The Grainger County jail is getting safer. The county commission voted Monday night to give the justice center $165,000 for security improvements. It'll to go toward new cameras, cell locks, computers and a perimeter fence. People in Grainger County say it's about time.
A security upgrade prompted by three inmates escaping a month ago.
Grainger County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Charles Biddle says, "It's great! We've been needing that since 2005."
A new perimeter fence will encompass the whole jail with razor wire on top. The fence will not only help keep inmates in, it will keep contraband out. Chief Deputy Biddle says, "There's nobody out there now, and there aren't any cameras. Nothing! A deputy has been out there before and caught them throwing things in broad daylight."
These new cell locks are part of the package. It's a system that displays a red light when the door is unlocked, and inmates can't reach through the pie hole and jam the locks. A new computer system will operate those locks and the intake computer, plus new security cameras will be installed throughout the jail. Chief Deputy Biddle says, "It will make our jobs easier. We can actually see what's going on."
People who live there think the improvements are a long time coming.
Byrtle Range says, "It needs to be done, but it should have been done when they built the jail."
Chief Deputy Biddle tells me the improvements should be finished within two weeks. When everything is installed, we'll go back to Grainger County and show you the new security measures to keep inmates in and drugs out.
The inmates who escaped are being housed in Jefferson County until the new lock systems are in place.