Roane Co. Jail
Fri July 12, 2013
New Roane Jail Struggles With Overcrowding
This was supposed to solve the problem.
In 2009, the Roane County Sheriff's Department proudly showed off its brand new, $10 million jailhouse to a public weary of fighting about it. The long-awaited opening of the facility followed more than a decade of heated discussion, shuttled plans and warnings that the previous facility was dangerously overcrowded.
Four years later, the county is facing some of the same problems. On a typical day, jailhouse officials say you'll find about 200 inmates living in a building designed for 172. That's a rough average; the number has been known to approach 240 during particularly busy times. Overcrowding is especially bad in the 34-bed women's area, where many of the inmates are forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor. A July 2 inspection by the Tennessee Corrections Institute found the women's area also lacked an adequate number of toilets, wash basins and showers.
As a result of that recent inspection, state officials are now considering decertifying the four year-old facility. Decertification could result in higher insurance premiums, costs that could be passed on to taxpayers who turned down a funding request for the new jail as recently as 2006.
The Tennessee Corrections Institute will meet September 4 to discuss decertification of the facility. In the meantime, Roane County officials say they're working with state consultants to explore alternatives.