News4 Investigates: Former Correctional Officer calls for increased staffing and medical care at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) -After a News4 Investigation highlighted claims of medical mistreatment of inmates at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, a former Correctional Officer spoke with Caresse Jackman.
“I was there just for nine months,” Treyton Lattimore said.
That was enough time for the former correctional officer to say he just can’t take it anymore.
“CoreCivic needs more officers, like flat out,” Lattimore said.
Lattimore says understaffing at the facility not only put officers at risk but also delayed medical care to inmates.
“Most of the time, we’d have an inmate come to us…like hey I’ve got this or this or this going on,” Lattimore said. “Literally, the only thing we could do was here man, fill out this sick call slip! And -once they filled out the slip, they gave it to us and we had to take it, put it in a box, and whenever they came to collect that, I don’t know.”
The Nashville Branch of the NAACP has called for the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center to be shut down. Officials with the NAACP also stated that they’ve received multiple complaints about alleged medical mistreatment from families of loved ones at the prison.
Attorney Daniel Horwitz represents families of loved ones at Trousdale.
“The thing you need to understand about CoreCivic is, they do not care when inmates in their custody die,” Horwitz said.
A new lawsuit calls the center “severely understaffed” and “Tennessee’s Most Dangerous and Notorious Prison.”
“Inmates are dying in their care who should not be! These are preventable deaths, and they would not be occurring if CoreCivic cared enough to staff its facilities. The problem is they don’t!! And no one is making them!!” Horwitz said.
The lawsuit highlights one state audit report, saying Trousdale Turner Correctional Center faced a variety of staffing issues, from not enough staff to failing to follow staffing pattern guidelines and even leaving critical posts unstaffed.
“These are not just complaints and they’re not just allegations --there are state audits that are filed on file, they are public documenting the number of Class A incidents at this facility. Which is higher than any other facility in the state!” Horwitz said.
Lattimore says that he cares about not just the workers, but the people serving time. He hopes that by speaking out, change will come.
“Even if you are in that type of environment because of the mistakes that you’ve made in your life, that doesn’t mean that you have any reason to be treated inhumanely, and that’s for inmates and officers,” Lattimore said.
News4 Investigates reached out to CoreCivic for comment. We asked the center about staffing shortages and wanted to know how many people died in the facility while they managed the prison. CoreCivic issued the following statement:
“For nearly 40 years, CoreCivic has been committed to providing a high standard of care for every person in our Tennessee facilities, including quality reentry programming, comprehensive healthcare, faith-based support and many other services. Our top priority is the safe, secure management of our facilities and caring for inmates in a humane and appropriate environment. This commitment is shared by our government partner, the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). We work closely with TDOC to ensure our administrative processes are fully compliant and provide total transparency into our operations. TDOC employs two, full-time, on-site contract monitors at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) who work to ensure our full compliance with prescribed policies and procedures.
We don’t cut corners on care, staff or training, which meets, and in many cases exceeds, our government partners’ standards. CoreCivic has extensive pre- and in-service training requirements for staff covering all key policy areas, including but not limited to training on inmate rights and our Code of Conduct. In many cases, CoreCivic staff training is identical to the training received by our government partner counterparts, and it meets or exceeds the training standards of the independent American Correctional Association.
Our staff continuously work to deliver a high standard of care at TTCC and all of our facilities. Keeping people safe is our core responsibility at each of our locations. Our facilities maintain policies and security procedures tailored to the facility’s mission and partner agency requirements. CoreCivic employees are well-trained. They are expected to know and follow security policies and protocols, including:
Basic security practices
CPR, first aid and medical referral
Sexual assault prevention
Use of force
Communication and de-escalation techniques
At TTCC, our CoreCivic health services team takes seriously their role and responsibility to provide high-quality healthcare to individuals in our care. The TTCC health services team follows both CoreCivic's standards for medical care and the standards set forth by TDOC.
TTCC's licensed medical staff are onsite and available 24/7 to provide high-quality care for anyone who needs it. Medical care is available to all inmates daily. Inmates can request medical care via TTCC's sick call process, in which inmates can sign-up within their housing units to see a nurse, who comes to every pod to process sick call requests.
Both public and private correctional facilities in Tennessee have faced staffing challenges. Even as we focus on addressing these challenges, we work to meet or exceed our daily staffing patterns, which are designed to ensure the safety of the facility and are reviewed and approved by our government partners.
Over the last two years we have strengthened our employee recruiting efforts at TTCC by significantly increasing wages and bonuses. These efforts are in lock step with our government partner, TDOC, and we appreciate their support as we work together to ensure safe, secure facilities system-wide. Our training managers also set teamwork goals and educate staff on our other incentives and benefits such as health insurance, a 401(k) matching savings and retirement plan, paid time off, the CoreCivic University program, the CoreCivic Scholarship Fund, and more. We continue to monitor and adjust recruitment and retention efforts as needed to ensure we remain an attractive option for job seekers. While we continue to meet all contract requirements, CoreCivic is always looking to hire additional, qualified applicants.
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