“WHY CAN’T THEY OPEN A NEW FACILITY AND OPERATE IT SAFELY?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 4, 2016) — [Editor’s Note: A letter from a Tennessee inmate received on Saturday reports that a privately-run prison in Hartsville, Trousdale County, TN about which The Post & Email has written previously has taken in a significant number of violent inmates from other facilities, including NWCX.
NWCX is said to be the most dangerous in Tennessee and is operated by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).
The Post & Email has been in touch with an inmate who was moved to the Trousdale facility, known as TTCC, in the spring and has reported inadequate staffing resulting in minimum-security inmates spending 23 hours each day in their cells.
The Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) states on its website that its “customer base” is the “Tennessee Department of Correction” and that it is a “medium-security” facility. It is operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which runs three other facilities in Tennessee and approximately 70 across the nation.
Since TTCC’s opening in January, inmate relatives have alleged an inmate death due to untreated pneumonia and lodged multiple complaints concerning scheduled visitation. One relative, Bridget Thweatt, told The Post & Email that CCA staff have “no control” over the facility.
Thweatt’s husband has since been moved twice, both times to CCA-operated institutions, and she has reported threats and intimidation against him.
Another relative compared TTCC to “a concentration camp.” On May 25, the Associated Press reported that TTCC stopped accepting new inmates two weeks prior as a result of multiple infractions cited by an official at the TDOC on March 17.
On Friday, CCA President and CEO Damon Hininger announced that two members of the Board of Directors have resigned.
Our TTCC inmate contact was classified as minimum security but reported in a series of letters beginning in early May that due to understaffing, he and others in that category are treated as if they are medium- or “close”-security.
The NWCX inmate, Bryant K. Lewis, has written to us previously, in one instance enclosing documentation showing that unnamed staff at NWCX altered the stated reason for eight inmate emergency hospitalizations from “illness” to “injury” following a gang uprising at that facility on July 24, 2015.
In his most recent letter, Lewis disclosed that in 1992, he was sent to the South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF), run by CCA, and that the facility received “the worst” inmates within Tennessee’s prison system. “It wasn’t until months later that S.C.C.F. returned some of its most detrimental inmates back to the State,” he wrote.
In previous correspondence, Lewis has expressed concern for the safety of both inmates and correction officers amid the Tennessee prison crisis reported by the mainstream media.
On June 1, TDOC Commissioner Derrick Schofield resigned his post effective on June 30. His last day at work is June 20, after which he will become a vice president for a “global” correctional corporation.
Schofield had been sharply criticized for the mass exodus in corrections staff at TDOC facilities thought to have resulted from his administrative change in the way overtime pay is accrued.
In his letter, Lewis also observed, “It would be so simple for T.D.O.C. to seperate these vicious inmates by affiliations. Then also placing them in seperate institutions. This would leave the Non-Affiliated Inmates to fill and open new prisons. With a new staff some of whom never worked in the Correctional field would appreciate the less problematic inmates.” [sic]
“How can the Criminal Reform System in this state explain why they are not in control of its Institutions. Why can’t they open a new facility and operate it safely?” Lewis then asked. “When you fail to protect the inmates from other inmates, staff from inmates and also inmates from staff. You have failed the people of this STATE!” he added.
The American Correctional Association (ACA) has been unresponsive to The Post & Email’s reports of gang violence gleaned from at least a dozen inmates’ letters at various Tennessee facilities.]
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.