Inmates moved after heating system breaks, causing freezing conditions in Nashville jail

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Posted at 4:15 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 00:00:37-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Think about this: Our temperatures have been below freezing since last Thursday. Imagine if you had little or no heat in your home since then?

That was the reality for some inmates in Davidson County - some of who said they felt like they are locked up in a cooler.

The Davidson County sheriff confirms there is a heating problem at the Maximum Correctional Center there off Harding Place.

A heating unit went down, and they are waiting for a replacement part. Things break, that happens, but the issue here is what is being done until that part arrives.

"It's wrong for the way they are treating them," said Nicole Scales.

Her son is among the 300 or so inmates at the Maximum Correctional Center. She is one of several family members who reached out to NewsChannel 5 about the issue.

They are convicted felons and her son is freezing.

"He just said it was really cold in there and the sinks and toilets have frost on them," said Scales.

Those toilets are metal and, if moist with frost, bare skin making contact can actually freeze to the toilet.

"I worry about him getting frostbite," said Scales.

The sheriff says one of two heating units in Pod O went down last week. A part is on order, but has yet to arrive and, of course, since then the temperatures have dropped significantly in Middle Tennessee.

Scales says she spoke with her son again on Tuesday morning and was told they gave inmates three blankets and a jacket, but it was still freezing. The facility did not bring in any portable heating units for the pod.

Scales says her son did wrong and is serving time, but he - like all the other inmates - should not be exposed to such cold. She says they weren't given hand warmers.

"This is inhumane to treat people like that and something needs to be done," said Scales.

For now, the hope is that the replacement part arrives soon. But in the meantime, all inmates in the MCC unit were assigned alternative housing.