Was an Attack on Tennessee Correction Officers Truly “Unprovoked?”

REPORT:  INMATES DENIED MEDICATIONS FOR THREE DAYS PRIOR TO INCIDENT

by Sharon Rondeau

(Apr. 17, 2017) — On April 8, 2017, three correction officers were injured at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) in Only, TN allegedly by 16 inmates with possible “security threat group,” or gang, affiliations.

One of the officers was reportedly taken hostage by the inmates for approximately three hours.

All three were hospitalized and are now “recovering at home,” according to the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).

The agency has said that the attack on the correction officers was “unprovoked.”

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), which has been reported to be corrupt, will be “assisting” with an investigation of the incident at the TDOC’s request.

Last Thursday, the TDOC reported that “Units involved in the incident remain on lockdown, while others have begun a modified activity schedule.  Visitation is cancelled for this Friday, April 14.  Saturday through Monday (4/15/17-4/17/17) regular visitation will resume for offenders in units 1, 2, 5, and 6.  Visitation this weekend is cancelled for offenders housed in units 3 & 4.”

In early January, an inmate then at TCIX sent The Post & Email a large package of documentation in which he claimed that correction officers assault inmates in violation of the oath they are required to take by TCA 41-1-103.

Similar reports have reached us from the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) in Wartburg.  Inmates have reported unprovoked assaults which include punches to the stomach and rib cage and “beatings” resulting from what they describe as “hands-on training.”

In late February, an MCCX inmate wrote to U.S. Sen. Robert Corker to ask for an FBI investigation of conditions in Tennessee prisons.  Earlier that month, The Post & Email wrote to President Donald Trump requesting the same.

As have others, the TCIX inmate sent copies of his correspondence to his state legislators and the U.S. Department of Justice.

As WSMV reported on April 9, a proposal which would form an oversight committee to the TDOC is currently under consideration by the Tennessee legislature.

On Sunday, The Post & Email received an unsolicited email from an apparent observer to the TCIX incident who wrote, “As you know, there was, what TDOC is calling an “unprovoked incident” in Unit 3 at that prison last Sunday, April 8, 2017 that resulted in three officers being hospitalized. Attached is a letter that he sent out while the entire prison was on lock-down and no phone calls were allowed. As you will note, the story that TDOC told the media is far from what everyone, including those that were not even near Unit 3, are saying.”

The message invoked a federal lawsuit, Shelton v. Ray et al, in which plaintiff and TCIX inmate Lorenzo Shelton accused five correction officers of “assault” and “excessive force” against him on March 5, 2010.  The Post & Email was unable to find a final disposition on the case, which appears to have been reduced to one defendant by U.S. Magistrate Judge E. Clifton Knowles in March 2011.

The email was addressed to several dozen Tennessee legislators including Rep. Barbara Cooper, to whom many letters from TTCC inmate Grenda Harmer have been copied in recent weeks, among others.

TTCC is one of four privately-run prisons in the state and has been described by some inmates and their relatives as “the worst” facility in which they have ever been housed.

Deaths from drug overdoses, unrestrained gang activity, inmate beatings, and the failure of medical staff to administer medications on schedule have been reported.

TDOC Communications Director Neysa Taylor has denied the accuracy of such reports.

The email continued, “If we are constantly treating them like animals, talking to them as if they were a different species from us, and oppressing them, how can we be shocked and upset when they finally break and push back? They are human beings, and as such, there is a limit to what anyone can take” and contained the letter pictured below.

The email concluded, speaking of the TDOC:

They are hoping that this incident blows over and their treatment of those folks behind the wall will never come to light. Someone looking into incidents like this in the prison system would force their hand and hold them accountable for the treatment of other human beings. They would have to follow their own policies and justify the necessity for those polices. Every institution that is in charge of so many human lives in our modern society should have the appropriate checks and balances.




On April 20, Nashville Patch reported, via WKRN, that “one of the inmates, who is a convicted murderer, called our newsroom.”

The report continued:

He said, “We let the other officer go so he can get medical attention. We’re trying to do the same thing with this officer now, but we’re just trying to make sure…They don’t want to give the officer up right now without the vans, the buses coming in so they can be transported.”

The inmate went on to say, “Everybody’s on edge in here, everybody’s on edge, and they know if they give the officer up, more than likely people are going to die. There’s already been some officers in here, they are ready to kill. These officers are ready to kill…”

The inmate who called News 2 said he and the other prisoners wanted to be transferred to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. It was not immediately clear if this was the facility they were taken to.

In February, The Post & Email was contacted by TTCC inmate Ricky Lynn Greene, who said that he attacked a correction officer in the hope that he would be transferred to a maximum security prison.

According to WSMV’s report, Tennessee’s prison system was once under “federal receivership, for, among other things, security issues.”

An email received on Monday from the same party as Sunday’s message stated:

On a side note, the inmates were locked down for three days. This was three days that they were not allowed to have any of their meds. Can you imagine what this did to those on phsyc meds or blood pressure or heart meds? I know one in particular that after three days of no blood pressure meds had a reading of 139/108. When the nurse took his blood pressure, he was alarmed at how high it was and she told him that it was a normal pressure and she would try to get him his meds soon. That is unacceptable. They are killing those that they are being paid to protect through neglect.

Last month, an MCCX inmate suggested that the Tennessee Department of Correction be renamed to “Tennessee Department of Corruption.”

5 Responses to "Was an Attack on Tennessee Correction Officers Truly “Unprovoked?”"

  1. ILuv MyInmate   Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 3:22 PM

    It was provoked. I hate that it happen to those officers. There was also a female officer who was assaulted but that was notreported.The whole unit 3A and 3B may be on lockdown for 6 months, which is ridiculous! Turney is horrible and no one seems to want to do anything about it. Warden Genovese has only been there a little over a year and it seems to be going down hill daily!

  2. Michelle   Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 9:59 AM

    My boyfriend was at TTCC, and he told me all the time about inmates being refused medication. And there was one time he was in segregation and another guy was in a cell next to his in protective custody and the guards bright the guy in that he was trying to get away from and let that man in the cell with him. When you would go to visit the guards would harass the inmates while they were trying to visit. TTCC is the worst and I think scariest prison in TN.

    When inmates request to be put in PC, they are refused help and are being attacked. The guards will come in and yell and cuss the inmates and get in their faces, they have no respect for their position. These guys are not in prison for being nice, when someone gets in their face and cusses them because they have authority over them, well of course they are going to snap.

    Another thing TTCC would do was, always feed them in their of because they were understaffed. By the time the food got to the pod it was cold, and it never came in a schedule. There was one time that it was like 3 in the afternoon and we were on the phone and they hadn’t even got to eat lunch yet.

    And phone calls or any kind of contact was almost impossible. They were locked down 24/7. About the only time you got to talk to them was during visit and then you were lucky to get 2 hours because there VG was too small. People would drive 4 hours or more just to visit for two. And visit was supposed to start at 8am, you would have to get there at 6am to sign in and sometimes they still wouldn’t get you back until after 12. And someone’s you would go back at 9am and sit in visitation by yourself because they wouldn’t bring the inmate I’m until after 12. I could go on forever about TTCC and how bad they are or heck most of the prisons in TN for that matter

  3. Charlotte Jones   Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 6:40 PM

    I recognize your initials from training, S.B.

    The most memorable thing about that training to me was my shock that staff would leave doors unlocked. I couldn’t imagine it!

    Then I came to realize I might be trapped twenty minutes or more while begging the control room to let me in or out if I locked that door. The control room people either slept or antagonistically told me to “be patient” in the same amount of time it would take to just OPEN THE DOOR.

    Of course, they couldn’t open the gate that was broken our last ten days there.

    In the mean time your radio battery might die while a sergeant chatted up her girlfriend at the control board and there might be no way to get inside a pod where inmates were bleeding.

    Of course medical might tell you that your emergency was non-existent anyway. Of course, there was no first aid kit in your pod …

    I still cannot believe such horrible people are responsible for 3,000+ lives.

    Sound familiar?

  4. S.B.   Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 6:15 PM

    Hey I was at TTCC with G4S also….Small world

  5. Charlotte Jones   Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at 3:58 PM

    Believe the prisoners, not the administration.

    Earlier this year during my employment at TTCC (with G4S) I found myself giving a young inmate candy to calm his anxieties when, day after day, he did not receive his anti-psychotic medication (geodon).

    A simple conversation with the young man confirmed that his overactive mind had very little ability to calm himself. He went at least two weeks without. He was only one of so many. I wrote incident reports that I’m certain were ripped up and thrown away.

    The med cart at TTCC might arrive at 6 pm, it might come at 2 am. I found myself in the position of waking up people whose only relief was sleep. Then the nurse refused to wear her gloves and touched pills as well as her nose. She then wrote up a man who lost his temper. He was completely justified.

    One of my diabetic inmates, a non violent offender, would then be awoken again at 5 am to walk a quarter mile, in freezing temps or gusting rain, to get a shot of insulin and a tray full of carbs (never real meat (only soy) or fruit or vegetables).

    When he requested a wheelchair for his back (it was in need of surgery and they “lost” his records) it was denied. When he couldn’t walk to medical they charged him with the disciplinary infraction of refusing medical care and told him he needed to walk to medical to sign a refusal form. He was NOT refusing, he was in pain. Stress kills diabetics.

    Even in medical emergencies we were told to tell inmates to walk alone to medical, including head injuries, chest pains, etc. They had wheelchairs at medical but no staff to deliver a chair or escort the inmate.

    These inmates have every reason in the world to act out.

    This is also what private prisons want as it keeps their beds full.

    Ask any inmate, guards who treat them like human beings are protected.

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