Davidson County sheriff may have no choice but to furlough inmates due to staffing shortages

Sheriff: Staffing shortages make for an unsafe jail
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Posted at 4:07 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 19:28:13-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's an extreme step, but inmates could soon be furloughed from the Davidson County jail.

The sheriff says he may have no choice but to start releasing them early.


He says staffing shortages are getting close to the point where it is no longer safe for the officers who remain.

The sheriff is desperate to the point he's now, for the first time, hiring part-time correctional officers.

But that's not enough to solve his recruiting issues. Without a pay increase to fill out his staff, there's a real possibility inmates will be furloughed.

"You would not want me to do that. I mean there are furloughs. We'll release you until we get staffing. When would that happen? Who knows if we would ever get you back," said Sheriff Daron Hall.

Convicts and criminal suspects set free is extreme.

Sheriff Hall calls it a last resort, but he may have no choice.

This is the worst he's seen in his 28 years with the sheriff's office.

"This is the biggest crisis in my organization history since I've been there," said Hall. "We're not going to put people in buildings if we don't have enough people to do their job safely."

The issue is staffing.

The $20-an-hour starting wage for a full-time officer is no longer enough to attract recruits — and dozens are needed.

Sheriff Hall used to lure officers from the state prison system, but now they make more than the $38,000 paid to his staff.

"We could cherry-pick anyone we want from the Department of Corrections. Historically because we paid more. Better work, better opportunities. We no longer do that," Hall said.

The hope is that the city will now consider approving a proposed 15% increase to what the sheriff can pay. Hall says without it, he won't have the officers needed to properly run the jail. In that case, the option will be furloughing inmates.

"If they don't have the staff to run it, it's unsafe. We'll let people go. We'll go to the judges. If they won't release them, then I'll release them," Hall said.

The sheriff said he has the authority to do that if needed. He certainly doesn't want to, but he won't put any officers at risk because of a lack of staffing.

Hall said he's met with the mayor and is very hopeful that the city will step up to the plate and provide what he needs for the next fiscal year.