Unreleased documents show litany of problems at 201 Poplar

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Fights, threats, and riots have some Shelby County jailers in fear for their lives.

Sources provided WMC Action News 5 with documents detailing problems happening over and over at Shelby County Jail.

Corrections deputies said they see lots of gang activity, and they feel it's getting too dangerous to work at the jail--mainly because they are understaffed to handle the issue.

It's not just employees who are fed up with the jail.

Rhonda Breeden has a nephew in jail, and she said she knows all too well the problems happening inside the jail.

"I would love to see a change and soon," Breeden said. "In one of the pods they had a riot, and they had a lockdown," Breeden recalled.

Two weeks ago, 17 inmates were arrested for rioting inside the jail. They caused $7,000 worth of damage.

The unreleased documents given to WMC Action News 5 revealed deputies accounts of large fights inside the jail on December 22, January 18, and January 20.

The documents show that inmates, "broke the mop, broom handles, and broke the computer...refused all orders given...threw tables and chairs at the sallyport door" and yelled profanity at corrections deputies.

Shelby County Public Information Officer Earle Farrell admitted the jails are understaffed. He said corrections deputies are tough to recruit.

"We are having to go through a lot of people to find people who are qualified," Farrell said.

A source inside the jail said once hired, it takes time to train corrections officers. The good news is a class of guards is graduating Thursday night.

The source inside the jail also said many corrections deputies are getting more and more concerned about their safety.

"Everyday we try to prevent this, everyday," Farrell said about the safety of deputies, "They [inmates] are under constant, 24-hour watch."

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