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Sheriff: Knox County Detention Center more than 250 inmates over capacity

Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler shared his thoughts on jail overcrowding with commissioners last week.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — For decades, Knox County has dealt with a chronic jail overcrowding problem. Sheriff Tom Spangler told commissioners last week the county correction system is more than 250 beds short.

"It kind of gives you an idea of what we're working with," he said. "The Sheriff's Office has prioritized the expansion of pretrial release."

Since January, Spangler said about 1,100 offenders have qualified for the program. It's one of the "quick win" solutions offered in the Justice Planners report.

RELATED: Pretrial release program offers solution to jail overcrowding

Still, other solutions are needed.

Part of that requires more cooperation from the state, according to Spangler.

"We still have a large number of [state inmates] right now that we're still waiting on [TDOC] to come get," Spangler told the commission. 

Per the Carver Lawsuit in 1989, Spangler said the state has 14 days to get individuals once they are adjudicated within the judicial system. However, the Knox County Sheriff's Office told 10News on Thursday more than 200 state inmates are still waiting.

RELATED: Knox County leaders searching for solutions to solve jail overcrowding

RELATED: Report: Jail overcrowding in Tennessee will worsen without criminal justice reform

"We're going to make one more attempt with that before we have to take another step," Spangler told commissioners. "It may not be the most popular thing to have to do, but it may be the most necessary step for us to take."

The Tennessee Department of Correction told 10News in an email that it is working diligently with all of the counties "to the very best of our ability in an effort to help alleviate the incarceration challenges facing our state."

In the last calendar year, TDOC says it has taken 414 offenders from Knox County, more than any other county in the state. Thirty-nine inmates were taken from Knox County in the month of September.

Knox County Commissioner Carson Dailey suggested hosting an informal workshop to address jail overcrowding in the near future. Commission Chair Hugh Nystrom told 10News he expects this to be a topic of conversation in the near future. 


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