TN Prison of Women Renamed, Honoring Murdered Black TDOC Administrator


One year after a Tennessee Department of Corrections administrator’s murder, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 56 honoring Debra Johnson, 64, who was killed by an escaped inmate.

The Tennessee Prison For Women is now called the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center for Women.

Johnson began working as a correctional officer in 1981, working her way up 38 years with the department as a sergeant, deputy warden, warden, and recently as a Correctional Administrator with the West Region of Tennessee.

Now-captured Inmate Curtis Watson was indicted on a 15-count charge in Johnson's death. Watson was charged with first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual battery after allegedly killing Johnson before escaping the West Tennessee State Penitentiary and leading authorities on a four-day manhunt.

Friday (Aug. 7) marks the one-year anniversary of Johnson’s death.

Photo: Tennessee Department of Correction

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