Unsupervised Inmates Acquire Booze, Pills At Convenience Center

The Cannon County Sheriff provides inmate labor to the Cannon County Convenience Center. Convenience center employees are supposed to provide supervision of the inmates while they are working there. When that supervision doesn't happen or is lacking, problems can ensue, as was the case last week.

On the night of January 20, 2011, an inmate returned from working at the Cannon County Convenience Center heavily intoxicated.

Upon arrival at the Cannon County Jail, the inmate began an altercation with another inmate. This was when it was discovered that he had been consuming some type of alcohol while working for the convenience center. This inmate was not allowed to return to the convenience center. This left two inmates to work the facility.

On Saturday, Jan. 22, sheriff's deputies were notified that the inmates working at the convenience center had prescription medication in their possession illegally.

Upon further investigation, it was found that the inmates had in their possession two bottles of Hydrocodone totalling 40 pills. One of the inmates admitted to taking the medication from a garbage bag that a county citizen had thrown out.

It was discovered that when the citizen threw the bag of trash away, the inmates set the trash to the side rather than properly dispose of it. This is when they went through the trash and recovered four pill bottles, two of which contained the Hydrocodone medication.

After taking office, Cannon County Sheriff Darrell Young and Jail Administrator Ed Brown went to the Convenience Center and discovered where inmates working there had hoarded knives, pornographic movies, one television and VCR, power tools, cigarettes and other tobacco products, along with other various items. The items were properly removed and the inmates were advised that they were to work there and not "homestead."

The sheriff's department provides inmate labor to the convenience center as a community service, Sheriff Young and Brown said. Supervision is the responsibility of convenience center employees, they said.

Sheriff Young was advised over the weekend that a sign was displayed at the convenience center stating "Self Service — Compliments of the Working Sheriff." The sheriff said that since there was no employee working at the convenience center on Saturday when inmates originally reported, the inmates were left alone, unsupervised.

Sheriff Young said the department is not budgeted, nor has the manpower, to put proper supervison at the convenience center to oversee the inmates. He said the County Executive has people hired to work the convience center, none of which are qualified or certified to work inmates.

Sheriff Young added, however, that his department has arranged for these indivduals to attend a 40-hour basic training class through the State of Tennessee. After the employees receive the proper training, the sheriff's department will once again gladly supply inmate labor to the convenience center.

"It is my sworn duty to protect both inmates and citizens of this county," Sheriff Young said. "I apolized for any inconvenience to the citizens of this county."

The sheriff said at least one inmate, Jeremy Leedom, faces charges in connection with the incidents at the convenience center.