by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 15, 2017) — In a letter dated March 4, 2017 to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN alleged that the CEO of the prison operator and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) commissioner are “defrauding Tennessee Taxpayers.”

The Post & Email and a number of other parties, including members of the Tennessee legislature, were copied on the letter.

Damon Hininger is CEO of CoreCivic, which owns and operates TTCC and three other prisons in the state of Tennessee as well as several transitional housing units.  CoreCivic has declined to respond to The Post & Email’s requests for comment regarding allegations from TTCC inmates and their relatives of severe short-staffing, uncontrolled gang violence, substandard medical care, frequent lockdown periods, poor food, and sexual assault.

Last May, after a number of inmates who had been in touch with this publication were transferred to TTCC, they recontacted us to advise that the conditions were unlike any they had ever seen in prison before.  Their observations included a lack of basic hygiene supplies, meals served hours later than scheduled, the non-administration of prescription drugs, and minimum-security inmates being confined to their cells on “lockdown” for up to 23 hours of each day.

Prison employment and access to the law library are also reported to be rare.

The warden, Blair Leibach, is not reachable by telephone from outside of the facility, at least by this writer.

The author of the letter claimed that TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker “through a subordinate, made CoreCivic employees aware: (1) TDOC would audit CoreCivic from March 6th through the 10th to determine if CoreCivic was in compliance with its contractual Incarceration Agreements; and (2) G4S security personnel would no longer be providing security for Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (“TTCC”) because it was costing CoreCivic too much money.”

G4S has been supplying its security employees to serve as makeshift correction officers at the Trousdale facility, which has reportedly been  since its inadequately staffed since its opening in January of last year.  It is The Post & Email’s understanding that G4S personnel are contracted to work at TTCC for 90-day periods, that their morale is generally low, and that because they are temporary employees, they do not foster a commitment to improving conditions at the troubled facility.

The inmate’s third paragraph states that a second employee confirmed the statements of the first but “went on to make additional remarks that was [sic] even more enlightening. This employee said to me that once the TDOC affirms compliance that it will not be long before TTCC is back on lock down for an indefinite length.”

The inmate stated three reasons as to why he believed the two CoreCivic employees’ statements to be credible.

In a separate handwritten note, he explained that rather than the numbers “16,” “17” and “18,” the numbering in that portion of his report to Haslam should have read “(1), (2), (3).”

In a second letter dated March 5, the same inmate wrote, “The past 24 hours have drastically changed. Its went from bad to worse. [sic] Today only 6 G4S employees showed up for work. They quit after being officially told the June contract was cancelled by CoreCivic. That March 30th is it. In addition, a G4S employee told me that 15 CoreCivic security also quit today.”

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