TDOC Commissioner tours local prisons

Photo By Rick Harris
Quenton White, left, the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections stopped over in Elizabethton on Friday to speak to interested citizens while he was in the area to tour the Northeast Correctional Center in Johnson County and the branch in Roan Mountain.

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
The Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction made a stop in Elizabethton on Friday to speak to a group of citizens while he was in the area to tour two facilities under the direction of the Department.
Commissioner Quenton White traveled to Northeast Tennessee in order to visit the Carter County Work Camp, in Roan Mountain, and the Northeast Correctional Complex, in Mountain City. White stated that as the Commissioner for the TDOC, he plans to tour every facility under his care at least once a year.
"I inherited what I consider to be a very good department with a lot of hard-working and dedicated people," White said.
While addressing the group which assembled at the Elizabethton Star on Friday morning, White spoke about some of his goals for the Tennessee Department of Correction as well as some of the goals of Governor Phil Bredesen. "My goal in moving forward is to make sure we maintain our accreditation," White said. "My second goal is to hire and maintain a good, hard-working and honest workforce."
One of the concerns that the current prison system in Tennessee is looking at is the aging of the population housed in correctional facilities. "We need to look at our health care issues," White said, adding that the system needs to begin looking at hospice care as well as health care for older inmates. "Our inmates are living longer."
The Tennessee Department of Correction is currently in the process of expanding and building, according to White. "Just two weeks ago, the Governor announced that we will be building on to our Brushy Mountain facility," he said.
Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex's main branch is located in the town of Petros and is designated as a maximum security facility. The Morgan Site of the BMCC is located in the town of Wartburg and is designated as a Minimum Restricted facility. According to White, plans are in progress to build a new 1,400 bed facility for the BMCC and close down the existing building, which was constructed in 1895.
White stated that the TDOC is also looking at building another facility, either as an addition or annex to a current correctional facility or as a stand alone facility. "The Tennessee Department of Correction is on the verge of building a new prison for the first time in more than five years," states a release from the TDOC. "While no final decision has been made on where that facility will be located, the process is moving forward."
There are currently approximately 19,400 inmates being housed in TDOC detention facilities with another 6,000 being housed in Shelby and Davidson Counties in facilities which have been contracted out to a private company. The TDOC currently manages 15 detention facilities, not counting the two which have been contracted out.