MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — The Hamblen County Sheriff is speaking out against the decision to build a new jail right next to the current one.
He said the current jail is outdated, overcrowded and inmates are in poor conditions.
►READ MORE: Hamblen Co. jail so crowded it's 'dangerous'
"In my opinion, it's unsafe to work in," Sheriff Esco Jarnigan said.
Sheriff Jarnigan said these conditions could lead to an inmate takeover.
"You do the best you can during the day and hope it doesn't blow up in your face because it has the potential of getting bad," he said.
There are over 400 inmates in the jail and only 255 beds.
"The tempers flare and the air quality is poor," Jarnigan said.
The jail is 26 inmates away from reaching maximum capacity, which is far from the recommended amount. The sheriff said it's unsafe for everyone inside.
"We have an average of one assault per day," Jarnigan said.
In the isolation section of the jail, 36 people have only 6 beds. In the annex, there are twice as many inmates as beds. The county has tried to fix problems in the past, with voters approving a new jail right next to the current one, but the sheriff said the location is far from ideal.
"There's only two acres to work on. It's landlocked at that point. There's absolutely no room for expansion," he said.
The new facility would have 500 beds, two courtrooms, and a multipurpose room for grand juries.
"The new jail is going to be overcrowded by day one," Jarnigan said.
The veteran sheriff doesn't understand why they wouldn't go somewhere else where more space would be available in the future.
"I think it's more feasible to purchase land that is available in Hamblen County and you have plenty of room to expand," he said.
He said there's no date to finish the new jail, but he's trying to convince the county to hold off on this site before they go any further.