Sheriff's Office: Of jails and bologna sandwiches
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
May 12, 2013 | 1149 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Singer/songwriter Tom T. Hall wrote a song about being locked up in a small county jail for a traffic violation. He wrote of the sheriff’s wife frying bologna for the prisoners.

After some time in the jailhouse the bologna tasted better and the cook was getting prettier.

This is a depiction of some jails in the smaller counties of Tennessee a few short years ago. In some counties, the sheriff and his family had living quarters at the jail.

Of course the rules have radically changed in the operation of jails and prisons. Our corrections officers now have to be trained and certified by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. They, also, must have 40 hours of in-service training every year in order to maintain their certification. Part of that training is done by TCI and part by our own training division.

There are many facets to the operation of the jail. The deputy/corrections officers and contracted people have to meet a variety of needs related to the inmates. This includes medical, mental transports, prisoner transports, movement of inmates to courts, booking people in and out of jail, regular checks on the welfare of the inmates and feeding them three times a day, just to name a few.

Our correctional officers work 12-hour shifts. They are locked up with convicted criminals and those awaiting trial for their entire shift.

It is almost as if they are in jail too.

They listen to con men, whiners and complainers all day long. It is a tough job and does not pay nearly enough money. In at least one area Tennessee has had difficulty in hiring staff. That really tells you how bad things are with the job, not being able to recruit enough qualified people, when so many people are unemployed.

Like other areas of law enforcement it takes a special person to maintain a successful career in corrections. We have a number of them who have been with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office for years. It takes a servant’s heart and a strong sense of who you are to do correctional work. The corrections officer can usually look beyond what a person has done and see the humane part of that soul and still be hopeful. We have been fortunate over the years to have some of the best correctional officers around who have worked for us.

We have had a number of them who have retired.

Director Gwen Beavers has been with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and psychology and many hours of specialized training in corrections. She continues to manage the operations of the jail as efficiently and effective as possible within guidelines from TCI and our own policy and procedures.

This week has been the National Correction Officer’s week, so I want to commend Gwen for her good work that she is doing as our executive officer in that operation. I also want to commend all the other dedicated correctional officers that work hard everyday to provide all the services that they do for the county.

I want to single out Lt. Anderson Sanders in particular, and salute him for his many years of service and the work he now does. He is a 29-year veteran of our corrections operations. He joined the sheriff’s office on July 1, 1984 as a line officer in corrections. He worked his way up through the ranks to corporal, to sergeant, then to lieutenant.

Lt. Sanders’ current assignment is program director for the jail, responsible for all, inmate programming. He works daily on coordinating these programs within the facility to empower inmates with the ability to grow and seek an alternate life upon being released.

He has been instrumental in the implementation of our Faith-Based Programs, in which inmates must request acceptance and agree to active participation, along with elevated behavioral expectations.

These Faith-Based programs aid in behavior management of inmates, and provide them with knowledge in areas for which many may have never been exposed. They are provided tools, resources and preparation for life on the outside as well.

Through the efforts of Lt. Sanders who, also, recently became an ordained minister, and the efforts of the many volunteer ministers of our great community these programs are successful.

Lt. Anderson Sanders has served well over the last 29 years. I commend him for his dedication to his profession and this community. But I also want to state, once again, my appreciation for and acknowledge all the other dedicated correctional officers at the Sheriff’s Office.

Thanks for reading.