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Trouble at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center:

FAMM Calls for Federal Investigation of Troubled Tennessee Private Prison

Improving prison conditions and increasing prison oversight is part of FAMM’s mission. Through media reports and stories from our impacted families, we have become aware that the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Tennessee is a prison plagued by disturbing allegations that demand a federal civil rights investigation.

Because of our concern for the health and well-being of incarcerated people and staff at the prison, FAMM is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Tennessee’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center and publicly issue its findings in a report.

Read FAMM’s Letter Calling for a Justice Department Investigation

Take Action: Sign the Petition to Ask the Justice Department to Investigate Trousdale Turner Correctional Center!

Share Your Story About Your Own Experience at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center

Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is operated by CoreCivic, a private prison company. For years, the media has verified and documented complaints and lawsuits over poor conditions, injuries, or deaths inside the prison. FAMM has also received horrifying stories from former staff, formerly incarcerated people, and families with loved ones who spent time in the prison. Despite these stories and lawsuits, the state has not required more investigations, oversight, transparency, or accountability for the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

Together, these stories and media reports raise concerns that Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is failing to protect the health, safety, and dignity of incarcerated people and staff. Allegations include, but are not limited to, the following issues:

  • Incidents of violence, stabbings, sexual assaults, and extortions
  • Medical neglect that leads to serious illness or death
  • High numbers of drug overdoses among incarcerated people
  • Dangerous understaffing
  • Staff use of force, abuse, threats, and retaliation against incarcerated people
  • Gangs running housing units
  • Broken cell doors that do not lock
  • Unsanitary housing and living conditions
  • Frequent lockdowns and unannounced cancellations of family visitation
  • Lack of food at mealtimes
  • Lack of rehabilitation programs for incarcerated people.

FAMM urges the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center and issue a public report of its findings as soon as possible. Sign our petition here to help!

General Legislative Updates

FAMM is working in Tennessee in 2023. FAMM successfully supported reforms to Tennessee’s overly broad and excessive mandatory minimum sentences for drug-free school zone offenses in 2020, and making those reforms retroactive in 2022. Hundreds of people in Tennessee became eligible for resentencing because of these retroactive reforms. You can read more about this work here.

Unfortunately, in recent years Tennessee has also increasingly created more mandatory time-served and mandatory minimum sentences, and several lawmakers are trying to create more despite the fact that long sentences do not deter crime or make us safer, produce unjust results, fill prisons, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. FAMM opposes these efforts.

Additionally, Tennessee law still requires people convicted for crimes committed when they were under age 18 to serve at least 51 years in prison before they can become eligible for parole. FAMM supports creating earlier parole eligibility for this group of people.

FAMM’s 2023 policy goals are to

  • Allow people serving life sentences for crimes committed as children to seek parole eligibility after serving 15 or 20 years in state prison.
  • Oppose efforts to create longer and more mandatory sentencing requirements.
  • Improve conditions in Tennessee’s state prisons.

Please contact Matthew Charles at mcharles@famm.org for questions about our Tennessee work.

2023 Laws and Policy

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Tennessee

You can do several things to work toward reforming Tennessee’s sentencing laws.

Latest News:

FAMM urges federal investigation into civil rights abuses at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

For Media Inquiries: John Norton, 202-999-4268 jnorton@famm.org FAMM urges federal investigation into civil rights abuses at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center  WASHINGTON – Based on evidence of deplorable and unsafe conditions at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, FAMM sent a letter today requesting that the Department of Justice launch an investigation of the Tennessee prison and its potential violations of … Read More

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FAMM reacts to Tennessee Lawmakers’ latest decision on sentencing bill

Friday, April 21, 2023

For Media Inquiries:John Norton, 202-999-4268jnorton@famm.org  FAMM reacts to Tennessee Lawmakers’ latest decision on sentencing bill  NASHVILLE – FAMM’s Tennessee State Director Matthew Charles released the following statement after the Tennessee General Assembly failed to pass a new “three strikes” law. “The Tennessee General Assembly was wise to let an expansion of their three strikes law die during this … Read More

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FAMM releases statement following Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee vote

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

For Media Inquiries: Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273 tlaino@famm.org FAMM releases statement following Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee vote Proposed bill would cost nearly $500 million to construct a new prison  NASHVILLE – FAMM’s Tennessee State Director Matthew Charles released the following statement following a vote in the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee to approve a bill that will … Read More

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Tennessee’s Reforms to Drug-free School Zone Laws

FAMM started working in Tennessee in 2018 to reform the state’s drug-free school zone law, which was one of the broadest and harshest in the nation.

  • In June 2020, the state legislature passed SB 2734, which reformed the drug-free school zone law. That reform went into effect on September 1, 2020, but was not retroactive. FAMM immediately urged the governor to grant clemency to approximately 350 people in state prisons already serving sentences under the old drug-free school zone law.
  • On December 2, 2021, Governor Bill Lee announced an expedited clemency application and review process for people in Tennessee state prisons sentenced for drug-free zone offenses before September 1, 2020.
  • In 2022, FAMM supported HB 1449, which became law and makes SB 2734 retroactive. HB 1449 took effect on April 29, 2022, and allows people who received drug-free school zone sentences before September 1, 2020, to file a motion in court to be considered for resentencing in line with the new law.

Read about SB 2734.

Read about how to seek clemency based on the new law.

Read about how to seek a reduced sentence in court under HB 1449

The stories below show why FAMM worked to reform Tennessee’s drug-free school zone law.

Wayne Potee

For Wayne Potee, it all comes down to one day. It was a weekday, and he was working on power lines when he took a bad fall off his truck. He suffered an injury to his rotator cuff that required surgery. Afterward, the surgeon prescribed Percocet. In seemingly no time at all, Wayne became addicted to pain medication and his life went to pieces. Now he’s in prison, into year four of a 15-year sentence.

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Terrence Davis

Because of the Drug-Free School Zone Act in Tennessee, this low-level drug offender is serving a decade longer than he would have without that enhancement. A distance of 101 feet. For Terrance Davis, that length was the difference between 12 years in prison—with the possibility of parole after serving four years—and the sentence he got: 22 years without parole.

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Sara Moore

Sara sold drugs out of her apartment and was arrested. Because she lived in a school zone, her sentence was much greater than it would have been otherwise.

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Calvin Bryant

In 2009, Calvin Bryant was convicted of selling drugs and sentenced to 17 years in Tennessee state prison. He was a first-time offender, and he could have served less than three years; instead, he got 17.

Read More

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