Lawsuits Challenge Conditions at Tennessee Jail; Five Charged in Bribery and Smuggling Scheme
By Prison Legal News
In the wake of a Tennessee federal district court hearing in a lawsuit challenging conditions at the Maury County Jail (MCJ), the number of suits filed by prisoners against the jail has nearly doubled.
At a September 2012 hearing, prisoners held at the MCJ testified they were losing weight and that the facility was overcrowded and infested with brown recluse spiders. They also claimed their requests for medical attention were often ignored.
At least 23 lawsuits concerning conditions at the MCJ have been filed. County Attorney Daniel Murphy, however, told the federal court at an October 29, 2012 hearing that the jail had made changes in response to prisoners’ complaints; for example, meals were increased from 2,700 calories daily to 2,900. He also said new meal trays were provided, hygiene supplies such as toothpaste and shampoo have been increased, and old mattresses, which were worn and moldy, are being replaced.
Murphy further noted that the MCJ had formalized its grievance and medical request procedures and that 25 state prisoners had been transferred out of the facility to state prisons, to address overcrowding.
U.S. District Court Judge William Haynes commended the MCJ on taking action, but still was concerned about “the things that you can plainly see.”
“[T]he bottom line here is that protecting the health of the inmates is the most important thing,” he said. “You still have the steel doors on the showers that are rusted, and the vents in the showers are heavily rusted.”