Madison Co. Commission approves hiring of 15 new jailers

JACKSON, Tenn. — Jailers are attacked or property is damaged every week in the Madison County jail, according to Madison County Sheriff John Mehr, and he says it’s because of how understaffed the jail is.

The Madison County Commission voted unanimously Monday morning to allow Sheriff Mehr to hire 15 new jailers.

“We’ve had assaults on officers over the last month or two,” Mehr said. “I mean, it’s about every week just because there is one person there and you have to get people in, so we’ve got to update that staffing just to be able to supervise.”

When Mehr started just more than a year ago, he says the jail was short 49 employees. Since then more staff has been hired. But the jail is currently short 33 jailers, and when the new deputies are hired they will be 18 jailers short.

“You have one person in the control room and another person walking, and you can’t supervise 80 something people to 150 people with one person because you can’t see what’s going on,” Mehr said.

This budget amendment will cost the county around $270,000 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year and around $542,000 for an entire year.

The commission has been working with the sheriff to improve the jail, but there was some discussion about the timing of adding the extra staff.

“We are putting a lot of money — and I want our system to be safe — but the new deputies, what are the purposes for hiring all these new deputies now?” Commissioner Claudell Brown said during the meeting.

“We don’t want it to be unsafe for the people who are working there,” Commission Chairman Gary Deaton said. “We don’t want it to be unsafe for the inmates that are in there.”

The sheriff says they already are accepting applications for the new positions.

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