County should act quickly on jail conditions

Published 10:31 am Friday, November 29, 2013

Recent articles in The Tribune indicate that the Lawrence County Jail is still grossly out of compliance with state regulations. As attorneys who represent Lawrence County residents in cases against the jail, we have seen the effects of these safety violations on real people. Our cases involve the jail’s failure to treat obvious medical needs of inmates.

We have learned through our cases that inmates smoke in the jail, posing a serious risk of fire that could potentially result in a major tragedy for Lawrence County.

Jail overcrowding is not just a matter of county finances. It can be a matter of life and death when there are too many inmates and not enough staff to ensure that the safety and medical needs of inmates are met.

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Our clients sleep on the floor, wait too long for medical treatment that often never comes, have zero privacy and zero programming. We have cases all over the state.

Lawrence County is one of the worst jails we have ever seen. One recent settlement included a commitment to upgrade substance abuse treatment.

That is good but not enough.

The status quo at the Lawrence County Jail cannot be maintained. The county must act swiftly and decisively to prevent further harm to Lawrence County residents.


Jennifer Branch

Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA, Cincinnati