Several members of the Regular Hamilton County Grand Jury gave their observations of their service:
REPORT OF THE REGULAR GRAND JURY - August 29, 2018
The Honorable Barry Steelman Judge, Criminal Court Division I
The Honorable Barry Steelman Judge, Criminal Court, Division I Hamilton County, Tennessee
"Definitely not what I expected, highly recommend this experience, great experience and educational, eye opening to the amount of crime in our community." Those are some of the comments I was given by jurors when asked to describe their experience while serving on the Grand Jury for the May - August, 2018 term.
I will say that after serving with them in this term, I know that they are all surprised and a bit saddened by the high number of cases that come through the Grand Jury and most disturbing of all, the number of repeat offenders.
I know that most of them have expressed a renewed appreciation for Law Enforcement. They have been given an education into the daily operations of Law Enforcement and all the hazards and hardships they endure. They now have a better understanding of how a criminal indictment starts with an arrest and goes through the system. Most would say at times our criminal justice system seems in need of some work, but is better than other nations have.
As part of their service, they toured the facilities of Silverdale, the Hamilton County Jail and Juvenile Detention Center. They were charged with reporting on the Hamilton County Jail and Juvenile Detention.
HAMILTON COUNTY JAIL
- The staff at the jail seemed to really know what they were doing. You could tell they are well trained and stay on top of things. It did seem as though they are short staffed and could use more officers. It would seem like a good idea to have more inmates involved in the cleaning and maintaining of the facility. Overall it was impressive how well everything ran in an unconventional space.
- Running a jail takes more people than I thought. Processing people in and out takes a lot of time. Knowing what gangs they are affiliated with and placing them in the right cell to cut down on problems in the jail has to be hard work. I am amazed at the job these people do. I have the utmost respect for the men and women that work around the inmates. Mentally this must be a trying job. I did notice that the cells are very crowded but realize this will take a lot of funds to fix.
- There were multiple comments from jurors stating the professionalism of the staff. Many of them expressed their appreciation for the chaplain and kitchen director.
There were several comments on the crowded conditions of the holding cell and its cleanliness, but we realize in these circumstances conditions will not always be what we feel they should be.
- I was very impressed with the way the employees and supervisors were so caring and respectful of the children's lives. The facility was clean and well maintained The classroom teacher was amazing. They do need to update his GED software.
I had several jurors comment on the cleanliness of the facility and especially its kitchen but as usual, overwhelmingly they were impressed with Mr. Weaver, the classroom teacher. He does need and deserves an updated GED software program.
- My respect and admiration for Law Enforcement has increased tenfold. I've been telling my family, "be sure to respect our police officers and thank them" I think everyone should have to do Grand Jury because it is such an eye opener. I think it would help the current negativity towards our Law Enforcement if everyone got to see what they have to deal with day to day.
During their term they heard 313 cases. They came together and took serious the charge and the education they were given and made the decisions they felt necessary in these cases.
A FINAL THOUGHT
- When I started this job eight years ago, I had no idea what it takes to be in Law Enforcement, no idea what it takes to run a correctional facility much less that they housed the number of inmates they do. I had no idea how much "paperwork" goes into the arrest through to the prosecution of an offender. I had no idea that Judges have to consider the rights of a defendant and that they often struggle with the outcome of a trial. To all of these people within the criminal justice system that I have had the honor to work with, I say thank you for what you do.