Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond has offered ex-Bradley County sheriff Tim Gobble a job running the Hamilton County jail. Gobble hasn’t committed one way or another, and both men stress the job would only be temporary. If Gobble’s management of the Bradley County jail is any indicator, it’s probably just as well the job offer is not of a permanent nature.
According to a report from the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) dated August 20, 2010 — eleven days before Gobble left office after serving a four-year term — an annual inspection revealed that the Bradley County jail “does not meet all applicable minimum standards.” And as everyone knows, “minimum standards” are on the absolute lowest end of the standards scale. In other words, that’s the worst level upon which a jail can operate and still maintain certification; the Bradley County jail ranks somewhere below that.
The TCI will be back on October 13 for a “re-inspection” to see if the problems they encountered have been corrected. Without a passing grade, the jail cannot be re-certified. If a jail cannot pass TCI requirements, prisoners would have to be moved to more suitable accommodations. Or, perhaps, they could go live with Gobble until things are straightened out.
Some of the problems TCI found in Tim Gobble’s jail include overcrowding of county and state prisoners, temperatures in some of the pods “needs adjusting,” cells do not meet the square-footage requirements for overcrowding, high security light fixtures are covered, there is no sanitation log for the cleaning of mats and jail cells, and direct supervision areas are not being “continuously monitored.”
Also, according to TCI, inmates showed inspectors mold on the water coolers and around the lip of serving trays where food is placed. One cell had standing water on the floor and water leaking under the wall from the showers next door. TCI also noted graffiti and pictures posted on the walls and a lack of proper documentation of cleaning schedules.
One source in the jail who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told us, “Tim Gobble would breeze through the jail for photo ops, flashing his Pepsodent smile and acting like a regular guy, but outside of bending over backwards for (former Hamilton County sheriff)
Billy Long, Gobble never did very much for the deputies in the jail or the inmates while he served as sheriff.” (note: Billy Long, who was convicted of extortion, money laundering, and drug and gun offenses while serving as sheriff of Hamilton County, was housed for a time at the Bradley County jail. He is currently serving a 14-year jolt in a federal pen out we. Click For Video Of Undercover Sting)
Bradley County’s new sheriff, Jim Ruth, has been working hard to correct some long-neglected problems at the BCSO. The jail is one of those long-neglected problems, as evidenced by the TCI’s refusal to re-certify, pending the October re-inspection. We here at HometownCleveland.com call on the county mayor and county commissioners to work with Sheriff Ruth to see that the jail is adequately staffed and funded. The last four years have largely been wasted on partisan bickering and political maneuvering. The jail, the jail deputies, the inmates and, yes, the inmates’ families deserve better than the failing grade Tim Gobble left them with.