A closer look at the current condition of the Lawrence County Jail

Lawrence Co Jail
Lawrence Co Jail(KY3)
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 10:16 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Voters across the Ozarks will head to the polls next week.

In Lawrence County, taxpayers will be asked for more money. It would build and operate a new jail and sheriff’s office.

These funds will be in addition to the already 1/2 cent sales tax collected to keep deputies on the streets.

“The taxes, to my knowledge, are only for whatever needs to be upgraded.,” said Janice Johnson.

She, like many other voters in 2017, approved the sales tax increase necessary to keep her community safe.

“The county used up all the reserve funds. They were running out of money to fund the sheriff’s office. So they proposed that sales tax to support the sheriff’s office,” said Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay.

He explains that only a small portion was earmarked for the jail.

“Some monies would be put aside for a new jail or renovation to the old jail. Obviously, at this point and time there’s no way you can renovate this jail,” he said.

The jail has been in operation since 1986. Sheriff DeLay took us on a tour of the current facility and told us about the condition. He showed us the current booking area. The ceiling tiles and the roof are falling.

“It’s just not a safe place to work,” he said.

We also were shown one of the holding cells.

“It’s old. It’s outdated,” explained DeLay.

We moved on to the female inmate section of the jail.

“When this was originally built this was another office area,” he explained. “It wasn’t even designed to be a jail.”

Sheriff DeLay took us to the jail’s control room.

“We have upgraded the technology. This used to be our 911 center,” he said.

That room also has ceiling and roof leaks.

He showed us the visitation area.

“You can see it’s not really a great area for visitation for inmates or their families,” said DeLay. “It’s coming down to a safety issue for the jailers, for the inmates, and quite frankly for the public.”

Johnson says that although she’s already paying a law enforcement tax she supports the need for more money.

“If they’re saying the jail needs to be upgraded I say let’s do it,” she said.

If you buy $20 dollars worth of goods, 3/8 of a cent would add up to an additional .075 cents. Once the building costs are paid off that tax will drop.

If approved, as much as $1.2 million dollars a year could be collected. The total cost of the project is between $15 and $18 million dollars.

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