Josh Hartsell, Chief of Corrections
It would be great if there was no need for a jail, but that is not the world in which we live. It is necessary at times for individuals to be isolated from society due to circumstances in their life.
As our world, laws and expectations have changed the jail has become not just a place to incarcerate criminals, but also a place to temporarily house those individuals who are dealing with substance abuse, and even mental illness. The challenges facing our local jail are demanding and constantly changing.
The men and women who choose a career as a Correctional Officer have far greater expectations placed upon them than just keeping criminals locked up. They are called upon to assess and respond to a wide variety of circumstances. They must react to various personality issues, violent criminals, suicidal inmates, persons with communicable diseases, the need for First Aid, individuals suffering from the effects of illegal substances, inmates and families who may be dealing with any number of social, emotional or even psychological issues. Along with these situations, they also serve 400 to 500 meals every day of the week, distribute prescription medications and do their best to see to it that inmate hygiene is observed and recreation time is allowed. Corrections Officers are also called upon to ensure that each inmate’s religious rights are met.
The days of the jovial town drunk letting himself in and out of jail are over. The standards and expectations on our jail are at an all-time high and still rising. I give my personal thanks to the people of Cocke County for your support, thoughts and prayers for the men and women who choose to be Correctional Officers.
There are some charges that exclude a person from trusty privilege. Tennessee Code Annotated 41-51-104 (2008) prohibits anyone who must currently register as a sex offender from being a trusty. Locally, if an inmate has been a disciplinary problem they may be passed over for a job. They must be able to pass a drug test. If an inmate has been sentenced, can pass a drug screen and there is an open trusty position, they are considered for a job in the jail.
We have only a few people to supervise all the functions of the jail. We average 150 or moreinmates in the jail at any given time. We are asked as many as 50 times a day to relay a message to an inmate. If we did that for just 1 inmate, we would have to do it for every inmate. We do take the time to give inmates the messages we know are very important. When the message concerns a close relative who is ill or something of that nature, we will pass along that news.
When the judge releases an inmate, there is more involved than just his word. There is still the need for the paper trail for proof of what took place. The paper trail can take some time. All the while your inmate is being processed, chances are several others are, also. They also want to leave ASAP. At the same time, all the other functions for those inmates who remain in jail have to continue. Meals have to served, medications given and so on. Typically, court adjourns around the same time that daily visitation begins which means not only are inmates being booked out, but families are also crowding the lobby to see their loved ones. There is no provision to call in extra officers when all the extra duties occur.
Most people who have a family member in jail simply want them to have soap and shampoo from home. We understand that. Unfortunately, there are some out in this world who try to deliver drugs and other contraband to inmates using hygiene product containers. It is true that everything can be inspected, but when you consider how many items might be brought in and how long it takes to sort out everything, it would involve many man hours.
In the lobby of the Annex there is a machine, much like an ATM where anyone can deposit money into inmate accounts. You will need a state issued ID and you may use either cash or a credit/debit card. There is a transaction fee charged by the provider. It makes things move a little faster if you know the inmate’s Jacket Number.
Money may also be deposited by phone or online.
Phone: 877-998-5678 or visit www.inmatesales.com
Commissary: 866-394-0490 or visit SMARTDEPOSIT.com
The General Sessions and Circuit Court clerks along with the District Attorney decide when an inmate appears in court. When court is in session, the Control room will receive a list from the court Bailiff and the inmate will be escorted to court. The jail staff has no control over this.
Cocke County Jail
358 East Main Street
Newport, Tennessee 37821
Hours 8 AM-4 PM Monday –Friday