Madison sheriff says overcrowding a factor in weekend jail break

Two inmates at the Madison County Jail Annex, located beside the county courthouse in Jackson, overpowered two female correction officers and briefly escaped Friday night, reports the Jackson Sun. Sheriff John Mehr says overcrowding at the main jail was a factor.

The inmates, both juveniles… escaped from their cell around 11 p.m. Friday. One made it to the roof using a side door and the other was found hiding in a closet, Mehr said around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Other inmates who were sharing the cells didn’t try to escape, Mehr said.

…Mehr said the guards were trying to retrieve an item from a cell when the inmates overpowered the guards using fire extinguishers, allowing them to escape.
…Both inmates are in custody and charges could be filed on Monday.

The juvenile inmates cannot be in an area where they can see or hear adult inmates, even though the juveniles are being tried as adults, Mehr said.

Holding the juveniles at the annex was the best option, Mehr said, because of overcrowding at the Criminal Justice Complex, and because the juveniles are facing “serious charges.”

Saturday morning, Mehr attributed one factor of the escape to an overcrowded jail, but said he would watch surveillance video to see what can be done to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

Commissioners voted on July 1 to begin working with the Tennessee Corrections Institute and their County Corrections Partnership to help remedy overcrowding in the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex after the jail failed a state inspection in May.

…Eventually, the committee will decide on options ranging from spending millions of dollars on a new facility to something as simple as having more offenders wear GPS ankle bracelets to monitor their locations instead of putting them in jail.