Lawmakers have questions after I-Team exposes party behind bars - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

TN lawmakers have questions after I-Team exposes 'party behind bars'

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Tennessee legislative hearing Monday tackled an issue first uncovered by the Channel 4 I-Team: photos, videos and text messages showed Tennessee inmates using social media to communicate with criminals in other prisons and showed how they're living it up while they're locked up.

"I was really shocked by what I saw," said state Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman. "My biggest concern was what I saw on television - just a flagrant violation of the law."

Lawmakers wanted to know how it is possible Tennessee inmates were able to have such a good time in prison.

"In one instance, they actually set a shirt on fire. I mean, your people, how do they not catch that?" Yager asked the head of the Tennessee Department of Correction.

"We don't say that it didn't happen or it couldn't happen," said TDOC Commissioner Derrick Schofield.

Schofield and his top staff were called to the subcommittee to answer questions about what the Channel 4 I-Team has been uncovering since May 2013.

"There were cell phones, drugs, money, unapproved foods. Some of them were even posting on Facebook from inside the prison. How does this happen? How could this happen?" Yager asked.

"With the advance of cell phones, it has become more of an issue in recent years. They have access to the internet," said TDOC Assistant Commissioner Tony Parker, who is in charge of security in state prisons.

Schofield downplayed everything the Channel 4 I-Team has shown, calling our stories a little dramatic.

"Some of that, depending on what footage you're watching, is not taken at TDOC facilities," Schofield said.

He may be talking about the video we originally reported was taken inside a county facility but was posted on Facebook while the inmate was in a Tennessee prison cell.

Schofield also challenges the Channel 4 I-Team's findings of how many inmates were on Facebook, but after we brought our discoveries to the state, 70 inmates were disciplined.

Parker added that in the last four months in 2013, five staff members were arrested for bringing in contraband.

It's unclear if that includes former correctional Officer Kevin Simmons, whom the Channel 4 I-Team exposed allegedly planning to slip contraband in the most secure prison in the state.

The Department of Correction first dismissed our findings and later called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which then set up a sting to catch Simmons.

He is now charged with felony official misconduct following the I-Team's initial investigation.

"We're getting punched in the eye for everything we don't do just right. But what you don't see is every day when we supervise those 20,000 offenders and things go right," Schofield said.

Yager said he is satisfied the Department is Correction is serious about what the Channel 4 I-Team exposed but that he will continue to monitor the situation.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • TN lawmakers have questions after I-Team exposes 'party behind bars'More>>

  • More Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • BREAKING

    Crowley police dog shot and killed overnight brought to Calcasieu Parish

    Crowley police dog shot and killed overnight brought to Calcasieu Parish

    Thursday, March 23 2017 5:54 PM EDT2017-03-23 21:54:25 GMT
    Roscoe and his handler Tate Thibodeaux (Source: Crowley Police Department)Roscoe and his handler Tate Thibodeaux (Source: Crowley Police Department)

    A Crowley Police Department K-9 officer died in an overnight shooting that left two others dead and an officer wounded.  The K-9 officer Roscoe was transported to the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office on Thursday around noon. Police held a procession for the slain K-9 officer. Roscoe is set to be cremated tomorrow in Sulphur.  State police are continuing to investigate the shooting. The identity of the victims are unknown at this time. Copyright ...

    More >>

    A Crowley Police Department K-9 officer died in an overnight shooting that left two others dead and an officer wounded.  The K-9 officer Roscoe was transported to the Calcasieu Parish Coroner's Office on Thursday around noon. Police held a procession for the slain K-9 officer. Roscoe is set to be cremated tomorrow in Sulphur.  State police are continuing to investigate the shooting. The identity of the victims are unknown at this time. Copyright ...

    More >>
  • FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Warm temperatures will continue, but rain is on its way!

    FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Warm temperatures will continue, but rain is on its way!

    Thursday, March 23 2017 4:19 PM EDT2017-03-23 20:19:34 GMT
    Cold front brings rain Friday nightCold front brings rain Friday night

    Overnight we are less likely to see fog develop. We will have windier conditions which will limit the fog tonight. We will have slightly windy conditions with increasing clouds throughout the night. Lows will be in the middle 60s. Friday will start out with mostly cloudy skies. Showers and thunderstorms will be heading toward the area. The rain should arrive more in the evening, then will continue overnight into Saturday morning. Most of the heavier rain will be north of our area.

    More >>

    Overnight we are less likely to see fog develop. We will have windier conditions which will limit the fog tonight. We will have slightly windy conditions with increasing clouds throughout the night. Lows will be in the middle 60s. Friday will start out with mostly cloudy skies. Showers and thunderstorms will be heading toward the area. The rain should arrive more in the evening, then will continue overnight into Saturday morning. Most of the heavier rain will be north of our area.

    More >>
  • UPDATE: Crowley officer shot Wednesday night has been released from hospital

    UPDATE: Crowley officer shot Wednesday night has been released from hospital

    Thursday, March 23 2017 2:49 PM EDT2017-03-23 18:49:10 GMT
    (Source: KATC)(Source: KATC)

    A Crowley police officer is recovering after getting shot overnight, authorities said.

    More >>

    A Crowley police officer is recovering after getting shot overnight, authorities said.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly