Former Prison Inmate Says Visiting Families Are Often Turned Away

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 16:41:47-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Last month two state correctional facilities went on lockdown after a fight between inmates, and some families said it isn't just the inmates who are affected when this happens.

Coletta Russell said she made the four hour drive to West Tennesse State Penitentiary for years after her husband Joe went there on drug charges.

She said the facility would often times be on lock-down so she'd have to turn around and go home.

At least six other families from their church have now been facing the same thing.

They're hoping something changes to make visitations a priority.

"They don't have a support system," said Coletta Jones who suggested inmates be driven to closer locations. "Their outside support is the biggest thing to keep them stable minded and not causing trouble with the officers because you can imagine how frustrating that can be."

The Tennessee Department of Corrections released the following statement"

“TDOC prisons across the state have varying missions and security levels. Offenders go through an extensive diagnostic process at intake and are then assigned to a prison facility based on many factors including security level and their programming and treatment needs.

The Department understands strong family support structures are important and it is for that reason we offer regular visitation and child visitation as well as programs such as Family Reunification and Jonah’s Journey. We understand that some families drive long distances to see their family members. We are cognizant of that and post changes to visitation on our website and social media sites to keep them informed.”