State recommends Roane Co. Jail decertifcation

KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Roane County Jail can hold 172 inmates - 32 women in a separate womens' pod, and the rest men. On Tuesday, there were 192 prisoners.

"I've seen a lot of mats on the floor. It don't look like there's enough beds in there," said David Olson, who was visiting someone in jail.

Deputies said that's not unusual. Overcrowding is a big problem. In fact, the number of inmates reached more than 240 in February. The state warned the Sheriff's Office to fix the problem during an inspection in May, but when they came back last week to re-inspect, things weren't any better.

"In the re-inspection, she found defeciencies. And the deficiencies were that we're overcrowded," said Chief Deputy Tim Phillips.

Because of that, the state is recommending the jail be decertified.

"Whenever you face decertification, or if you do get decertified, your insurance companies could possibly come back and ask for a higher premium because of our overcrowding issues and higher liability," said Phillips.

That cost could get passed on to taxpayers. David Olson doesn't think that's fair:

"No, not really - the tax paying part of that," he said.

The final decision about decertification won't be made until September. Until then, deputies will work to solve the overcrowding problem.

Phillips said asking the County Commission for money to build more pods will be a last resort. Instead, they'll work with a state consulting team to see if there are any other options.

The Tennessee Correctional Institute board will decide if the jail keeps its certification during a meeting on September 4.

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