By | August 20, 2022

8-20-22

The situation at the Rutherford County Jail does not seem to getting any better. What we do know is so small compared to what we don’t and even that is unacceptable.

Now not only are the staff and inmates in danger from low staffing levels and poor oversight, but reportedly SBI agent Cameron Spear during this recent investigation (after our last article) has made all staff there sign a nondisclosure agreement concerning the issues going on in the jail.

Now after contacting a former SBI agent, I was told that only in rare circumstances will they have officers sign a nondisclosure agreement during an investigation. Rare circumstances……

Not only are our jail officers in danger during their work shifts, but now they cannot bring attention to any of it. They are being made to bear their burdens in silence. Who is standing up for them?

(stock photo) 

  • Not the SBI, they made them sign the non-disclosure agreement.
  • Not the Sheriff, he has let them continue with substandard conditions and inadequate staffing for years.
  • Not District Attorney Ted Bell who routinely turned a blind eye to every issue at the jail.
  • Not the Rutherford County Commissioners who allocated money for needed repairs and staff and have not followed up to see that it was done. Jail inspection reports are copied to them when issued.
  • Who do we have to go to in order to get these issues addressed before an officer, inmate, or courthouse official gets seriously injured or even killed?

Our officers and even our inmates deserve better. When jail officials cannot even get deputies to come sweep the jail for weapons, what kind of message is that sending to the officers that work there?

If jail officials are offered money to turn the other way when contraband and drugs are coming into the jail, can we not understand what kinds of pressures they are working under? When inmates are allowed to do “rounds” for officers because they are too short staffed to do them themselves. (btw why would this even be allowed?) Low salary, low staffing, low morale, no support from the Sheriff who oversees them, how do we expect them to feel? Where is he in all this? Silence is not the way to handle this.

The conditions for the inmates are terrible as the inspections have shown and the improvements have not been made. Is the only reason our jail is still open because we house federal inmates there? Is it only open because the Sheriff and County can’t afford to not only lose revenue but have to pay for our inmates to be housed somewhere else? If so, how is that right? How much money is a life worth in Rutherford County?

We will have a new Sheriff after the November election, but in the meantime how many more will die before then. Our record here is not good, folks. We can’t wait for this to become someone else’s problem. It is our problem now!

WNC-US Atty Dena J. King

It seems that people will have to contact Attorney General Josh Stein or the Federal Attorney for WNC Dena J. King to see if something can be done. The “good ole boy” network is strong and includes some members of the SBI here it seems. Yes, it has been going on for years and years, but it is time to stop.

If you know of something amiss at the jail or have concerns for an officer or inmate, please let me know at debkellercares@gmail.com. (All communication is confidential.)

The only way to fix this mess is to be open and transparent. We must shine a light on the problems in order to see how to properly fix them. Together we CAN do this.

I for one do not want to see any more deaths laid at the Sheriff’s door and certainly do not want to see any more cover-ups. My prayers are with them – all that work and are housed there.