In two separate inspections this year, the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) found Roane County Jail inmates packed into the facility, far beyond its official capacity. The inspection reports noted a shortage of wash basins and toilets, especially in the women’s section of the jail. For a jail built only four years ago to alleviate overcrowding, the threat of decertification loomed large.
However, a plan of action drawn up by county officials has delayed that option, at least for another year. Meeting in Nashville today, the TCI Board approved the plan that directs Roane County officials to examine various options, some of which could result in alternative probation and incarceration strategies.
Officials in Cocke County weren’t as fortunate. The Cocke County Old Jail, located on the third floor of the 83 year-old county courthouse was denied certification by the TCI today. The jail, which houses mostly female inmates and trustees, has been plagued with problems for years, including an inmate population that can exceed twice the jail’s recommended capacity.
Across the street, the much newer Cocke County Jail Annex was spared decertification today when authorities produced a viable plan of action to deal with overcrowding.
When the TCI decertifies a facility, it opens up that particular county to an increased risk of liability, criminal charges and higher insurance rates. In some extreme cases, a court can even order a county to build a new facility.