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First nearby jail helps Rhea County with inmate issues

Image: Rhea Co. Sheriff's Dept. Facebook page

The Rhea County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) says it has made its first deal with a neighboring county to house some of its inmates while it works out a plan to expand and modernize the Rhea County Jail.

A Thursday post on the RCSO's Facebook page announced that Sheriff Mike Neal has secured places for 20 inmates in Anderson County, two counties to the northeast.

"It's the first jail yet to give me a 90-day contract," Sheriff Mike Neal said. "A week ago we were at 85 inmates with 87 as our goal, but our numbers jumped back to 135 in one week's time."

The post says there are now 73 Rhea County inmates housed in eight counties across the state. At $39/day per inmate, the current cost to Rhea County taxpayers is over $1,030,155 per year.

Back in June, the state of Tennessee mandated the overcrowding issue be fixed by August.

Related | Rhea County Sheriff: Jail still overcrowded, despite cutting population in half

County Mayor George Thacker told us the last few weeks have been a scramble to quickly relieve crammed criminals.

"I think everyone's ready to get this behind us," he said.

Sheriff Neal tells us he wants the new facility to house 280 to 300 inmates.

Developers are deciding which of three locations would be best for the new jail.

Depend on us to keep you posted on this story.

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