Private prison punished Tennessee inmates for talking about scabies outbreak: lawsuit
Woman's hands in jail (Shutterstock)

A new lawsuit filed late last week alleges that female prisoners in a privately run Tennessee jail were threatened with solitary confinement if they told anyone about an outbreak of scabies that occurred at the prison.

The Tennessean reports that a lawsuit filed last Friday on behalf of inmates at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility, which is run by private prison firm CoreCivic, alleges that officers at the facility began issuing threats against prisoners who so much as "mentioned the word ‘scabies,’ complained about it, or filed a grievance." CoreCivic officers told inmates who talked about the outbreak that they would be placed in solitary confinement, the suit claims.

"Inmates attempted to inform their family members about the scabies infestation over the phone and asked their families to research scabies on their behalf," the suit alleges. "Because (CoreCivic) monitors all phone calls, those inmates immediately had their phone privileges revoked, in retaliation for attempting to bring light to the epidemic."

CoreCivic was already under fire from local lawmakers in the wake of the scabies outbreak at the facility, as the company also allegedly denied treatment to affected inmates while simultaneously downplaying the severity of the outbreak.

In a statement given to The Tennessean, CoreCivics insisted that "the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and the Metro Public Health Department were notified of [the scabies outbreak] from the start, and they have been engaged every step of the way."

News of the outbreak first broke in early June, when it was revealed that more than 300 inmates were being treated for scabies infestations.