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Press Release

Former Tennessee Supervisory Corrections Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Offenses After Assaulting an Inmate and Ignoring His Medical Needs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Former supervisory state corrections officer, Kenan Lister, was sentenced to two years in prison followed by two years of supervised release today after he pleaded guilty to two civil rights offenses, announced United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee

In April 2022, Lister pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for using unlawful force on an inmate and one count of being deliberately indifferent to the same inmate’s medical needs.

“The defendant, who was entrusted with the care of inmates, abused his authority as a corrections officer by violently assaulting an inmate. This sentence sends a clear message that our office will investigate and hold accountable anyone who violates the constitutional rights of others,” said United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis.

“Correctional officers who abuse the people in their custody not only violate the Constitution, but also erode public trust in the criminal justice system,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “While on duty as a supervisory officer, the defendant brutally assaulted a man in a state corrections facility and then deliberately ignored his obvious medical needs resulting from the assault. The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting officials inside our jails and prisons who abuse their power and exploit their position in full disregard of the constitutional rights which we all possess.”

“When correctional officers abuse their authority and harm inmates, it not only violates our civil rights laws, it undermines the criminal justice system as a whole,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “The FBI makes it a priority to bring to justice any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect.”

The facts established in connection with the defendant’s guilty plea revealed that, on August 30, 2019, Lister assaulted an inmate in a holding cell at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility in Hartsville, Tennessee. At the time, Lister was on duty as the facility’s security threat group coordinator. While the inmate was sitting calmly in a holding cell, Lister punched the inmate in the head, knocking him to the ground. Lister then kicked, punched and struck the inmate multiple times in his head, chest and torso after he was on the ground and not resisting. The assault fractured the inmate’s ribs and punctured his lung. After the assault, Lister knew that the inmate had serious medical needs. Despite this knowledge, Lister failed to provide medical care to the inmate or obtain medical care from others. Instead, Lister left the inmate locked in a holding cell and filed a report that omitted any mention of his assault.

The FBI Memphis Field Office investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda J. Klopf for the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.


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Mark H. Wildasin

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney


Updated November 1, 2023

Civil Rights