Auditors find financial, food troubles at TRICOR

Auditors found financial mismanagement and problems with prison food in a review of the agency that runs inmate work activities, reports The Tennessean.

The Tennessee Comptroller’s 84-page audit outlines months of problems between the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Board (TRICOR) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), including allegations TRICOR staff tried to mislead its board about the agency’s finances. Documents obtained by the auditors also allude to concerns with both the size and healthiness of meals served in prison.

Those concerns mirror complaints received by The Tennessean from inmates and their families. TRICOR notes the state aimed to save money through “portion control.” While TRICOR depicts the change in meal portions as a benefit, it also notes that officers who eat prison meals don’t follow the same portion control guidelines created for inmates. The agency also acknowledges there’s a chance for “prison unrest” because of a “drastic change in the food service program.”

…”As noted throughout this finding and the audit report, we have identified numerous errors and misstatements in TRICOR’s fiscal operations and financial reporting process. Based on the results of our work and in-part corroboration of the allegations, we have serious concerns about whether TRICOR’s management has the ability to report accurate financial information,” the audit states.

TRICOR denies any intentional wrongdoing, but acknowledges it dismissed two officers charged with financial management who were not doing a good job.

“We concur that the previous chief financial officer (CFO) and controller were not performing their duties and overseeing their responsibilities to a satisfactory level,” the agency wrote in response to the audit, noting both people were dismissed earlier this year.

“Once management became aware that problems existed in their performance they acted swiftly to correct the problem.”

…The TRICOR agency is a state inmate rehabilitation service that’s independent from the department. The board relies almost exclusively on inmate labor to provide products such as manufactured flooring, license plates and meals. In turn the department relies on the board to provide the millions of meals it serves to inmates through something called the Tennessee Cook Chill program. Meals prepared by inmates in Nashville can be chilled and shipped to prisons or other customers across the country.

Note: The full audit is HERE.