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Published 10:09 am Tuesday, August 9, 2016

More out-of-county jails needed to take local prisoners

As out of county jails fill up with their own prisoners, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is searching for other places to house its inmates.

“We are trying to reach out to every jail for space,” Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “We are hoping we find something.”

Right now the sheriff’s office has contracts with Scioto, Morrow, Shelby, Knox, Huron, Butler and Mercer counties.

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“Morrow is still taking, but not taking the volume,” Lawless said. “Their population is up. Butler hasn’t taken any in over a month. They are full, but they’re in the Cincinnati area and you’d expect them to be full.”

The others either can’t take any more inmates or only one or two at a time.

On Monday morning the sheriff needed space for 15 prisoners.

“We are trying to expand our base, but have no takers,” he said.

For the past year Lawless has deliberately kept the jail census down to the low 40s to meet state mandates.

“Today is the first day it has crept above 52,” Lawless said. “I hope the number will be down by this evening after court.”

However, even if the sheriff would find a jail to take inmates, that jail would expect a contract to be in place first.

“We would have to wait for the next commissioners’ meeting,” he said. “It wouldn’t help the immediate problem like today. We are still talking about seven to 10 days before it would start.”