Jail overcrowding is a complaint we hear from many East Tennessee sheriffs' offices.
In Roane County, some officials are hoping to fix the problem by allowing judges to punish criminals with house arrest instead of jail time.
The inmate population continues to grow in Roane County. The Sheriff says prescription drug abuse is to blame.
The county doesn't have the space or funds to expand the five-year-old jail.
"The biggest problem is female overcrowding across the whole state of Tennessee," said Sheriff Jack Stockton.
He said with many of the state prisons full, inmates are left in county jails longer. Right now, there are 52 inmates in the Roane County Jail without a proper bed.
"Sometimes a person ends up on the floor with a mattress. In the last resort that's what we do," said Stockton.
Sheriff Stockton is on board with a new proposal that would allow some inmates to be under house arrest. Judges would have the option to punish inmates with a GPS tracking ankle bracelet instead of jail time.
But before he gives his approval, the sheriff wants to ensure the inmates are first time offenders.
"If it's a second or third offense or violation of probation, I think that's going a little bit too far and it doesn't send a good message," he said.
The idea for the ankle bracelets came from Roane County Executive Ron Woody. He has to deal with the high price of running the jail.
It costs the county $55 per inmate per day. The ankle bracelet costs $6.75 per day.
Woody eventually hopes it wouldn't cost anything.
"There's a possibility we could charge back the cost to the inmate," Woody said.
He calls it a win-win for the county by eliminating overcrowding and saving money at the same time.
Woody said which inmates would recieve the bracelets would be completely up to the judicial system. The judge could decide if the inmate would be allowed to go to work while wearing the bracelet.
It's up to the county commission to make the call at their meeting is in 2 weeks.