Laws Regarding Jails and Prisons

By Jedidiah McKeehan

If you read through Tennessee law, there are same fairly interesting laws regarding jails and prisons that are still in place. Jail is generally the place where inmates are held who are awaiting trial or are serving a sentence of less than one year. Individuals who have had their trial and are sentenced to serve more than one year are typically sent to prison.

Let’s run through some short, active laws regarding jails and prisons in Tennessee that may seem a little antiquated:

Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 41-1-109 – The warden may, with the consent and advice of the commissioner of correction, make repairs and improvements and build additional cells, as may be necessary, using for those purposes the labor of the inmates as far as practicable.

41-4-109 – The jailer shall furnish adequate food and bedding.

41-4-110 – Male and female prisoners, except husband and wife, shall not be kept in the same cell or room in jail.

41-4-111 – The jailer shall enforce cleanliness in their respective jails. They shall furnish the necessary apparatus for shaving once a week, shall provide bathing facilities separate for males and females, shall furnish hot and cold water, clean and sufficient bedding, and laundering once a week to those prisoners who are not able to provide such for themselves. The jailers shall keep the jails clean and shall remove all filth from each cell once every twenty-four hours.

41-4-112 – It is the duty of the sheriff, where the jail is not fireproof, and so long as any person is confined in the jail, to be constantly at the jail or to have constantly at the jail someone having in possession all keys necessary to liberate all of the prisons in the jail in case of fire.

41-4-113 – The sheriff or other person shall remain in the jail every night from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

41-4-120 – Whenever any officer has to pay necessary expenses for board in guarding a prisoner, the expenses shall be allowed to the officer, to be taxed in the bill of costs not to exceed thirty-five cents per meal each for the officer, the prisoner and the guard.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including family law, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.