Jail, 911 system shut down in Fayette County

FAYETTE COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The Fayette County Justice Complex is closed for the foreseeable future.

The sheriff's office said plumbing and electrical failures in the complex are to blame for the closure.

The courts, dispatch, 911 system, and the jail are affected.

Inmates in the jail were bused to Shelby County and Tipton County while repairs are done at the Fayette County jail.

All 911 calls in the area are being re-routed to Hardeman County.

Court will not be held this week in Fayette County.

The sheriff's office hopes to reopen the building by Friday.

Plumbing crews were supposed to fix a busted water pipe inside the Fayette County Criminal Justice Complex on Sunday afternoon.  Instead, they knocked out electricity to the building.

With no water and no power, the county's courtrooms, jail, dispatch, and 911 center, which serve 39,000 citizens, all went dark.

Fayette County Sheriff Bobby Riles has been in crisis mode now for 24 hours.

"We moved 175 inmates Sunday night in about seven hours," Sheriff Riles said. "Tipton County brought a bus over and we used patrol cars."

Sheriff Riles said they transferred the inmates to several counties, including Shelby, Tipton, Chester, Gibson and Henry Counties.

Families with incarcerated loved ones can call 901-465-3456 for information on where they were taken.

The sheriff's office now operates out of a mobile command unit in the parking lot.  911 calls, briefly rerouted to Hardeman County, are coming in again.

"We only have two phone lines right now, but they're up and running," Sheriff Riles said. "All they need to do is call."

When the CJC opened a decade ago, Fayette County Mayor Rhea Taylor welcomed it.

"The facility is," Taylor told WMC Action News 5 in 2008, "something Fayette County can be proud of for the next 30 to 40 years."

But the $16 million building had costly issues from the start.  Low water pressure caused by water pipes filled with concrete delayed its original opening.  Raw sewage bubble up beneath the floorboards a few months later.

Still, Sheriff Riles said a decade ago, it was better than the county's ancient jailhouse.

"This is a big improvement," Sheriff Riles said in 2008, "it's almost like moving from the ghetto into a Holiday Inn, or something better."

If all goes well, Sheriff Riles and his team will be moved back into the CJC by the end of the week.

"Hopefully, by Friday, is what the contractors are telling me," Sheriff Riles said.

Late Monday, there was no word on what caused Sunday's water leak. There's no estimate yet on the cost of moving and housing all those prisoners, or on the cost of repairs.

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