HARTSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An inmate inside the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center appears to be operating and updating a Facebook page from inside the prison.
News 2 uncovered the page while investigating complaints from former employees about work conditions, training, and safety concerns inside the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) facility.
CCA operates the prison for the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) through a contract.
The prison in Trousdale County is one of the newest, and it started receiving TDOC inmates in December.
But this week, the prison announced it would not be accepting additional prisonersdue to “growing pains.”
TDOC said it would suspend assigning officers to the prison until CCA could address recruiting and staffing issues.
News 2 contacted TDOC after discovering the Facebook Page that belongs to a male inmate serving a 38-year prison sentence for attempted second-degree murder.
“CCA is investigating with the full support and assistance of our Office of Investigations and Compliance,” TDOC Spokeswoman Alison Randgaard said.
News 2 was told that the inmate was using a cell phone update his page.
“With respect to contraband, our dedicated staff and agents are constantly vigilant and work closely with our law enforcement partners,” Randgaard said. “The introduction of contraband of any kind by anyone will not be tolerated and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
News 2 also contacted CCA about the Facebook Page. Spokesman Steve Owen said in an email:
CCA has a zero-tolerance policy for the introduction of contraband, and we maintain a wide array of policies and procedures to prevent and deter this type of behavior. We are aware of this particular incident, and are investigating this matter thoroughly. We have alerted our partners at the Tennessee Department of Corrections.
It is a felony to smuggle contraband, like cell phones, into a correctional facility.
TDOC has an anonymous tip line for anyone who has information about contraband or any other issue impacting safety and security at a TDOC institution. You can call 1-844-TDC-FIND.
Also on Wednesday, an inmate attacked an employee inside the prison. The employee was taken to the hospital and has since been released.
The Tennessee Office of Investigations and Compliance is on site investigating, according to the CCA spokesman.
In March, Tony Howerton, the Correctional Administrator for TDOC, sent a memo to Assistant Commissioner Tony Parker after a two-day visit to the facility.
In the memo, Howerton recommended TDOC stop sending all inmates to the prison until “serious issues with top level supervisors” were resolved.
“The Lieutenants, Captains and Unit Managers we observed on video and in the units this morning are not adequate,” he wrote. “They do not have control of the housing units and it appears inmates are free to mingle around the unit at will.”
Howerton also pointed out issues with sanitation.
“Inmates are not ready for cell inspection; showers need cleaning and the entire facility needs the grass cut,” he wrote.
He also saw inmates being placed in segregation without explanation, and the count system for making sure all the inmates were accounted for was flawed.
“This inmate currently lives in Echo Unit, however this inmate was moved to Alpha unit on 3-15-16 due to a use of force incident. [Redacted] he was placed in segregation however no disciplinary report or pending investigation report has been submitted,” Howerton wrote. “If count was being conducted properly we should be over one inmate in alpha and under one inmate in Echo.”
Finally in his memo, Howerton reviewed video involving an inmate who was pepper sprayed even though the inmate appeared to be compliant.
TDOC sent an investigator to the prison to further investigate.