Sheriff outlines vision for transition from downtown jail to Silverdale facility

Silverdale Detention Center
photo Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts building is located on Market Street in downtown Chattanooga. The Hamilton County Jail is seen in the upper right.

Hamilton County's sheriff wants to use a series of "creative deferment" strategies to reduce the local inmate population while transitioning everyone from the downtown jail to the Silverdale correctional facility over the next few years.

"We will slowly empty our floors here," Sheriff Jim Hammond said Thursday, "but we simply can't do it without reducing the numbers. How do we reduce the numbers? Through creative deferment, if you will."

That means diverting more non-offenders from the justice system with ankle monitors, researching alternatives to the cash-bond industry and giving officers more discretion to help people in mental health crises instead of taking them to jail.