A Year After State Audit, Lawmakers Question Whether A Middle Tennessee Prison Has Improved | Nashville Public Radio

A Year After State Audit, Lawmakers Question Whether A Middle Tennessee Prison Has Improved

Dec 19, 2018

State lawmakers once again questioned Correction officials about the conditions of Tennessee’s largest prison.

A year ago, a state audit found that Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility in Hartsville was understaffed and mishandling complaints by inmates.

The prison is run by CoreCivic, a private contractor that manages four of the state’s correctional facilities.

Last year, Trousdale Turner was hit by reports of a dangerous environment. The state’s comptroller called out CoreCivic for not sharing enough information for the state to monitor the prison.

On Tuesday, Department of Correction Commissioner Tony Parker told lawmakers at a joint hearing that the company is doing better.

“I have found the vendor CoreCivic to be — they work well with us to try to correct these issues,” Parker said. 

But the hearing turned sour after Edwin Steakley, a former inmate, detailed how he was raped twice at Trousdale and not helped.

"I understand that I had to pay for my crime, and I don't dispute that," Steakley said. "But, paying for my crime did not include sexual assault."

Steakley said that he reported the living conditions to Trousdale Turner officials, but that he didn't hear from anyone. 

Family members of other inmates also testified on living conditions in the prison.

Nashville Representative Bo Mitchell asked what needs to happen for the state to do away with CoreCivic.

“I just wonder when are we going to quit having citizens in the state come and tell us these stories like this and we not do anything?” Mitchell asked.

The state says they’ll keep investigating the complaints, but have no plans to cancel the contract.