Sheriff: Jail Overcrowding Is A Safety Issue - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Sheriff: Jail Overcrowding Is A Safety Issue

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Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews
Tim Davis, jail administrator Tim Davis, jail administrator

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Drug use is a major contributor to over crowded jails across the state, according to an agency that oversees jails.

Tennessee Corrections Institute officials said a high percentage of crimes are due to drug addiction. As drug-related arrests increase, facilities such as the Putnam County Jail remain packed.

Sheriff David Andrews said, on average, the jail houses around 300 inmates. The facility was built for 252.

"We're just not designed for that," Andrews said.

In the women's section, a scarcity of beds is a major concern. Right now, a unit for 20 women houses 30.

It is also crowded for the male inmates.

"It's a packed," said jail administrator Tim Davis. "We need something to alleviate this problem."

In one area where there 48 beds, there are 60 inmates so 16 sleep on the floor.

"The more people, the more work you have, the more medical problems, supplies," Davis said. "Your budget goes up. The amount of people that goes to court goes up All the way around it hurts."

Andrews wants help to make sure his 46 correction officers have the manpower they need.

"Even at 252, eight correction officers per shift, on a good day, the correction officers are way outnumbered," Andrews said. "I think it is a safety issue."

Andrews said two of the eight correction officers on duty can't leave their post no matter what happens. Two or three other officers could be out of the jail, transporting inmates to court or other counties.

The Tennessee Corrections Institute oversees the state's 130 city and county jails. They said every jail is dealing with the overcrowding issue.

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