SPOKESMAN SAYS “SAFETY AND SECURITY” “TAKEN VERY SERIOUSLY” DESPITE MULTIPLE STAFF AND INMATE ASSAULTS
by Sharon Rondeau
The assault is the second of which The Post & Email has become aware within the last two weeks.
The first, described as a “sexual assault” perpetrated by ten inmates on a female correction officer, was reported to us through an inmate’s letter and later confirmed by an impeccable source.
TTCC is owned and operated by the largest private prison company in America, CoreCivic.
In its latest report, WSMV stated that documents it was able to obtain show that an inmate “high on meth” stabbed the correction officer repeatedly in the neck until other inmates came to the officer’s aid.
Inmates and their relatives have said they are treated “like animals” and that sanitation, decent food, medical care, access to the law library, and basic safety are all substandard. A number of inmates told The Post & Email that they were aware that drugs were entering the facility and of having witnessed inmates injecting them into their veins, with some resulting in death.
Early in the spring of 2016, inmates transferred to the brand-new facility found it to be severely under-staffed, with frequent 23-hour lockdowns a result. Many described it as the “worst facility” in which they had ever been housed.
Several inmates have reported the falsification of records relating to employment which they never held, resulting in money deposited in their accounts which was not earned.
Last summer, when The Post & Email described some of the dozens of reports of violence and uncontrolled gang activity reported at TTCC, Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Communications Director Neysa Taylor told us that the information we were provided was “inaccurate.”
In June, Channel 4 presented a four-part series demonstrating that inmates often wait months to receive medical attention, even in dire situations. Gang members were also reported as having been sought to “keep the peace” at the facility.
In the first segment of the series, a longtime former CoreCivic chaplain claimed to have been terminated after she became a whistleblower based on her observations of inmate treatment and general conditions. While CoreCivic has denied that allegation and the others presented by award-winning journalist Demetria Kalodimos, Channel 4 has stood by its reporting.
Although privately-owned and operated, the TDOC is responsible for providing oversight, Taylor told us.
CoreCivic has declined to provide comment to this publication, although in response to the incident reported Friday, its spokesman, Jonathan Burns, told WSMV:
The introduction of contraband is a daily challenge that every correctional facility in the country faces.
We take the safety and security of our staff and the inmates entrusted to our care very seriously. To that end, we have a number of policies, practices and technologies that we use to prevent and reduce the introduction of contraband into the facility.
While we cannot elaborate on all of these efforts for security reasons, some examples include both scheduled and random searches of inmates and buildings, random drug testing of inmates, as well as initial and ongoing training for staff on awareness, detection and prevention.
In February 2016, the FBI held a press conference in which it announced that an undercover investigation revealed a drug-supplying ring both inside and outside of a number of Georgia’s prisons, after which arrests were made and a kidnap/murder plan foiled just in time. The Post & Email has inquired of the FBI why the same type of investigation cannot be carried out in Tennessee but has received no response.
In addition, in early February of this year, The Post & Email contacted the White House with copies of prisoner letters describing the conditions reported to us by TTCC inmates. We received no response.