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Sheriff, Mayor Appear Before TCI Board, Commission Evaluates Options in Jail Crisis

On September 6, 2017, Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove, Jail Administer JJ Hannah, and Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver appeared before the board at the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) to submit their plan of action for necessary improvements to the jail.

The ongoing issue dates back to April when many “deficiencies” were noted by TCI. In June, a follow-up inspection was conducted during which the jail was put under a 60-day notice that required the problems to be corrected or a plan of action be submitted.

According to Breedlove, the county’s legislative body has been aware of the jail’s issues since 2014. The County Commission recently contracted both an engineering firm and architectural firm to perform a structural study and needs assessment respectively.

Although the process as a whole may be lengthy, Breedlove states that immediate concerns are being addressed.

A meeting with Bob Bass, CCP coordinator, William Wall, Assistant Director of TCI, and a newly-formed County Corrections Committee met on September 20 to establish the most practical options in addressing the serious issues that face the grossly overcrowded 30-year-old facility.

Bass explained that the purpose of TCI’s role is to assist commissioners in identifying the problems facing the jail, and to help guide them in finding the best solution for Cheatham County. Bass and Wall stated they are currently working with 32 other counties who are going through similar problems.

Over the course of the meeting, many questions were asked by commissioners and lengthy discussions were conducted. All commissioners, however, agreed that the current jail has to be expanded or a new facility has to be added. An in-depth study will be requested by the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) to project what the county’s specific needs are for additional jail space both now and in the future.

Mayor Kerry McCarver presented a three-option proposal for the commission to study: adding a 200-bed addition to the existing facility, building a new criminal justice facility off-site but within the city limits, or building a separate 200-bed jail along with keeping and renovating the current 116-bed facility.

At the time of this article, there were 165 inmates being housed in the jail, causing continuous security concerns for both staff and inmates.

The next presentation/discussion is set to take place during a special-called Cheatham County Commission meeting scheduled for October 12 at 6 PM; the public is invited to attend.

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