Lawrence County Jail near capacity

BEDFORD – Sheriff Mike Branham reported the jail was at 91 percent capacity this morning with 164 inmates.

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Sheriff Mike Branham

“Two years ago at this same time we were at 136 inmates,” said Sheriff Branham. “In October of this year, we had a daily average population of 166, and that is high. This month we are averaging 167 and that could go up or down a little bit.

Today there were 127 males, 37 females, 1 Level 6 felon, and 11 Department of Correction holds.

Sheriff Branham said DOC has been slow with picking up inmates, but he sent an email today to help resolve that issue.

The sheriff has also applied for a $55,853 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The grant is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to states and units of local government. Sheriff Branham says the funding if granted will be used for training and to update the policy and procedure manuals for both officers and jail staff. The officer manual was last updated in 2006 and the jail manual was last updated in 2013.

Sheriff Mike Branham released the 261-page feasibility study by RQAW Corporation on November 9, 2021. Sheriff Branham asked the commissioners in May 2021 to conduct the study to assess whether the county should build a new jail or add on to the current building.

“With the current overcrowding issues and the age of the building, which is more than 30 years, we are facing numerous maintenance issues and they are developing more and more,” said Sheriff Branham before the study began. “My term is almost up and I don’t want to leave this to the next sheriff to deal with. I feel it is my duty to look at a feasibility study to build a new jail or build on. We need a plan.”

The cost of the study was $7,000 and is required by state law.

“A lot more work needs to be done and I want a group to take an in-depth look at the report to see what we can do and come back with recommendations,” Sheriff Branham added.

The group will meet after the first of the year and Sheriff Branham would like a commissioner to be on the committee.

The commissioners will discuss who that will be and address the issue at the next commissioners’ meeting.