Jail administrator refutes accusations
By Sparta Live | January 21, 2002 12:00 am
The recent meeting of Steering Committees A and B saw numerous allegations made toward staff at the White County jail and members of the sheriff’s department.
When contacted for comment, Chief of Corrections P. J. Hardy was forthcoming with answers to all questions posed him concerning jail commissary and inmate privilege procedures.
o Who oversees county jails in Tennessee? – county jails in Tennessee are not monitored by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
The Tennessee Correctional Institute serves as the overseer of all county jails.
o Commissary – Peggy Sawyer, assistant director for the Tennessee Correctional Institute (615-741-3816), told The Expositor there is no state standard for the operation of a county jail commissary.
She said each county has its own rules and regulations for commissaries, and all jail commissaries are a for-profit venture.
She said many county jails use a sub-contractor to oversee a jail commissary.
In White County, it is operated by the jail as a for-profit venture.
White County Director of Finance Keith Ryder, said the profits from the jail commissary are supposed to be remitted to the county trustee, Brenda Officer.
He said the commissary supplies were purchased through his office but he received no debit/credit sheet for the commissary, and all records pertaining to it would be located at the jail.
A balance sheet and a commissary price sheet was requested from the jail (see price sheet accompanying this text), but a balance sheet had not been supplied to The Expositor at the time of this printing.
“This is an evolving process, and we’re going through a learning process as to how everything is supposed to work in the accountability process,” Ryder said, adding that sheriff’s fees were paid to Officer.
Officer said the money paid is not always identified, and there was no computer search code in her accounting system to call up what portion might be commissary profits.
“I’d say it’s just put under miscellaneous revenues,” she said.
She said the sheriff’s department doesn’t pay a lot of fees, and there might be two or three in one check.
She suggested contacting County Executive, Herd Sullivan.
Jane Bennett, assistant to Sullivan, told The Expositor, “Everything the jail brings over here is brought in a lump sum.”
According to Hardy, Commissary money for inmates is funded by their families.
He said indigent inmates are provided some money by the state.
An indigent is defined as an inmate carrying a balance of less than five dollars in the commissary for at least 30 days.
o Phone cards – the phone cards available to inmates through the commissary at the White County jail are supplied by the company, Evercom, the same company which supplies phone cards to the Putnam County jail and other county jails, according to Hardy.
The cards are purchased in bulk and then the jail’s commissary prices the cards in order to recoup the product cost.
The cards are for local and long distance calls, and Hardy said the rates on the cards were less than standard collect calls.
“There’s no mark-up,” Hardy said.
“We basically just supply the cards.”
o Jail menu – Hardy said the inmate menu was reviewed by the same dietitian that oversees White County school dietary recommendations.
The jail presents their menu to the dietitian, and it is reviewed to make certain there is adequate nutrition.
Peggy Sawyer stated there were no regulations for caloric intake mandated by the Tennessee Correctional Institute.
“We are going by state standards,” said Hardy with regard to nutrition for inmates.
“The cook is cooking the same menu she has cooked for 23 years.”
Hardy added that court officers, district attorneys, correction officers and deputies do eat from the jail kitchen, but only after inmates have been nourished and only if there is leftover food. This was to counter the accusation made during the Steering Committees meeting that deputies and jail staff “ate free” at the jail.
The TCI state standards is two hot meals a day and a snack unless you are an inmate worker,” said Hardy, “and then you are entitled to three hot meals a day.”
He said for years, the sheriff went above the standard to compensate for conditions at the old jail, but even then, inmates were only mandated to have two meals a day.
Sheriff Guy Goff went above and beyond the standards when prisoners were housed in the old jail.
Allegations that Hardy had said he would make money off prisoners when he got to the new jail was refuted by him.
“It an absolute lie that I said I was going to make money off of prisoners.”
“Paying customers can complain,” said Sheriff Guy Goff.
“These are our drug dealers, our drunk drivers, drug users and child abusers.
These people should have no room to complain because they are getting by at the taxpayers expenses.”
Commissary Price List
as of 1/16/2002, provided by P. J. Hardy, Jail Administrator
MALE SPEED STICK DEODORANT
FEMALE SPEED STICK DEODORANT
RAZOR (SEE NOTE BELOW)
ASPIRIN (SINGLE DOSE)
NON-ASPIRIN (SINGLE DOSE)
IBUPROFEN (SINGLE DOSE)
16 0Z. CUP
PAPER (20 SHEETS)
POSTPAID ENVELOPES .40
COLD DRINKS AND BOTTLED WATER
NOTE [to inmates]: Razors will be priced at $0.25.
Theer will be a $25 core charge on the razors. You will have approximately 1 hour from the time you receive your razor until the razor will be collected by the CO Staff. If the razor Is not returned at this time your commissary account will be debited $25.00.