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UPDATE: Inspection at Bradley County jail shows gaps in security checks

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Before (left) and after photos of the showers at the Bradley County Jail. BCSO photos Before (left) and after photos of the showers at the Bradley County Jail. BCSO photos

UPDATE: A recent state inspection of the Bradley County Jail found inmate checks are not happening every hour, and no policy spells out continuous checks on locks or items that could be used as weapons.

The report called for a re-inspection of the facility that holds on average 423 inmates.

Inspectors from the Tennessee Corrections Institute certified the facility after a second inspection on Friday and found no deficiencies.

"The Bradley County Sheriff's Office acknowledges the seriousness of the earlier findings, however the fact is last week's inspection found no deficiencies, and the fact that the jail was certified for another year, speaks for itself," said Capt. Gabe Thomas in a released statement.

A media release was initially sent out by the sheriff's office after Channel 3 called to inquire about the jail's status. The press release does not mention the April 16 inspection that shows the jail failed and required re-inspection. 

Instead, Sheriff Eric Watson states in a press release, that he asked inspectors to visit the jail late last year after he took office in September.

“I took the information gathered from the TCI (2014) visit, as well as what I saw for myself, then our Corrections staff and others took up the task of making important improvements to the shower areas, kitchens and other locations in the jail section. It was time consuming and hard work, but we knew it had to be done…and done correctly to meet TCI Standards,” Watson said.

Channel 3 phoned the department's public information officer, Ed Ramsey, with follow up questions asking how the jail's deficiencies were corrected. The call was not returned. The report from the latest inspection was not issued as of Tuesday afternoon.

In a follow up statement, the department said the April inspection was part of a process the department initiated. However, the inspection is part of an annual review mandated through state guidelines.

The department requires checks on inmates every 30 minutes, however, the jail had issues meeting the state standard of once an hour, according to the first inspection report.

Inspectors also noticed that corrections officers did not have guidelines to continuously maintain locks and check for items that could be used as weapons.

“There is no policy for continuous inspection, inventory and maintenance of locks, tools, kitchen utensils, toxic, corrosive and flammable substances and other potentially dangerous supplies and equipment. Inventory of chemical agents is not being conducted,” according to the report from April.

The initial inspection also cited security concerns that included female officers searching male inmates or a broken camera in the recreation area.

It also noted that information was not provided to inmates on reporting of sexual abuse and assaults.

It's not uncommon for jails to require re-inspection before passing.

Last year, TCI records show there were 126 corrections facility inspections. Of those, 64 percent required re-inspections. Nine facilities out of the 126 were decertified by the Board of Control after their re-inspections.

Previous inspection reports of the Bradley County Jail dating back to 2013 show the jail continues to house more and more inmates.

“The facility's classification process is increasingly difficult to achieve with the increase in the inmate population,” the April report states.

The county commission approved funding for a 125 bed workhouse, according to records.

The county corrections facility built in 2004 is certified to house 408 inmates but a six month average shows the facility is overcrowded with 423 inmates.

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