DOC wants budget increase

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

THE CENTER SQUARE

Tennessee’s Department of Corrections is asking for more than $9 million in increased funding next fiscal year.

The bulk of that comes from $7 million for inflators for the department’s contracts with CoreCivic to run three prisons in the state.

Those include South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Hardeman Correctional, Whiteville and Trousdale Turner.

Overall, the four prisons have 7,490 beds and represent one-third of the overall prison capacity in the state.

Tennessee Department of Corrections Chief Financial Officer Valerie Murtha said three of the contracts have inflators already built in while Hardeman’s contract is up in June and the budget request is an estimation of that new contract.

The department is also asking for $2.3 million in budgetary increase for behavioral health contract inflators.

Commissioner Frank Strada said that recidivism rates dropped in the state for a fifth straight year, dropping multiple percentage points.

Strada said the department started contraband mapping in May, looking at weapons, cell phones, contraband and assaults throughout the state.

“It’s like a scorecard, where we monitor per 100 incidents and we rate them and can see our level throughout the state,” Strada said.

Strada said monitoring the data and making changes has resulted in reductions over the first six months of the program.

Strada also said that the state is looking to increase the access to tablets for inmates in 2024 as it allows the department to conduct programming over the devices as well as other functions.