A retired prison warden says the reclassification of maximum-security prisoners to medium-security has increased violence directed at both inmates and staff.
Jerry Lester, the former warden of West Tennessee State Penitentiary, made the accusations at a Friday news conference.
The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1QSEpC3) Lester said a 2012 presentation on the change by Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield suggested it was motivated, at least partially, by cost savings. Inmates classified as less dangerous require fewer guards to watch them.
The department issued a statement defending the reclassifications. The statement said some maximum security prisoners were there for nonviolent offenses, and there were racial disparities affecting who was classified as maximum security.
The statement said more than 90 percent of the reclassified inmates were successfully reintegrated into the general population.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com