A Tennessee correctional facility has fired its chief for making anti-gay remarks, a move the Tennessee NAACP has called a “slap in the face” to its staff and community.TDCJ fired Chief Christopher Jones, who is in his fifth year with the Tennessee department, in a statement on Friday.
Jones said in his resignation letter that he made the remarks in an interview with the AP, which aired on CNN.
“While I understand that there is no excuse for such statements, I deeply regret that I was unable to remain focused and productive during the crisis and that I made them.
I also apologize to the people of Tennessee,” he wrote.
Jones’ firing comes days after a U.S. appeals court blocked a federal judge’s order to hold a hearing to determine whether the Tennessee corrections department has a policy against anti-LGBT discrimination, a ruling that was appealed by the U.K.’s Supreme Court.
A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Corrections Department declined to comment on Jones’ termination.
In a letter obtained by the AP on Friday, the Tennessee Justice Center, an organization that represents inmates, staff and inmates, said it would appeal Jones’ firing, arguing that Jones’ statements “are offensive, demeaning, and have no place in the Tennessee correctional system.”
Jones’ comments came during an interview conducted by CNN affiliate WATE on Friday that aired Sunday, after a Tennessee judge had blocked the state from holding a hearing on the matter.
The AP interviewed Jones in June, when he was the acting director of the Tennessee Prison Service.
WATE had reported that Jones was concerned that an inmate who was gay was being “unfairly treated” by the prison.
Jones said the inmate was being subjected to violence, threats, and isolation.