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Home confinement option for jail woes

For years, overcrowding has been an issue at the Lawrence County Jail.

Thursday, August 09, 2001

For years, overcrowding has been an issue at the Lawrence County Jail.

Until a new jail is built, though, it is something county officials are going to have to deal with. Nothing is set in stone, but local leaders are hopeful a new correctional facility will be constructed in the not-so-distant future. The planning of a new jail is already under way.

But in the meantime, what’s the county to do when the inmates outnumber the 52 beds in the current facility? Obviously, criminals cannot be turned loose on the streets because of a bed shortage.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton, Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Walton and commissioners Paul Herrell, George Patterson and Jason Stephens have discussed the possibility of sentencing some non-violent offenders to home confinement. Under the judge’s discretion, some candidates for incarceration would be sentenced to stay at home and tracked around the clock with monitors and/or alarms.

Though this is not the ideal solution for the county jail’s overpopulation issue, it is a temporary alternative. Yes, some offenders would have the luxury of "doing their time" in the comfort of their own home, but by the same token they would not have the same liberties they would under normal circumstances.

Until the day comes when a new jail can be built, this is an option the county ought to give a lot of thought to. The beds in the jail have to be reserved for those who are a threat to society. If the jail is not full of violent offenders, however, the low-end criminals can still do their time in the "big house" rather than their own house.