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Prosecutions move on unabated

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Jail crowding not consideration for now

By Damon Lawrence

Despite the overcrowding problems at the Roane County Jail, District Attorney General Russell Johnson said it will be business as usual for his office.
“Obviously, that’s in the back of our mind as we work,” Johnson said about the overcrowding. “But we’re not going to change anything until we have a meeting that results in some significant policy change.”

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The jail has a certified capacity of 174 inmates.
The population was 194 when Tennessee Corrections Institute inspector Denise Messer inspected the jail on July 2. She recommended the jail be certified with a plan of action.  
“The county has to look at all their options,” Johnson said. “We’re willing to work with them anyway we can.”
The plan of action is supposed to be presented to the TCI Board of Control for approval on Sept. 4.
Roane County Executive Ron Woody said one of the steps could be the formation of a jail study committee. The committee could be formed in the coming weeks, he said. 
While he wants to work with the county, Johnson said he doesn’t want to take a softer stance on incarceration.
“We don’t want to compromise the integrity of the criminal justice system and what it means to commit a crime,” he said. “Just because we don’t have a place to put them, we’re not going to say, ‘OK we’re not going to put anybody in jail.’ We can’t take that approach.”
The county has faced this issue before. In fact, it was overcrowding that prompted construction of the current jail, which has been open less than four years.
Some of the solutions mentioned by Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton to the overcrowding problem include construction of a workhouse or addition to the jail.