The Monroe County sheriff is speaking out about the ongoing efforts to build a new jail in his county.
County leaders have already selected land to build a new detention facility, and even set aside the money to buy it, however the Justice Committee has still not approved the next step in the process.
Statement from Sheriff Bill Bivens:
I would like to take this time to comment on the topic of a new jail. It is a known fact that the Monroe County Jail is over populated. Our facility is older and we face challenges with it daily, yet we make it work effectively. With that said, it is ultimately the decision of the County Commission to proceed forward with a new facility and not a decision of my own.
I have informed the County Mayor of my decision to resign as a voting member of the justice center committee; however, I will remain available at all times to answer any questions or to give guidance if needed on the topic of jail requirements. I steadfastly remain neutral on the topic except to say this, is there a need? Yes! However, regardless of any decision by the County Commission I will continue to ensure that the inmates are housed properly with three meals a day in a clean and orderly jail and with proper medical care for as long as necessary.
Even with these guidelines in place, a failure to move forward by the Commission to appease the state will most likely result in the decertification of the Monroe County Jail. Through no fault of the Office of Sheriff and not because of lack of sanitation, professionalism, or general lack of maintenance to the jail but simply due to age and overcrowding. We hold high standards. Our facility is top rated due to the hard work and attention to detail our staff maintains. On a recent inspection by TCI the inspector advised the Monroe County Jail was in the best shape he had ever seen it, and that he had inspected it some years ago and it was better now than before. We will continue to hold these high standards regardless of the decisions made in regards to a new facility by the County Commission.
The demand for a new jail is a request of the State, not me nor my office. I only want to put your mind at ease and inform you that regardless of the decisions of the State of Tennessee and the County Commission, I will run a professional, sanitary, and accountable jail.