Jail officials arrested after inmates say labor exploited

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2015 1:58 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three Nashville jail employees — two current and one former — are accused of pocketing money from the sale of inmate-made products through a personal business they marketed as a "Christian-based organization."

Robert Hill, Stephen Binkley and Roy Napper were arrested Tuesday on charges of official misconduct and inmate labor violation, according to The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Former inmates Larry Stephney and Charles Brew say they spent their days at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility building bean-bag games, plaques shaped like footballs, birdhouses and dog beds for the trio. They say they worked for no pay in the jail's building trades department where they were supposed to be serving as tutors to other students.

Hill, Binkley and Napper are accused of selling the inmate-made products through their business, Stand Firm Designs, between December 2014 and June 2015.

The Stand Firm Designs website alludes to the company name with a Bible quote on the home page, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." The company's logo is its initials inside a Christian fish symbol.

Hill is a building trades instructor at the jail, Binkley is a computer instructor, and Napper is a former employee.

The jail is managed by Corrections Corporation of America. CCA spokesman Jonathan Burns said in an email the company cooperated with law enforcement on the investigation. His statement also says CCA has a no-tolerance policy for criminal acts and enforces a code of conduct that prohibits self-dealing.

"We are evaluating the indictments and will be making a determination regarding the employment status of the indicted individuals, who had previously been placed on administrative leave," Burns said.

Hill, Binkley and Napper are free on a $1,000 bond each. Hill and Napper did not immediately return calls for comment. A person answering at Binkley's phone number said he was unavailable.

The alleged misuse of inmate labor at the jail was first reported by Prison Legal News.