Roane County facing big problems after voters turn down new jail

Roane County facing big problems after voters turn down new jail

April 4, 2006

By CATHARYN CAMPBELL
6 News Reporter

KINGSTON (WATE) -- Ten years ago, inspectors from the Tennessee Corrections Institute told Roane County Leaders to build a new jail.

The facility is at double capacity and Sheriff David Haggard says the 32-year-old building is showing its age.

"We've got 57 certified beds and we run an average of 100 inmates on weekends, over 100 inmates a day," Haggard says.

The county spent over $800,000 on property surveys, blueprints and other plans to build a new jail. Construction was scheduled to start on a plot of land just a few blocks from Roane State Community College.

Haggard says voters put a stop to the plans. "I think the issue was the location of the jail. I don't believe it was necessarily the amount of money that it would cost to build the justice center."

A budget of $13.4 million had been designated for construction costs.

The state conducts yearly inspections. The last check was in October, when plans for the new jail were still going strong. Haggard says, "The Tennessee Corrections Institute must enforce what they said, 'The next visit there is no progress made then the jail is going to be decertified.'"

The sheriff believes that means big problems for the county in the future. "Decertification means that you don't meet minimum standards. So, if you are involved in a law suit with an inmate, the inmate has the advantage of going to court and saying that the jail doesn't even meet minimum standards."

Now, the county jail subcommittee will have to come up with another plan.

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