Tennessee lawmakers have criticized state corrections officials after an audit found some private prisons were understaffed and their staffing information at times was incorrect or withheld.
After a round of questioning Wednesday, a state legislative panel voted to temporarily delay reauthorizing the Department of Correction, calling for officials first to testify again next month about CoreCivic's prison contracts.
Just one day prior, the comptroller's audit found Trousdale Turner Correctional Center and Whiteville Correctional Facility were consistently short-staffed, including in correctional officers and 'critical posts' Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker said Trousdale is doing what it can about staffing issues, including correctional officer pay increases.
"There's not just one cause, there's not one reason it's difficult to hire staff today," said Parker. "There's a multitude of issues we have to face. Not just in Tennessee, but across the country. Every state deals with difficulties hiring correction staff to work in its prisons."
Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison said the failures are egregious to Tennesseans and people in prisons. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart said corrections officials haven't investigated enough about whether problems go beyond the audit.