The head of Tennessee’s prison system is leaving state government. Tony Parker announced his retirement Tuesday, effective this fall.
Terry Deshawn Childress’ death marked the 17th homicide in a Tennessee prison in the past five years. All but three of those deaths occurred at private facilities, even though they house only about a third of the state’s prisoners.
At first, Dawn Harrington blamed herself when her younger brother went to prison. She questioned whether she’d been a good influence. She developed anxiety, then fell into a deep depression.
Thousands of Tennessee prisoners are now going to be eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine. The announcement comes days after an Associated Press investigation found that state officials debated when to vaccinate prisoners, fearing that any decision could be deemed a “public relations nightmare.”
Prison deaths in Tennessee increased by nearly 60% in 2020, compared to the prior year. But COVID-19 directly accounted for only about half of them.
The head of Tennessee’s prison system says the number of unfilled correctional officer positions has reached an “all-time high.” Many facilities were already severely understaffed. Now, officials say the pandemic has made recruitment even harder.
Most Tennessee prisons are currently reporting few or no active cases of COVID-19. Three have even opened back up for visitation this month. But an outbreak at a facility in northeast Tennessee has become one of the deadliest.
Nashville has seen an uptick in the transmission rate and percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus, and health officials say outbreaks at prisons located in Davidson County are partially to blame.
A new round of mass testing at Tennessee prisons has uncovered small outbreaks at several state-run facilities. The Department of Correction says about 400 people who were swabbed last week have come back positive so far.
The Tennessee Department of Correction is launching another round of mass testing after more than 1,100 people tested positive at a private prison this week.