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2 jailers assaulted by inmate in Jackson Co., officials say

47-year-old Bobby Wayne Fennell, who is currently being held at the Jackson County Jail for drug charges, will now face two counts of 2nd degree assault after hitting two deputies.

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 3:45 PM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 6:14 PM

A deputy at the Jackson County Jail is out of the hospital after an inmate attacked him and another jailer.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said, Bobby Wayne Fennell attacked them both, and one of his victims needed stitches.

According to Sheriff Chuck Phillips, incidents like this don’t happen in Jackson County very often, but he says the jail is currently understaffed, and that could be a reason why the inmate was able to assault two jailers at all.

“The employee may not have been as injured as bad if he had had some help back there with him, someone that could have helped him," said Sheriff Phillips. "I mean the inmate got our jail staff down on the floor.”

Bobby Wayne Fennell, 47, who is currently being held at the Jackson County Jail for drug charges, will now face two counts of 2nd degree assault after hitting two deputies.

This is something those in Jackson County say is unacceptable, and will continue to happen if something isn’t done about it.

“It does happen in almost every jail, especially if they’re understaffed, and they don’t have a nightstick or a weapon to protect themselves with," said Jackson County resident, John Montieth.

And he’s not the only who thinks jailers need more protection.

“Heavily arm the guards," said another Jackson County resident, Larry Knight. "And if that doesn’t work, start shooting.”

According to officials, jailers don’t carry guns, but they do have access to pepper spray and tasers.

However, the sheriff believes something else may be the problem.

“Our jail staff may get a little bit too complacent sometimes working around the inmates because 99% of the time, there’s not an issue," Phillips said.

And he’s not the only one who thinks the jailers may be too comfortable around the inmates.

“Jails are run like motels nowadays. They treat the prisoners like guests instead of prisoners," Montieth said. "Treat them like a prisoner.”

Still, Sheriff Phillips said, the biggest problem is there aren’t enough guards; and, unfortunately, they don’t have the money to hire more.

“Instead of having one jail staff member going back there, doing something, you should have two—at least two," Phillips said. "And being understaffed, sometimes you don’t have but one that can go back there.”

And until they can hire more, Knight believes he may have a solution.

“The only thing or remedy to it would be a 24/7 lock down," Knight said.

Officials tell WAAY 31 that Fennell is currently on lock down inside the jail and will go before a judge some time next week.

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