Board unanimously votes to decertify Rutherford County jail

(Photo: WKRN)

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – More problems for the troubled Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office after the state decertified the jail.

The decision came after the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) Board of Control voted unanimously Wednesday morning to decertify the facility.

The vote came after the jail, located in Murfreesboro at 940 New Salem Highway, failed its annual inspection and then a re-inspection.

In a re-inspection, it was noted there were not enough officers in the booking area.

“Earlier this year the jail did not meet the mandatory standards for the first inspection and they failed the re-inspection,” TCI spokesman Kevin Walters said.

TCI Board of Control voted to strip away the jail’s certification which could open the door for liability, more inmate lawsuits and higher insurance costs for the county in the future.

“If you don’t meet the mandatory standards, it created the appearance of indifference and with a jail like this, they are currently facing lawsuits, currently have issues there that are ongoing,” Walters said.

Questions have also arisen after several deaths in the jail.

Earlier this year, an inmate hanged himself with a phone cable.

Corrective actions were taken and the phone cables were shortened.

County Mayor Earnest Burgess said more work needs to be done, like making sure there are more eyes to watch inmates in booking.

The County Commission voted to reassign four of the 12 new detention officers to booking.

The new employees have been hired and are currently being trained.

“It’s all about protecting and providing safety for our inmates being booked in there, and also security and safety for our employees and staff members,” Burgess said.

The jail decertification is just the latest trouble for the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Robert Arnold remains behind bars and there have been multiple firings and resignations while he has been jailed.

A federal lawsuit is also pending against Arnold, his uncle John Vanderveer and former Chief Deputy of Administration Joe Russell.

“This is something we are going to get past and correct, and we have the resources to do that,” Burgess said.

TCI officials told News 2 they will be doing a re-inspection of the jail sometime next year. They will make an unannounced visit to make sure all the problems have been taken care of.

There are currently seven jails in the state that have been decertified, including the Coffee County Jail Annex.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN