Hamilton County Jail wins national accreditation

Police vehicles line the street Wednesday, June 15, 2016, outside of the Hamilton County Jail.

The Hamilton County Jail recently achieved 100 percent compliance with all 153 American Correctional Association standards and best practices for jails in a national accreditation audit, Sheriff Jim Hammond said in a news release Friday.

"This is an exceptional accomplishment for a facility over 30 years old and is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the staff who work at the Hamilton County Jail," Hammond said.

photo The Hamilton County Jail in downtown Chattanooga in shown in August 2015.

Jail administrators attended a panel hearing in August where they were awarded the national accreditation from the American Correctional Association.

The release said the Hamilton County Jail is now one of only eight Tennessee jails to achieve national accreditation from the American Correctional Association, the driving force in establishing national correctional policies and advocating safe, humane and effective correctional operations.

The facility can maintain its accreditation by complying with the standards and best practices for jails, submitting annual reports to the Commission on Accreditation, and participating in ACA re-accreditation audits every three years.

In 2017, the county announced it plans to destroy the aging, overcrowded facility, expand Silverdale Detention Center to accommodate every inmate and put Hammond's office in charge of daily operations. There's about 1,600 inmates between both facilities, and Hammond said he wants to reduce that number over the next few years by outfitting people with ankle monitors and investing in programs and grants that divert people in mental health crises from jail.

Despite the accreditation, Chattanooga defense attorney Robin Flores said the county jail still struggles to get people medical care in a timely manner.

"You've got guys who come over there who have been injured who are put in the hole [solitary confinement] or in the shower, they're totally incognito, and it takes a while to get to the hospital," Flores said. "That's the main thing: the delay in getting people medical care. It's kind of like the [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs]."