January 17, 2017

Private prison industry puts profits ahead of safety

NASHVILLE – CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, rolled out their latest private prison in Tennessee—with the CEO choosing his words carefully, stating “we’ve got work to do.”

Work to do indeed. According to an article in The Tennessean, family of inmates and officers have brought up a wide variety of safety issues that unnecessarily put inmates and officers in danger at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

Predictably, wages for trained officers remain very low, which has led to a constant revolving door of employees, with officers stating they aren’t paid enough to work in such hazardous conditions.

“I felt like I was in more danger when I was in the prison” said James Kelley, a teacher at the facility and Desert Storm veteran with 21 years in the military.

"In a military environment…I have control over the battlefield aspects, I have control over the command aspects ... in the prison, it’s completely opposite. There's no control and there's no identifying any immediate threats,” continued Kelley.

Even during the interview with Dave Boucher from The Tennessean, the prison remained on lockdown, with the Tennessee Department of Corrections advising the facility to stop receiving new inmates in May, just a year since opening.

While company executives claim it’s a process, and that they’re working to improve upon failed rollouts, the for-profit prison industry continues to put profits ahead of staff and inmate safety.

CoreCivic’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is a prime example of what happens when corporations are left unchecked to provide services previously offered by state employees. Not only do taxpayers lose, but staff and those receiving those services—whether they are inmates or otherwise—face unnecessary safety risks in addition to a drop off in the quality of the services rendered.

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