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by M. J. Blanchard

Sheriff Bill Bivens runs the Monroe County jail, where people have become very ill and reported receiving no medical treatment

(Feb. 28, 2011) — The following letter was sent to Ms. Peggy Sawyer, Media Contact for the Tennessee Corrections Institute, and other Tennessee officials noted below.

February 28, 2011

Peggy Sawyer

Tennessee Corrections Institute

Rachel Jackson Building, Sixth Floor
320 Sixth Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0465

MS Sawyer;

I am writing to you due to your familiarity with the situation in Monroe County from having worked with the Post & Email.

We recently had a house guest who had spent 51 days in the Monroe County jail. I met him the day after he made bail and found him to be quite ill.  At that time he had severe dysentery and an upper respiratory infection.  We picked him up three days later and brought him to our home.  His condition had deteriorated.  During the five days we had him we were able to control the dysentery but the respiratory infection developed into influenza.

My concern is that several past inmates have reported black mold in the HVAC ducting.  This would indicate that there is either no filtration system or that it is broken.  Black mold is a known cause of respiratory infections.  The debilitation caused by the respiratory infection apparently led to the development of influenza.  However the strain of influenza was highly contagious and apparently something that had mutated in the jail.  I get the flu occasionally but have never had anything like this strain of flu in my life.  There are no old people in the Monroe County jail, I assume, but if so, this strain of influenza would surely kill them.

Your immediate attention to this problem would be appreciated.  Inmates do not deserve this kind of punishment, regardless of what they were charged with.  This type of punishment is unconstitutional according to the U. S. Constitution.

Please note that in the past, I and others, have been referred to the Sheriff for a redress of grievances.  This particular individual was beaten with a Kel light, had his car damaged, lost his rental and placed on $56,000 bail as retaliation for complaining about the Sheriff.  Folks in Monroe County do not complain to or about the Sheriff, if they know what’s good for them.


M. J. Blanchard


Gov. Haslam

AG Cooper


Editor’s Note: Neither Tennessee’s governor nor the attorney general answered our letter regarding widespread corruption in Monroe County and throughout the state.  Since sending the letter, we have left a voice mail and email for Gov. Haslam’s assistant, Mr. David Smith, who has ignored our requests for a response.  Likewise, Ms. Sawyer did not return two telephone calls made  by The Post & Email on behalf of inmates at the Monroe County jail since our initial report on the conditions there.  Other firsthand reports have described the same, if not worse, conditions.

On February 28, 2011, The Post & Email contacted the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons regarding the conditions at the Monroe County jail and the fact that the state agency appears to be ineffectual in correcting the deficiencies which persist within the facility.

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  1. I run a directory of all the jails and prisons in America… adult and juvenile… about 9,000 of them. We provide every available bit of information we can find online. Monroe County Jail is one of those facilities that provides NO information except for an address and phone number. Consistently, the jails that have little to no information available to the public are the ones that get complaints about abuse of the inmates and decrepid conditions. Good Story. I’m going to link to it in our Directory, right on the Monroe County Jail Facility Page.

  2. I wonder if this is all because of the deterioration of citizen grand juries holding local authorities accountable.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: I would bet that has a lot to do with it!

  3. The people on Tennessee are very lucky to have such a wonderful paper. You really follow the events in the state well from Fitzpatrick to Raudenbush to the Govenor to the sheriffs. I personally think you are the best paper in all of TN!!!!!! Keep up the good work.
    Mrs. Rondeau replies: Thank you very much, although we are not physically located in Tennessee. The Post & Email is incorporated in the state of Wyoming.

  4. Monroe County isn’t alone in these conditions. My son was in Jackson Pike Correctional in Franklin County, Ohio. The conditions there are horrible. Inmates are crammed into one large cell, with mats to sleep on, on concrete floors. There is one bar of soap for over 30 men, they are given a single plastic cup and spoon to use the entire time they are in there and they are not washed between meals. The guards are abusive and threaten inmates with turning off tv and phones if they request medical assistance. They have one roll of toilet paper among them and if it runs out, they are not replaced. They use the shoes of another inmate on their feet and use their own to sit on on the toilet seat. The visitor’s area is filthy and from what I was told, the cells were no better. The entire place smells like mold and mildew.

    I believe people would be shocked at the treatment of people in these facilities. I believe in punishment for crime, but there should be humanity involved. I felt like I was visiting someone in a third world country.

    This is America. What is wrong with these people? The guards laughed at my son when he was vomiting. It took over 12 hours for him to get a replacement mat. It took 48 hours to be seen by a medical professional. He was harrassed and threatened.

    My son is a non-violent person, respectful to others. I KNOW any mistreatment he received was unjustified.

    I have always supported law enforcement, but no longer. This new generation of police being groomed are nazi’s. Pure and simple.

    1. It is unbelievable. Imagine the pain I felt having my child go through this!

      People do not know what they are doing to human beings in these places.