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PLN comments on need for legislative oversight after violent incident at TN prison

Fox News, April 12, 2017.

Tennessee Democrats call for legislative oversight following assault at Turney prison

Members of the Tennessee Democratic caucus are calling for legislative oversight following an incident at Turney Center Industrial Complex, which injured three officers.

The officers were stabbed multiple times, one of whom was taken hostage and transported to the hospital. Two officer remain hospitalized in stable condition, and one officer was treated and released overnight.

Tennessee Democrats are now calling for legislative oversight.

The disturbance involved 16 inmates in a housing complex. The inmates are believed to have ties to a "security threat group" and the disturbance was an "unprovoked attack," according to a statement from Tennessee Department of Correction. 

Department of Correction Commissioner, Tony Parker explained how and why inmates stabbed two officers and took a third hostage at the Turney Center Industrial Complex on Sunday.

“This attack was driven by a verbal confrontation between an officer and an inmate, and it escalated from there," Parker said. "There was no indicators that anything was going to happen."

TDOC said all 16 inmates were moved to Morgan County Correctional Complex, a maximum security facility, Sunday night. Since then, four inmates, Michael Mills, Nicholas Durant, Victor Sparkman and Ronnie Akins, have been moved to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

Democratic State lawmakers are outraged, pointing to inmate assaults that left guards stabbed or injured at the same facility in the past.

“It's unacceptable for a correctional officer to be held hostage in a Tennessee prison," said Sen. Jeff Yarbro. "It is on unacceptable for three state employees to be airlifted from one of our prisons."

Lawmakers call getting rid of a TDOC oversight committee in 2011 a mistake that needs to be corrected so that some else can to keep a closer watch on exactly what's going on behind bars.

“This is not an issue whether or not we can accomplish this mission,” said Rep. Mike Stewart. "We can clearly have correctional oversight anytime the super majority and the governor want it. The time is right now today."

“The TDOC is a $1 billion department said Alex Friedmann who works with several agencies that work with and advocate for inmates. "It is absurd there is no direct legislative oversight through a committee dedicated to that issue in Tennessee."

“We do everything we can to prevent them happening again," Parker said. "I think Tennessee has one of the best correctional agencies in the nation and we're going to continue to hold up that standard."