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Sex offender's prison death investigated

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CLIFTON, TN (WSMV) -

State prison officials and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are looking into the death of a convicted child rapist at a facility that has struggled with inmate violence.

Jeffery T. Sills was found face down and unresponsive Friday morning at the South Central Correctional Facility in Wayne County, public information officer Greg Abrams said in a statement.

Sills, of LaFollette, TN, had been convicted of raping a 7-year-old child, according to Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR.

A correctional officer found Sills while unlocking cells for breakfast in the Columbia housing unit. Medical staff were called and tried to revive him.

Local paramedics took Sills to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, Abrams said.

The TBI would only confirm the case is being handled as a death investigation.

"The investigation on our end continues to move along very well.  But beyond that, we cannot offer any specifics at this point," spokesman Josh DeVine said Monday.

The prison, which is privately run through Corrections Corporation of America, has been put on lockdown status. Inmates are kept in their cells and must be escorted if needing to go anywhere else.

The facility spent several weeks on lockdown last September after a series of fights broke out and an inmate was killed.

During a lockdown in 2007, officers had to use riot gear and a chemical agent to get inmates back into their cells.

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