The Cheatham County Commission will discuss ways to address its overcrowded jail at a Wednesday, April 10 workshop, County Mayor Kerry McCarver said.
The commission will try to decide between expanding the current facility and building a new center on a recently acquired property adjacent to the jail. The three-lot property is located on Sycamore Street “all the way back to Ruth Drive and Oak Street,” McCarver said.
“The land gives us options to build a jail on the property or if the commission decides to expand the existing jail, the property would be used for parking,” he said in an email.
The open meeting will take place at 5 p.m. in the David McCullough Room at Sycamore Square.
The jail administration has run into a variety of issues because of the number of inmates and the age of the facility. Most recently, a fight broke out between multiple inmates on Tuesday, March 26. At the time, there were about 190 inmates in the jail, which has a capacity of 116.
The latest population is back down to about 170 but “that is still 54 inmates more than the facility is approved to house,” McCarver said.
The search for a new jail began when the state of Tennessee threatened to decertify the county’s jail if there is not an attempt to solve the overcrowding issue.
There is an average of 180 inmates in the jail and on the weekends there are sometimes more than 200, McCarver said. Some inmates are forced to sleep on concrete floors, he said.
The overcrowding not only affects inmates, McCarver said. It also causes a high turnover rate in jail employees, which then requires taxpayer money to train new staff, he said.