Celina, Tennessee — Women who serve time in Clay County jail in Tennessee are not locked in a cell. Instead, they are handcuffed to a chair.
The county jail is so old that it cannot provide enough cells for women.
The sheriff has confirmed the rumors according to which women who are under arrest in the county are handcuffed to their chairs and provided with a temporary bed.
Shauna Scott was arrested in February due to a probation violation and is currently serving time in Clay County jail.
Scott stated that such treatment was inhumane, even if people who received it had done something wrong. According to her, every woman who gets sent to this prison can be sure she will sleep on the floor handcuffed to a chair.
Scott herself has been shackled to a bolted-down chair in a confined corridor of the jail.
According to Scott, there was a woman next to her.
Scott has stated that chaining people to whichever object one can find and leaving them on small mats is terrible. She has added that it is degrading having to beg to use the bathroom and eat your food on the floor.
Mackenzie Melton spent six days handcuffed to a chair last month. She was pregnant at the time.
Melton described the experience, stating that she could merely sit in the chair she was chained to or lay in a temporary bed that had been provided for her. Any farther movements were made impossible.
When her nose started bleeding, the county reached her grandmother. The woman was appalled at the sight of her pregnant granddaughter in the hallway with another woman.
Melton’s grandmother, Jeanne Key, made a remark about people rescuing dogs and treating other people in this manner.
Both she and Melton were concerned about the baby.
Melton said that the sole situation, being so stressful, made her fear she might suffer a miscarriage.
As stated by Brandon Boone, the Clay County sheriff, three women at once had been known to spend days upon days handcuffed to chairs.
According to Boone, the county currently cannot house those women, so they are compelled to stay on the floor.
He stated that the jail, which had existed for 55 years, had merely 14 beds, all of which were currently occupied by men.
Since the state law dictates separating males and females, deputies have no choice but to put the women in the hallway.
Boone was asked if he would want to see his daughter handcuffed like this, to which he responded negatively.
said he did not find fault with anyone who resented him or the county.
The county aims to relocate those women to jails in the vicinity. The sheriff claims he has no other option unless Clay County establishes a new jail.
However, the majority of nearby counties are either full or they simply refuse to take those inmates in.
According to Boone, there is no facility that would take a pregnant woman. He said they were aware of the situation they were in, and that getting such women housed was impossible.
As stated by attorney Richard Brooks, if the county refuses to establish a new jail, it ought to be closed.
Brooks made a remark about closing the jail by saying that someone should have already come and closed it down.
Inspection reports from the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) have stated multiple times that women are housed in the corridor and restrained by being chained.
Nevertheless, TCI has no authority to close the jail.
Brooks said they were the ones to be judged on the grounds that they treated their inmates inhumanely. As stated by him, the TCI simply does not care.
The county’s 911 dispatchers are the jail’s sole two correction officers, which speaks in favor of its financial situation. Even male prisoners are sometimes handcuffed to a chair in the hallway, on the condition that they are suicidal.
According to the sheriff, mentally ill prisoners have been known to spend days in the hallway. They used to stay there until a bed at the nearest state mental hospital became available.
Boone said that the practice needed to come to its end and that the situation regarding the facility had to change. He also said that a new jail had been in talks since 1986 at least.
Clay County hopes for a federal loan which would be used for establishing a new jail. Nevertheless, that is not something that could be done shortly.
Therefore, more women are preordained to share Scott’s fate.
Scott has stated that it is wrong that people one is supposed to admire look down on others and make them feel less worthy of humane treatment. According to her own words, that makes her and other women in similar situations feel like trash.
Mackenzie Melton was transferred to a treatment facility after being chained in the jail’s hallway for six days.
The Clay County jail has been certified by the state because it has developed a Plan of Action for establishing a new jail. Nevertheless, it has no approved plan to fund the action.
According to the state, overcrowding must not have any influence on certification in order to prevent it.
According to the Tennessee Corrections Institute, Clay County jail is overcrowded.