Inmates are moving out of the Coffee County Jail because it's too full. The place is designed to hold 196 inmates, but dozens more have been locked up. Correction officers transported about two dozen prisoners to state prisons just this morning to help ease the overcrowding.
It's no secret the Coffee County Jail in Manchester has been bursting at the seams for years with inmates cooped up in close quarters.
"We're stepping all over each other like cattle," said inmate Tucker Cagley.
Cagley was locked up 14 days ago for driving on a revoked license. There were no more beds in his unit, so he had to settle for the floor.
"It's very bad in here. The floor is always cold, (and) we're constantly sick all the time," Cagley said.
Dozens of inmates, both male and female, are sleeping on mats.
"We have correction officers having to go in and break up fights in cells with 30-plus inmates," said Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves. "It's not safe for the inmates or the correction officers."
Friday night, for example, there were 254 inmates in the building that was designed to house only 196. There were so many inmates, officials with the Tennessee Department of Correction decided to move 25 of its inmates to give the jail some relief. The move could hurt the county's pocketbook.
"It will hurt the county as far as state reimbursement fees," Sheriff Graves said.
That adds up to about $60,000 to $70,000 a month, according to the sheriff.
Despite the 25 TDOC inmates who were transported to state facilities, the jail remains overcrowded and more inmates were being booked in by the hour today.
"We all know this is a short-term fix, we'll have 25 more to take their place pretty quickly," the Sheriff said.
County officials have purchased property just south of town to build a new jail; they hope to break ground in June.
"Everybody's morale is down here," Cagley added.
Twenty male inmates were taken to West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning, TN. Five female inmates were transported to the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville.
Ten state inmates remain at the Coffee County Jail, and six of them have very little time left on their sentence, so they will not be transferred to a state prison.
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Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:39 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:39:10 GMT
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