Overcrowding leads to $3M Tipton County Jail expansion

Overcrowding leads to $3M Tipton County Jail expansion

TIPTON COUNTY, TN (WMC) - As many as 10 women are housed in one cell inside the Tipton County Jail.

On the other side of the facility, men in a common area are sleeping on the floor.

Overcrowding is the primary reason Tipton County Sheriff Pancho Chumley says there was a need to expand the jail.

There's also a compliance mandate passed down by the Tennessee Corrections Institute to meet minimum standards.

At nearly 25,000 square feet, the new capacity of the jail is 201 total beds including a new nursing station. There's also a new laundry facility, food supply room, and recreational yard.

District Attorney Mark Davidson said they're seeing an increase in drug offenders.

"The opioid crisis has caused an increase in crime," Davidson said.

With a population of just over 63,000 people in Tipton County, the sheriff said that 103,000 have been processed and booked into this jail since 1997.

"With this new education unit, we anticipate an Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and setting up a GED program to help some of these people get an education," Tipton County Sheriff Chief Billy Daughtery said.

One thing you won't see in the new facility are televisions and radios.

"I see it as a waste. When you have someone who's been there, a fourth and fifth-time person, I'm worried more about the victim," Sheriff Pancho Chumley said.

With 86 percent of inmates returning to the jail at least more than once, it's a growing challenge in this small town.

"We need to go ahead today and get a plan for down the road and see where we are at with that as far as future expansion," Chumley said.

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