Jail numbers are concerning at this time and the sheriff anticipates those numbers will increase due to the summer season. The first quarter average population for the jail was 147.

The group on the Judicial Committee consists of judges, public defenders, community corrections, sheriff’s department, probation, and mental health partners in addressing issues within our criminal justice system.