AND SAYS NOTHING WAS DONE TO PROTECT HIM
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 10, 2019) — A letter received late last week from a Tennessee state inmate indicated fear for his life following what he said were “assaults, robberies and sexual assaults” at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in Hartsville.
According to scores, if not hundreds, of letters received by this publication over the last three years from TTCC inmates, it is “the worst” institution in which they have ever spent time.
In June 2017, WSMV published a four-part series on the prison featuring reports from inmates and their relatives describing a lack of medical care, insufficient staffing and constant gang violence, among other complaints. In September 2017, WSMV reported that documents it obtained showed that a TTCC correction officer was stabbed by an inmate who “admitted” being “high on meth” at the time.
Privately-run by CoreCivic but publicly-accountable to the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), the facility opened in early 2016 to staffing levels reportedly too low to reasonably maintain safety and normal protocols. Inmates’ claims to that effect were affirmed by an AP report from May 2016 and a November 2017 audit by the Comptroller of the Treasury.
The facility has been fined $2.5 million between 2017 and late 2018 for its deficiencies, The Hartsville Vidette reported.
The most recent letter, which we are withholding from publication for his safety, expresses the inmate’s sense that he is in “grave danger.” He has been extorted by gang members, he said, for either sex or money, with prison officials reportedly taking no action despite his having filed formal complaints.
He has been denied placement in the protective custody (PC) unit of the prison, he wrote.
On Wednesday morning, The Post & Email spoke with a relative of the inmate whose telephone number he provided in his letter. The relative told us that based on the communications he/she has received over the last two months, TTCC is the worst situation in which the inmate has been placed over more than a decade in prison. He has previously been housed at MCCX; BCCX; and Whiteville Correctional Facility, which is also run by CoreCivic, and “never” reported the level of danger he is experiencing currently, the relative said.
He reported death threats from other inmates in the letter, and his relative told us that his letters to him/her over the last two months have indicated a dangerous deterioration in his situation. Six months ago, he felt driven to suicide, the relative said the inmate reported, as a result of having been denied clean clothing, a shower, blanket and other standard cell amenities for “two weeks.” “He was just in a state of mind that he couldn’t go anymore,” the relative said.
Regarding how the inmate landed in prison, the relative reported that “the [grand jury] foreman knew the judge.”