Jefferson County Justice Center Opens


Jefferson County's long awaited justice center is finally open.
The $16 million dollar courthouse and jail has been in the works for more than three years.
Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford got to take a peek inside the brand new jail.
The inmates aren't moved to the new jail yet, and there are currently 145 of them in the old 50 bed facility.
The new jail has 188 beds and room for more, if needed.
If you live in Jefferson County, every penny of the $16 million dollar facility is coming from you, but the Sheriff's Department says the money they'll save on overcrowding lawsuits will end up saving you money in the long run.
Bud McCoig, the Jefferson County Chief Deputy says, "it's something that this community can be proud of;That we spent their money wisely."
The Jefferson County jail is going from housing 50 beds to 188.
That's opening new doors at the Justice Center in more ways than one.
McCoig continues, "we can just smile that we have a place that we can sit down, meet the public and serve them better."
The inmates are separated into six different pods, 30 beds in each, that Chief Deputy McCoig says they'll never leave unless they go to court, just down the hall.
"They will eat their meal, be served from our kitchen, state of the art kitchen and their exercise area is connected to each pod."
Inmates won't even get out to see their visitors in person.
"They will see who they're visiting with on this monitor."
State of the art visitation centers that the Sheriff's Department says should eliminate incoming drugs.
McCoig says, "they'll sneak drugs, contraband, weapons. We've charged several in the last month just trying to get drugs into a prisoner."
What advice does he have for other counties struggling to replace dilapidated jails?
"Work together with all the parties involved to work out all the bugs and see where you're going to get the money from and just one step at a time, and don't give up."
The center is also home to Circuit Court, Sessions Court, Juvenile Court and all their offices.
Monday was the first move-in day of many this week, and they're not sure when the entire center will be up and running.
The mayor is proposing that the 150 year old courthouse in Dandridge be turned into a museum with archives for tourists.


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