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Tennessee prisons found to have mishandled assault cases, violating federal law

An audit conducted by Tennessee’s Comptroller’s office found that Tennessee prisons may have violated federal law by mishandling sexual assault cases and have been experiencing unacceptably high staff turnover rates at CoreCivic-operated facilities. The Department of Correction and CoreCivic staff were found to have violated federal Prison Rape Elimination Act standards and failed to discipline employees with allegations of sexual harassment against prisoners. The private prison operator, CoreCivic, had staggering staff turnover rates in its facilities, with most operating at over 100% turnover. The state’s Department of Correction is seeking budget increases, with over $7 million earmarked for CoreCivic. The audit also highlighted ongoing issues with prison staffing, including the reliance on unsustainable levels of overtime to fill staffing gaps. Additionally, the audit found that sexual misconduct in the prison system is underreported, with a Justice Department report stating that only about a quarter of incidents were reported by the victim. The federal prison system has faced criticism after multiple incidents of staff sexual misconduct were revealed in recent years.

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