State moves to decertify Polk Co. Jail after security checks go - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

State moves to decertify Polk Co. Jail after security checks go undocumented

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The Polk County Jail recently failed a second inspection for state certification.

Inspectors with Tennessee Corrections Institute found security checks and the outcomes of those checks are not being consistently documented.

This was the second inspection for the 8-year-old facility that can house up to 154 inmates. 

Jail administrators are implementing a new system to keep track of the security checks and ensure they are being conducted. Sheriff Steve Ross will have the option of attending a Board of Control meeting on September 2 to show the jail has resolved the issue.

State inspectors also made a recommendation for the sheriff's office to have a staffing study conducted. Inspectors believe the Ross needs ask county commission for funding to hire corrections officers to staff the multi-level jail.

"The current staffing levels can cause difficulty in all areas of security functions," according to the report.

There were other findings in the first inspection report for the jail. One employee did not complete the basic training course to work as a corrections officer during their first year of employment at the jail.

Keys to the jail were not inventoried or logged each shift. Cleaning supplies and chemicals were also not inventoried. 

Those issues were not mentioned again in a second inspection in July. 

The state inspected 126 jails last year. A total of 81 facilities needed a re-inspection.

It's rare for a facility to be stripped of state certification. Last year, the state board decertified 9 facilities while more than 20 jails needed operate under a corrective action plan.     

A jail that loses certification will often have higher insurance premiums. It can also open up facilities to lawsuits if they are operating below state standards. 

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