State prison warden on leave with pay for indefinite period

A Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman says Stevenson Nixon is still the warden of DeBerry Special Needs prison in Nashville, but he is on personal leave for an undisclosed reason and length of time, reports The Tennessean.

Department spokeswoman Neysa Taylor… didn’t say how long Nixon would be on leave, but did say his pay would remain the same while he was away from the prison.

“As with any position, leave time varies depending on the nature of the leave, amount of time with the organization and amount of leave accrued,” Taylor said.

Several sources told The Tennessean that Nixon was no longer the warden at the facility. On Monday a person who answered the phone at the prison said Nixon was no longer employed at DeBerry. Taylor said that was an inaccurate statement. Attempts to reach Nixon were unsuccessful.

In Nixon’s absence, Taylor said the associate wardens and “correctional administrator” would handle the operation of the facility.

DeBerry is used primarily to provide health care, including mental health services, to inmates from around the state. Before taking the warden position at DeBerry, Nixon served in the same role at the Charles Bass Correctional Complex. The state decided to close Charles Bass this year, citing budget concerns.

Nixon’s leave comes amid continued scrutiny of staffing and safety issues within the Tennessee prison system.

Early in July, Nixon and other officials determined DeBerry faced “emergency staffing issues” and called for “all hands on deck” at the facility, according to information obtained by The Tennessean. Staffing shortages are leading to officers working very long hours on a consistent basis: Documents show that on at least 28 occasions between July 12 and Aug. 8 an officer at DeBerry worked at least 16 hours on three consecutive days.