ARE THE INMATES RIGHT?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 9, 2017) — A NASDAQ report by private prison operator CoreCivic dated February 8, 2017 indicates the company earned increased revenues during the fourth quarter of 2016 and 2016 overall as compared to 2015.
Formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), CoreCivic operates detention facilities, reentry programs and prisons in various locations around the country, although not in every state. Since rebranding itself with a new name and website approximately three months ago, CoreCivic has focused on the “real estate solutions” it says it provides to government entities.
One of the factors in its greater revenue, according to the report, is “the activation of the newly constructed Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in the first quarter of 2016.”
The Post & Email has written extensively about the facility over the last nine months as a result of letters received from inmates as well as telephone calls, comments and emails from inmates’ relatives desperate to find an alternative to the conditions described therein.
CoreCivic’s spokesman, Jonathan Burns, has not been responsive to The Post & Email’s requests for comment, although he has been quoted by mainstream media as having denied reports of short-staffing.
Trousdale Turner (TTCC) has been described by a number of inmates as controlled by gangs and the worst environment in which they have ever been incarcerated. Although state-run facilities in Tennessee have also been widely reported as dangerous, some inmates and their concerned relatives have stated that their hypothetical return to a state-operated prison would be far preferable to their remaining in Hartsville.
Cruel and inhumane treatment has been reported to this publication from inmates in many of Tennessee’s prisons, including those run by the state. Forced enrollment in inappropriate classes for the alleged financial benefit of the prison has been reported by inmates at Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) and very recently at TTCC.
TTCC inmate letters have reflected the respective authors’ belief that CoreCivic is profiting from their incarceration through the absence of resources normally available to include employment, hygiene-related items, recreation, access to the law library, the dispensing of doctor-prescribed medication on a regular basis, and decent food.
Beatings by correction officers, 23-hour lockdowns for prolonged periods of time, “gang wars,” unresponsiveness to grievances, the use of private contractors as prison guards, being left in a shower for two days, and unexplained deaths have also been reported.
The importation of illegal substances and a consequent inmate death were reported last week.
On January 24, The Post & Email wrote to CoreCivic Chief Corrections Officer and Executive Vice President Harley Lappin requesting a response to a TTCC inmate’s letter describing complete desperation as a result of the conditions and treatment there, including a copy of the letter with name redacted. Our communication was copied to Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Commissioner Tony Parker and Communications Director Neysa Taylor.
As of this writing, none has responded to our knowledge.
In August, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would not renew its contracts with private prison companies. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continued its relationship with CCA and other private prison operators, as indicated in the press release and in an article published by U.S. News & World Report.
As Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was sworn in only on Thursday morning, it is unknown what his stance is on corporately-run prisons.
Last week, Yates was terminated as a result of her having directed her division not to abide by an executive order Trump issued over immigration policy as well as having refused to uphold it in court if necessary.