Hawkins County inmates may face rioti...

Hawkins County inmates may face rioting charge

Posted in the Rogersville Forum

“Not all who wander r lost”

Since: May 08

Boone Docks TN

#1 Apr 7, 2010
ROGERSVILLE — About 20 Hawkins County Jail inmates are learning a little too late that breaking things in the new facility isn’t in the best interest of earning their freedom.
Wednesday afternoon there were 20 inmates up for arraignment in Hawkins County Sessions Court for charges of vandalism inside the new $12 million jail, which opened earlier this year.
When inmates learned the potential consequences of those vandalism charges, however, a near-riot ensued.
Now those inmates are also facing possible charges of misdemeanor rioting or contempt of court depending on an attorney general’s office investigation.
Among the vandalism that inmates are accused of doing in the new jail is damaging light fixtures; damaging the cell door “pie hole” that food is served through; damaging and breaking seats; and throwing wet toilet paper at the surveillance cameras to obscure the lens.
Juvenile Court Judge James “Jay” Taylor is substituting for Sessions Judge David Brand while Brand recovers from a medical procedure.
On Wednesday, Taylor heard six video arraignments for inmate vandalism from their cell block, and prior to the sixth inmate all had pleaded not guilty.
The sixth inmate, Ronald Wells, 34, 141 Beaver Lane, Rogersville, pleaded guilty to the jail vandalism and was sentenced to 10 days in jail as well as restitution to be determined later. Wells was originally arrested on several drug and traffic charges including felony evading arrest.
In sentencing Wells, Taylor noted that the sentence would be served consecutively to what he receives on the original charges. That means if Wells is sentenced to prison time on the original charges, a “hold” will be placed on him when he enters the Department of Corrections.
Upon completing his prison time, Wells will be returned to the Hawkins County Jail to serve that 10 days before being released.
Assistant Attorney General Doug Godbee noted that the consequences of taking a “hold” into the Department of Corrections is much worse than serving a final 10-day sentence.

“Not all who wander r lost”

Since: May 08

Boone Docks TN

#2 Apr 7, 2010

“A lot of our prisoners may have felony sentences pending, and some have served time before, which means they’re aware of the fact that a hold will affect how they serve their time in the Department of Corrections,” said Godbee.“It’s going to reduce their chances of being placed in a minimum-security institution, it’s going to limit the number of privileges they’re entitled to in prison, and it’s going to affect their parole eligibility. They probably thought their vandalism case was going to be concurrent with any other time they receive.
“When they found out it was going to be consecutive, that’s part of what set off the riot.”
Wells reportedly told his fellow inmates that he’d received a consecutive sentence and a hold, after which the other inmates became loud. Hawkins County Jail administrator Lt. Danita Caldwell said she believes describing the incident as a riot is an overstatement.
Caldwell said the inmates became loud, unruly, made rude comments to the judge, and were subsequently placed on lockdown. At no time did the jail staff lose control of the inmates, Caldwell added.
As a result of the disruption Taylor postponed arraignments of the remaining inmate vandalism cases and rescheduled them for Monday. Taylor later told the Times-News the disruption sounded like “the roar of a crowd at a ball game,” and it was too loud to continue arraignments.
“My staff in the juvenile court offices are separated from the jail by a couple of layers of concrete blocks,” Taylor said.“It was so loud my staff could hear them through the wall, and they became concerned that there was a serious riot taking place.”
Godbee said his office will investigate the incident, and all inmates involved in the disruption will face additional charges.
“Participating in a riot that affects government operations is a misdemeanor,” Godbee said.“It becomes a felony if there’s injury, but thank goodness nobody was hurt.”
Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lt. Randy Collier said Wednesday he too wouldn’t describe the incident as a riot, although he agrees with the participants facing additional charges. Collier said the main lesson from Wednesday’s incident is that inmates are being held responsible for damage they do to the jail.
“The taxpayers spent more than $12 million on this facility,” Collier said.“If an inmate damages the jail he’s going to be charged, he’s going to get extra jail time, and he’s going to pay restitution to the taxpayers of Hawkins County.”

Church Hill, VA

#3 Apr 7, 2010
Good luck to the county trying to get money out of the ones who don't sell drugs. I doubt if any of them work for a living.

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