BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Slow progress and the tossing around of ideas continue to highlight the county's monthly meetings of the Greene County Courthouse/Workhouse Committee.
The ongoing problem of overcrowding at the Greene County Detention Center caused the jail to lose Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) certification in 2012.
Since that time, a reduction in the number of federal prisoners housed at the jail prompted the TCI to agree to a month-by-month reinstatement of certification.
In order to maintain that certification, the county must send the TCI a monthly progress report.
Certification is important to the county because it decreases liability. During the year without certification, the county became the defendant in six pending federal lawsuits from prisoners alleging unconstitutional or inhumane treatment.
These various factors mean that, at the end of each month, the Courthouse/Workhouse Committee meets together and proposes various options for resolving the overcrowding problem.
For more than six months now, the committee has held these monthly meetings without gaining any consensus on a solution.
A proposal to build a new jail on Hal Henard Road barely made it through the committee in August, only to fail dramatically when brought before the full Greene County Commission in September.
The committee met again on Thursday. Most of the two-hour meeting passed with the committee hearing a proposal from PSI, a company based in Putnam County.
PSI owner Tim Cook proposed that the county could pay the company to provide alternate sentencing and increased monitoring techniques, at a cost of $20 per day, per inmate, to decrease inmate populations.
The committee heard the proposal but recommended Cook speak with Greene County Sessions Court Judge Kenneth Bailey instead.
From there, Sheriff Steve Burns told the committee about an aging and corroded water pipe, noting that he is having a number of plumbing problems at the aging detention center, which was built in the mid-1980s.
"There needs to be something done, but I don't think anything's going to be done until [...] after the election," Commissioner John Carter said.
Commissioners then heard a quick report from Chairman Fred Malone, who said he has been contacted by two property-owners interested in selling their land to the county for the purpose of building a new jail.
Malone said that commissioners should look at one of the sites, a 26-acre tract of land owned by Larry Jones, located off the Baileyton Road and bordering property owned by the Town of Greeneville.
Malone said Jones is asking $10,000 per acre. He added that town officials have expressed some willingness to sell additional acreage to the county.
The meeting then adjourned with no further discussion.