Investigation continues into riot at Turney Center, lawmakers ca - WSMV News 4

Investigation continues into riot at Turney Center, lawmakers call for oversight

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The riot happened Sunday at the Turney Center Industrial Complex. (WSMV) The riot happened Sunday at the Turney Center Industrial Complex. (WSMV)
ONLY, TN (WSMV) -

Three corrections officers who were stabbed multiple times during a prison riot in Hickman County are recovering from their injuries.

The Tennessee Department of Correction said this was an "unprovoked assault" by 16 inmates at Turney Center Industrial Complex.

TDOC officials said just one corrections officer is assigned to nearly 130 offenders.

While state Democrats are calling for corrections oversight, TDOC said staffing isn't the issue.

“I don't know that more staff would have helped in this situation,” TDOC commissioner Tony Parker said.

Parker said the number of assaults in Tennessee prisons are down.

“They are at the lowest point they've been in several years. We're going to have assaults from time to time in prisons. It's not a matter of if it happens, it's a matter of when it happens,” Parker said.

It happened Sunday around 4 p.m. at Turney Center Industrial Complex.

“The officer was having a discussion with the offender. The offender turned violent, and unprovoked, assaulted the officer, and it escalated from there,” Parker explained.

Sixteen inmates repeatedly stabbed Officers Lester Ball, Jesse Shockley and Paul Nielsen.

Shockley was held hostage for nearly three hours, before he was released.

“I wouldn't call it negotiations,” Parker said. “I would call it conversations that took place between myself and other people at the facility. We were able to do that without any other use of force.”

The incident took place in Unit 3, a medium custody, general population unit. It houses 128 offenders, including gang members.

Monday, House Democrats called for corrections oversight. They believe it will prevent future incidents like this from happening.

"That's the legislature's chief role is to budget accordingly, where the needs are. And the Tennessee Department of Correction, with proper oversight, is certainly a worthy place for taxpayer dollars to run an appropriate corrections system," said Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville.

"The legislature could have stepped in, could have toured the facility, could have made demands on state officials, and could have exercised its supervisory role," said Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.

The inmates involved in the riot were transferred to the Morgan County Correctional Complex, a maximum security facility. Four of them were later moved to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

Officer Nielsen was treated and released overnight. Officers Shockley and Ball are still at Vanderbilt Medical Center, in stable condition.

TDOC has released the names of all 16 inmates involved in the incident. Click here to see their names, offenses and sentences.

Click here for a slideshow featuring mug shots of all 16 inmates involved.

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