A new state audit confirms what inmates, their families, activists and news reports have been saying for years: Prison facilities run by CoreCivic — formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America — are short-staffed and poorly run.
The Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of State Audit released the report this morning, highlighting issues at three CoreCivic facilities in particular: Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, Whiteville Correctional Facility and Hardeman County Correctional Center.
A snapshot of those findings:
Concerns about staffing are nothing new for Tennessee’s private prisons. The Trousdale facility was forced to stop taking in new inmates just four months after it opened because staff couldn’t maintain control. An internal memo, the Associated Press reported, said “guards were not in control of the housing units, were not counting inmates correctly and were putting inmates in solitary confinement for no documented reason.”
In February 2017, a federal lawsuit claimed that understaffing at the Trousdale facility had led to insufficient care for some 60 inmates who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
Families of Trousdale inmates wrote in a letter earlier this year that they were “deeply concerned” for the wellbeing of their loved ones incarcerated there.
Still, efforts to increase oversight of the state’s prison system has faced resistance. Democrats have pushed for the reconstitution of the state legislative oversight committee for prisons — which was abolished in 2012 — but have been unsuccessful.
More broadly, the movement pushing cities to divest from private prison corporations has gained some momentum around the country but not in Nashville, which still contracts with CoreCivic to run the local jail.