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Sheriff to revamp policies

Plan of action needed for jail issues

The state department of rehabilitation and corrections has asked that Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless immediately present his plan of action for correcting deficiencies at the jail that were reported during the state’s inspection.

“The plans are currently 30 days overdue in our office and should be submitted without delay,” states the letter that was on the agenda of the Lawrence County Commissioners meeting on Thursday. “It is not necessary to have completed corrective action to submit action plans. You are merely establishing evidence of a good faith effort to resolve identified problems.”

Lawless said, however, he responded when he first received the inspection report via email.

“I responded within the time frame about correcting our policies,” he said.

The sheriff said he would respond a second time in a written letter.

The report focused on the jail’s deficiencies following an inspection in July. In September the state reported that the facility was able to comply with 23 out of 117 standards.

Most of the violations concerned policies out of compliance following a change in state standards. The two-day inspection was the first following major changes in the standards that affected a variety of policies.

“We can clean up a lot of the deficiencies by revamping our policies,” the sheriff said.

However there were 14 violations that focused on the actual building.

“The structural deficiencies we can’t without a new building,” he said.

Recently the county commissioners declined to take the state up on its offer to use a 100-bed unit in the new defunct Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility as the county jail.

An ad hoc jail committee created to build a new facility hasn’t met in about a year. The only apparent way to fund construction would be through a voter-approved levy, which none of the commissioners support.

To keep the jail census down to 52, the top number the 1970s building is supposed to house, Lawless transports inmates out of county.

On Thursday there were 44 inmates in the county jail; one in Scioto County; one in Butler County; and 26 in Morrow County.

Typically 30 are housed in Morrow and 42 in Lawrence.

On average the sheriff’s office averages 2,500 miles a week transporting prisoners.