INDICTMENTS ISSUED FOR GEORGIA PRISON CORRUPTION
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 12, 2016) — On Thursday, the FBI reported that it had “uncovered extensive crimes carried out by inmates with the help of corrupt guards” in 11 of Georgia’s 35 state prisons, resulting in the indictments of more than three dozen individuals, including corrections officers.
The FBI dubbed the investigation “Operation Ghost Guard” and was conducted with the cooperation of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC).
For nearly a year, The Post & Email has reported, through firsthand accounts received by way of inmate letters, that the same crimes identified in Georgia are ongoing in Tennessee’s Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) and likely other state prisons.
On one of its pages, the FBI reports that it investigates “Spies. Terrorists. Hackers. Pedophiles. Mobsters. Gang leaders and serial killers” and “many more besides.”
Inmate letters and accompanying documentation have included references to beatings, gang activity, psychological “torture,” health hazards, forced participation in federally-funded classes, discrimination complaints, intimidation, theft and untreated medical conditions.
The Post & Email has received no response to a communication sent to Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Communication Director Neysa Taylor as a result of a letter received from NWCX inmate #540003, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, stating that an inmate with “visible, open wounds, seeping various bodily fluids” was relocated from a prison treatment center to his general-population guild “just a few feet away from the kitchen and the food service line.”
Fitzpatrick himself is said to have bleeding, open wounds, and he has described being in constant pain in letters received last month.
In its press release, the FBI detailed the smuggling of cellular phones and multiple types of illicit drugs by certain correction officers to inmates; a plot to kidnap and murder the father of a prosecutor in a particular inmate’s case which was nearly realized; and “jury scams” perpetrated by inmates provided cell phones which extorted money from innocent members of the community which was used to bribe prison staff.
In response to the indictments issued on Thursday, the head of the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit, Special Agent Joe Gonzalez, was quoted as having said, “This is not just Georgia’s problem, it’s a national problem.”
Thus far, to this writer’s knowledge, the TDOC has remained unresponsive to inmate reports of gang activity, assaults, the smuggling of contraband into prisons, and the claim that gang members actually dictate how the prison is run.
The Post & Email has published a myriad of articles concerning corruption within the Tennessee prison system, some of which the state’s mainstream media has corroborated in its own independent reports.
In 2011, the FBI assembled a task force to investigate judicial and legislative corruption in Georgia. At the time, The Post & Email asked, “If the FBI can investigate government corruption in Georgia, why not Tennessee?” based on its longstanding reportage of criminal court judges’ handpicking of grand jury foremen which has been overlooked by the legislature.