THEORY: PRIVATE PRISON OPERATOR “SAVING MONEY” FROM SEVERE SHORT-STAFFING
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 4, 2017) — A letter from an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN which arrived on Wednesday contains a lengthy list of reported “lockdowns” of the facility encompaasing inmates’ seclusion in their cells for 23 hours each day.
The inmate reported that he arrived at TTCC in July and that “we’ve been on lockdown most of the time.”
TTCC is owned and operated by a private company, CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). While oversight of privately-run prisons is reportedly provided by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), dozens of inmates have informed The Post & Email over the last eight months that the facility is severely short-staffed and that numerous assaults and a number of inmate deaths have occurred.
The facility opened last January with the local expectation that it would boost the economy in Trousdale County, Tennessee’s smallest county.
TDOC Communications Director Neysa Taylor has either chosen not to respond to The Post & Email’s provision of inmates’ first-hand accounts of prison conditions or denied their accuracy without first investigating.
Last spring, then-“CCA” spokesman Jonathan Burns did not respond to our request for comment, not did anyone reply as a result of an inquiry The Post & Email submitted through the CCA website.
Most of the lockdown periods in the list are attributed to gang activity, which has been a major complaint from TTCC inmates and their relatives.
Also mentioned is a “gang war” on Thanksgiving Day which many have termed a “riot” but which Taylor denies occurred.
The author of the letter theorized that the short-staffing at the facility is a purposeful way for the company to cut costs. “These lengthy lockdowns are designed to keep inmates and convicts in their cells to prevent having a full staff and not have to have all offenders with the job or in a program. This saves CoreCivics [sic] money,” he wrote at the bottom of page 1.
CoreCivic is headquartered in Nashville, TN.