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Sheriff Recalls Infamous Inmates As Jail Demolition Continues

Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 21:26:22-05

As demolition of the Criminal Justice Center in downtown Nashville continued, It was hard not to notice the exposed jail cells refusing to come down.

The project manager said they are in the toughest phase of demolition at the Criminal Justice Center.

David Heflin said, "All the cell blocks were steel cells so breaking them apart  is quite a job. We've got the ball that's hitting that and knocking that down and just ripping them apart." 

 

 

As the wrecking ball destroyed the metro jail, some memories resurfaced for Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall. 

Hall said, "Lives began here and we delivered babies in this building, and we lost lives in that building. It's just had a lot of history for Nashville and it's time to move on." 

On Wednesday, crews were breaking down the steel that at one time surrounded some of the county's most dangerous inmates.

Hall said, "People said there's the 4th floor! I used to be assigned to that floor and there goes the cell that Perry March was in."

We covered Perry March's case back in 1996. He killed his wife, her body was never found. 

Another inmate who was housed here was a man who described himself as a serial killer.

Hall said, "One of them was a man named Henry Hodges that was in for several murder charges and he actually climbed up on the very top and dangled his legs over the side and threatened to jump and spent 4 or 5 hours of negotiations getting him off the side."

That wasn't the only attempted escape that happened at this historic site.

Hall said, "We had some federal inmates on some serious federal drug charges that were housed really on the top floor in the more secure area and we were able to kind of receive some information and we shook down the cells and found some evidence that they were working on having a helicopter land on the roof and to escape and these were serious gang members." 

While the Sheriff said they foiled the elaborate plan, it certainly raised questions about the safety of the jail.

Hall said, "You want to learn from some of that. It was built in 82' and we've learned a lot in the industry about what's safe and secure."

So as memories linger here, Hall hopes the new jail will be better for everyone.

Hall said, "Some folks who have even done time have contacted us and said that building represents a dark time in their life and they've moved on, and that's been good to see as well." 

The demolition was expected to be complete by the end of February. The new jail will remain in the same downtown location on Gay Street and 3rd Avenue. There will also be a Behavioral Care Center at the location. 

The Sheriff is moving his headquarters to East Nashville. The plan was approved and will costs taxpayers 20-million.