Tennessee lawmaker says Cleotha Henderson racked up over 50 disciplinary infractions in prison

Tennessee lawmaker says Cleotha Henderson racked up over 50 disciplinary infractions in prison.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - State lawmakers revealed Wednesday that Cleotha Henderson racked up dozens of disciplinary infractions during his 20-year prison stay.

A joint committee of Tennessee lawmakers grilled the Tennessee Department of Correction for hours today, and the one name that kept coming up was Cleotha Henderson.

It was the first meeting of the “Joint Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Adequacy of the Supervision, Investigation, and Release of Criminal Defendants.”

Representative Andrew Farmer said Henderson had over 50 disciplinary infractions stacked against him while he was in prison. Lawmakers discussed some of the infractions, ranging from possession of a deadly weapon to indecent exposure.

“Nineteen times that he was charged and found guilty of indecent exposure plus one sexual misconduct charge,” said Representative Clay Doggett.

Henderson served 20 years of his 24-year sentence for kidnapping Memphis attorney Kemper Durand, which was about 85 percent of his term.

His sentence expired, and he was released in November 2020.

The Department of Correction says Henderson was released early due to credits he received for serving time before his sentence and for participating in the prison’s job program.

“What should we have done differently,” said Senator Jeff Yarbro.

Leaving some lawmakers puzzled, questioning why Henderson was released with the slew of infractions and after refusing to go to any rehabilitation classes.

“Who saw this and thought this is a good idea,” said Representative Andrew Farmer. “This guy, he’s washing some dishes. We need to give him 1,000 plus days of good time.”

The Department of Correction says a person’s sentence determines if credits are applied, and each month they award credits for no disciplinary infractions, good behavior, and more.

They say Henderson lost 180 days of earned credit while he was behind bars.

“I agree that it is a tragic situation, and there may be a sense of inevitability in this case with him because you can see all along he apparently had absolutely no interest in changing his way of life,” said Interim Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction Lisa Helton.

The Department of the Correction also says once detainees are found guilty of disciplinary offenses, the District Attorney’s Office can choose to prosecute them.

The committee will hear from the Department of Correction, TBI, police chiefs, and district attorneys at their next meeting on October 20.

Henderson’s next hearing in Memphis is November 16.

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