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Jail passes state inspection

The Lawrence County Jail passed its state inspection this fall, scoring high on 41 out of 42 standards checked, Sheriff Tim Sexton said.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

The Lawrence County Jail passed its state inspection this fall, scoring high on 41 out of 42 standards checked, Sheriff Tim Sexton said.

"We’re certainly pleased with the inspection," said Sexton, who oversees jail operations. "It’s a lot to be said for the corrections department They do well with what they have."

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections does not inspect on all of its 300-plus standards every year. And since the Lawrence jail’s construction in 1974, many standards have been added.

The jail has no room for an exercise facility or room to expand to the square footage now required, for example, but the recent inspection shows it’s meeting as many standards as possible, considering its age, Sexton said.

Inspectors, who visited Oct. 31, notified the county Nov. 20 that they found the only deficient item was the lack of a security perimeter around the entire exterior of the facility – which there is no room to construct one, the sheriff said.

The last jail inspection, prior to Sexton taking office, returned a rating of 6 percent, which prompted work on upgrades this year, he said.

"Serious efforts were undertaken to clean the jail facility, implement and update policies and procedures, and become more fiscally responsible for the taxpayers’ dollars in operating the jail," Sexton said.

The sheriff listed improvements so far as: implementation of a no smoking policy, cleaning and painting of the entire facility, reducing food purchase costs while meeting state minimum standards, implementing new policies with employees held accountable for them; security has been upgraded with the purchase of new radios, a restraint chair, new smoke detectors and a slight increase of the corrections staff.

"The increased staff was hired as a result of efficient spending and responsible management and not from an increased budget," Sexton said.

The sheriff gave much credit to new jail administrator Jeff Lawless, hired in February.

Still, Lawrence County is in a similar position as many other counties – a new jail is needed, Sexton said.

"Our current jail was built 27 years ago and is overcrowded," he said. "With the current economic downturn and budget woes, I’m unaware of any immediate funds available from the state for new jail construction."

However, the county commissioners have met with Department of Corrections officials and architects this year, considering plans. It’s also been surveying available land for a jail.

"We are currently prepared to continue to work to improve our present facility," Sexton said. "Should state funds become available. we will join with the commissioners as an active participant in pursuing such funding."