Changes underway at Grainger County jail; family defends jailer

Changes underway at Grainger County jail; family defends sheriff's son

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A perimeter fence has been installed and workers continue to put up razor wire. A perimeter fence has been installed and workers continue to put up razor wire.
Twenty new cameras have been added and 16 cameras have been upgraded. Jailers will soon be able to watch the blind spots in the jail on a monitor. Twenty new cameras have been added and 16 cameras have been upgraded. Jailers will soon be able to watch the blind spots in the jail on a monitor.
"You could drive all the way around the building and back there it was completely dark. There are no lights and that's why we had so many problems with windows being broke out," said Chief Deputy Charles Biddle. "You could drive all the way around the building and back there it was completely dark. There are no lights and that's why we had so many problems with windows being broke out," said Chief Deputy Charles Biddle.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

RUTLEDGE (WATE) - Changes continue at the Grainger County jail one day after five former jailers were arrested and charged with official misconduct and other offenses, some relating to the November escape of three inmates.

The changes at the jail are visible from the outside. The area behind the facility used to be wide open.

"You could drive all the way around the building and back there it was completely dark. There are no lights and that's why we had so many problems with windows being broke out," said Chief Deputy Charles Biddle.

Biddle says they had problems with contraband being dropped off to inmates through the broken windows.

"All they had to do was run to the window and put their drugs or whatever in the window. You couldn't see them even on camera because there were no lights on back there," he said.

Chief Deputy Biddle says with new security measures in place, that activity has not been occurring.

A perimeter fence has been installed and workers continue to put up razor wire.

Holes have been drilled to install additional security cameras, getting rid of blind spots in and around the facility.

"It's just a matter of installing the camera, and we'll have two cameras on this wall, one this way one that way. They are infrared night vision and on the backside where we had so much trouble, there will be two extra cameras installed there," said Biddle.

Twenty new cameras have been added and 16 cameras have been upgraded. Jailers will soon be able to watch the blind spots in the jail on a monitor.

The cameras are expected to be installed within the next couple weeks.

In addition to the fence, a guard gate has been installed. To gain access, people will have to have a key card or check in with the guard.

"Hopefully it will be done in a week, I hope, but they've got to install the keypad, the electric wires in the keypad and the camera," said the chief deputy.

New electric locks are also supposed to be installed within the next couple weeks. Biddle says he feels the facility is 100 percent more secure.

Chief Deputy Biddle says he hasn't had any problems with inmates since the escape, but 20 inmates went to other facilities to be held.

Once the new security measures are complete, he says the inmates will return to Grainger County. They will then house a total of 100 inmates.

Jake Layel's family stands by his side, county mayor responds to charges

Family of Jake Layel, Sheriff Scott Layel's son, are sticking by him, saying he is innocent.

Sheriff Layel has not yet responded to 6 News' multiple requests for comment. We even stopped by his home, but there was no answer.

When visiting Jake Layel's residence to get his response to the charges, we discovered he wasn't home, but his grandfather Lowell layel came to the door.

We asked why the sheriff wasn't answering reporter's questions.

"Well he's sick for one thing," said Lowell Layel, who is also Sheriff Layel's father.

He says he can't respond to his constituents about the arrests because "every time he tries, they fight him down."

Lowell Layel says his grandson hasn't been treated fairly.

"It's been killing me. I know my son. I know my grandson. And I know they aren't guilty of nothing."

Grainger County Mayor Mark Hipsher says arrests were expected, but he was surprised to learn details about the charges.

"The sexual charges, I didn't have any expectations of anything like that. Some of the other, I had an idea maybe it was going on because even before the raid in November, we had a lot of vandalism going on in the jail," said Mayor Hipsher.

According to the assistant jail administrator, all corrections officers have to complete basic training within the first year they are hired.

Each year thereafter, a minimum of 40 hours of additional training is required.

To reduce the chance of more problems in the future, the assistant jail administrator wants to increase the required amount of training for the department.

The mayor says more training would be beneficial.

"They need to be trained for that position. In the past, some have been sent to work with no training, and that is being corrected now," he said.

The mayor says with additional guard training and new cameras, locks and fences, the jail will be more secure.

The mayor expects all building security improvements to be completed by the end of this month.

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