By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

The warden of CoreCivic’s Hartsville prison noted continuing efforts to fight contraband and staffing shortages during a Jan. 9 meeting of the Prison Oversight Committee.

“Contraband isn’t unique to Trousdale; it’s a challenge across the nation… keeping contraband out,” Washburn told commissioners. “We work with the sheriff’s department, Office of Investigations & Compliance to prosecute those people to the fullest extent.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Russell Washburn said in addition to added construction of fences to keep inmates out of certain areas of the yard at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, CoreCivic had also started using an updated drone detection system.

“It’s a great device for us to have in terms of keeping contraband out of the facility,” he said.

The new system, Washburn said, can detect incoming drones within a four-mile radius, as well as pinpoint the location and the direction any drone flies in from.

The warden added that the drone detection system works so well, he was able to identify and speak with an individual using a drone to take pictures of the nearby cooling tower at the old TVA nuclear site. Washburn reiterated that the individual in question was doing nothing wrong.

Staffing “remains a challenge,” Washburn told commissioners, as the prison is currently short by 75 correctional officers. CoreCivic has resumed bringing in correctional officers from other company-owned prisons to temporarily fill positions at Trousdale Turner.

“Corrections is not for everybody,” he said. “Over the last several months, we have seen a higher success rate in the hiring of veterans.”

Washburn did acknowledge that an inmate at TTCC committed suicide last week but said he could not give more information, citing an ongoing investigation.

The warden also noted the results of an audit of TTCC conducted by the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

The complete report has not been made publically available yet, but Washburn said there were 77 findings in the audit. However, he said only 11 of those were related to security and that most were documentation of programs and services.

“The overall findings obviously is not where we want to be,” he said. “A singular event where someone failed to sign or initial can result in a finding… Many of these were self-identified and we have corrective actions in place.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]