TN Prison Counselor Suspended for Posting Insults on Facebook
by Joe Watson
A counselor at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX), a close-security prison located in southwestern Tennessee, was suspended for three days after she posted profanity-laced insults on the Facebook page for the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) in April 2017, in the wake of an assault on three guards.
TCIX Warden Kevin Genovese suspended Luann Courtright Dickson without pay the following month after learning she had referred to a prisoner’s family member as “a stupid bitch” and a “fucked up idiot,” and prisoners at TCIX as “bastards.” Screenshots of those comments were obtained by PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann, who then lodged a formal complaint with the TDOC.
“Ms. Dickson was apparently unaware that the [Facebook] page is not only available for TDOC employees and their supporters, but to all members of the public – including family members whose loved ones are incarcerated (‘inmate lovers,’ as she called them),” Friedmann wrote in his complaint letter. “Beyond the fact that Ms. Dickson exercised extremely poor judgment in posting her comments on the TDOC’s Facebook page – regardless of the circumstances, which involved serious assaults on staff members at TCIX that day – her remarks also indicated she may not be suited for her position as a counselor.”
On April 9, 2017, sixteen prisoners in a medium-security unit at TCIX were reportedly involved in a disturbance that resulted in three guards – Paul Nielsen, Jesse Shockley and Lester Ball – being transported to a hospital in Nashville. TDOC officials said Shockley was held hostage for three hours by a group of prisoners that allegedly had “gang ties.” [See: PLN, June 2017, p.48].
Dickson, meanwhile, admitted to posting the comments on the TDOC’s Facebook page in a meeting with Warden Genovese on May 1. She explained that her “emotions were high given the fact that [her] son, who is also a TDOC employee, was at the facility during the incident,” Genovese wrote in a memo to Dickson notifying her she was being suspended.
“Especially concerning to me is the fact that the inmate population is aware of these posts as I have been approached, on more than one occasion, by inmates who have knowledge of this,” Genovese continued. “I am concerned with your safety and your ability to effectively perform your job duties.”
By April 13, 2017, all three guards involved in the violent incident at TCIX had been released from the hospital and were in “good spirits,” according to a statement by the TDOC.
Sources: PLN letter dated April 30, 2017, www.tennessean.com