by Sharon Rondeau

(Feb. 3, 2017) — On January 25, an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Complex (TTCC) wrote a memo to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, copied to this writer and other parties, reporting that a unit of the troubled prison was placed on lock down as a result of two inmates who allegedly “overdosed on drugs.”

“One inmate died,” the author of the memo wrote.

He reported that the incident occurred on Sunday, January 22, 2017. “This is the second time this month,” he wrote.

TTCC is owned and operated by CoreCivic, whose CEO, Damon Hininger, was also copied on the memo.

The inmate opined that TTCC employees are supplying the drugs to the inmates.  “I can’t prove it, but I believe the reason there is no serious investigation into the drug trade in TTCC is because from the Warden on down the system is totally corrupt,” he said.

“I want a federal investigation into TTCC prison officials and employees,” he concluded the memo.

On January 22, 2017, CoreCivic’s Executive Vice President, Harley Lappin, had an editorial published at the Knoxville News Sentinel in which he stated that after its launch in the 1980s, the company’s expertise was sought because “eight entire corrections systems, including Tennessee’s, had been declared unconstitutional or were operating under court order. This means that those facilities were dangerously overcrowded or failed to meet minimum standards for safe and humane conditions.”

Based on the number of letters this publication receives weekly describing horrific conditions, rampant drug use, uncontrolled gang violence resulting in stabbings and thefts, the absence of physician-prescribed medications, and constant lockdowns, CoreCivic is not maintaining a safe environment for inmates or corrections staff.

Although privately-run, TTCC reportedly is overseen by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), which will not admit there is a problem.

On January 24, The Post & Email wrote to Lappin, enclosing a copy of a letter from an inmate who reported substandard medical attention during a heart attack, a suicide attempt, and a purposeful assault on a guard so he would be moved out of TTCC to a maximum-security facility.

TTCC is designated medium-security but houses a large number of minimum-security prisoners accustomed to holding prison employment and earning “good time” which accrues toward reducing the time they serve.

Our letter was copied to TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker and TDOC Communications Director Neysa Taylor.  As of this writing, we have received no response from any of the parties.

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  1. My son has been incarcerated at TTCC since October 2016. He has repeatedly told me that there are people walking around cell to cell asking the inmates if they want to buy heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, or any of a number of other drugs. He also was severely beaten by one of the gangs, and was refused medical attention even though he asked to go on sick call several times. Finally, they sent him to the ER at the Lebanon, TN hospital, where they diagnosed him with internal bleeding, but they could not tell the origin, and discharged him. Finally he asked to go on emergency sick call, and they allowed that after several attempts on his part. The medical staff noticed how thin he is (he had lost nearly 20 pounds in a month), and said she would make sure he started getting Boost with his meals. She also wanted him to get some ibuprofin for his pain, and muscle relaxers. This was last week. He called the other day to tell me they were not giving him the Boost or the medications the medical staff wanted him to have. Governor Haslam needs to stop hiding his head in the sand about the deplorable state of the prison systems in TN, particularly Trousdale Turner, even if it is run by a private company. There needs to be a 3rd party investigation into the prison employees from the warden on down. Who else could be bringing in drugs to sell to the inmates?