Shelby Co. Commissioner calls for audit of county jails

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Commissioner Tami Sawyer is calling for the Mayor’s office to perform an audit of the jails in Shelby County.

Sawyer wrote a formal letter to the Mayor and plans on presenting a resolution for the commission.

“We get all types of letters and emails from inmates and from guards about the conditions in our jails and prisons,” Sawyer.

Sawyer wants an independent auditor to look at the facilities, safety for inmates and guards and health care services.

In November, FOX13 reported about a corrections officer accused of sneaking contraband in the jail.

Related: Problems persist at Mid-South prison

We also reported on several inmate deaths and escapees.

“It's easy for people to discount this and say if you are in jail you did the crime you do the time but remember a large majority of our population that Shelby County oversees has not yet been convicted,” said Sawyer.

Related: Inmate found dead in his cell at SCDC, officials say

She said the deaths and riots in Parchman, Mississippi have disturbed her.

She was also alarmed by the recent findings in the performance audit report of the department of corrections.

Many problems in the report mentioned a failure to follow policies for investigating sexual abuse and harassment allegations, unreliable data about inmate deaths and other issues.

That’s why Sawyer is calling for the mayor's office to perform an audit of the jails.

“I'm also concerned about the level of drug overdoses in the jail and suicides as well so mental health amenities as well,” said Sawyer.

“We don’t want to be on the front page of the paper for five or six inmates killed in one week so lets nip it in the but now.”

Sawyer plans to present a resolution to the commissioners next week.