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Problems with court/jail system under review at Shelby County Commission

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- The General Sessions Shelby County Clerk says the new jail and courts computer system is causing delays for inmates. It’s been several weeks since the system was implemented and the problems associated with it don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Commissioners heard some of the complaints people still have with the new system on Wednesday.

“[We need to figure out] how to first bail the water out of the boat and then we got to figure out how to fix the boat,” said Commissioner Heidi Shafer.

She's referring to the numerous problems reported with the new court and jail computer system. Delays have inmates sleeping on the floor, being kept behind bars too long and getting lost in the database.

Josh Spickler with Just City filed a lawsuit against the county and Sheriff based on these stories.

“I think that`s the biggest hope in this lawsuit is there will be accountability for how they spent our money and how they`ve used our jail,” said Spickler.

The lawsuit led commissioners to go off the record on Wednesday.

"We had to go into executive session," said Shafer. "What we have to weigh is the public's right to know and transparency against the fiduciary responsibility to Shelby County."

She says they don't want taxpayers to have to foot the bill of these system issues.

“I`m going to fight tooth and nail to make sure this doesn`t cost us," she said. "I think we need to hold people accountable.”

The commissioner wants one of the vendors, Tyler Technologies, to take control. The IT department says six employees with Tyler are here this week.

“We need some fixes and we need them quick and we need them to be permanent,” said Shafer.

General Sessions County Clerk Edward Stanton, Jr. said the changeover is causing problems like extra paperwork, data backlogs and employees working overtime in his office.

However, the Sheriff`s Office says they're starting to get inmates in and out quicker.

“You compare that with the last few weeks and it`s a lot better,” said Earle Farrell with SCSO.

A defense attorney also told WREG on Wednesday they’re still having trouble tracking down defendants in the system.

WREG has been requesting entrance into the jail for a week now, but keeps getting denied.