Report lists deficiencies at county jail

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 8/25/19

The Bradley County Jail was again found deficient in several areas following a recent re-inspection by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.

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Report lists deficiencies at county jail

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The Bradley County Jail was again found deficient in several areas following a recent re-inspection by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. However, improvements were made since the initial inspection in June.

The re-inspection was ordered after the initial inspection found multiple areas where deficiencies were listed, most notably in inmate overcrowding and personnel understaffing.

Sheriff Steve Lawson told the Bradley County Commission’s Finance Committee last week that on Sept. 4 he has to file a Plan of Action with the state to address the issues in the re-inspection report. On that day, he has to appear before the state board to explain “how we’re going to get better.”

Discussing the inmate overcrowding issues, Lawson said each Monday he emails the names of 60 state prisoners to the state, asking they be removed from the Bradley County Jail. The number of state prisoners remains steady, he said.

There were about 117 state prisoners on the morning he spoke to the Finance Committee.

“We’ve got to take care of the people of this county,” Lawson said, adding the removal of state prisoners would help reduce overcrowding issues.

An Aug. 15 letter from William Wall, the TCI’s deputy director, to Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson, stated the re-inspection “revealed that this facility does not meet all applicable minimum standards.”

The letter also stated that William R. Kane, the assigned Detention facility specialist manager, recommended a Plan of Action be submitted and approved by the TCI Board of Control at its next meeting  Sept. 4, “to consider granting certification to this facility.”

The initial inspection in June resulted in TCI noting several deficiencies at the jail. The re-inspection report indicates many of those deficiencies were addressed to the inspector’s satisfaction, but some were not.

According to a BCSO news release after the initial inspection, most of the deficiencies were attributed to continued overcrowding coupled with understaffing in the jail.

The re-inspection report notes the jail is overcrowded, housing county and state prisoners, with the female inmate average daily population (ADP) at 6% above the certified capacity and the male inmate ADP at 7% above certified capacity.

The report also outlines a capacity change — the facility’s certified capacity changed from 444 males and 66 females, totaling 510, to 402 males and 108 females, totaling 510.

"I am pleased with the improvement outlined in the final inspection that was conducted," Lawson said in comments to the Cleveland Daily Banner. "If you compare the two inspections I think you will see marked improvement. The team in corrections made great strides in addressing the items noted from the initial inspection over a month ago."  

Lawson noted, "much work was done to shore up issues concerning documentation and training.

"While we have made improvements, there is still work to be done," he added. "Working with TCI we have implemented corrective action plans for any outstanding items noted in the report.

"The concern of overcrowding still exists, and we will continue to ask the state to help alleviate the challenge of housing the excessive number of their inmates," Lawson said.

The re-inspection report — part of which was redacted entirely — outlined deficiencies found in the following areas:


Physical Plant

• The inmate square footage ratio is not in compliance in male inmate housing (Pods B, C, D, and F) and female inmate housing (H-Pod).

• The inmate shower ratio is now in compliance in H-Pod.

The report noted the facility’s evacuation routes and emergency plans were last approved by Fire Marshal Alex Fallin on July 23, 2019.


Administration/Management

• All previous deficiencies have been corrected. The June inspection report listed the facility’s evacuation routes and emergency plans under this category.


Personnel

• All previous deficiencies have been corrected. The June inspection report listed the required facility orientation training had not been completed by five of the 20 Quality Correctional Health Care nurses currently working in medical. QCHC provides inmate medical service to Bradley County.

Security

The section on security was redacted from the report provided to the Cleveland Daily Banner.

Discipline

• All previous deficiencies have been corrected. The June inspection report listed the inmates were not receiving information on the facility rules/sanctions during the booking/intake process on a consistent basis.

The June inspection report also noted the facility inmate disciplinary process is not being conducted within the time parameters and/or the documentation being filled out on a consistent basis.

Sanitation/Maintenance

The initial inspection report noted issues in Booking (redacted from the report provided to the Cleveland Daily Banner) and Food Service (the refrigerator floor needed to be repaired and the freezer seal on the floor needed to be replaced). The initial inspection report also listed several issues in the inmate housing pods. However, those issues were not mentioned in the re-inspection report.

The re-inspection report did mention continuing deficiencies include N-Pod and O-Pod sinks do not have cold water valves (report recommends adding water fountain to each unit to solve issue); and in B-Pod through L-Pod, "the paint is peeling off the shower floors causing potential sanitation issues. These showers need to be painted and/or covered with a surface that meets industry standards.”

On a positive note, the report states “all the inmate housing area day rooms and cell areas were very clean at the time of inspection.”

Food Services

All previous deficiencies have been corrected. One of those deficiencies, as outlined in the initial inspection report, was the daily meals served log was not being filled out on a consistent basis.

In the initial inspection report, information related to Item 15 in this category was redacted from the report provided to the Cleveland Daily Banner.

According to the TCI’s document “Minimum Standards for Local Adult Correctional Facilities,” revised January 2018, Item 15 relates to “Culinary equipment (knives and other sharp instruments) shall be securely stored, inventoried and their use controlled.” This item is not mentioned in the re-inspection report.

Inmate Programs & Activities

All previous deficiencies have been corrected. The only deficiency noted in the initial inspection report is the inmate recreation log showing that all inmates are allowed one hour of physical exercise outside of their cell each day was not being filled out on a consistent basis.

Admission, Records and Release

All previous deficiencies have been corrected. Deficiencies noted in the initial inspection report related to:

• Criminal history checks not being conducted on the inmates as part of the intake process for classification use prior to being placed in general population.

• The initial phone call offered to the arrestee prior to the booking process was not being documented on a consistent basis.

• The booking forms regarding facility issued property were not being completed/filled out on a consistent basis.

Hygiene

All previous deficiencies have been corrected. Deficiencies noted in the initial inspection report related to the facility laundry logs concerning the sheets, towels, blankets, uniforms/clothing being exchanged or laundered and mattresses being disinfected was not being documented on a consistent basis.

Supervision of inmates

All previous deficiencies have been corrected. Deficiencies noted in the initial inspection report were that the suicide, special observation and restraint chair checks were not being conducted within the specified time parameters on a consistent basis.

No deficiencies were found for the following categories in either inspection:

• Mail & Visiting

Medical Services. However, there were four notes related to this item:

1) “The facility has a contract with QCHC (Quality Correctional Health Care) to provide all the inmate medical services.

2) “The Medical Policy & Procedure, Medical Protocol, & first aid kit approval letter was approved & signed by Dr. Johnny Bates, MD on November 13, 2018. All medical licenses are up to date and on file.”

3) “The facility uses QCHC & Mobile Crisis for mental health services.”

4) “The annual meeting with the facility and health care provider was conducted on November 13, 2018. The facility also meets with QCHC on a monthly basis to review operational needs.”

• Classification. However, there were two notes related to this item:

1) “The facility classification process is very difficult to achieve in the male and female inmate housing areas due to the continued overcrowding on a daily basis.”

2) “Strongly recommend filling the vacant Classification Officer position to ensure all inmates are classified properly using the criminal history information prior to the inmate being placed into general population.”

At the conclusion of the report, a recommendation was made for certification with the approval of an updated Plan of Action by the TCI Board of Control.

“The Sheriff, Captain, Sr. Lieutenant & staff are to be commended on correcting the deficiencies listed in the report that are due in large part to the continued overcrowding in the male & female inmate housing areas along with a shortage of staff at times to fill all the designated Post on a consistent basis,” the report stated.

The re-inspection report also strongly recommended the jail purchase additional temporary correctional grade stack-type bunks to be given to all the inmates sleeping on the floor with mats. This recommendation was also part of the initial inspection report.

It was also noted water fountains for N-Pod and O-Pod were ordered on June 24 to provide cold water access to the inmates in the pods.

“The county has approved funding to resurface the shower floors in B-Pod through L-Pod inmate housing units,” the report stated, adding the bids were opened on Aug. 16.

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