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Inmate numbers plummet
Steven Helton.jpg
Steven Helton

Warren County Jail’s inmate population is below bed capacity for the first time in years. 

“I believe this may be an all-time low,” said Commissioner Steven Helton on Thursday. “The population today is 239. Twenty-one of those are TDOC inmates. This is a great number.”

The county’s Corrections Partnership Committee met to discuss jail issues, maintenance, and inmate population.

Helton credits the justice system – specifically judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys – for working together to lower the number of inmates.

Jail capacity is 251 inmates, but the jail had regularly housed more than 300 inmates for years. There were 315 inmates Sept. 12.

“I can’t give enough credit to our justice system for identifying this issue and tackling it,” said Helton. “This is the lowest the number has been in years.”

At this time, the jail is having an issue with its HVAC system

“We had an HVAC unit go out,” said Sheriff’s Department Major Jason Walker. “That happened back before it got down to 7 degrees. With the population being low, we were able to move those inmates. That HVAC also heats the booking area. We’ve had to use little space heaters in booking.”

Placed in the jail’s budget was $50,000 maintenance during fiscal year 2018-19. The fiscal year ends June 30. Helton said he contacted Finance Department director Justin Cotten and more than half those funds have been used, approximately $28,000.

While estimates on the unit repair were not available at the meeting, Walker did say three bids were obtained and they fell below the $10,000 spending limit for a department director so Sheriff Tommy Myers authorized completion of the work.