Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 16, 2006

CTAS study shows 96-bed expansion at County Jail would work

Overcrowding at jail would be eased for up to 15 years

Several county commissioners heard an update last week regarding the possibility of an expansion to the Cumberland County Jail.

Cumberland County Commissioners met jointly to continue talks of expansion at the Justice Center after they requested a free study from County Technical Advisory Services (CTAS).

Terry Hazard with CTAS gave an oral report and said the current jail, which was state of the art when built in 1991, is still in excellent shape. Citing the original paint still intact, Hazard said the sheriff and his staff should be commended for the jail’s upkeep and condition.

"We go into a lot of county jails and I have to say this is one of the most impressive we've been in. Instead of being built in 1991, it looks like a jail that's only about 5 years old. It really has been well maintained," Terry Hazard of CTAS said.

The CTAS study, which included monitoring population growth and crime rate increases over a 20-year period, concluded that increasing the bed count to 222 would be sufficient.

"I can't guarantee that 222 would last for 15 years, but I feel it would be good for the community and really close ... You all are living right here because by all counts it looks like it's going to work," Hazard said.

Hazard also encouraged commissioners to look at a separate work-release minimum security facility that Sheriff Butch Burgess suggested in the future.

"If you start to get crowded again, this would be a good, inexpensive option to consider," Hazard said.

Hazard pointed out to commissioners that while Cumberland County is seeing tremendous growth, much of that growth is in the retiree population, who "generally aren’t the people committing crimes."

Putnam County commissioner and advisor with CTAS, Bill Rodgers, also attended the meeting to discuss expansion at the Justice Center. In his 28 years as a county commissioner, Rodgers said the best decision he made was to create Putnam County’s Criminal Justice Center.

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