Greene County

Greene Co. searches for plan to get jail re-certified

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - After Greene County's jail loses state certification for being too crowded, county commissioners are scrambling to come up with a plan to ease the problem.

Inside the Greene County jail there are 158 beds, but Sheriff Steve Burns told News 5, they house about 280 inmates each day.

"There's a lot more people that pass through our counties and cities today, and commit crimes and end up in our jails, and they're just not designed to tolerate all that," said Burns.

County Commissioner Fred Malone told us, commissioners are searching for a plan to house all the inmates before the Tennessee Corrections Institute meets in December. Malone hopes they will have a plan in place so the jail can be re-certified, and the plan starts with the old Magnavox Plant 3 building on Snapps Ferry Road.

"There's 23 acres under [the] roof which is 1.1 million square foot," Malone said.

Malone believes a building that large can house up to 1,200 inmate beds and solve overcrowding issues for years to come.

"I think that would hopefully run us into the next 50 plus years," Malone added.

Malone didn't want to talk about the price tag of using the old plant for negotiation reasons, but we learned it could cost millions of taxpayer dollars.

That's something that doesn't sit well with some residents we talked to.

"Our children in our schools need the financing more than the people in the jail need it. I'm sorry that they're overcrowded, but that's more or less their own fault that they got in there," said Greene County resident Sherry Campbell.

We learned if more room isn't added, taxpayers could pay the price anyways.

"Possibility the insurance might go up, and of course there may be lawsuits," Malone added.

We found out, commissioners are also considering adding on to the current jail facility or the workhouse facility.

Other counties in our region are also facing overcrowding issues as well, including Carter County and Sullivan County.

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