Judge releases inmates from Fayette Co. Jail

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A judge in Somerville has released more inmates from a jail he calls a fire trap.

Fayette County General Sessions Judge Mike Whitaker put eight of the county jail's 25 inmates on probation yesterday -- one woman and seven men. Whitaker calls them "low-end violators." Most had driving or alcohol arrests.

The judge was prepared to also release Terrance Malone, but the inmate asked if he could serve the rest of his sentence behind bars. He's scheduled for release on June 17th. Whitaker granted the request.

Whitaker has been taking inmates out of the jail, which he also says is overcrowded, since last week. Others have been sent to other jails while some have been placed in treatment programs.

Sheriff Bobby Riles says the half-century-old jail is safe.

A new $16 million Fayette County Justice Center is scheduled to open in November.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)