Overcrowding continues at county jails

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The backup of state inmates into Tennessee county jails will continue despite the opening of a new prison in Bledsoe County.

According to The Tennessean, there are nearly 5,000 felons being housed by counties. Some will be moved into the new Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville, but its capacity is 1,540 inmates.

The newspaper reported more than half of the state's 109 local jails have more inmates than beds and that some hold more than twice the number for which they are certified.

Counties that build new jails find they fill up quickly. Carter County opened its new 296-bed jail in June. By the end of October, only 18 beds weren't occupied.

Overcrowded jails risk decertification, put counties at greater lawsuit risk and increase insurance costs.

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