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Lawrence Co. Jail Replacing In-Person Visits With Video Visits

Visit sign

Photo: Barbara Brosher

The new visit policy will eventually be expanded to the entire jail.

The Lawrence County Jail will replace in-person visits to inmates with video visits because the facility is running out of space.

Signs on the doors of the Lawrence County jail tell people face-to-face visits aren’t allowed for inmates in blocks A through G. Instead, family and friends visit those inmates virtually, using video kiosks in the lobby. They can also schedule video visits from home.

Sheriff Mike Branham says it’s a policy that will be expanded to the entire jail because it needs more rooms for confidential attorney-client meetings. The current visitation rooms aren’t equipped for private conversations and don’t allow attorneys to pass paperwork to clients. So, the jail will convert most of its existing visitation rooms to meeting rooms.

“Those things need to happen and I think it’s doing them an injustice by not giving them access to that in favor of visitation,” Branham says.

Each inmate gets one, free, 15-minute video visit per day. People can purchase additional video visits.

Branham says it’s a policy he didn’t want to implement, but it’s an indication of a larger problem. His jail hit capacity this week.

“At the time we were only organized for 44 beds for women, which means they were sleeping on plastic sleds instead of a cell with a bunk,” he says.

And, more inmates means more meetings between attorneys and clients. The jail will add additional video visit kiosks to accommodate the changes.

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  • lastcamp2

    If we would quit locking up and holding people who don’t need to be locked up, we wouldn’t have this problem. But, instead, we participate in a culture of mass incarceration that results in the US having more people in jails and prisons than any other country in the world, by any metric your care to apply. So much for being the “land of the free.”
    But no, we continue in a criminal justice (sic) system in which you can scarcely get through the day without committing some kind of crime, and if you haven’t you are still subject to being arrested at the unfettered discretion of a cop on whatever pretext can be come up with, e.g. cracked tail light, after which you are subject to be thrown to the ground with a pistol in your ear and a boot on your neck if you don’t kiss the officer’s boots, after which they will search you and your vehicle from stem to stern and then call in the trained bow-wows to see if something has been overlooked.
    And then you run the risk of having something planted just to make sure there is a basis for your being seized.
    So, now, don’t think that you are OK because you “have nothing to hide.” The way through, say, a traffic stop is very straight and quite narrow. Good luck with that.

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