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Jail inmate numbers on decline
Warren County Jail
Warren County Jail

The inmate population at Warren County Jail continues to drop and plans for a smaller expansion have begun. 

The county’s Corrections Partnership Committee met to discuss jail issues and was informed of a population of 269 inmates on Tuesday, which is 18 over the capacity of 251. 

The number of inmates at last month’s meeting was 286. For the past few years, the number has been in excess of 300 inmates.

According to committee chair Steven Helton, the dip is probably a collective effort between Warren County Sheriff’s Department, McMinnville Police Department, the two judges, Public Defender’s Office, and the District Attorney’s Office.

“I think this issue has been brought to light and everyone is doing their part to correct the problem,” said Helton. “It has been a team effort to reduce the population at the jail and it is working.” 

Sheriff Tommy Myers reports vandalism is down and recreation time is being used as a reward system to modify bad behavior.

Myers, County Executive Jimmy Haley and Upland Design architect Allen Hill have been working to reassess the current housing needs at the jail.

The county had earmarked $6.5 million for a jail expansion, but actual bid estimates came in nearly $2 million over that amount. That caused county officials to rethink construction plans.

The county is now evaluating preliminary designs to add about 30 beds.

While the number of jail inmates has decreased, correction officers are on the rise. A review of the department’s budget by Finance Department director Justin Cotton designated enough additional funds to hire two. Myers stated those two positions have already been filled, bringing the total number of correction officers to 36 and providing the jail with nine on each shift. 

The preliminary jail design will be presented for committee and full Warren County Commission consideration once it is complete.