Former corrections nurse gets 25 years for having sex with inmate


ANACONDA, Mont. - A Deer Lodge County judge sentenced a former corrections nurse to 25 years, with 10 suspended, for having sex with an inmate. Tisha Brunell stood in front of the judge Wednesday and read a letter saying she was sorry the judge and jury had to listen to the explicit conversations she had with inmates. "I absolutely take full responsibility of me being involved with the inmate, giving him my phone number, and talking the way we did," said Brunell. But prosecutors said after the hearing, they didn't hear the apology Brunell should have given. "If you listen to what she said, she said she was sorry that everyone had to listen to her conversations. She never took accountability, she's still playing the part of the victim," said County Attorney Ben Krakowka. Anaconda-Deer Lodge Police Chief Tim Barkell was one of five witnesses to take the stand, telling the courtroom that even recently, Brunell was attempting to contact inmates at the prison through a third party. Officials found out when the letter was returned. "It said on there, 'Do not use me as your pawn to send your mail out,'" said Barkell. Barkell told the court Brunell asked to have conjugal visits, and if that wasn't allowed, she wanted to be placed with male inmates or have the ability to have contact with male inmates. After hearing testimony from four more witnesses, Judge Ray Dayton handed down the sentence, cautioning, "I don't want you to perceive my sentence as one I consider lenient." The sentence of 25 years in the Montana State Women's Prison with 10 suspended is less severe than what the state recommended. "But the state believes that the judge did provide an adequate punishment for this very serious offense," said Krakowka.