New Jail, Part 2
Overcrowding & Decertification
|In New Jail, Part 1, we covered
much of the background on the process thus far on relieving the supposed
over crowding at the county jail and possible options that have been
discussed. Now let's look more closely at the actual facts about jail
over crowding and decertification.
It's safe to say that it would be great if Loudon County could have a brand new, state of art, public safety and judicial system facility with up to the minute technology and security. Unfortunately, we just can't afford that at this time without putting a great financial burden on Loudon County tax payers.
The main driver behind the idea of a new jail is over crowding and the threat of decertification. Is it likely the jail would be decertified? You decide.
The Tennessee Department Of Corrections puts out monthly reports on all jails in the state. The monthly report provides a last day of the month snapshot of the jail populations in Tennessee. There are 117 listed jails. Of those, 9 have been decertified as of the end of December but are still operating.
The report is as of the end of each month populations and fluctuates from month to month. The report lists TDOC felons, local felons, other felons, federal and other, convicted misdemeanors, pre trail felony and pre trail misdemeanors. It also gives current population, number of beds and how many inmates to beds available and how over or under the jail is for inmates to beds. Let's look at the last report for Loudon County.
According to the December 2014 TDOC report there are 117 local jails on the list. This is just county and city facilities. This does not include any TDOC, state prisons, facilities. Aside from the 9 decertified jails on the list, there are 39 jails or 33% of the jails listed as over their bed capacity. This included Loudon County. 14 of the jails listed as over their bed limit, 14 are a higher percentage over their bed space than Loudon County.
Loudon County's bed capacity is listed as 91. In December we had 13 prisoners more than our 91 bed limit or 104 inmates. Let me reiterate, this is just one day in one month. There have been higher and lower months.
Of those 104 inmates, 19 are misdemeanor arrests waiting to go to trial, 42 are felony arrests waiting to go to trial, 26 are serving time for misdemeanor convections, 9 are convicted felons sentenced to serve their time in our jail and 8 are convicted felons housed in our jail for the Department Of Corrections, TDOC.
Of all those numbers, the most interesting are the last two. Convicted felons should be wards of TDOC but because the state prisons are so crowded, the state will pay local jails to house state inmates. The per day payment is $37. According to the Loudon County Trustee report, last year, Loudon County collected approximately $145,000.00 from the state to house their prisoners.
In December the jail was 13 inmates over our 91 bed limit yet we were housing 16 state paid felony inmates. Would/could the state decertify our jail with much of our over crowding being state inmates? In December we also had 42 inmates in jail awaiting trail for felony arrests and 19 inmates awaiting trial on misdemeanor arrests. Finally, there were 26 inmates serving their time on misdemeanor convictions.
As I said before, these numbers go up and down monthly but this gives a pretty good picture of where things stand. The question is, if over crowding is a significant issue are there ways to reduce the over crowding conditions without bankrupting the county or forcing tax increases on the tax payers.
Currently, tax payers are already spending $8,261,051.00 per year on law enforcement, corrections and the judicial system. That's half of the county general fund budget and the second largest expenditure behind education.
In the next article, New Jail Part 3, we'll discuss possible options to address jail over crowding that could be an alternative to big tax increases.