VOL. 130 | NO. 226 | Thursday, November 19, 2015
Tennessee Says Prison Officer Assaults Down Year Over Year
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The number of recorded assaults on prison officers is down compared with a year ago, but critics say it's hard for them to accept any statistics from the Tennessee Department of Correction as fact.
The corrections department says there have been 31 fewer assaults since July 1 compared with last fiscal year, according to data from the agency requested by The Tennessean. Although the overall numbers have improved, assaults in September and October of this year are up, compared with the same months last year.
Gov. Bill Haslam and department Commissioner Derrick Schofield have consistently said violence is down in Tennessee prisons, but the department didn't provide specific data to show that trend until Tuesday. Since July 1, there have been 116 recorded assaults. There were 147 attacks reported during the same time period last year.
Still, inmates and their families continue to tell lawmakers and the media that the prisons are more violent than ever.
Tennessee House Democratic Chairman Mike Stewart is skeptical about the statistics because multiple assaults have been previously misreported as lesser provocations, he said.
"The commissioner came before our committee (and) had to admit that multiple incidents of assaults were misreported," Stewart said. "The public should have no faith at all in the reporting of assaults, based on their own commissioner's admissions."
During a recent audit, the American Correctional Association recommended the department scrap its definitions for assaults and "staff/inmate provocations," saying the definitions leave a "gap." The department is in the process of examining those definitions to see what, if any, changes need to be made.
Department officials say correctional officers are now more accurately recording violent acts.
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