Inmates flood jail, cite overcrowding as reason

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Following an incident where inmates flooded the Carter County Jail on March 17, an inmate has been charged in connection with the flooding.
   Timothy Demery, 25, who is currently incarcerated at the Carter County Jail awaiting a trial on a charge of first degree murder, was charged with one count of vandalism over $1,000, which is a felony in the state of Tennessee.
   According to Carter County Sheriff John Henson, Demery knocked the off some sprinklers in the "A Block" section of the jail where he was being housed which then caused the cell block to flood and water to leak down in the General Sessions Court Room, Judge John Walton's office and the Child Support office, causing damage to the ceilings of those rooms and also damaging files as well.
   "This is a continuous problem with knocking sprinkler heads off," Henson said. "The only way to keep this from happening is to have higher ceilings. The jail never should have been built over the offices. Flooding has been a problem at this facility since day one."
   On Friday, The Star received a letter signed by 14 inmates at the Carter County Jail who reported that they are currently incarcerated in "A Block" section. In the letter, the inmates stated that the reason why inmates flooded the jail was in protest of conditions which the inmates are being held in.
   The letter cites many of the same conditions which are currently the subject of a lawsuit against Carter County and Henson over conditions at the jail, such as overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.
   Henson stated that he understands there are problems with the current jail facility and that the jail, which is certified to hold 91 inmates and has often housed more than 200, is overcrowded.
   "We know we're over crowded but that does not give them any right to tear stuff up and flood the jail," he said. "My advice to them is if they are not happy here then stay out of here and quit violating the law to get put in jail. We don't put innocent people in jail."