New $10 million jail to open in Roane County

KINGSTON (WATE) — Hundreds of people are flocking to Roane County’s new multi-million dollar jail for a three-day open house.

While the county faced many obstacles in funding such a big project, officials made it happen.

“We have four cells in here for holding people,” says Roane County Chief Deputy Tim Phillips.

Phillips gave 6 News a tour of the new, state-of-the-art jail on Friday.

While the nearly two year project set the county back $10 million, Phillips said it was a necessary investment.

“The capacity is right at 175 people,” he said.

The old jail was decertified. It was only equipped to house 57 inmates, but it housed many more, creating serious issues when it came to health and safety. 

Phillips said those issues will no longer exist. 

“It’s a keyless system compared to the old style jail. It has a central control tour that operates all the doors,” Phillips said.

Along with the camera system, jailers have a number of tools like portals that help them keep a closer eye on the prisoners.

But with all the additional cells came the need for more staff. It was recommended that the sheriff’s department hire 23 new jailers, but that didn’t happen.

Roane County Commission only approved nine new hires. Each person will make around $45,000 a year.

“We sat down and figured out what it would take to be a bare bones ran facility to try to meet all of Tennessee Corrections Institute’s requirements and to meet all the safety needs of the inmates and the staff. If they said eight, we’d be in trouble,” Phillips said.

Their math will be put to the test soon as the inmates are transferred from the old jail to the new one.

The sheriff’s department won’t when it’s transferring the inmates for security reasons.

County officials have no definite plans for the old jail at this time.



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