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Tennessee Prisons “Naughty” List Shows Prison Staff Often Bring in Contraband

Investigators with the Tennessee Department of Corrections’ (TDOC) Office of Investigation & Conduct and Internal Affairs, working in tandem with investigators in eight separate counties and Tennessee State Police, completed a year-long investigation that showed otherwise.

In early August 2020, the joint investigation dubbed Operation Naughty List saw the Bledsoe County Grand Jury issue 20 felony criminal indictments, 10 for prisoners. The remaining 10 indictments were for current and former TDOC employees. As of August 5, 2020, six of these 10 had been arrested and charged.

Jennifer Hughes, Theresa Ringley and Kathy Young were all charged with contraband in a penal facility, conspiracy to introduce contraband into a penal facility and possession of schedule III narcotics. Leletha Hall was charged with contraband inside of a penal facility. Brandon Copeland was charged with official misconduct and tampering with evidence. Thomas Penwell was charged with official misconduct and theft of property.

TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker, stated, “This operation is a perfect example of our department’s efforts to enhance public safety in Tennessee. We will continue to work with our judicial partners to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who threatens the safety and security of our prisons.”

One thing is certain, Christmas 2020 was not fun for 20 naughty Tennesseans. 


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