No standard jail sentence calculations at county level in Tennessee

Associated Press • Nov 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM

MURFREESBORO -- A Rutherford County woman who is refusing to return to a correctional work center has brought attention to discrepancies in the way sentences are calculated at the local level.

The federal courts have appointed attorneys to help Sharonda Renee Taylor, who believes employees charged with calculating sentences at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center are doing it wrong.

The Daily News Journal (http://on.dnj.com/XoWK2I) found that administrators at the work center and those at the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center each perform sentence computations differently, according to their own interpretations of Tennessee's sentencing and sentence credit laws.

Jim Hart, the County Technical Assistance Service's jail management consultant, said it's an issue at facilities across the state.

"The one thing I found interesting talking to a handful of people across the state that do sentence computations for their facilities is that each of them are pretty set in their ways and believe their way is the right way," he said.

The cause of some discrepancies is that facilities that have sought advice on Tennessee's sentencing and credit laws have received differing opinions from the state attorney general's office over the years.

Issues also arise when inmates spend time in more than one facility with different sentence computation methods. Those facilities sometimes arrive at release dates that are months apart, Hart said.

Other issues surround work credits, the issue that Taylor contends is being figured wrongly in Rutherford County.

Under the state work credit law, Taylor maintains, inmates should be getting 15 days off their sentences each month from the work credit. That's before any program credits, good time credits or any other credits are factored.

But she says they are actually being given a 13-day credit for every 30 days served.

Rutherford County Correctional Work Center superintendent Bernard Salandy said he read the state work credit law as only applying to state inmates, which the work center does not have.

By speaking out about her issue and planning to fight for it in federal court, Taylor said she is hoping to force the state to make sentence computations uniform across the state. She currently is wanted for failure to complete her sentence.


Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com

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