by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 8, 2016) — Early last month, The Post & Email began receiving reports from an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN describing severe understaffing resulting in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day, including for minimum-security inmates.

The prison is operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private company which runs 70 prisons across the country and is based in Nashville.

CCA considers the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) to be a “longtime trusted partner.”

Inmate and visitor reports continue to say that the prisoners are being kept in substandard conditions including a lack of hot water, operating shower facilities and personal necessities.

Gang affiliations are reported as common among the current prison population.  One visitor told us that prison management “uses gang members to perform nightly lockdown” for lack of staff.

Adequate medical care is difficult to obtain in any Tennessee prison, but TTCC is reportedly particularly ill-prepared to meet the needs of diabetics and others who require daily medication.

The mainstream media, including the Associated Press, has publicized complaints voiced by inmates’ relatives who reported wait times for visitation of up to five hours as well as truncated or canceled visits due to frequent lockdowns.

On May 26, Dave Boucher of The Tennessean wrote, “For weeks, family members of inmates at Trousdale Turner have contacted The Tennessean with concerns about how their loved ones have been treated. Those family members have noted understaffing, saying their loved ones have been on ‘lockdown’ — kept in their cells for up to 23 hours a day — for days on end. They’ve also complained about the solitary confinement practices and about inadequate medical treatment.”

A regular visitor to the facility told The Post & Email that the inmate she visits “has been confined to a cell for the majority of his time there – no work, no classes, no medical visits.”  The use of “excessive force” was also reported both to this publication and The Tennessean.

Further, the relative reported that she was informed by the inmate that since opening, TTCC has incurred nine deaths.

Of the present conditions within the prison, a recent visitor told The Post & Email:

The person who is on trash detail and covers the entire facility not just one pod has reported that he is finding 50-100 grievance forms at a time in the trash. Inmates have submitted these forms and they are being thrown away. “We have no grievance process here. At other facilities there is a locked box in every pod where you can submit a grievance form. A person from the grievance board retrieves these personally so that it gets directly to them. That is not the case at TTCC,” she said an inmate told her. “We have no voice here. A guard actually said ‘I don’t care what you write – it’s not going to get there,'” he said.

The visitor then added:

They are breeding hostility among the inmates because they are making the units COMPETE against each other. The pods are inspected and if satisfactory then you should be come out, “pass or fail only, that’s how it is supposed to be.” But at TTCC the unit manager is making them compete with other units for the “cleanest pod.” This is breeding hostility between people we don’t even know.

The absurd competition they started – between the units, that determines if they get out of their cells — it’s hideous.  I read the memo and am stunned. These men are only allowed to shower 1x every 3 days (at least during that time following the memo). I then did a google search on the health hazards of that kind of routine. Keeping in mind the crowded conditions they live in, that their laundry, sheets, etc. are only sent once a week – the facility is a health hazard. I wonder how this affects the Hep-C epidemic?

Regarding the current state of lockdown, she told us:

The inmates at TTCC came from other facilities and know what is expected of them, what the rules are, how the prisons is structured and the routines. None of that exists at TTCC – it’s chaos and has gone so far as to cause 2 deaths to inmates who required medical attention they did not receive in time. “A lot of us came here from other prisons where we had jobs, structure, rules. We  don’t have that here – many who had jobs are still waiting to get back to work and instead we’re on lockdown and can’t even file a grievance report without being taunted by guards reminding us we are at their mercy,” she quoted an inmate as having told her.

Currently they get 2 hours a day off lockdown. Each tier is released for 2 hours, because the administration says, “This is working.”  The low security side was released from lockdown; however, they have prisoners who are classified “minimum-2” who are mixed in with higher classified inmates. When something happens in another building that gets that unit locked down, the whole complex is locked down. Now they are initiating the “cleaning competition” between pods. These inmates have learned that the administration at TTCC will change guidelines, rules, standards and move the line – on a whim, and cost lives in the process (medical delays, mismanagement)  When will the State of TN take this seriously?

Her account corroborated those of numerous inmates from whom we have received letters over the last three weeks.

One inmate reported to us in a letter that “…when I arrived here on the 28th of April a Thursday i know know this prison wasn’t ready to house inmates because it was 45 of us inmates and we got here at 2:00 p.m….it took these people all night to process 45 inmates we didn’t get to our guild until 5:15 a.m…” [sic]

As of this writing, instead of 14 position openings at the facility as of two weeks ago, CCA lists nine.

In his May 26 article at The Tennessean, Boucher wrote, “CCA has a five-year, $276 million contract to operate the facility. Although state law essentially allows for only one private prison, the department is using Trousdale County as something of a pass-through: Trousdale pays the money to CCA after receiving the money from the state.”

The visitor who recently shared her observations with The Post & Email said that the TDOC insisted that TTCC open its doors to inmates in January while knowing that the facility was understaffed.  However, in March, TDOC Correctional Administrator Tony Howerton visited TTCC and cited the facility for a number of violations, including the use of excessive force.

The facility ceased accepting new inmates last month.

There are four CCA-operated prisons in Tennessee.  The law to which Boucher referred is TCA 41-24-103, which reads (click twice to enlarge):

Walter Francis Fitzpatrick III, who attempted on numerous occasions to demonstrate lawlessness within Tennessee’s county grand juries, was imprisoned for his efforts in August 2014. While at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) last year, he discovered an active prisoners-for-profit operation which garners tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars for the facility’s enrollment of inmates in educational courses for which they may be unqualified or have already taken.

In 2012, he discovered that legislation passed in 1984 ordered the county criminal courts to disband and form districts, which never occurred; county criminal courts continue to issue indictments and hold trials independently of any other jurisdiction.

The laws were never repealed.

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  1. My nephew says trousdale is the worst prison he has been in. Not getting his medications. He called and said they hAdn’t been fed for 24 hours. In lockdown almost all the time. Can’t get help by talking to staff for medical. See fights and killings. I pray for all those who have loved ones in this terrible place and pray for their loved ones that are their. Trousdale staff would you wont your loved one treated the way you treat our loved ones???

  2. My Brother is one of the 9 that has died in that facility and believe me when I say they have know idea about what is about to unfold!! We are not going to rest until justice is served. Stay tuned for some important upcoming information.

  3. What can be done at this POINT? If anyone at all has any suggestions, please feel free to share. I wrote a post back in June 2016 & the Situation has only gotten worst. I will write to the Governor if I have to, however I need to know that I have people backing me up on this. Our LOVED ones have no voice in that HELL HOLE. We as their Family must without a Shadow of a Doubt, leave them to live in this manner. They are HUMAN, t hey still have rights and this cannot go unnoticed any longer. I for one LOVE my fiance and will continue to Help him, even if it means having him move further from me.

  4. Everything post above I read is true my fiancee said same things its bad there ran by gangs peanut butter jelly is true…..Said same thing he never eat a peanut butter jelly sandwich what they had Thanksgiving to that’s awful there locked down all time all true statement ……

  5. I have a fiance that layed in bed dieing he is in hospital now ICU they won’t tell us nothing inmate s are stealing his belongings and he already had one heart attack in there said food is terrible he is dibetic doesn’t get his insulin all time they treat Good omens trying to come home like real bad inmate s it’s awfully don’t no if he’s dead or alive this place needs shut down ASAP I will sue them if my fiancee doesn’t make it bull crap tell us something at least cold hearted place like Alcatraz non violent people should not have to be treated like that

  6. My first time to visit any kind of prison and the staff was extremely rude to me and all I got was lie after lie . They treated me like I was bad for being there to see my loved one !!! When I first saw him I knew something was very wrong because he’d lost so much weight and seamed sick.He said they only feed him peanut butter and jelly never any meat. I don’t know what I can do to help him but I know this place is a mess and needs shut down or investigated ASAP.

  7. My brother was moved the this year and he describes it as the worst place he has been including a severely overcrowded county jail at the time of his arrest. He called it a “war zone”. He has seen 2 murders recently and guys bleeding out in front of him. He is afraid that he won’t make it out alive.

  8. My son was transferred there in Feb of this year..This place should be shut down immediately and officials should be brought up on charges of their own,and be treated like our inmates are being treated.It is unreal that our society has turned it’s back these men that made some bad decisions in life, many of them just want to do their time with no issues and go home.However officials at this facility seem to be provoking an instigating the prisoners, which can create stressed out men to snap.This facility offers absolutely nothing for inmates,it is impossible to try for a job,enroll in a class that they say inmates should have complete by the time their parole hearing comes up,no outdoor time very rarely do they get to shower,their personal belongings just seem to disapear when they are hauled off to the hole for no reason.My sons TV still has not been returned an that was over a week ago,with every excuse under the sun except for the truth of where his personal property is.Guess it just got lost again.Gov Haslam needs to close the doors forever before more lives are lost due to the incompetentcy of staff,poor training,lack of a heart,and no compassion for for anyone that they feel is beneath them.DO not misunderstand me,alot of these men are career criminals and belong in prison,therefore as I have mentioned already most of them just want to pay their debt by doing their time so they can be reunited with their families and live their lives as a productive citizen again.Everyone that has someone close to you incarcerated at Trousdale Turner please apply for a transfer and write your gov Bill Haslam.Filing a grievance with the prison will not do any good,they don’t want anybody knowing what is really going on inside that HELL.

  9. my son was moved to Trousdale turner in late may when he gets to call he says that place is horrible they stay in lockdown they just half feed them he cannot get his meds how do you get the state to do something about the conditions there just because they are prisioners doesent mean they should treat so bad when he told me what was going on I thought no its not that bad but after reading more comments I guess its true

  10. My husband was recently transferred to Trousdale Turner and, told me in a phone call that he was being locked down most of the time because of staffing problems. He said the prison is running over with gang members and that everyone is at risk for harm. He also said that they don’t feed them well and they get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast. I called the prison and spoke to the person in charge who, assured me that none of things were true. now, here I am reading all of these things on this website! Wow!!! they are liars too!!!! if you are not doing anything wrong……why do you lie?????

  11. I am writing about Trousdale Turner Correctional Center and I need to know why are inmates being on lockdown all the town. I have a nephew that was moved there in July and I don’t get to hear from him very much because they stay on lockdown all the time. I think this is a bad situation for a new prison. Also I have read that the condition there are very bad not getting medical care and food not fit for a dog. I am praying that the state check into the complains and stop looking the other way.

  12. NBC News has published a comprehensive investigative article this morning about TENNESSEE PRISONS including CCA run TTCC. This is continued proof through their research and reporting that INDEED this is a far-reaching SERIOUS problem that URGENTLY needs investigation and CHANGE. Link to article :

    Thank you Sharon for being at the forefront of these efforts and continuing to get information out directly from the inmates & family.

  13. In addition to the many reports of mismanagement, under staffing, lack of basic medical care that has contributed to 1 confirmed death & 8 more reported that deserve investigation – the latest report that inmate grievance forms are being thrown into the trash continue to demonstrate that CCA’s TTCC actions qualify for State & Federal investigation.
    CCA is the largest private prison company in the United States – this is not the first prison they have opened. The State has entrusted CCA with certain responsibilities that one would expect are based on CCA having the experience and resources to manage another prison. There should be no learning curve or delays or excuses that it takes time to work things out for things to run smoothly. It has been six months and they are barely treading water. They’ve hired a private security firm to make up the shortfall in manpower and they are having to train those private security guards while they are on duty.
    Medication – the facility is now creating a more streamlined and logical approach to dispensing medication to the inmates. According to a unit nurse it was the nurses who demanded this. Lives have been lost and inmates have suffered the horrors of CCA’s learning curve.
    An inmate has been trying in vein to have his medically approved shoes delivered to him for weeks. He has the paperwork in hand approved by the warden and his shoes are in a room he has no access to and those who are in charge tell him “it’s not my job”. Time and time again the story repeats itself – inmates who are following the rules and who are following procedure and guidelines – are asking the proper person to do their job, are ignored.
    The press will jump at a story to report that a guard is/was attacked – but fails to cover the whole story that would prove that CCA is contributing to the conditions that make TTCC unsafe for both guards AND inmates.

  14. I hear from my fiance maybe once a week & he tells me how horrible the sotuation is there at Trousdale. They are being left in their cells as if they were animals. He has filed several grievances and nothing is done.