Report: Mixing Gang Members with Lower-Risk Inmates a Bad Combination

“A PERFECT FORMULA FOR THE COMBUSTIBLE SITUATION”

by Sharon Rondeau

(May 11, 2017) — On April 10, a “disturbance” was reported by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) in which three correction officers at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) in Only, TN were injured and subsequently hospitalized.

The incident occurred two days earlier, on April 8, and reportedly involved 16 inmates.  WSBT reported that during the upheaval, an inmate contacted the station to report:

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,” said the inmate who was not identified by name.

There’s already been some officers in here, they are ready to kill. These officers are ready to kill.

All three officers have since been discharged from the hospital after what has been described as an “unprovoked” event taking place in “Unit 3” of the compound.

According to dozens of letters this publication has received over the last 2.5 years from various Tennessee inmates, only a fraction of the incidents occurring within the state’s prison facilities is reported in the media, attributed to efforts on the part of wardens to suppress it.

Because of the violent incident in which one correction officer was taken hostage “for several hours,” visitation for the upcoming Easter weekend was modified.

In January, an inmate then at the facility alleged to have witnessed violence committed against inmates by officers or its after-effects which reportedly caused serious injuries in some cases.

A message received by The Post & Email from an inmate’s relative several days after the incident stated:

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. the story that TDOC told the media is far from what everyone, including those that were not even near Unit 3, are saying.

Attached to the message, which was copied to several dozen Tennessee state legislators, was a handwritten letter from an inmate describing the event as having been avoidable had the warden “taken both his oath of office and job seriously.”

The letter went on to claim that TCIX inmates “are being abused verbally, physically and mentally” and that grievances filed thereafter are “either not processed or denied.”

The inmate reported that he has “witnessed Turney Center correctional officers physically assault inmates, while the inmates was restrained in handcuffs.” [sic]

A second message from the same party reported the following day:

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.

On Thursday, The Post & Email received a letter from a TCIX inmate who detailed the April 8 incident and its aftermath as having been initiated by gang members, or “bangers,” “but the real cause of the event is an on-going problem.”

The inmate called the introduction of gang members into a medium-security population of inmates who are accustomed to working during the day creates a “combustible situation.”

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