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State inmates hike up jail roll

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By Damon Lawrence

State inmates are contributing to the overcrowding problems at the Roane County Jail, which has a certified capacity of 174.
A July 2 inspection conducted by the Tennessee Corrections Institute noted that the population was 194.
However, the population would have been 176, just two over capacity, without the 18 state inmates in custody that day.
Dorinda Carter, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Correction, said it’s common for jails to house state prisoners.
“Inmates are housed in county jails prior to being admitted to TDOC, or in some instances they will serve their sentence locally,” she said. “We try to move them as expeditiously as possible on a space available basis, but there is always a considerable number awaiting transfer.”
The TCI has directed the county to come up with a plan of action.
“If you look at the female counts, that’s really where there was a concern,” said Lance Howell, deputy director of the TCI.
The jail was built to hold 32 women, but had 42 when it was inspected on July 2.
TCI inspector Denise Messer noted in her inspection report that toilet and wash basin ratios for females was not being met due to overcrowding.
“That’s where the standards call for a plan of action because of the fixture ratio deficiency,” Howell said.
Five of the women in jail on July 2 were state inmates. When asked if it’s normal for the TCI to ask a county to put together a plan of action when a jail is overcrowded by just five or 10 inmates, Howell said, “It’s not up to us.”
“They’re overcrowded based on the standards,” he said, of the Roane jail. “How do you put a determination on it? That’s going to be a question, I guess, for our board of control.”