The drag of getting arrested

By Greg Miller

Being arrested is a complete drag, despite Hollywood's attempts to make the drama of it attractive to those looking for meaning in all the wrong places.
   Personal space and private information suddenly become public property. Getting out involves forever being labeled a criminal. And your body? It's no longer your own.
   According to Carter County Jail officials, those delivered to the jail after being arrested are physically searched for their own safety and those around them.
   Searching is a necessary evil that takes place after the booking process, which only takes about 20 minutes if all goes smoothly, according to Sgt. Wendell Treadway, Jail Administrator. Individuals are searched for a variety of contraband such as weapons, drugs, and tobacco, Treadway said.
   Most searches involve only emptying out pockets.
   However, "depending on the circumstance, they could be strip searched," Treadway said.
   If officers suspect a person could be hiding a weapon or drugs, individuals are asked to remove their clothing in front of an officer of the same gender and are issued a jail uniform.
   In rare instances, officers also perform what is called a "body cavity search". A body cavity search cannot be performed "without a court order and without a physician present," according to Treadway, who said a physician actually performs the search.
   "We would need to have a tip that the person has a weapon or they have drugs, and we would pursue it with a strip search," Treadway said.
   Regardless, all prisoners are booked and fingerprinted. Afterward, officers take a mug shot. Information entered into the log book includes the current address of the arrested person, existing health problems, charge, court date, name of the arresting officer, and bond information (if a bond is appropriate).
   "Sometimes, it's a non-bondable offense," Treadway said. "They're given an opportunity to make bond, and they're given a phone call."
   Treadway said that, occasionally, a booking doesn't go smoothly, and the individual will resist.
   "They may refuse to answer vital questions that we have to ask. Most of them are cooperative because they're usually irritated because they're incarcerated and this adds fuel to the fire sometimes." If a person resists during booking, additional charges can be filed.
   "Ninety percent of them are cooperative, because most of them don't want an additional charge," Treadway said. "Most of them want out as quickly as possible, and they realize if they're not cooperative it could be a lengthier stay."
   Treadway has dealt with those who resisted during the booking process. "You have to deal with it," he said. When an individual resists, the officer must respond with "minimum force," which typically would be "putting them in lockup, or, if they're intoxicated, putting them in the drunk tank."
   CCSD officers "are very professional," Treadway said. "We've come a long way in the past few years. Sheriff Henson has provided us with better equipment. We have an electronic fingerprint machine that links their fingerprints to Nashville. We have the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) computer."
   The CCSD, Elizabethton Police Department, constables, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Tennessee wildlife officers, are among the law enforcement officers who bring subjects in for booking, according to Treadway.
   Court appearances are scheduled during the week. "Of course, the attorneys are in and out throughout the week to see their clients," remarked Treadway, who said religious services are offered two or three days a week.
   Current capacity at the jail is 112 inmates. "We have 168 today," Treadway said Thursday. Tennessee's prison population reflects overcrowding problems that are nationwide.
   "We're looking at a plan to add on to our facility, so we can increase the capacity from 112 to about 125. We're going to try within the next few years to be able to house as many as 200. Our total population is increasing each year."
   The jail houses state prisoners, "which probably brings in about $300,000 a year. We are a certified jail, and we also have a work release program. Each inmate has to pay $15 a day to go out to work. We have an average of about 15 inmates who are allowed to work while they are incarcerated," he said.