Details regarding Warren County Jail’s last certification inspection have been revealed.
The state inspected the jail at the end of June. Rather than a blanket recertification, a follow-up inspection was scheduled for the end of August to allow time for staff to make improvements on issues found.
Tennessee Correctional Institute’s Detention Facilities manager Bob Bass says there more than 400 standards and the jail failed to pass less than five.
“In other inspections, we noticed there were a lot of issues with lights that need to be repaired, showers that need to be repaired and then, of course, you were having trouble meeting square footage ratios,” said Bass. “I want you to be cognizant of the fact that there are 437 standards, thereabouts. You got written up on three or four, a handful. That’s an amazing turnaround from what we’ve seen in the past.”
The jail has been under a Plan of Action by the state for several years. The plan, which outlines areas that need improvement, included the need for additional staffing, improved safety for officers, increased recreation time for inmates, updated computers, positive reinforcement with inmates, and bed space.
Bass believes the jail will be approved for recertification by TCI’s Board of Control after the second inspection because items on the Plan of Action have been completed.
“I don’t speak for them, but I think they are going to work with me,” said Bass. “You are making too many improvements here and accomplishing items. That’s measurable progress.”
Due to improvements, Bass says a new Plan of Action will be written.
“What we are going to be doing is looking at phase one and phase two,” said Bass. “My suggestion is you think in terms of that. Phase one is fixing all the internal components in this jail that’s broke. Let’s fix this part first.”
Phase two will involve discussions on additional bed space, if the jail’s population continues to be an issue.
“There’s a possibility that you may not have to,” said Bass of an expansion. “That’s a real possibility if we can get these numbers down. I think that’s being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. We hope you don’t have to build out. That’s still a possibility.”
The jail needs to be at 85 percent capacity in order to allow proper classification of inmates. On the day of this meeting, July 24, the jail had 262 inmates. Capacity is 251.