The Lawrence County Jail may soon be filled again. Not with prisoners from Lawrence County but with prisoners from surrounding counties.
Since reopening the Jail in February of 2010 the inmate population has decreased dramatically in Lawrence County. Prior to Sheriff DeLay ordering the closure of the jail due to severe safety concerns and deterioration of the facility, it was not uncommon for the 54 bed facility to run between 60 and 70 inmates in daily population. Since reopening, the inmate population has been averaging 20-25 inmates or less.
Sheriff Brad DeLay credits many reasons for this decreased population. Among those include the refurbished jail itself as well as the routines and menu. Inmates brought into the facility are immediately dressed out in a bright pink one piece jumpsuit. Once taken into the main holding area the inmates are then greeted by an equally pink jail cell, day room and hallways. Once they have been settled in, they must become accustomed to oatmeal for breakfast, bologna sandwiches for lunch and beans and cornbread for dinner, seven days a week.
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It is the responsibility of the Lawrence County Jail to hold those persons prior to, during and after their court appearances. Even though they are innocent until proven guilty, they don't have to live like kings on the taxpayer dollar. Sheriff DeLay believes this is one of the primary reasons that the inmate population stays low, because inmates don't like the new routine. He also believes that the work of the Prosecuting Attorney's office as well as the courts has contributed to expediting a lot of the process.
With the reduction of inmates and the budget crunch that faces the Sheriff's Office, Sheriff DeLay is looking for other means to bring revenue into the Lawrence County system. This despite the fact the deputies pay as well as the overall budget to the Sheriff's Office was drastically cut for the second year in a row. Despite this fact, Sheriff DeLay continues to work with the county commission and hopes this can be seen as a positive by the commission and the taxpayers.
Sheriff DeLay expects to house as many as 20 inmates from other counties to bring in revenue. "We have the space, why not put it to good use?" Sheriff DeLay estimates that if those beds are full, the revenue could be as much as $25,000.00 a month in revenue that was not expected. Many of those beds are already full with those inmates and we are expecting more as they become available. Beds will remain available to house inmates brought in by agencies in Lawrence County. if those beds become full, then the Sheriff's Office will not accept inmates from other counties until bed space is available.