Reference Number: 
CTAS-1339

The sheriff is charged with receiving those persons lawfully committed to the jail and with keeping them until they are lawfully discharged.  T.C.A. § 8-8-201(a)(3).  This includes federal as well as state prisoners.  United States v. Hill, 60 F. 1005, 1009 (6th Cir. 1894).

In addition to convicts sentenced to imprisonment in the county jail, the jail may be used as a prison for the safekeeping or confinement of the following persons:

  1. Persons committed for trial for public offenses;
  2. Convicts sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary, until their removal to the penitentiary;
  3. Persons committed for contempt or on civil process;
  4. Persons committed on failure to give security for their appearance as witnesses in any criminal cases;
  5. Persons charged with or convicted of a criminal offense against the United States;
  6. Insane persons, pending transfer to the insane hospital, or other disposition; and
  7. All other persons committed thereto by authority of law.

T.C.A. § 41-4-103(a).

A county jail must accept all persons arrested pursuant to law by the sheriff or municipal police officers. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 02-015 (Feb. 6, 2002). Additionally, the jailer is required to receive all persons arrested by officers of the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security and TVA peace officers. T.C.A. §§ 38-3-114 and 38-3-120. The jailer cannot refuse acceptance of an arrestee who complains about a medical problem or has an obvious injury needing medical attention. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 02-015 (Feb. 6, 2002). A county jailer cannot require an arresting city police officer to take a prisoner for medical examinations prior to being accepted by the jailer; after a mittimus has been issued the jailer must receive the prisoner. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. U91-01 (1991). 

The attorney general has opined that the sheriff does not have the authority to refuse to accept a prisoner accompanied by a valid mittimus, even when the jail has reached its design capacity, nor does the sheriff have the authority to refuse to accept a person arrested for a violation of state law prior to the issuance of a mittimus. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 89-65 (April 28, 1989); Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. No. 94-041 (March 31, 1994) (Likewise, this office is not aware of any grounds, absent an emergency medical situation or superseding court order, that would authorize a sheriff to refuse to accept a person arrested for a state violation for a temporary holding prior to the individual's appearance before a magistrate and the issuance of a mittimus.). See also State v. Mitchell, 593 S.W.2d 280, 282 (Tenn. 1980); Wynn v. State, 181 S.W.2d 332, 334 (Tenn. 1944) (The criminal statutes and rules permit "a temporary holding without a mittimus."). A mittimus is a court order that directs an officer to convey an individual to the jail and directs the jailer to receive and keep the individual. A mittimus is the authorization for commitment to a county jail.

Written policy and procedure shall ensure that inmates shall not be subjected to discrimination based on race, national origin, color, creed, sex, economic status or political belief.  When both males and females are housed in the same facility, available services and programs shall be comparable.  Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.05(7).  The Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.17(3) further states that inmates with disabilities, including temporary disabilities, shall be housed and managed in a manner that provides for their safety and security.  Housing used by inmates with disabilities, including temporary disabilities, shall be designed for their use and shall provide for integration with other inmates.  Program and service areas shall be accessible to inmates with disabilities.