Private Prison Corporation Representative Initially Responds to The Post & Email, Then Goes Dark and Quiet

QUESTIONS ABOUT INMATE CLASSIFICATIONS, STAFFING, POLICIES REMAIN UNANSWERED

by Sharon Rondeau

TTCC is located in Trousdale County, TN, named for William Trousdale, Tennessee’s 13th governor

(May 20, 2016) — On Tuesday, The Post & Email shared excerpts of letters received from a Tennessee prison inmate describing his new surroundings in a privately-run, as opposed to state-run, prison.

Correction Corporation of America (CCA) operates the newly-opened prison at Hartsville, TN where the inmate was transferred last month, along with scores of others.

The expected opening of the site was announced by CCA President and CEO Damon Hininger on July 7, 2014 in a statement which reads, in part:

I’m proud to say our CCA family is growing!  And as we look towards growth and meeting the needs of our government partners, I’m very excited to announce that CCA is officially constructing our newest correctional facility, located in Hartsville, Tennessee in Trousdale County. The area is just about one hour northeast of Nashville, where the Facility Support Center is headquartered. We will own and operate the $140 million, 2,552 medium-security bed prison for male inmates on behalf of long-time trusted partner, the Tennessee Department of Correction.

CCA is based in Nashville and operates prisons in various states across the country.

The inmate arrived at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in late April and immediately began documenting his observations in a series of letters which The Post & Email began receiving on May 3.

Initially, the inmate noted that “The prison is new it’s clean and the mattresses & pillows are much better.”  However, he documented a number of issues about which he contacted the warden.

Among his concerns were the loss of his previous employment; the potential for losing “program credits” which are applied toward reducing the time an inmate must serve; a lack of privacy during showers and other times; severe under-staffing; and being housed with medium- and higher-security prisoners when his classification is “minimum security.”

Early on Tuesday, The Post & Email contacted TTCC Warden Blair J. Leibach’s office and reached the voice mail of his secretary, Jil Phlipot, with whom we left a message.  We also left a voice message and email for CCA spokesman Jonathan Burns.

After publication of our article early on Tuesday afternoon and while we were out of the office, Phlipot and Burns sent respective email responses, with Philipot deferring to Burns.

Thank you for your interested in the Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility. Our policy is to refer all public inquires to CCA’s public affairs office. Our contact is Jonathan.Burns@cca.com.

Thank you,

Jil Phlipot
Warden’s Secretary
CCA – Trousdale Turner Correctional Center
Hartsville, TN 37074

The email we received from Burns that afternoon reads:

Thanks for reaching out Sharon. Are you working on deadline for this story? We’re happy to answer specific questions you might have – please include those in your response and we’ll work to get responsive information back to you.

Kind regards,

Jonathan

Jonathan Burns
Director, Public Affairs
CCA
Nashville, TN
615.263.3163 o
615.495.8753 m

The Post & Email responded on Tuesday evening by thanking Burns for his reply and submitting a list of questions, which were:

1.  Will the minimum-security inmates recently brought to TTCC lose their designation and accompanying privileges since they are now housed with medium-security inmates?

2.  Will those who had employment at their previous prisons be re-employed at TTCC?

3.  The inmate who wrote to me is concerned about losing “program credits” earned at previous facilities.

4.  Are you receiving a large number of applications for the job openings posted for Hartsville which I referenced in the article?

5.  Is CCA willing to look into the situation with the showers and privacy which the inmate mentioned?

6.  Is there a facility or company handbook with the prison rules, including grievance procedures, etc.?

We received no response on Wednesday or Thursday, and on Thursday evening sent Burns the following email:

Hello, Jonathan, did you receive my list of questions sent late on Tuesday?  If not, I’ll be happy to resend.

I would like to publish an update to the initial article on TTCC by noon tomorrow if possible and would very much like to include your responses.

Thank you.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
www.thepostemail.com

to which we have received no response as of press time, which is 1:10 p.m. EDT.  Located in Nashville, Burns would be in the Central time zone, which is one hour earlier.

It therefore appears to The Post & Email that while obtaining responses from Tennessee State prison officials is difficult and at times impossible, the same can be said for CCA, a private corporation.

The Post & Email asks why Burns reportedly provided a statement to WSMV, Channel 4, Nashville, on the topic of long visitor wait times at TTCC but has not afforded us the same professional courtesy, particularly when we gave notice of our deadline.

3 Responses to "Private Prison Corporation Representative Initially Responds to The Post & Email, Then Goes Dark and Quiet"

  1. Miranda   Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 12:07 AM

    My boyfriend was moved to TTCC a little over a month ago and it has been one thing after another for him as well. He has been locked down almost the entire time and went from calling almost everyday to calling not even once a week and for a very short time because he is told to lockdown. I am in another state and not able to visit but I have sent him several letters and he has not been getting them the past week or two and I have not received a couple letters he has sent me as well. The list goes on just like what was reported by the other inmates and family members. I finally was able to talk to him for a short time today and he is going to be sending a letter detailing all the problems he is seeing and facing. I keep thinking that it can’t get any worse but it does. I hope that by coming together we will be able to shed light on the injustice going on inside this prison and any other prison. I am so grateful that you have taken the time to publish and stand with those inmates and their families.

  2. Concerned Citizen   Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 11:52 PM

    As a resident of Trousdale County I would like some answers too.

  3. Bridget   Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 9:47 PM

    Sharon,
    I recently was on the local news specking out about CCA my husband was housed at Trousdale Turner Center in Hartville TN. They retaliated against me by moving my husband to another CCA in Whitesville TN. I am on a mission to expose this corrupt Corporation. They keep inmates locked down 90% of the time, they are not getting showers and clean cloths for week at a time. Inmates are not receiving medical care. All 4 CCA are understaff. The state is contacted for on private prison and there is 4. The tax payers are paying for guards to come from out of state and work 16 plus hours a shift, we are paying for their hotels and rental cars. Some how this has to stop. I have wrote state house representatives on the criminal justice board. My husband is in poor health and I will fight this cause til the bitter end. Thank you for your time in this matter.

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