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by Sharon Rondeau

Of how many violations of Tennessee Code Annotated is the Monroe County jail guilty?

(Dec. 2, 2010) — Through a series of phone calls and emails over the last week, The Post & Email was finally able to reach a person who said that it is her responsibility to investigate complaints about substandard conditions in Tennessee jails.  Ms. Peggy Sawyer, Assistant Director and Media Contact at the Tennessee Corrections Institute, said that her agency is responsible for inspecting and reporting on county jails.

Ms. Sawyer explained today that each jail is inspected once a year in an unannounced manner.  If deficiencies in standards are identified, the facility has 60 days to rectify them. If the substandard conditions are not corrected within that time frame, the Tennessee Corrections Institute can recommend that the facility be “non-certified.”

She reported to The Post & Email that the Monroe County jail was last inspected on February 24, 2010, that certification was recommended on April 6 and granted on June 2, 2010.  She said the capacity of the facility is 138.  When we advised that we were told that about 200 people are currently housed there, she said that the number over 138 could be state inmates for which there is no room at state correctional centers, and that number is not counted in the total population.  Ms. Sawyer reported that the inmates numbered 181 at the time of the February inspection, with 57 being state inmates.

While she said that they “have no authority to investigate each complaint,” she promised to contact the inspector who would be delegated to the task of arranging for an inspection of the Monroe County jail after her return from court this morning based on The Post & Email’s report of no heat and leaking raw sewage in the day room as described by LCDR Walter Fitzpatrick, who has been incarcerated there since October 27, 2010.

When asked if people sleeping on the floor was a violation of standards, Ms. Sawyer said “No; overcrowding is common in Tennessee jails, and sleeping on the floor is permitted on a mattress.”  When we explained that it was reported to us that men were sleeping on a concrete floor, she responded “That’s a problem.”  She also stated that denying fresh air to the inmates is an issue as well as overcrowding to the point where a means of egress would be obstructed.

Ms. Sawyer stated that sheriffs are reimbursed only for state inmates, and that she “would be very surprised” if there was a sheriff within the state of Tennessee who would “look for” additional inmates, especially with the overcrowding which seems to be normal fare for jails in that state.  We explained to her that our mission is to expose government corruption, and that myriad reports of police brutality, possible racketeering and crooked judges and grand juries have been reported on for several months.  We provided Ms. Sawyer with our website location so that she could read the reports for herself.

The “Minimum Standards for Local Correctional Facilities” cites TCA (Tennessee Code Annotated) 41-4-140,  the state statute which authorizes the Tennessee Corrections Institute “to establish minimum standards for local jails, lock-ups, workhouses and detention facilities in the state and conduct an annual inspection of each facility.”

One of the responsibilities of the Tennessee Corrections Institute found in Code 41-4-140 is “to ensure the welfare of all persons committed to the institutions.”

On page 7 of the “Minimum Standards” handbook, it states, “New and existing facilities shall have a temperature of not less than sixty-five (65) degrees Fahrenheit and no more than eighty (80) degrees Fahrenheit in sleeping and activity areas.”  Both Walter Fitzpatrick and a recently-released inmate have reported a consistent temperature of 60 degrees or below, and that inmates are “shivering” due to the lack of heat and sub-freezing temperatures overnight.

In regard to discipline of an inmate, the manual states on page 16, “Corporal punishment is not to be permitted under any circumstances.”

What about the beatings resulting in stitches which residents of Monroe County have reportedly received for having done nothing wrong?

Section 41-4-115 of the TCA states:

(a) The county legislative bodies alone have the power, and it is their duty, to provide medical attendance for all prisoners confined in the jail in their respective counties.

What about Mr. Jacobs, who had been urinating blood for weeks before he was taken to the hospital from the Monroe County jail?

TCA Section 41-4-101 states:

The sheriff of the county has, except in cases otherwise provided by law, the custody and charge of the jail of the county and of all prisoners committed to the jail and may appoint a jailer, for whose acts the sheriff is civilly responsible.

Does that mean that Sheriff Bill Bivens is responsible for the beatings and taserings which Officer and “Chief Jailer” Trent Prock, whose photo has been removed from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department website recently, is accused of inflicting on innocent persons?  If so, at what point does Bivens, who has apparently allowed such brutality on the part of his deputies to continue unchecked, become a criminal?  Is Bivens even aware of Tennessee law regarding his responsibilities?  Does he care?

More important, will the Tennessee Corrections Institute fulfill its promise and pay Sheriff Bivens a visit?

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    1. AttilasDaughter, do you know how to contact Miss Tickly? I tried to make a comment from something that someone else brought up and can’t because her comments are closed.


  1. We lived in Alabama a few years back and county prisoners there were fed fish confiscated by the game wardens and illegally shot deer and fresh road kills.
    The money saved from this went to the sheriff. They didn’t get very much per
    prisoner in that very poor county though.

  2. Lets just hope & pray if there is an investigation… it is first of all Fair… & more importantly it is a complete one!! Let them also talk to people who been in prison in the past… & should be with more then just a few – get them to talk to many from different charges & from all backgrounds)

    If they don’t then it will not be a proper investigation or do any justice.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Right now, I’d just like to see them turn on the heat!

  3. It’s one thing for jails to be miserable for the normal cretins who spend time in them. It’s probably a picnic for them.

    But these jails are not fit for good decent white Christians like Cmdr. Fitzpatrick.

  4. Walt and all of you might find this interesting. It is the legal links you all need to know for your states.
    (http://www.loislaw.com/) you might try to take and order this legal course as well it is from an attorney in Florida. (www.Jurisdictionary.com). It will get you started in protecting yourself from these outlaws. If you ever needed a lawyer and could not find one these courses will get you thru the bad times. It all cost money but believe me it is nothing to what you will learn from these two sites. I onces called the office of the FBI in Washinton D.C. only to get the Tampa F.B.I. office, yea they had directed my hard wired phone at the house to the Tampa office so that they could pretend to be the federal office of the FBI in D.C. They were blocking my complaints against the local FBI agents who did nothing as usual, but i caught them tapping my home phone line, all because I do not like Obama. I am still free because of what I know not who I know. They can’t eat you but they will try that as well. Let the games begin.

  5. Equal protection under the law extends not just to any specific group or as determined by a sheriff, elected official or even putative president but to all who are inside our borders unless there is an insurrection or invasion declared by a state legislature. Walter and his cell mates included. Maybe the words need refreshing for all who find themselves inside our borders including those charged with enacting them.


  6. I’m glad you got somewhere with them. I’ve called twice- left messages for Melody Gregory both times and never heard back. I’ll be curious to see if they follow through.

    Here’s the number is anyone else wants to call: (615) 741-3816.

  7. I have some major issues with this conversation.
    1. If unannounced manner, then how is it that Monroe Co. has plumbers and all kinds of people working to appear, nothing wrong here.
    2. Was this February inspector Blind, or taking a kick back? How could a place become so ancient in need of neglected repair in 9 months?
    3. She did not seem to react to the “Corporal punishment’ complaint, as if “well that is what you have been told hearsay by those inmates that we all know lie, which is why they are in jail. Oh, opposed to your inspector that is blind, is that not hearsay too? Maybe the hospital could shed some light on what caused such injuries, or do inmates have taser guns issued to them?
    4. Seemed defensive to me. Would affidavits suffice with this lady? , There seems to be a difference in opinion from the rose colored office to the inspector on the ground. Maybe Ms. Sawyer should go herself.
    5. Can Ms. Sawyer explain how 70% of the population in Monroe are on probation, if the Sheriff does not get extra money. Maybe he plays the get out of jail game, you pay and they take it away and keep the money. Want to bet that generates more money than the pay for state inmates. Now that is a real money maker.
    6. Is maximum capacity not maximum capacity if State inmates, county inmates, Georgia inmates or those that happen by and pass through town.
    7. Sounds like a bureaucrat to me.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Yes, she was a bureaucrat, but she did know the rules in the handbook. I think the Monroe County jail personnel perceived that someone else would be visiting, as I just reached Ms. Sawyer today. I have gotten the run-around between inspectors, the state health department, and now finally pointed in the right direction with the TCI. No one ever mentioned them before when all of them should have known who oversees county jails in Tennessee. I did tell her I have an affidavit from someone we interviewed attesting to the tasering, beating, and nerve damage suffered at the hands of the Monroe County sheriff’s deputies. And absolutely, she probably has no idea where the extortion money is going, although I mentioned that we had discovered that through our investigations.

  8. If sheriffs are given money for state inmates, and the jail is “overcrowded.” there seems motive enough for overcrowding. If you could find out what the sheriff is paid for each day a state inmate is kept there, and then follow the money trail, for payment to the sheriff for prisoners, and then the parallel money trail of expenditures at the jail, and where is the money actually going, things might become clearer. I guess there would be the County Auditor office? who keeps the books for the jail? I would think any incme and expenditures would have to be on the books. There would be county supervisors also, who might help look into this. The county supervisors seem to have powerful roles.