Post will be updated later to include Jim Hart’s most recent report.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. The situation before us is not uncharted territory. The jail was overcrowded before and the county was forced to build, leaving us with debt that we are still paying on. We should all be able to see where the current situation is headed.
The overcrowding wisely lead the commission and sheriff to commission a study from a national firm who has studied over 400 counties across this country to provide us with options to address our jail and criminal justice system.
The Sheriff has recently started sending us letters telling us that he expects the jail overcrowding to persist. He has been telling us that tensions are increasing. The Sheriff is actually making the case for why the time for us to act is now.
The next step is to hear from the jail consultant. It will cost us nothing further to hear from the consultant. 13 of us were not on the commission when the final report came out. It would behoove us too listen to the findings.
Let the Sheriff tell us what he is seeing in the jail. Let the consultant tell us what his recommendations are. Let everyone be heard. If we continue to ignore the situation then as the Sheriff said in his October 28th letter, “the repercussions could be detrimental to not only the Sheriff’s Office, but to Blount County also”.
Here are some of the situations we could find the county in if we remain inattentive. We could be closed down by the state or the courts. We could be sued and face allegations of our jail being unconstitutional. We could be sued by inmates because of overcrowding conditions in the jail. We could lose control of the jail to inmate riots from the overcrowding. We have a pill problem and some are warning of heroine being a public safety issue. The consultants recommendations may be helpful to our public safety, budget and very fabric of our wonderful community.
Many Counties in Tennessee are in similar situations and are acting while we are not. National media is publishing the stories. We will be next in the national headlines if we don’t get to work now.
I had to go back to 2006 to find a jail report that didn’t show serious overcrowding. A plan of action was issued in 2012. How much more longer can we afford to wait?
The Comptroller’s website lists Blount County’s FY 2014 debt as the 8th highest county debt in the state. It would be a tragedy for us to add to that financial burden when the county has already been down this costly road before. We should be proactive not reactive.
We as the funding body will have to make the tough financial decisions for the jail. It is not a tough financial decision to have open discussion on what we can do to reduce our inmate population and thereby reduce or eliminate the repercussions that the taxpaying people of Blount County will face if we sit back and let the problem continue.
Therefore, I urge you to join me in voting to move forward and have a hearing on the study that we commissioned two years ago and has been out for a year and a half. Thank you.
November 10, 2015 Agenda Committee meeting
Note: The jail has 350 beds. The March 15, 2007 jail report showed only minor overcrowding of 2 inmates (see page 147) while the rest of the 2007 showed serious overcrowding. The December 2006 jail inspection report listed 349 inmates (see page 81), which is 1 below capacity, and the last time these reports showed the inmate population being below the bed capacity.
General info is available here:
My comments will address Item G4 which calls for a long awaited and much needed hearing by the full commission on the jail study. There are 4 verses in Proverbs that address the situation before us.
Proverbs 23 verses 1-4:
1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Commissioners, I ask you where else does the Bible tell you that it would be better to put a knife to your throat and commit suicide than to fall for the deceitful ways of government officials? Today we call rulers leaders, politicians, commissioners, mayors and sheriffs. Sometimes we mistakenly call those in government servants but government officials are very much our rulers, dominating our lives, spending our money and telling us nearly every move to make.
The Mayor’s deceit with the jail study is obvious. There is no lawsuit. For those of you who voted no it’s time to realize the deceit and move forward. You have a chance to correct this deceit.
The Sheriff’s deceit with the jail study is obvious. The county does not make money keeping federal inmates and the report says that. The only way to make it appear like the county is profiting off the federal inmates is overcrowding the jail, packing the inmates into the jail like sardines in a can.
For those saying we need to keep the federal inmates for money, heed the words labour not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom. Jails do not make money. The taxpayers foot the bill regardless of the level of government funding.
The next federal inmate that you sit back and allow to be brought into the jail to add to public treasury could be the one to files the lawsuit that brings the whole matter into the federal court. Then you will find out how wise it is keep federal inmates when a federal judge tells you every move to make. When you get the bill for the new jail pod then you will wish you hadn’t been given to appetite and fallen for the deceitful meat of the Mayor and Sheriff or sought the riches of federal money.
Commissioner Tona Monroe has filed a resolution to have a teleconference hearing on the findings and recommendations of the Criminal Justice System Assessment Report presented by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning. Commissioner Monroe issued the following statement regarding the report and teleconference.
“In response to jail overcrowding the County commissioned a study that was conducted by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning (ILPP). Two years later the County Commission has not heard from the consultant about the findings of the study because of leadership changes on the Blount County Corrections Partnership and because of the Mayor’s false threat of a lawsuit to silence discussion.
The Blount County jail is overcrowded and the problem is not going to go away on its own. I commend the 7 commissioners who joined me in voting to have a hearing earlier this year and I challenge the other 13 to rethink their positions. With no lawsuit on the horizon it’s time for the commission to move beyond local obstructionist politics and get to work addressing the needs of our criminal justice system.”
Commissioner Tona Monroe
District 7 Seat B
Serving Big Springs, Carpenters, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier
For more information see these articles:
America’s out-of-control cop kill rate
“We now know that police killed 1,100 Americans in 2014 and 476 Americans in the first five months of 2015. Given that America has roughly 765,000 sworn police officers, that means the police-against-citizen kill rate is more than 145 per 100,000.
Let us put that into perspective. In most countries in Europe the national homicide rate is 1 per 100,000, so that means American police kill at 145 times the rate of the average European citizen. The two most violent countries in the world are Venezuela and Honduras with national homicide rates of 54 and 90 per 100,000. The U.S. government issues travel warnings stating: “The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high” and “violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive.” If you are not comfortable vacationing in those countries, it is little wonder why so many Americans are uncomfortable with police who kill at more than 1.5 and 2.5 times the homicide rates of the two most violent countries.”
Listen to an interview on the subject here: http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-426-the-shocking-kill-rate-of-american-police/
It’s a new era in Blount County government. Or is it? Blount County didn’t wait to be the last County in the state to form an Audit Committee, just next to last.*
Commissioners Andy Allen and Mike Caylor were chosen to serve on the Audit Committee. Let the lovefest begin. I can’t wait to see hugs all around.
*According to Chairman Jerome Moon only one other county does not have an Audit Committee.
There are some in the community who think that everything on this website is written by me (Tona Monroe). That is not the case. This site was never intended to be a website solely with material written by me. I own domains with my name and could just as easily write the material there.
There are some in the community who think that I agree with everything written on this website. That is not the case either. My intention in creating this website was never to have complete and total agreement with every word posted here.
The litmus test for content on this website was never complete and total agreement with my views and is not the case now. My goals are to promote freedom and transparency in government. Those are the reasons why I started this website and why I continue publishing on this website. Those are also the reasons that I ran for office and what I hope to achieve while in office.
The content here is intended to be thought provoking while promoting freedom and openness in government. Everything that is posted here should no more be viewed as my opinions than letters to the editors are viewed as being the opinions of the editors at newspapers.
As I’ve said many times before and will continue saying, let freedom ring!
A Daily Signal article takes a look at criminal justice reform in Alabama, a state with severe overcrowding problems.
“Criminal justice reform in Alabama is incredibly complex,” says Bennet Wright, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission, an agency created by the legislature in 2000 to study sentencing policies with an eye toward reducing the prison population.
“If you want to move the needle on criminal justice reform in Alabama, you have to touch a variety of policy areas, and at the same time you have to be cognizant that it touches all three branches of government,” Wright says, adding:
You can’t just change sentencing to change the whole system. At the actual sentencing phase, that’s a judicial function. However, you have an executive branch function in the parole board that can make the decision whether to actually let the inmate out. This reform bill is the first attempt to wrap its hand around the entire criminal justice problem.
Further in the article:
“It’s not about changing this or that—it’s changing everything you do once somebody comes in the system,” Wright says:
Blount County would do well to follow the advice of the criminal justice system assessment (jail study) that it paid for and begin working on the things that it can address locally. Instead only 8 of the 21 commissioners even wanted to hear from the consultant on the matter.