‘It is overwhelming’: Overcrowding plagues Bedford Co. jail as new facility construction continues

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BEDFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been a problem now for decades in Bedford County.

“They’re completely overcrowded,” said Karen Elkins Sachs. “They don’t care about them people.”

Karen’s concern lies with her son Jonathon, who’s recently claimed there are poor conditions.

“It’s horrible, these people are having to walk around, water up to their ankles with feces, urine,” she said.

Similar overcrowding stories come from Ricky Casteel, who’s wife Keosha is incarcerated and pregnant.

“My wife tells me she’s been in a cell with 60/70 women at one time,” he explained.

The issues have persisted, long before Sheriff Austin Swing assumed his post 14 years ago.

“Our jail is getting more crowded,” he explained two years ago, following a high profile inmate escape. “It’s getting older. It’s literally crumbling on the inside.”

A new jail is currently under construction. The jail today is only certified to hold just over 100 inmates.

It currently houses 165.

“It’s uncomfortable I’d say,” said Sheriff Swing. “So many things that go with it when you just don’t have the space for the amount of prisoners that you’re holding.”

The Sheriff told News 2, recent allegations of raw sewage issues stem from an incident over Labor Day weekend with inmates.

“Some of the prisoners stopped up the commode and flooded part of the jail,” he said. “Of course that was a pretty good mess, but we called in our maintenance as well as a plumbing company and got that taken care of.”

News 2 spoke with Ricky’s wife Keosha over the phone, while she was incarcerated. She says the overcrowding is too much to handle.

“The population, it is so so so so overcrowded, it is overwhelming,” she explained.

The Sheriff though disagrees with those who say conditions are inhumane. He also says many of the issues will be relieved when the new facility opens in a matter of months.

“There’s problems that come with overcrowding no matter where you’re at, or what you’re in,” said Swing. “But inhumane, I would disagree.”

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