Reported by Jennifer Johnson
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
Reports of violent incidents in the state prison system were down last year, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction, but the number of inmates and correctional officers being severely hurt or even killed is on the rise.
Prison officials say the number of serious assaults were down in 2012 while the number of correctional officers severely injured more than doubled.
And almost 700 inmates had to be taken away from state prisons by ambulance, which is 200 more than an average year.
"I'd say it's odd that they're reporting that the number of violent incidents have gone down. At the same time, the number of weapons found, serious assaults on staff have doubled. These things don't seem to reconcile," said Alex Friedmann, with the Human Rights Defense Center.
Two Tennessee inmates were murdered last year, followed by another just last month. That's more than the prison system has seen over the past three years combined.
"Homicides are a fairly rare occurrence in the prison context, and when you have an uptick - even if it's only a small uptick of two or three - it's indicative of problems in the system that need to be addressed," Friedmann said.
It's also interesting to note that the number of weapons confiscated last year jumped to 1,500. Some say that is another indication that Tennessee inmates don't feel safe and are preparing to defend themselves.