Correction officials considered major policy changes prior to Bass Annex shutdown

Monday, November 28, 2011 at 3:13pm

Tennessee Department of Correction officials reviewed possible policy changes at the Charles Bass Correctional Complex Annex more than a month before shutting it down.

Emails from CBCX Warden J.R. Miller reveal that he and other prison officials considered major policy changes at the 320-bed annex — one of the largest minimum-security facilities in the state — prior to its Nov. 6 closure.

On Sept. 29, three days after an escape attempt, Miller sent a memo plan entitled “Response Plan to Challenges at CBCX Site II” to TDOC Assistant Commissioner Rueben Hodge and Correctional Administrator Jim Dickson.

“The staff, Deputy Warden and I have taken a look at several operational and physical plant issues in order to better minimize the risk involved with the inmates assigned to this site,” Miller wrote.

He presented information about five inmates who escaped from the facility over the prior five months, including: Two of the five inmates came to the annex directly from medium-custody facilities; one of the inmates was a parole violator and served a year before being re-admitted to the annex; and three of the five inmates were younger than 30 years old.

“One conclusion we could reach was we need a better quality of clientele. Ha,” Miller wrote.

Among suggested changes to the facility, Miller considered additional screening practices before gaining admittance to the annex, more time spent on orientation for new inmates, increasing inmate counts and the implementation of shakedowns, or searches, on inmates when they return from work crews.

Miller also addressed physical upgrades to the facility including new wiring along the fences, new camera monitoring equipment and additional push bar alarms in housing units.

“We have evaluated our processes/procedures and resources … and this process will continue over the next six months,” Miller wrote.

The annex closed a little over a month later after another escape.