Donna, did you work at Brushy Mountain?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DammitJanet, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was watching Locked Up last night and the prison they were doing it on was Brushy Mountain. I know you have said that you worked for a maximum security prison and while showing this I suddenly thought...hey, I wonder if this is where you worked? After the show ended they said it closed down in what 2009 maybe but that they opened up a bigger prison. Is that when all of you either retired or had to decide to move to the new prison?

    If you did work there, did you know that older man, the one who was there with the guy who killed Martin Luther King and decided not to run when he did. The older guy who looks like someones I think they said he had a sentence of 300 years. I cant remember his name. The other prisoner I remember vividly freaked me out was the one who killed his mother at 18, then killed a guy in prison by stabbing him 65 times, then killed his counselor in prison because the counselor was pissing him off so he decided to kill him to get the death penalty. His theory was if you put enough holes in a person they cant patch them up and they will die. This guy had dark dark brown hair and a tattoo across his forehead with a swastika in the middle above his nose. I have the right place or did I just give you useless info? LOL
  2. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    No, Janet, I never worked at Brushy Mountain. Brushy Mountain is in East Tennessee in Morgan County. The one where I worked is in Middle Tennessee, about 60 miles west of Nashville. Ours was officially designated as Close Security but we had many Maxium Security inmates there. Brushy Mountain was one of the antiquated prisons that was almost impossible to keep up to standards. It was out in the middle of nowhere and was every bit as foreboding as it looked! It didn't close down all at once though, inmates and staff were gradually transitioned to other state prisons in the area. There are several in that region. James Earl Ray was the one who murdered Martin Luther King. I remember when he died. The thing that always surprised me was that, in spite of his infamy, he spent most of his incarcerated years living in the general prison population and was not on protective custody like you would think.

    I never got to visit Brushy because of the distance but I did visit the old Tennessee State Prison in Nashville for business several times before it was closed down, when the inmates were still there. It was built before the Civil War and still had the old multi-tiered cell blocks. This is the one that looks very much like a castle from the front with the towers and turrets on the top. Since it closed down, there have been several movies filmed at the old TSP including "The Last Castle" with Robert Redford and James Gandolfini.

    Hard to believe that I've been retired for 15 months now but I don't regret it one little bit! It was never the inmates, you get used to them. It was all the BS and the "politics" and the game playing. Since you worked for the State before, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. I retired at 64 with 24 years in. If I had stayed one more year my pension would be higher and my insurance would have been lower, and if I had stayed two more years my social security would be higher than what it is, but I was to the point where I was mad all the time and hated the thought of going in to work anymore and it was time to go!
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know what you mean. I was just watching that show last night thinking...oh, maybe this is where my friend worked! Even though you didnt work at Brushy, you did work for the Prisons, you probably remember the incident...a prison guard named Cotton who drove the transport who was gunned down when he was about to bring someone back from court? Cotton was his nickname. I am assuming that something like that would be heard through the grapevine all over the state as horrific as it was.
  4. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, that was a BIG story in the news all over the state. I'm trying now to remember what the officer's last name was. The inmate was being transported to court. Somehow he had gotten hold of a cell phone and let his girlfriend know that he was being transported and she showed up at the courthouse with a gun. That's the main reason that cell phones are so strictly forbidden in the prison system and the reason that inmates are never informed beforehand when they are going to outside court or being transferred to another institution. They get them up very early in the morning and just take them before they have a chance to do anything. It was a crying shame that the officer was killed. All of the institutions raised money and a memorial was built at the Correction Academy in Tullahoma, TN dedicated to him and several others who have been killed in the line of duty.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think I actually saw a Nightline or 20/20 on that too.
  6. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I think I saw that one, too. Wasn't the girlfriend someone the inmate (whose name was George, if I recall correctly) met when she worked as a nurse at the facility? Her name was Jennifer and she had a husband and kids that she dumped for some convict. That was so sad...
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Officer killed during prisoner escape at Roane Co. court house

    The officer was Wayne "Cotton" Morgan who was a long-time employee of the Tennessee Department of Correction. This happened in 2005. The woman was the wife of the inmate - they met while she was working at the prison as a nurse. It doesn't happen very often but it does happen. The medical care in most of the prisons is now provided by private contractors who are not State employees and I believe that was the case here. Many times they bring in staff who have had little or no training on working in a prison and dealing with inmates and the rules of the institution and that can cause HUGE problems. And because they work for the contractor and not the State, some times all the rules, regulations and procedures don't seem very important to them.

    The number of rules and policies in a prison is mind boggling but there are very good reasons for every single one of them. The number one rule for staff is that you are not allowed to have any kind of personal relationship with an inmate whatsoever and what happened here is exactly why! Inmates will actively look for an employees vulnerabilities and take full advantage of them, exactly what happened here. And the never-ending battle to keep cell phones out of prisons and jails is NOT to force them to use the expensive pre-paid phone systems, it's to prevent a tragedy like this from happening. They use those cell phones to harass victims, arrange drug deals and contraband smuggling, and even to arrange escapes which is what happened here. The job of transportation officer can be a very dangerous one, which is why great care is taken to maintain secrecy when they are being transported to outside court or for medical treatment or to another institution. They do NOT want to find an inmate's whole family waiting for them, armed, in the courthouse parking lot! Ideally, the inmate's family won't even know they have been to court until it's all over and they are safely returned.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can sure understand that. Just seeing that huge bus with its label on the side would make me nervous. I can see how easy it would be for someone to arrange for a staged accident and have someone kill the driver and get the inmates off the bus.
  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    There's actually two different ways that inmates are transported. We had the "chain buses" that run a regular schedule all through the state twice a week. They go from prison to prison, picking up some and dropping off others. They do the routine transfers this way and they use the chain bus to bring in the newly assigned inmates from the reception centers. And you might not notice it but there is ALWAYS another vehicle with armed officers following directly behind those buses - called the "chase car".

    But if it's just one inmate being transported to court for a short hearing and then being returned to the prison the same day, they don't use the chain buses. They are transported by two trained, armed transportation officers in specially equipped SUV's or vans. If it's a Maximum Security inmate they will usually also be followed by a "chase car" but there are staff shortages due to never-ending budget cuts. The transportation vehicles have heavy wire "cages" in the back and doors and windows in the back compartment that don't open from the inside. This is the way this inmate was being transported to court, just the two officers, who were then attacked and shot by the inmate's wife in the parking lot. It's a very dangerous job (for which they get very low pay and usually no respect!)