Supervision of Inmates

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The sheriff or other person must remain in the jail every night from 8 o'clock p.m. to 6 o'clock a.m. T.C.A. § 41-4-113.

All prisoners must be personally observed by a staff member at least once every hour on an irregular schedule. More frequent observation must be provided for prisoners who are violent, suicidal, mentally ill or intoxicated, and for prisoners with other special problems or needs.The time of all such checks must be logged, as well as the results. The facility must have a system to physically count prisoners and record the results on a 24 hour basis. At least one formal count shall be conducted for each shift. Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.16(2) and Rule 1400-1-.16(3).

Incidents that involve or endanger the lives or physical welfare of custodial officers or prisoners must be recorded in a daily log and retained. Such incidents shall include, at a minimum:

  1. Death;
  2. Attempted suicide;
  3. Escape;
  4. Attempted escape;
  5. Fire;
  6. Riot;
  7. Battery on a staff member or inmate;
  8. Serious infectious disease within facility; and
  9. Sexual Assault.
    A. An investigation shall be conducted and documented whenever a sexual assault or threat is reported; and
    B. Victims of sexual assault are referred under appropriate security provisions to a community facility for treatment and gathering evidence.

Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.16(4).

Pursuant to state regulations, prisoners are not permitted to supervise, control, assume or exert authority over other prisoners. Rules of the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Rule 1400-1-.16(6). It has been held that the failure to provide adequate personnel to ensure security at the jail and the continued use of inmate trusties to carry out sensitive tasks such as carrying the keys and distributing drugs violates the Eighth Amendment. Nicholson v. Choctaw County, 498 F.Supp. 295, 309 (S.D. Ala. 1980); Gates v. Collier, 501 F.2d 1291, 1308 (5th Cir. 1974) (holding trusty system, which utilized unscreened inmates violated state law, and which allowed inmates to exercise unchecked authority over other inmates, constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment). See also Dawson v. Kendrick, 527 F.Supp. 1252, 1289-1290 (S.D. W.Va. 1981) (finding that the inadequacy of the jail's staffing and the systematic inadequacy of supervision at the jail placed prisoners in reasonable fear for their safety and well being and that the understaffing practice was not rationally connected to a legitimate governmental interest; holding that the failure to retain a trained staff of sufficient numbers gave rise to an unreasonable risk of violence in the jail and constituted a violation of the 14th Amendment as to pretrial detainees and the Eighth Amendment as to convicted prisoners).