Grainger County Commissioners get update on extent of jail inadequacies


RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) The Grainger County Commission heard first hand from the District Attorney General about the conditions of the jail that three inmates were able to escape from earlier this month.

District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn took questions from the commission as to where his investigation into the escape stands at this point. While Dunn wouldn't go into great detail about who he was investigating, it was clear that several areas grabbed his attention.

Dunn said he wasn't going to point any fingers at anyone when commissioners asked him about the status of the Sheriff, or if he might face any type of criminal charges as a result of this investigation. In fact, he wouldn't give a lot of detail about his investigation because it's ongoing.

Commissioners were also given an idea of how much it might cost to start fixing the jail.

The estimated bill to replace the cell door locks, computers, cameras, and install a fence around the perimeter stands just shy of $165,000.

It's a bill many members said they are ready to spend now to get the jail up to minimum standards. However, it drew some criticism from other commissioners who wanted to know exactly how those tax payer dollars are going to be spent.

District 1 Commissioner Wendy Noe said she wanted to see a breakdown of how the money will be used so that they know exactly where the money is going.

Chief Deputy of the Grainger County Sheriff's Department, Charles Biddle, also addressed the commission. He said the jail has four or five cell doors without locks, even though there are inmates being held in those cells.

He also said there was one cell door that doesn't open at all because the lock is broken. However, he said he's confident of everyone's safety because the jailers are aware of the problems and are keeping a close eye on those specific cells.

All commissioners agreed that the money needs to be spent, but it was exactly when to spend it that brought about some disagreement. They elected to vote on the bill at its next meeting, December 9th.


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