TENNESSEE’S PRISON GULAG
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 3, 2016) — A family of an inmate housed at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN in for The Post Email on Saturday night that following the listing of a five-day lockdown, “they were taken off this am. Then 2 hours later 6 gang members jumped a white, non affiliated inmate and beat the hell out of him because he got an inmate package delivered that had shoes in it and they wanted the shoes.”
“Non-affiliated” means that an inmate is not a member of a gang.
Over the past four months, more than a dozen TTCC inmates have written to The Post & Email describing severe short-staffing which has allowed gang members to terrorize, assault, and steal from other inmates at will. Several inmates and their relatives have reported that gang members actually run the prison, including performing nightly lockdown.
In a conversation with TDOC Communications Director Neysa Taylor almost two weeks ago, Taylor told The Post & Email that all of the accounts from both inmates and their relatives relating to the prison are “inaccurate.”
“There’s nothing that goes on there that’s sinister, that is an elevated risk for anyone. We do have a very close relationship and a very close oversight of things that are going on there. I’m sorry that you’re receiving all of these reports, but unfortunately, the truth is very different. We have staff that are on-site there frequently, weekly, almost daily. There’s an on-site monitor who’s on-site there daily,” Taylor told us.
When we challenged Taylor to refute Tennessee and national mainstream media reports containing information similar to ours relative to the prison industry there, she provided no response. However, she told WSMV, Channel 4 in Nashville, that an account it received from a prison cadet trainer claiming that gang members are routinely hired to work as correction officers was also “inaccurate.
First-hand written accounts from inmates and relatives who have visited the prison on visitation days are hauntingly similar to that which the relative described this evening.
On Friday, the same individual related to us:
Just wanted to give you a update. I have not heard from XXXXXXX since Sunday night. His unit has been on Lockdown for 5 days now. No phone for 5 days and I m assuming no showers. I just called and asked if they were still on lockdown and was told yes, I said it’s been 5 days and he laughed and said “I think it should be longer.” That comment took me back a second and I replied, “That’s a little harsh to hear for the family out here” and I hung up. it was never like this at Bledsoe County Correctional. These ppl keep them locked down in their cells like they are animals.
It’s extremely hard to call Trousdale and be talked to like you are trash and even harder to drive 2 1/2 hours to go visit and be looked down on like you are trash. They have no reason to be hateful and rude to the family. The hardest part of all of this is that there is “NO ONE” to go to for help.
I have no choice but to drive 2 1/2 hours and sit and wait for 2-3 hours to see XXXXXX for 45 min. I have no choice but to let them be rude to me and make hateful comments to me like the one that was made to me today.
I have never felt so defeated, disrespected and helpless in my life.
Saturday’s visitor further reported:
Now they are back on lock down again. It breaks my heart to see XXXXXXX like this. He isn’t eating because his nerves are shot and all he can do is lay in his cell because of being locked down all the time. He looks thin and just wore out.
Visitation is still a nightmare. Ppl got there at 7:30 am and didn’t get to go back until 1:00pm. The am visit is from 8-1:30 but they did let us visit until 2:15 since we didn’t get back there to visit until after 1:00.
CCA has been unresponsive to The Post & Email’s requests for comment on the Trousdale facility beginning in May.
After Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III discovered Tennessee’s “rigged” grand jury system seven years ago, he concluded that “federal intervention” would be required to put an end to the deprivation of constitutional rights which ultimately incarcerates thousands of Tennesseans each year. With a judicially hand-selected foreman, the county grand juries cannot be considered an unbiased group of citizens tasked with the review of evidence against an individual, which brings into question every criminal indictment issued.
Thus far, the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice have been unresponsive to reports of Tennessee prison corruption, including the smuggling of contraband; mistreatment of prisoner; gang activity; prisoners-for-profit operations using taxpayer dollars; and untenable conditions for correction officers, although “Operation Ghost Guard” in Georgia resulted earlier this year in the arrest of more than three dozen individuals for the same crimes.
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.