The warden at CoreCivic's Hartsville prison briefly addressed the August assault that left a staff member seriously injured during last week's meeting of the Prison Oversight Committee.

Russell Washburn told committee members an investigation by the Tennessee Department of Corrections is ongoing and offered few details when asked about the incident by Commissioner Dwight Jewell.

In the Aug. 30 incident, an inmate reportedly stabbed an employee multiple times and sexually assaulted


the victim, who has not been identified. The employee, only identified as a mental health staffer, had to be taken by helicopter to Vanderbilt Medical Center.

"I can't go into a lot of details due to the criminal investigation of the inmate … the inmate had no history to suggest he would act out the way he did."

The inmate was reportedly transferred to Riverbend Maximum Security Prison after the incident.

Washburn said the employee was out of the hospital and had returned home.

"She's still on the road to recovery. Although her injuries were grave, I'm meeting with her regularly and she's probably the most upbeat person I've ever met."

Washburn did confirm that the employee had lost sight in her left eye as a result of the assault.

The warden was also asked about reports that the staffer was not accompanied by a correctional officer and whether this was routine at Trousdale Turner.

"She was security trained and that's a pretty typical process there," Washburn said. "Her office was in the particular unit where this action occurred."

The warden said one-on-one counseling sessions typically did not have guards in attendance but that guards were supposed to be in the unit. He said in this instance, a sergeant and a correctional officer were "30 to 40 feet away" at the time. Washburn did not speak to the response of on-duty officers to the incident, which he said lasted "about 4½ minutes. It was very quick and unprovoked."

Trousdale County's Prison Oversight Committee meets quarterly. Its next scheduled meeting will be sometime in January.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or

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