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Jail hire request substantially reduced

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

dlawrence@roanecounty.com

Eight full time and four part time.

Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton said that’s how many additional employees he thinks it might take to operate the county’s new jail.  

“We’ve done assessments, walkthroughs and looked at every angle about making the housing pod safe for the inmates and also the officers,” Stockton said. “That would probably be a minimum number that we would need to make it safe.”

The county must now figure out how, or if, to fund the 12 positions in what officials have said will be a tight budget year.

“That’s a number that we can probably deal with,” said Commissioner David Currier, chairman of the sheriff’s liaison committee. “Twenty-three wasn’t.”

Currier and other officials were taken aback when Jim Hart of the County Technical Assistance Service said he concluded the sheriff’s office would need an additional 23 employees to run the new jail.    

“I think now that they’re seeing what’s going on, and they’re closer to moving in, they’re really seeing that they don’t need that many people to keep everybody safe,” Currier said.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to operate the new jail as safely and economically as possible,” the sheriff added. “The taxpayers are already out a lot of money to house inmates.”

The county borrowed nearly $10 million to build the new jail. The 172-bed facility is expected to open sometime this year. Projections are late spring or early summer.

“I think that if we manage it properly, eight full time and four part time will get us through until the population maxes out,” Stockton said.

Stockton said he’s currently housing between 100 and 110 inmates a day in the old facility. His projections on the number of additional employees for the new jail did come with a caveat, however.     

“If we go over 150, then I have my doubts about having enough people to run it adequately,” he said.