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Former CoreCivic Guard Pleads Guilty to Deprivation of Tennessee Prisoner’s Rights

by Harold Hempstead

On April 8, 2022, a former supervising guard at a private prison operated for the Tennessee Department of Corrections pleaded guilty to two counts of civil rights violations for assaulting a compliant prisoner. When sentenced in May 2023, the former security threat group coordinator for CoreCivic’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility, Kenan Lister, 43, faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and $250,000 in fines.

Lister’s first count arose from an unlawful use of force in August 2019. The guard escorted prisoner “R.V.” to a holding cell, after an alleged assault on a prison employee. While the prisoner was in the cell and not resisting, Lister punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground. Lister then kicked, punched and struck the prisoner several times more in his head, chest and torso, causing him serious bodily injury, including fractured ribs and a punctured lung. The guard also then fabricated a report about the incident to cover up his crime.

The second count related to the deliberate indifference Lister showed to R.V.’s serious medical needs after the incident, when he locked the prisoner in a cell without providing medical care and without notifying anyone who could do so. The prisoner ultimately required surgery and spent several days in the hospital, recovering from his injuries.

Lister was quickly fired and placed under investigation, CoreCivic said. He was indicted in September 2021. [See: PLN, Feb. 2022, p.46.]

Mark H. Wildasin, U.S. Attorney the Middle District of Tennessee, said that “[a]ll persons, including prison inmates, are guaranteed under the Constitution the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.”

Douglas Korneski, special agent in charge of the FBI Memphis field office, vowed that his agency “will vigorously investigate and bring to justice any law-enforcement officer who violates the constitution and the trust of the people.”

After Lister’s conviction, his attorney from the federal public defender’s office was withdrawn. On December 14, 2022, the federal court for the Middle District of Tennessee appointed new counsel, Nashville attorney William J. Steed, to represent the former guard through sentencing. See: USA v. Lister, USDC (M.D.Tenn.), Case No. 3:21-cr-00216.

Additional source: Lebanon Democrat

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