The Roane County Jail is certified to house 170 inmates. The jail population was 316 when the Tennessee Corrections Institute inspected it on September 3, 2019. This week the population was somewhere around 160.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has played a role in the reduction.
When Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins extended an order limiting in-person court proceedings because of COVID-19, he also directed the presiding judge of each judicial district to come up with a plan to “address issues regarding the incarceration of nonviolent offenders in furtherance of efforts to reduce the jail population.”
Criminal Court Judge Jeff Wicks signed the order for the Ninth Judicial District, which consists of Roane, Loudon, Meigs and Morgan counties, on March 30.
“In a period of five business days, we were able to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders from the overall jail population in the district from 452 inmates to 359 inmates,” the order said. “This represents a 21 percent reduction in the jail population.”
Wicks, a Roane County resident, is the presiding judge for the district.
“All defendants being held on contempt charges for child support were released from custody and the sentences for some defendants serving time on misdemeanors and violations of probation were suspended,” the order said.
As of Wednesday, there were more than 2,500 positive cases of coronavirus in Tennessee, but just 12 in the counties that make up the Ninth Judicial District. Loudon led the way with eight. Roane County had two and Morgan and Meigs had one each.
“Hopefully, we can do our part in preventing the virus from spreading to our local jails,” the order said.