Three prison guards are charged with illegally selling wood items manufactured in a Tennessee prison work training program. The guards worked as trainers in the building trades education program at the Nashville jail, privately run by Corrections Corporation of America.

The scam came to light after Prison Legal News produced undercover videos. The guards have been charged with abusing inmate labor. 

NBC Nashville broadcast the video, which shows the handmade wood items produced by the inmates for a business run by the guards, called Stand Firm Design. Associated press identified the guards and owners of Stand Firm Design as Roy Napper, a former guard; Rob Hill, a building trades instructor at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility; and Steven Binkley, a computer instructor who worked near the woodworking shop. Napper told AP the charges are untrue. 

Correction Corp. of America operates 60 facilities that can house 85,000 inmates, including the Nashville jail. Building trades and carpentry training programs are operated by CCA as a way to help inmates develop job skills for seeking employment after release.  A Wymonig facility, for example, the CCA Crossroads Correctional Center, recently built more than 30 birdhouses for a non-profit social servie agency in its area. The project was part of a Crossroads carpentry course offered to inmates through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).

NCCER students built the birdhouses from scrap lumber. The inmates were responsible for selecting the wood they wanted to use, sanding and cleaning it, and assembling the houses, which vary in size and style. The entire project took about 10 days to complete.  

At CCA's Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility, "the goal is to teach inmates how to find not just a job, but a long-term career," says CCA. Program managers work to put inmates in touch with area colleges and technical schools. The facility also works with the Tennessee Department of Workforce Development to put inmates nearing release in touch with employers interested in hiring them.  

 

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