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Detention Center inspection returns ‘zero findings’ report

On the heels of the Republican Primary, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was hit with a surprise jail inspection May 12.
“It was the best one we’ve ever had, with zero findings,” WCSO Chief Operations Officer Leighta Laitinen told members of the Public Safety Committee during their May 13 meeting.
Three inspectors from the Tennessee Corrections Institute showed up at 9:30 a.m., and the inspection was not completed until 5 p.m.
Laitinen said TCI now conducts team inspections rather than sending only one inspector. “These were three new people, and they were very tough,” she said. “They bragged on the cleanliness of the facility, the kitchen and the medical staff.”
Sheriff Ed Graybeal agreed the inspectors cut the WCSO no slack during the annual visit, which is always unannounced.
Laitinen said the entire physical facility is reviewed from top to bottom, including items such as the water temperature in the showers.
In addition, TCI studied the medical services provided by the Detention Center through a random pull of 30 to 40 medical files.
“They also looked at our budget to see how we’re staffed and went through the inmate handbook,” Laitinen said.
Personal interviews with current inmates also were conducted by inspectors for feedback about their experience.
Other categories on the TCI Inspection Report include administration and management; security; discipline; hygiene; food services; admissions/records/release; mail and visiting; programs and activities; and supervision of prisoners.
During the 2012 inspection, TCI determined the Detention Center was overcrowded, but Washington County argued the number of state Department of Corrections inmates awaiting trial was the reason, and the certification was maintained.
Graybeal and Laitinen provided an update on the number of state prisoners during the May 14 meeting of the Budget Committee. “The numbers are down to 138 from 200, and I don’t see the number of state inmates getting that high again,” Laitinen said.
During last week’s inspection, the Detention Center was housing a total of 550 inmates in its 620-bed capacity.
It is customary for the inspectors to sit down with staff members at the end of the day to review any deficiencies or findings, according to Laitinen. If the problem is something that can be fixed immediately, it is corrected while the inspectors are on site. If more time is needed, TCI will set a date to return for a re-inspection.
With no findings identified during the 2014 inspection, neither was necessary.
“It’s rare for a jail to get a perfect review,” Laitinen said. “We’re really proud.”