BCSO says TDOC knew of need to transfer inmates


Posted 3/3/18

An order of the court on Oct. 17, 2017 wanted Michael Camp sent immediately to a state prison.

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BCSO says TDOC knew of need to transfer inmates


An order of the court on Oct. 17, 2017 wanted Michael Camp sent immediately to a state prison.

He was being held at the Bradley County Jail.

The order, signed by Judge Andrew Freiberg on that day, stated Camp was to be “transported to the Tennessee Department of Corrections for incarceration at the penitentiary immediately or as soon as practical.

BCSO Officer Justin Miller, who is in charge of state inmate transfers, sent an email on Oct. 24, 2017, to TDOC about the uncommon order and additionally made the request for “as many beds as possible” – meaning Miller notified the state there was a need to reduce the jail population

The response from Brandon Maloney of TDOC: “Not unusual. We’ll get him and roll out the red carpet. But please think twice about some of those guys you want to hold. They have some pretty hefty sentences sir.

Miller said the statement puzzled him as he was trying to “send a guy with 22 years and remove someone who had 12 because I could sent that one to Polk County much easier.”

Another request was sent about Camp, along with 12 other inmates on Nov. 20, 2017.

One was sent to Polk County on Dec. 18, 2017, and another was in Hamilton County for a court ordered transport.

As of Jan. 4, when another request to transfer inmates was sent from BCSO, Camp was still being held locally and had not been accepted by TDOC.

Camp was finally transported with several others Friday morning, March 2, more than five months after the order came down for him to go to state prison.

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office has been pushing the state Department of Corrections to relocate state inmates for several months, but it wasn’t until after the Cleveland Daily Banner reported Sheriff Eric Watson’s frustration with the timeliness of those inmates being transferred did the TDOC finally make any significant move.

One regional media outlet reported Saturday the BCSO had not contacted TDOC about removing inmates due to overcrowding, and a spokesperson for TDOC confirmed that to the same media outlet.

However, the communications provided by the BCSO, in response to a request from the Daily Banner, show it has been pushing the state Department of Corrections to free up bed space at the local jail for several months.

“It is a fact that our corrections TDOC and Time management officer has requested state beds to ease our overcrowding at the Bradley County Jail,” said BCSO Captain of Corrections Gabe Thomas.

The state transferred 74 prisoners from the county jail to state facilities Friday morning, a ride which made news because of a blown tire on one of the buses. (See related story).

Miller told the Banner on Sept. 19, he requested females be transferred from the local facility to go to TDOC.

“I had about 13 females that could go,” he said. “There were at least two on Jan. 22 that did go. So, we sent two people to prison between Sept. 19 up until the sheriff intervened and we got them sent off on March 2.”

That was Friday – two days after Sheriff Eric Watson complained in a Wednesday Daily Banner story about the jail’s certification being caused by the state failing to remove its inmates being held here.

Miller also noted on Dec. 7, 2017, he sent the judgment on Ross Anderson — which was life without parole - to TDOC asking “anyway possible to get him sent to TDOC asap? I also would like to send some others with him if possible.”

“While we were having our inspection in February, they called me and wanted to set up a prison run the following day,” Miller said. “So, while we were having inspection, I had to set up this prison run. That’s almost three months after the request.”

Miller said his communications with TDOC “is pretty regular” either by email or phone.

“They even have my personal cell phone number,” he added. “That is not paid for by the department. I pay for that. I give them my number to make it easier. I want to get these beds cleared.”

The emails confirm Miller’s statements.

“In 2016, I probably sent 200 people to TDOC because they opened a new prison,” Miller said. “They were calling me twice a week. But, this year it seems like I have sent more to Polk County and the Johnson City workhouse for females than I have to prison.”

He added  the workhouse and jail is considered one entity for inspection purposes.

“But, for financial purposes they both have a separate code,” Miller explained. “We were trying to keep a number in the workhouse to generate revenue for it until they get more work release people.”

Miller said he gets two different boarding bills and for the jail itself. “It looks like my bill at the jail has shrunk.”

“I don’t know if that’s why we aren’t getting any new beds [at the state level] or [the state] is just overcrowded,” he said.

Miller added his counterpart in Johnson City has expressed the same frustrations at getting their state inmates to prison facilities this year.

“I have been here 11 years and it has been ‘hit and miss’ with the state,” he said. “But, when I heard the media report, I remembered the Michael Camp issue and thought this is the perfect example.”

He also corrected the inaccurate reporting of the number of inmates on Friday’s bus saying it was 58 males and 12 females.
A request has been made to TDOC for the agency’s reply, but one was not received before press time Saturday evening.


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