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.