Raw Sewage reported at the Monroe County Jail


by Sharon Rondeau

Why hasn't the plumbing at the Monroe County detention facility been repaired? Why hasn't the Sheriff''s Department been cited for a building code violation?

(Nov. 27, 2010) — The following report came in from LCDR Walter Fitzpatrick on the evening of November 26, 2010, from the Monroe County detention facility.

LCDR FITZPATRICK: In the first days of December, the grand jury is going to be picked along with the petit juries for the first six months of 2011.  We need to have people there who come to actually witness and report to you about how that process takes place, because I’m not sure what my status will be.  But we need to find out exactly when the grand jury in December is going to be picked for 2011.  It’s done in open court so people can be there, so that’s very important.  We need to have as many people call to find out exactly when the juries will be picked in early December.

Last year they did it on the third of December, as I remember, so they need to find out the date, and they need to be in the courtroom.  We need to pay very close attention to how that process works and to how many opportunities there are for human agency to intervene and actually hand-pick a name or use sleight-of-hand types of things when they pick names out of a box or hat, or however they do it.  You have to have eyes on this assembly, this grand-jury selection process, which will convene next week or the week after that.

On another note, there’s a dayroom here which measures 35′ by 18′ and it’s about 14 feet high.  I’m going to hazard a guess at the occupancy as being about 75 people at one time.  This is where they hold church and where people can go to work out, walk circles, do push-ups.  It has only chairs in there; it’s an assembly room.

It has piping coming down from cells 8 and 9 above, and it is sewage piping.  It comes down through the ceiling, and it’s in the overhead, and there is between 30-40 feet of running length of pipe.  It’s all sewage piping, and it’s leaking onto the floor.  This is the same room where they put the inmates when there’s an overflow; they have the overflow sleeping on the floor where there is human waste leaking onto the floor.

This is an infectious disease nightmare, and taken together with the vent problems here, the black mold, the extreme fire hazard in the venting system here, you have human waste dripping onto the floor reported as recently as last night in church, and when people arrived here, they actually had people sleeping on the floor, forced there by Sheriff Bill Bivens.  That’s against the law.  It’s nothing but a biohazard.

There’s also this:  there’s a rumor here among the turnkeys, the jailers, that they anticipate a federal inspection of some kind.  They’re talking about it amongst themselves; we’ve overheard them talking about that.

MRS. RONDEAU: You had mentioned that there have been construction workers in there.  I wonder why they couldn’t get the plumbing fixed along with the other things?

LCDR FITZPATRICK: The piping has deteriorated to a point where it needs to be replaced completely, and money that would be put into this place is going into the pockets of local government officials.  This place is at the bottom of the pile as far as any maintenance work is concerned.  The only reason they’re getting work done right now is that people are afraid the feds are going to come in.  But you have a real health hazard here, an infectious disease nightmare.  You can’t have people living in a birthing compartment on a ship when you have raw sewage piping running through it.  You can’t do that, and that’s what we have here.

I had just been into the assembly room for the first time this last week; I hadn’t been in there before.  It was during my second visit that I actually saw the piping in the overhead, so this revelation is just days old.  You cannot do this; you cannot have people living in a space where you have raw sewage flowing out.

MRS. RONDEAU: The pipes aren’t supposed to even be showing.

LCDR FITZPATRICK: No, oh, no.  They’re in plain view, and they’re leaking onto the floor, and they were leaking last night at church.  You can count the number of showers, etc., from looking at the piping trap.

MRS. RONDEAU: Is there still terrible overcrowding at the jail?

LCDR FITZPATRICK: Well, they’re not in there tonight, but there is overcrowding still.  The last report I had, cells 1 and 2 still have 35 people each. Cells 1 and 2 are on the same floor as the dayroom, and cell 10 is down there, too, so if you have any kind of an outbreak of infectious disease, it’s going to hit those two cells with the 35 and 35 people, respectively, and then cell 10.  That’s where it’ll begin, and of course, these people are walking all over the building.  It’s just a biohazard.

MRS. RONDEAU: I’m sure the situation violates any state code in existence.

LCDR FITZPATRICK: Oh, yeah.  And the piping has deteriorated to the point where a catastrophic rupture is imminent.  You can tell; you can see bubbling in the piping, and it’s going to break through.  With the pressure on these piping systems, it’s going to happen.

Has there been any feedback about what you’re writing?

MRS. RONDEAU: There have been a lot of comments about the article published on Thanksgiving, even though it was a holiday.  People were remarking about your fortitude and the fact that you’re bringing out all of the corruption.  They were very glad that the inmates were treated a little better with this year’s Thanksgiving meal, and there were comments about the overall corruption in the county.  Some people have asked why the state representative and state senator aren’t doing anything, and I’ve mentioned that I contacted Rep. John Duncan a couple of weeks ago and heard nothing.

LCDR FITZPATRICK: The word is getting out in this community, and it needs to continue.  Pressure needs to be continuing on the FBI.

MRS. RONDEAU: Do you know how many inmates are in the jail?

LCDR FITZPATRICK: I’m told that the census in here…

Automated Operator: You have one minute remaining.



Editor’s Note: There are six plumbers in the immediate area of Madisonville, TN, where the Monroe County detention facility is located.

Contact information for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Codes Enforcement Section can be found here.

6 Responses to "Raw Sewage reported at the Monroe County Jail"

  1. ELmo   Monday, November 29, 2010 at 11:05 PM

    I am a Licensed Plumber and In my last job, a Steamfitter. What you’re looking at in the picture above are heating pipes (hot water or Steam). They’re probably leaking because the heats been turned off and the system is maintained badly. If the dripping is from those pipes it’s condensate or water (like you would get out of your radiators at home. Nothing I’d want to sleep in but definitely a lot more benign than Sewage.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Thank you, Elmo; however, the photo was a public-domain photo from Wikipedia and not the piping that LCDR Fitzpatrick has spoken about. More is coming up on this.

  2. Steph F.   Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    This is despicable! Contact the Monroe County Health Department (423-442-3993) and Rep. John Duncan (http://duncan.house.gov/) about the abhorrent conditions in the Monroe County Jail.

  3. Zeb Blanchard   Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Not a plumber but have run a couple residential systems. Walt is seeing the drain, waste, and vent (DWV) system. Some commercial systems split the gray water (sinks/showers) from the actual sewage. Walt could be seeing pipes that are sweating from humidity differentials or seepage from a gray water pipe neither of which is particularly toxic. If there was an e coli leak it would have manifested in lots of diarrhea, which has not been reported. I don’t know that there are specs prohibiting exposed DWV systems in commercial buildings. I have certainly seen a lot of it.
    Gray water leaks are not allowed so the place needs to be inspected.
    That facility is nasty for a whole bunch of other reasons.

  4. Ron C.   Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    Call knoxville fbi and ask for agent Bentley. He seemed to be interested in my call
    a few days ago. Can’t hurt.

  5. ch   Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Sounds like the Tennessee Public Health Department are the next to contact, both local and state, since local are probably scared to do anything. Jails have a visiting nurse, wonder what her comments would be, if you could get her name.

  6. SissySue   Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Oops! My bad. I should have checked it: http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_cook_county_correctional5.htm


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