Reference Number: 
CTAS-1431

The attorney general has opined that a jail is not necessarily unconstitutionally overcrowded simply because it houses more inmates than its Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) capacity. Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 89-65 (April 28, 1989) (citing Feliciano v. Barcelo, 497 F.Supp. 14, 35 (D.P.R.1979)). It is clear that TCI and American Correctional Association (ACA) standards do not establish the constitutional standard. Id. (Citing  Grubbs v. Bradley, 552 F.Supp. 1052, 1124 (M.D. Tenn. 1982). See also Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. 02-015 (February 6, 2002) (same).

It is important to note that the Constitution does not require the county to operate the jail in accordance with criminological doctrine or to employ only experts in its management.  See Grubbs v. Bradley, 552 F.Supp. 1052, 1124 (D.C. Tenn. 1982). “And, while guidelines of professional organizations such as the American Correctional Association represent desirable goals for penal institutions, neither they nor the opinions of experts can be regarded as establishing constitutional minima.” Id. Likewise, a lack of compliance with Tennessee Corrections Institute requirements does not mandate a finding of a constitutional violation. Bradford v. Gardner, 578 F.Supp. 382, 384 (E.D. Tenn. 1984). See also Jones v. Mankin, 1989 WL 44924, *7 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989) (“While we find the Tennessee Corrections Institute's staffing recommendations interesting and helpful, they do not provide a basis to conclude that the sheriff is not able to operate the jail with his existing staff.”).

Although violations of state minimum standards or the county's policies regarding operation of the jail may constitute negligence, violations of state law do not constitute deliberate indifference. Davis v. Fentress County Tennessee, 6 Fed.Appx. 243, 250 (6th Cir. 2001).  See also Roberts v. City of Troy, 773 F.2d 720, 726 (6th Cir. 1985), citing Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183, 104 S.Ct. 3012, 82 L.Ed.2d 139 (1984) ("The mere failure to comply with a state regulation is not a constitutional violation.").