Downtown Hamilton County Jail closes

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Tuesday marked the end of an era for the historic Hamilton County Jail.

The downtown jail located on Market Street was first completed in
1976, and at 6am the final inmate was transferred from the facility.

“We have actually been going through the transition now since about
January. Getting the numbers down, transferring as many as we could
out as we built up the area,” says Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond.

After Tuesday, all further inmates will be booked at the Silverdale
Detention Center. Sheriff Jim Hammond says it’s been a long time
coming.

“It is a huge milestone. It is a consolidation that promises to
certainly give a lot of relief to the tax dollars,” explains the Sheriff.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office officially assumed control of
Silverdale back in December, but with the added responsibility of
managing both facilities, the Sheriff said it made sense to combine
the two and close the downtown jail for good.

“Now that we’re shutting one down and consolidating, it allows us to
get more done in a smaller footprint,” Hammond says.

The closing of the jail came as a sigh of relief to Sheriff Hammond,
who says that the building came with it’s own set of structural
problems.

“The design is labor intensive to operate that facility. The new
designs for prisons and jails are much more labor friendly and that’s
half of your costs if not more. So there’s a lot of reasons we needed
to move away from the old design.”

While the first six floors of the jail are now shuttered, several
civilian based offices and the Corrections Training Division will
remain open until those offices can be relocated. But as far as what
the future holds for the building, the Sheriff says that’s out of his
hands.

“I will turn the keys over to the county commission, then I’m sure
they’ll go through a lengthy process of can the building be salvaged,
will it have to be taken completely to the ground and the land put
back on the tax rules, that’s up for anybody’s guess.”

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