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HORRIFIC CONDITIONS REPORTED AND OBSERVED
by M. J. Blanchard
(Oct. 31, 2011) — The following information was taken from notes entered on an ACLU supermax check list and a recording made immediately after an interview was conducted of Walter Fitzpatrick III on October 30, 2011 at ~ 0900 hours. The interview took place during visiting hours at the Monroe County Jail in Madisonville, Tennessee.
The full ACLU check list may be seen at this link:
My name is M. J. “Zeb” Blanchard. I swear to the accuracy and truthfulness of my statements.
Walt has been incarcerated in Cell 9 and 10 in the Monroe County jail since September 23, 2011 except for brief periods when he was transferred to Blount County for testimony in federal court and those times when the cells were used for unruly prisoners, which is what the cells were designed for. Neither cell has windows or water. Water is supplied in gallon jugs each day for drinking and bathing. There is a toilet but no privacy for its use and it is flushed remotely by a guard. Sensory deprivation is prevalent in that there is no sensation of day or night or changes in the weather other than when it rains. Rain water comes through the wall of Cell 9 and floods the floor. Lights are on 24 hours a day. Cell 10 is used for punishment as it seems to be in line with the HVAC return air system which creates an intense draft through the cell. Prisoners are stripped to their skivvies and left in this cell for extended periods of time. The jail is kept in the 60’s in the winter so Cell 10 has a wind chill factor which would precipitate hypothermia. Walt has been in Cell 10 and reports that the return air blower db level is similar to below decks berths aboard ship where the seamen have to be issued ear protection to sleep. Long term noise exposure also leads to hearing loss and high levels of stress. High levels of stress can also lead to periodontal disease (De Marco Periodontal Emotional Stress Syndrome J Periodontal 1976; 47: 67-68)
According to Grassian (Journal of Law & Policy Vol. 22-325 2006), this type of confinement can result in irreversible psychiatric effects. When I visited Walt before he was transferred to Blount County he had been solo in Cell 9 for about three weeks. It was difficult during that visit to keep him focused on the business we had to conduct. He was fixated on the fact that the Monroe County grand jury foreman had been serving for 27 years. It was an inconvenience to have to keep bringing him back to the legal work that we were discussing.
Communication through the jail is somewhat bizarre. Prisoners are given one pencil and pad, one stamp and one envelope each week to use for correspondence. Prisoners chew the wood off the pencils when the lead wears down! Prisoners are allowed use of a telephone during a one hour per day visit to the dayroom, when the dayroom is not used for overflow. Cell 9 and 10 inmates are not allowed access to the dayroom except when their cells are used for unruly prisoners. Some first class mail is received and some books are received when they are shipped direct from the distributor. No wall decorations are allowed. Communication with other prisoners is not possible from Cell 9 or 10.
A prisoner’s health is not monitored at any time. If a prisoner becomes ill he must wave at the surveillance camera or kick the door to summon a guard. Medical care is then provided by a nurse and charged to the prisoner’s account, if he/she has one. Mental health is not monitored.
From Walt’s description of the food, it would appear to be a nearly total processed food diet, deplete of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is generally a high calorie diet but Walt had information that the diet was in the 2000 Kcal range so probably has small portion size since processed foods are generally high calorie. A diet of this nature for even a short period of no more than six months can lead to ill health and disease. Anecdotal evidence has shown that disease is rampant in this facility. Furthermore this level of caloric intake would not be sufficient to maintain proper body temperatures in the reduced temperature settings of this jail which seems to substantiate the reported poor health of this general prison population. Walt reported today that his temporary roommate was taken out in hand cuffs and inoculated with tuberculosis toxin as a test to see if he had TB. This would make sense as it has also been reported that the HVAC duct work has live black mold. Diseases of all sorts can incubate in this medium and be distributed to the general population through the environmental control system. Extending this line of speculation could also lead one to assume, from the age and lack of maintenance, of this facility that it does not have water curtain scrubbers to avoid distribution of live bacteria.
A further note on health issues in the jail is appropriate here. Walt reported that the DWV system that runs exposed, in the overhead of the dayroom, is still leaking raw sewage onto the floor where they sleep. They identify the effluent as sewage by the odor. This situation could probably account for the high rate of dysentery amongst the prisoners.
The script in the ACLU questionnaire asks how long a prisoner is held in these conditions. In Walt’s case it is for the duration of his sentence. There are no “rules” in the Monroe County jail. What you get (sentence) is what you serve and the sheriff determines where you serve it.
It would be appropriate to understand why Walt is serving six months in what must be called a pseudo-supermax cell. There is very little difference in Cell 9 and 10 and solitary confinement. Walt was placed in Cell 9 soon after he was sentenced and has been there since September 23rd of this year except for brief periods, and will be there until his sentence is served. He is told that he is there for his own protection, based on precedence from his previous incarceration last winter. Walt was assaulted last winter by another inmate. It turned out that this inmate receives special favors from the guards and was put up to it by the guards. Historically, and in Walt’s case specifically, this type of incarceration is done in retaliation for perceived transgressions against the Monroe County “judiciary system”. He is also there to keep him away from the other prisoners who he assists with legal issues. Walt also left the prison last December with extensive first person accounts of the corruption in the prison system and the Monroe County jurisprudence system in general. These accounts were taken from interviews he did when he was allowed in the general prison population at that time.
Amendment VIII to our U. S. Constitution stipulates that: “ . . .cruel and unusual punishments . . “ shall not be inflicted. I say by my interview with Walt and testimony from that interview in this letter that Walt is receiving cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his 8th Amendment rights. I also offer that this is truly bizarre behavior on the part of the Monroe County jail in the 21st century. What goes on there is more like gulags of centuries ago.
Editor’s Note: The Post & Email contacted the Tennessee Corrections Institute regarding the conditions in the Monroe County jail and asked to speak with Ms. Peggy Sawyer, our media contact from last year. We were told that Ms. Sawyer has retired and a replacement not yet been hired. We explained why we were calling and were connected to the inspector for Monroe County, Mr. Barry Suttles. Mr. Suttles stated that it is “their policy” to have to check with a supervisor before speaking with “anybody,” but particularly the press. He stated that his supervisor’s name is Beth Ashe. We left a contact phone number and await Ms. Ashe’s return call.