CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Inspectors with the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) reinspected the Carter County Jail on Friday and although improvements were reported to be made, the certification will be determined in December when the TCI Board of Control meets.
According to the release, the primary concern expressed by TCI officials following the inspection was “life safety issues” that were attributed to the low staffing of the jail.
“I am proud of the hard work by the Corrections Division to correct many of the issues cited in the July inspection report,” Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley said. “Staffing has been a long-term issue at the Sheriff’s Department, most notably within the Corrections Division and in our School Resource Officer program. These issues did not happen overnight and cannot be fixed overnight.”
TCI officials reportedly met with Sheriff Fraley, Chief Deputy Jeff Gazzo, Jail Administrator Capt. Matt Patterson and Assistant Jail Administrator Lt. Barbara Scalf to discuss the findings and next steps going forward.
Jason Cate, TCI Detention Facility Specialist, inspected the jail previously in July and on Friday told Sheriff Fraley due to the current staffing issues, he couldn’t recommend the jail for recertification.
“Cate said he would assist the department in any way he could, including visiting the jail Facility again before the TCI Board of Control meeting and, if the staffing issue had improved, he would inform the Board he would recommend the jail receive its recertification,” said the release.
Sheriff Fraley stated his administrative team has begun reaching out to former corrections officers who recently left to invite them to return.
“I am pleased that TCI is willing to work with us, and that they understand the staffing issue is something that could not be fixed within the nine days between my taking office and their reinspection. With the maintenance issues now corrected we can fully focus on recruiting and retaining staff in our jail,” said Sheriff Fraley.
A civil service test will be held Tuesday, September 13 at 6 p.m. at the TCAT-Elizabethton campus which will reportedly provide a pool of potential employees. Applications will be available at the test for anyone interested in a job at the sheriff’s office.
“The raise approved by the County Commission for this fiscal year should help with retaining the employees we have and recruiting new or returning employees. I am confident that we can increase our jail staff before the December TCI Board of Control meeting and retain our certification,” said Sheriff Fraley.