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Cheatham County Commission approves new jail facility following jail brawl

Posted at 10:54 PM, Apr 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-15 23:54:41-04

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn (WTVF) — After a violent fight inside the Cheatham County jail partially due to overcrowding the county will be getting a new jail.

The vote was unanimous, Cheatham County Commissioners voted in favor to start the process for a new jail facility. They will consider options to build either out of the back of the current jail or place the new jail on property acquired across Sycamore street.

People at Monday’s night’s meeting said the process was long overdue.

“It's time that we move forward ya'll, we got to get a new jail for these inmates, if not, somebody's going to end up dead,” said Theresa Brown.

Brown is advocating for new jail for her nephew who served time in Cheatham County and was badly injured inside the facility.

“This has been about a seven-year battle for me; I am so glad that it's over with, I cannot tell you how happy I am,” said Brown.

The County believes a new jail will address the overcrowding issues.

“The crowdedness, that's what causes the riots, that's what causes arguments and fights and everything else; you can’t cage a bunch of people in like a bunch of guinea pigs,” said Heather Butterworth, a former inmate.

Just last month the Sheriff pointed to surveillance video to show that overcrowding at the jail contributed to a big brawl.

Butterworth says she's seen it firsthand; she was arrested last week in Cheatham County on a domestic charge.

“When I got moved to the holding cell they put six other women in there; and it was so crowded that I was laying in front of the toilet, every time a woman had to use the bathroom I had to cover my face,” Butterworth said.

Funding through the county's property tax will pay for the facility which could add a minimum of 250 beds. It will also include a sally port and lock-down cells.

“The jail would be more secure, where they're not able to take shoestrings and pop the locks and get out or an inmate get upset and kicks a door and the door goes wide open,” said Brown.

People here says it's a safer alternative for the guards and the inmates.

“I understand they're inmates but they're still human beings,” said Butterworth.

The County will start looking for an architects, engineers and consultants to begin the design process and evaluate the overall cost for options. They hope to have that completed by July.