Trousdale prison

Businesses across the state and country are struggling to attract and retain employees, and Hartsville’s prison is no exception.

At the Oct. 20 meeting of the Prison Relations Committee, Warden Martin Frink stated that staffing remains an ongoing problem and that the company is using all avenues to find new employees.

Correctional officers are the hardest to find and the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center is running with about 100 vacancies in that position, a number the warden called “significantly high.”

As a result, some posts in the pods have been closed down to manage staffing and reduce overtime costs.

“In a building where you might have three staff posts, we’re generally running with one,” Frink said. “It works that one person a lot harder. You have to balance that and still providing good security for inmates and staff.”

CoreCivic has held job fairs and used recruiting companies but efforts have not been as successful as hoped for, Frink said. He gave an example of a recent job fair for which 200 people had signed up to attend, but none actually showed up to the event.

“That’s unfortunate and it’s indicative of what’s going on in the world today. I don’t know many places that don’t have some kind of ‘Help Wanted,’ ” he said.

One recruiting group is expected to add 15 people in one batch and has 40-50 more who are interested, Frink said.

Medical and administration posts are mostly filled and the company has been working to improve pay for those positions in order to retain current staff.

Seventeen inmates have currently tested positive for COVID-19, Frink said, and about 600 are quarantined because of contact tracing.

“It’s the safety protocols and what we feel is best for staff and inmates, to err on the side of caution,” he said.

COVID vaccines are made available to all inmates but are not required, the warden added.

“We had a lot who were already vaccinated, but we’ve gone back and offered it again and hopefully we’ll get more to participate,” Frink said.

Since the committee’s previous meeting in September, Frink said TTCC held a joint investigation with the Tennessee Department of Corrections and locked the facility down for two weeks to thoroughly search the prison for contraband such as drugs and cell phones.

During the search, two staffers were linked to introducing contraband and were terminated, and charges could be pending, the warden added.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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