Tennessee has only one type of correctional facility to hold short-term inmates; these are called local county jails. There are one hundred and twenty local county jails in Tennessee. These types of confinement facilities hold pretrial detainees, people who were just arrested, and also short-term inmates serving short sentences for ordinance violations or misdemeanors. Each jail may have different levels of custody and serve a specific demographic.
The local counties own and operate each jail facility. Typically, a local county Sheriff’s Office is the law enforcement agents in charge of the facilities, they supervise inmates, and they maintain all Tennessee county jail inmate records. Some of the local counties have more than one jail facility. For example, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office oversees and manages three facilities:
Along with supervision, local county jails in Tennessee offer inmates medical and dental services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, educational programs (including degree programs), other like skills training, and services aimed at rehabilitation. They allow visitation, phone calls, mail service, and most have a library where inmates can borrow books to read. Some even have video visitation for family or friends that do not live close by. They arrange bond and bail services as well. Through a service called JailATM.com, inmates who purchase packages can even text messages with loved ones.
One of the oldest county jails in Tennessee is the Moore County Old Jail. It was in operation for more than 100 years. In 1990 they retired the building and added it to the National Register of Historical Places. It was turned into a museum for the public to visit and enjoy.
Modern jails are more high-tech with electronic surveillance and capacity to supervise a lot more inmates in varying degrees of custody.
There are roughly 32,000 people in local county jails in Tennessee. Half of them are pretrial detainees. Ninety percent of jail inmates are female, and the rest are male. More than half (55%) are White, 43% are Black, and the rest other races. The most common reasons people are in jail are offenses against another person, then property charges, and then drugs.