Feb 28, 2022 - News

Lawsuit targets staffing at private prison company CoreCivic

A mourner places roses on the casket at the funeral for Terry Childress, who was killed last year at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.
A mourner places roses on the casket at the funeral for Terry Childress, who was killed last year at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center. Photo: Josie Norris/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

A former employee at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center tied violence at the privately run state prison to chronic understaffing.

  • The employee, whose comments were included in a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed this month, said the prison was "severely understaffed."

Why it matters: Understaffing is straining the entire Tennessee prison system. Staffing struggles coincide with an uptick in fatal drug overdoses.

Driving the news: The lawsuit was filed by the mother of Terry Childress, a Trousdale Turner inmate killed in custody last year. Another inmate has been indicted in his death.

  • The $10 million suit claims Childress would be alive if his unit had been "properly supervised and staffed" and accused CoreCivic, the private prison company that runs Trousdale Turner, with intentionally understaffing to save money.

State of play: The suit asks the court to review CoreCivic's operations and stop it from running Trousdale Turner unless "its chronic and profit-motivated unlawful conduct" ends.

The other side: CoreCivic spokesperson Matthew Davio tells Axios the company does not discuss pending litigation, but says "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."
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