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Report to TDOC, American Correctional Association, 2015

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FOUNDED 1870

AMERICAN CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION
206 NORTH WASHINGTON STREET, SUITE 200 • ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA 22314
703 • 224 • 0000 FAX: 703 • 224 • 0010
WWW.AGA.ORG

ACA REPORT TO THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION
October 2015
Objective: The objective of this review was to conduct site visits at several Tennessee correctional
facilities to provide a review of the following:
• general "safety" considerations
• staffing and overtime patterns and issues
• staff :vacancy rates
• review of critical incidents files with emphasis on staff assaults
• interview staff and inmates
Facilities Visited: lWest Tennessee State Penitentiary;�orthwest Correctional Complp;
3Riverbend Maximum Security InstitutionjBledsoe County Correctional Facilitiesi anoLois
DeBerry Special Needs Facility
Summary of Resumes of Participants - See Attachment I.
Report to the Tennessee Department of Correction:
The safety of the general public is at the heart of the mission of a correctional agency. It is a core
function and priority of the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). Evaluation of the
effectiveness of the agency in meeting this critical measure of safety is the rate of escapes from the
secure correctional facilities under its control. Our review of the department's performance in this
area reveals sustained positive outcomes. There have been no escapes from secure custody since
February 2009. There have been no escapes in the past 6 years. Other elements of correctional staff
and inmate safety can be reflected in observable general operational characteristics. During its visits,
the team determined that all 5 units visited, including the most secure and complex in the system,
were consistently operationally disciplined, stable and productive in meeting their critical mission.
Security checkpoints were adequately staffed and operated. (It was noted that an enhancement of the
"zone officer" staffing and function to allow more time to be allocated by a third officer in the
entrance areas of the medium housing units would be a positive step in enhancing staff safety and
morale in the pod housing assignments. Such staffing appeared to be regularly available in the high
custody housing areas.) Emergency response team members were assigned and present or available

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on a 24-hour basis. It must also be noted that the sustained facility compliance with the operational
standards of the American Correctional Association as set by its "standards committee" and
administered by the "Commission on Accreditation for Corrections" is a primary indicator and
measure of what can be characterized in the aggregate as sound correctional programs. The TDOC
has been and remains accredited by the association and the commission, the only accreditation of
complete facility operations that is available in America.
The team reviewed specific aspects of the current operational model of the department with particular
emphasis on the recent conversion from a 7-day correctional officer work period to a 28-day
correctional officer work period. In addition, incident reporting relative to inmate assaults on
correctional officers was examined. These issues were defined as being most relevant to analysis of
the factors raised in discussion with departmental staff before and during the visits.
In August 2014, the department began its conversion from a 7-day definition of the correctional
officer work period under applicable FLSA regulations to a 28-day definition of the work period.
The intent was to ensure that allocation of this critical manpower resource was done as efficiently and
effectively as possible under existing federal law while at the same time undertaking recognition of
the importance of equity in work assignments of correctional officers relative to weekend and holiday
work shifts. As a collateral consequence of this initiative, two primary issues emerged as having
problematic implications for the affected employee group:
1.

The new system altered the method by which overtime was accumulated and paid. Under
the 7-day work period structure, hours accumulated in excess of 40 during the 7 days were
compensated at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate and were due and payable to
the employee in a 2 to 3 week period after they were worked. Under the revised 28-day work
period, hours accumulated in excess of 160 during the 28-day period were compensated at a
straight time rate for the first 11 hours worked after 160 hours and at the time and one half
rate only after 171 hours had been worked, (a change from the previous model which paid
time and one half for all these extra hours worked). In addition, the overtime hours were due
and payable after a 6 to 7 week period rather than a 2-3 week period. The evaluation period
to determine whether or not overtime hours had been accumulated for payment changed from
7 days to 28 days. The time lag between actually working the hours and being compensated
for them changed from 2-3 weeks to 6-7 weeks. These factors contributed to concern on the
part of the affected class of employees.

2.

A gap exists in the offender disciplinary process and enumerated rules in the area of staff
assaults. For an inmate to be charged with assaulting a staff member, the act must include the
element of"intentional injury" to the staff member. Any action on the part of the inmate
which does not include injury is usually classified as "Staff/Inmate Provocation." This rule
was originally designed to encompass "intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact
with staff or another inmate that a reasonable person would regard as offensive but which
results in no injury." The historical context of this rule as interpreted by the team would
contemplate its use to discipline incidental contact between the offender and the staff member
and not assaultive contact. The result, however, of the requirement for intentional injury being
present prior to the charging of an inmate for staff assault left assaultive non-injurious
incidents as usually chargeable only under the provocation rule.

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Recommendations:
The team offers alternative strategies to address these identified specific issues as follows:
- Change the 28 day FLSA exempt class work period from 28 days to 14 days.
- Change the 8 hour shift assignment to a 12 hour shift assignment.
In this manner, the overtime accumulation threshold would change from 28 days to 14 days. Each
officer would work 86 hours per pay period and be compensated at straight time for 86 hours, (7
shifts @ 12 hours per shift and 7 roll-calls each of approximately 15 minutes in duration), and time
and one-half after 86 hours per pay period. The overtime threshold would change from 28 days to 14
days, (A 50% reduction from the current practice). Double shifts would be eliminated. The number
of times a correctional officer would be required to drive to and from the prison, often a considerable
distance, would be reduced to 7 times every 2 weeks. The overtime payment time lag would be
reduced by 2 weeks. Overtime which an employee volunteers to work could be assigned on the
employee's regular days off, rather than as an extension of a work shift. It should also be noted that
the work period adjustment as described would result in employees working a routine rotating
fourteen-day schedule as follows:
Regular days off-Friday I Saturday I Sunday
Work days- Monday I Tuesday
Regular days off-Wednesday I Thursday
Work days - Friday I Saturday I Sunday
Regular days off-Monday I Tuesday
Work days - Wednesday I Thursday
Repeat cycle
Every correctional officer, except those assigned to a Monday-Friday 40 hour work week, would be
off duty every other weekend for a 3-day period.
- Delete the following inmate rules from APR 502.05 "definitions of disciplinary offenses"
"3. Assault, assault on staff (Class A)"
"67. Stafli'inmate provocation (Class B or C)"
-Add the following inmate rules to APR 502.05 "Definitions of Disciplinary Offenses"
"Staff assault with weapon (Class A)"
Offenders shall not assault any staff member, visitor or guest using any object as a weapon,
including any liquid or solid substances thrown or otherwise projected on or at such person. The use
of teeth will also constitute a violation of this rule. Contact does not necessarily have to be made for
this rule to be violated.
"Staff assault without weapon (Class A)"
Hostile physical contact or attempted physical contact with a staff member, visitor or guest is
not permitted. This includes hitting, shoving, wrestling, kicking and similar behaviors. Contact does
not necessarily have to be made for this rule to be violated."

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"Defiance (Class A or B)"
No offender shall curse, insult or threaten a staff member, visitor or guest in any manner. This
prohibited conduct includes abusive or insulting conversation, phone calls or gestures by any offender.
Further, no inmate shall obstruct, resist, distract or attempt to elude staff in the performance of their
duties. Nor shall any offender intimidate or attempt to intimidate staff to manipulate staff's actions."
"Fighting with weapon (Class A)"
An inmate shall not assault any other inmate using any object as a weapon, including any liquid or
solid substances thrown or otherwise projected at another inmate. The use of teeth will constitute a
violation of this rule. Contact does not necessarily have to be made for this rule to be violated.
"Disorderly conduct (Class B or C)"
Staff, visitors and guests should be treated courteously and shall not be subjected to disorderly or
intrusive conduct, including incidental touching. Boisterous and disorderly behavior is not allowed.
Revise the following rule in APR 2.05 "Definitions of Disciplinary Offenses":
"Fighting (Class A or B) Hostile physical contact or attempted physical contact with another inmate is not
permitted. This includes hitting, shoving, wrestling, kicking and similar behaviors. Contact does not
necessarily have to be made for this rule to be violated." (A, B)
fujury would no longer be a defining term in the disciplinary rules as it is not a final determinative
factor in evaluating seriousness of the offense. Offense class, (A, B or C), would be added/amended as
indicated.
Summary:
The ACA Team recognizes that change is often difficult, but also necessary. We recommend that
changes as important as work schedules be implemented after all staff has the ability to adjust their family
and personal schedules. New work hours impact families with or without children, can disrupt other part­
time work and personal events, such as college, volunteer work and so on. We believe that management
staff should meet in person with correctional staff and those affected by the work schedule changes, in
order to explain the importance of these changes for the benefit of the State of Tennessee and the benefit
of the staff. Ultimately, these changes are anticipated to positively affect outcomes relative to facility
stability and safety as well as addressing staffing concerns relative to pay, overtime and scheduling issues.
Another important change, if implemented, is revision of the inmate disciplinary policy. This
change, the ACA team believes, would clarify a policy that is confusing to some employees. It
would also exemplify to staff that inmate negative behavior has results for corrective action. This
change should also be explained to staff in person in order to enlist understanding and continued
corrections team support.
Lastly, we appreciate the openness and ability to speak with employees and inmates in private
during our visits. We commend the Commissioner and his staff for allowing any and all persons we
spoke with to do so in private and in frank terms. We congratulate the entire staff of the Tennessee
Department ofCorrection in ensuring, above all, public safety is maintained and justice is served.

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ATTACHMENT I
Summary of Resumes of Participants
James A. Gondles, Jr., CAE, Executive Director, American Correctional Association - James A.
Gondles, Jr. was selected the eighth Executive Director of the American Correctional Association in
1990. Mr. Gondles served full-time as Executive Director-Designate from October 1990 until
October 1991, when he became the Executive Director. Mr. Gondles previously served as Sheriff of
Arlington County, Virginia, having first been elected in 1979 and reelected in 1983 and 1987. He
resigned the Office of Sheriff to assume his new duties at the American Correctional Association.
From 1972 until his election as Sheriff, Mr. Gondles served as a deputy sheriff in Arlington County.
A graduate of Oklahoma City University (B.A., political science) Mr. Gondles has also completed
training at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy, the National Sheriffs' Institute and the
National Academy of Corrections. He became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) by the
American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) in 1999.
Richard L. Stalder, Secretary of Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (LDPSC)
(Retired). In 1992, Mr. Stalder was appointed Secretary of the LDPSC-a position he held until his
retirement in 2008. He began his corrections career in 1971 as a correctional officer while attending
college. Following college graduation, he continued his corrections path within the Department as
Training Officer I/II, Federal Programs Administrator, Corrections Budget Officer, Agri-Business
Planning & Management Officer, and Superintendent of Louisiana Training Institute-Monroe. In
1981, he worked as the Executive Vice President of Doles Insurance Agency, but returned to LDPSC
in 1985 as Deputy Warden of Dixon Correctional Institute and then as Warden of David Wade
Correctional Center before assuming the Secretary's position. Stalder served as President of the
American Correctional Association (ACA) from 1998-2000 and President of the Association of State
Correctional Administrators (ASCA) from 2004-2006 and has served on many committees for both
ACA and ASCA. He currently serves as Chair of ACA's Constitution and Bylaws Committee.
Stalder is a member of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Department of Corrections Credit
Union and also is Chairman of the Finance Committee for the Union. He has been a member of
several corrections and non-corrections related associations and commissions. He is and has been an
expert witness for several court cases and was a consultant and trainer for such disciplines as the
United States Army and the Saudi Arabian Corrections Delegation to the U.S. and many others. He
is considered a subject matter expert in adult prisons, jails, juvenile correctional programs,
community corrections programs and police lock-ups. Stalder has been a keynote speaker for several
corrections-related organizations and associations and has moderated several corrections training
events. He has authored several publications for ASCA, ACA and other organizations. Stalder is an
active participant in his community and has received several honors and awards. He holds a M.S.
(1978) and a B.A. (1973) both in Economics from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and
was an adjunct professor at Louisiana State from 1977 to 1978.

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Luis S. Spencer, Former Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Correction (Retired) and Past
Chair, Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, American Correctional Association - Luis S.
Spencer has 32 years of Correctional experience. In May 2011 he was appointed Commissioner of
the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC)--a position he held for three and half years.
He began his corrections career in the Corrections (MDOC) in 1980 as a correction officer. In 1982
he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he received an honorable discharge in 1985 as
Sergeant. He returned to the MDOC as a correction officer and quickly advanced through the ranks
from Sergeant to Deputy Superintendent. He was appointed Superintendent of MCI-Lancaster, and
following this role, he was assigned to MCI Plymouth, Old Colony Correctional Center and MCI
Norfolk, the state's largest facility. In 2008, he was promoted to Assistant Deputy Commissioner of
the Southern Sector overseeing nine correctional facilities Superintendents and was later appointed
Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Prisons Division. While serving as Commissioner for MDOC,
he continually improved the performance of operations; led the department's efficiency and
credibility by using "dialogue" as a method to advance a "leadership" model to encourage open
communication between staff and inmates; maintained and promoted his department's strategic plan
to ensure that both staff and inmates knew and understood the department's vision, mission, and core
values as it related to the strategic plan; led his organization with the team concept in problem
solving; and he led in the outreach efforts of the MDOC to utilize Social Media as a networking tool
to the advance agency's agenda and communication with its stakeholders. Spencer was a member of
ACA's Standards Committee, and was elected in 2012 by the ACA membership as a Commissioner
for the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, and ultimately was elected Chair of the CAC.
He has also published articles in Corrections Today. He received a Criminal Justice Degree from
Massasoit Community College and several certificates of completion relative to the criminal justice
field.

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