Jailers afraid for their lives inside 201 Poplar

Keith Johnson (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Keith Johnson (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Chief Robert Moore (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Chief Robert Moore (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Dozens of complaints show that jailers fear fear for their lives inside 201 Poplar.
Dozens of corrections deputies at the Shelby County Jail are demanding action be taken to ensure their safety.

"We're saying enough is enough now," Kevin Johnson, Vice president of the AFSCME worker's union, said. "We can't tolerate this anymore. We've got to do something right now."
Keith Johnson represents corrections deputies in a worker's union. He said jailers believe the jail is unsafe and severely understaffed. They point to record high increases of assaults, gang activity, and suicidal inmates.

Last month, more than a dozen men were arrested on aggravated riot charges.
Shelby County jailers are monitoring high-level violent offenders, and in some cases, many say they're watching over more than 64 inmates at a time.

"The ratio is so bad. You've got to look over a whole lot of people. You need other staff there to help you do that," Johnson said.0

The grievances, filed by corrections deputies, date back to 2010.

According to those documents, on several occasions, corrections deputies requested meetings to discuss possible solutions, but got no response from jail leaders.

A jailer wrote "inmates are being physically abused, sexually harassed, and sexually abused."

A jail supervisor did reply last year admitting "an oversight in scheduling" could've been part of the problem.
"Safety is supposed to be first and it seems like Chief Moore doesn't care," Johnson said.

Chief Robert Moore said the jail staffing meets national and local jail standards for direct supervision.

However, our investigation reveals the American Correctional Association does not have any standards on staffing ratios.

"We are not understaffed to the point where we cannot operate this institution safely," Chief Moore said.

Jail leaders said they're open to future conversations to address under staffing.

Many corrections deputies said they're taking their concerns to Congressman Steve Cohen.

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