Cutbacks create challenges at Hamilton County Jail - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cutbacks create challenges at Hamilton County Jail

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - County jails across the country are dealing with cutbacks, including in Hamilton County where deputies gave Channel 3 an inside look at how the effect is trickling down to the booking process.

Hamilton County correction officers booked 21,000 inmates in 2013 alone. Their charges ranged from minor offenses to murder and rape.

The booking process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to eight hours. A problem deputies say comes from being short staffed.

“It can get backed up when there's not enough people,” Deputy Wes Chambers said.

Chambers comes from a family with a long history in law enforcement. He's worked inside the Hamilton County Jail for four years and says operating the facility is a 24 hour process.

“There's a certain amount of work to always be done and there's a certain amount of people needed to get it done in a timely manner,” he added.

Overcrowding is also a challenge. The jail currently houses about 530 inmates, which is 25 over the current standard.

Women are booked inside the jail and then taken to Silverdale Correctional Facility. People charged with minute misdemeanors, like driving without a license, are booked and then let go.

“I think people expect it to work faster than what it really does,” Chambers said.

After an inmate is booked and processed, if they can't make bond, they're brought to the quarter deck where they can spend anywhere between 24 hours to a couple of days before being released into general population.

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