by Sharon Rondeau

(May 22, 2017) — A letter received on Monday from an inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN reinforces numerous reports received over the last year detailing very limited visitation, cold meals served at irregular times, long-term lockdown periods when inmates are confined to their cells for up to 23 hours each day, and inadequate medical care.

A recent three-week lockdown, the inmate reported, stemmed from a short-staffing situation made worse by the termination of a contract with loss of private security guards at the end of March.

Letters from various inmates and their relatives have corroborated the account.

TTCC is owned and operated by CoreCivic, formerly CCA, but receives oversight from the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).  Although slightly short of 17 months into its operation, TTCC has been acknowledged by a TDOC administrator to be out of compliance in regard to its head-counting procedures and for using excessive force against an inmate who appeared on the prison videotape to have been compliant at the time.

Over the last 2+ years, inmates from various Tennessee prisons, including those run by the state, have alleged dozens of instances of excessive use of force by correction officers which goes officially unreported out of fear of retaliation.

A major complaint coming from TTCC inmates and their families is that they are forced to wait hours to be able to visit on designated visitation days.  When relatives are able to visit, the session is short, the inmate said, because the visiting area “only has enough room for 30 inmates to visit at a time.”

He reported that his family members travel 2½ hours each way to visit and have waited up to 6½ hours to see him.  “Once they got in they only got to visit for 45 minutes,” he reported.

The Post & Email has heard from a number of TTCC inmates who wrote that medications are dispensed irregularly, if at all, regardless of the condition for which they were prescribed.  Many opined that they believe the motive in withholding medications is to save the company money.

One inmate, Ricky Lynn Greene, described having experienced his fourth cardiac event but having been told by one of the medical staff that he was “faking it” while it was occurring.

Earlier this year, four TTCC inmates filed a federal lawsuit claiming that CoreCivic, the TDOC and TTCC, specifically, had failed to administer their diabetes medications, including insulin, in a timely and regular manner, thereby putting their health and well-being at risk.

Former TTCC inmate Grenda Harmer described inmates injecting street drugs in full view, from which one reportedly died in January, as well as uncontrolled gang activity and a host of other alleged violations.

Harmer is now at another CoreCivic facility, SCCF, which he has reported is “worse” than TTCC.  He recently went nearly three weeks without three prescribed medications, a situation to which the TDOC and SCCF Warden Cherry Lindamood proved unresponsive.

Regarding medical care, the inmate whose letter arrived today wrote (typographical errors left intact):

Medical is a big joke here. Its a waste of time to fill out a sick call request, you either never hear anything back about it or they finally call you to the clinic three weeks to a month later when your not sick anymore, & still charge you when you no longer need to see a dr. As far as daily medications go, half of the time they don’t bring them especially at night.

TDOC spokeswoman Neysa Taylor has denied the accuracy of the many reports we have received, which now total in the hundreds.  CoreCivic has declined to respond to multiple requests for comment.

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  1. The truth of this letter makes me want to cry. I was one of those G4S workers and no doubt met this inmate.

    I never ate a meal at TTCC even when working there a full 14 hours, nothing served is truly edible … but the men are starving. Have you ever eaten warm, greasy, low quality bologna paired with cheese that doesn’t even melt in a microwave? Sometimes green. They do at Trousdale. However there is a chicken gravy breakfast that even the hungriest men can’t stomach. It’s detestable, all of it. Even the rice casseroles. How do you ruin rice in the south? Yet they do.

    For those who say they deserve to be there? One of my inmates would write his daughter twelve page letters. He is a very sweet, lovely schizophrenic who was self medicating with alcohol on the outside. Never hurt a soul, no accidents. He’s in for twelve years for driving while intoxicated. Try doing a single year while your life is in jeopardy every single day.

    People in W building, the minimum risk pod, were moved into D pod recently if enrolled in classes. D is more dangerous. So now if you’re one of the maybe 3% in a class you’re even less safe. There have been multiple assaults, even of guards, in the last month. It never makes the news.

    The lockdown continues. This does not make things safer. Programs and rec and activities and fresh air and nutrition are needed. Guards sleep in their chairs regularly. Most are there temporarily from other facilities. There is no continuity.

    Case managers don’t do their jobs, they don’t know their inmate’s names. Instead of working with inmates they’re doing counts unsuccessfully. Inmates don’t have jobs, they can’t get their good time (which is illegal). Twenty people may be assigned cleaning jobs but are given no supplies to clean with while Hep C rages.

    I’ve met Unit Manager Carter. She’s beautiful with the mouth of a drill sergeant and the success of one of those young mothers who yells and scream but accomplishes so little.. Her talent is in belittling both inmates and staff. No people skills whatsoever.

    This letter writer perfectly described Carter’s decision to bring anyone and everyone into the minimum pods. One man came straight from the hole though he was known to smear fecal matter on walls due to his mental illness and threaten homicide. He was placed in an open pod on a top tier. Sending someone over the rail would take very little effort. He was back in the hole within 36 hours. He wanted to go “home.”

    Although screaming at inmates, cursing at them, may sound necessary, it is not. Whatever your opinion of a woman in charge in a men’s prison, respect matters. Women disrespecting men will never create success.

    Many inmates are mentally ill, most have PTSD. Some literally begged me not to slam doors, as it jolts them awake and sets off a fear response that then leads to anger. The CCA top staff like this because it keeps the beds full. More assaults, more charges, longer sentences. More money for them.

    The medical unit of Core Civic is literally killing people, that’s why they changed their name. Read the expose’ in Mother Jones magazine which documents a man who lost both legs after multiple unanswered medical requests. It’s one example of thousands.

    Imagine not being given even an aspirin or a bandaid when you need one. It’s tragic and cruel. I watched a man frothing at the mouth, writhing on the floor, begging for someone to “call my mama before they kill me in here.” A nurse arrived, crossed her arms and looked at him with disgust.

    But clearly the state just doesn’t care because they’re making money off kickbacks. It’s the only explanation for such mismanagement and inhumanity.

    The visiting room is about the size of a nice living room in a big house. A huge number of inmates are from Memphis, which is about seven hours from Hartsville. This is like traveling to the moon for a lot of families. It’s unacceptable. All of it.

    Inmates need family support, society benefits from that, too. Children need to see their fathers, sons need to see their mothers.

    The people who allow this to continue are far worse criminals than anyone currently housed anywhere in TDOC. Convictions happen to the poor and the powerless. The real monsters are currently in charge.