Tennessee State Penitentiary Inmate: Monroe County “Like a Town in Cuba”

“THEY DON’T LIKE IT WHEN I TELL THE TRUTH”

by Todd Sweet, ©2012, Inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex

Sheriff Bill Bivens is an elected official and presides over the Monroe County jail.

(Jan. 14, 2012) — Editor’s Note:  The Post & Email is in receipt of a 13-page letter from an inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, TN, who was previously housed at the Monroe County, TN jail and has described the conditions he found while there.

On January 13, 2012, The Post & Email was told by a reader that a Mr. Miller Meadows at the Tennessee Corrections Institute stated that the information “on the internet” about the Monroe County jail conditions might be false.  While this writer has not visited the facility in person, there have been numerous accounts from former inmates which relate nearly, if not completely, the identical information about the conditions, treatment, and sanitation or lack thereof inside the jail.

At approximately 1:00 p.m. ET on January 13, this writer called Mr. Meadows, leaving her name and phone number, to ask for the opportunity to speak with him regarding the many reports of  abuse, filth, arguably subhuman conditions, and cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on the inmates.  We will report if and when our call is returned.

The Post & Email has been told that inspections are unannounced, yet the conditions described would not be able to be remedied quickly even if there were knowledge that an inspection were to occur.  Why is there such a discrepancy between what is reported by those who have lived there and those who are charged, with taxpayer dollars, to see that the facility “meets minimum standards”?  As we researched this question, we found information from state officials which confirms the accounts of inmates rather than statements made by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department or employees of the TCI, including cited constitutional violations.

In 2003, the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury issued a report which stated, in part:

Over the past several decades, courts have found that conditions of confinement in many U.S. jails violate constitutional rights contained in the Eighth Amendment (banning cruel and unusual punishment) and the Fourteenth Amendment (which guarantees due process rights).  In some cases, including in Tennessee, courts have ordered counties to make extensive changes, costing extraordinary amounts, to deal with matters such as medical care, staffing, overcrowding, sanitation, religion, nutrition, recreation, safety, and security…

A National Institute of Corrections publication states that jail crowding is a criminal justice system (emphasis added) issue, and its roots lie with decisions made by officials outside the jail, such as police, judges, prosecutors and probation officers…

Tennessee’s continuing failure to provide adequate capacity in state prisons has contributed to overcrowding in some jails…Inmate lawsuits against Tennessee resulted in several pieces of legislation that allowed the state to respond to prison overcrowding…

Comptroller’s staff observed unsafe and unsanitary conditions in some of the jails visited during this study…

The Tennessee Corrections Institute has no power to enforce its standards, resulting in conditions that endanger inmates, staff, and the public…

TCI continues to certify inadequate and overcrowded jails that do not meet state standards…

TCI inspection practices appear inadequate to ensure safe and secure jails.

Although TCI inspections are unannounced, they generally occur within the same or an adjacent month of the previous year’s inspection.  As a result, jail staff can anticipate inspections and present themselves in ways during the inspections that do not reflect their normal routines and practices.

Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III had reported a flurry of activity in the Monroe County jail in November 2010 in anticipation of an inspection.  At that time, it appeared that improvements to the facility were in progress.  However, after Fitzpatrick’s arrest on September 23, 2011, the poor conditions reported in 2011 appear to have remained the same or worsened.

Given the fact that the cited report was written in 2003, is it possible that the problems identified then by the State Comptroller have intensified over another decade of neglect and budget cuts?

Later on January 13, we had a telephone call with another Tennessee public official who asked us to send documentation via email.  A response was received just before the close of business:

Thank you, Sharon. I will forward your email.
All the best,

On the evening of January 13, a resident of Tennessee reported that an elected representative had contacted her personally and promised to investigate the conditions in the Monroe County jail as well as the allegations of rigged grand juries which issue indictments against the county’s citizens.

We have been told by a past inspector and later verified that the Polk County jail was closed several years ago by order of the state fire marshal, Randy Safer, who had reportedly said, “Prisoners of war are treated better.”  Polk County is part of the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee, which includes Monroe County.

The same conditions described in the old Polk County jail have also been identified in the Monroe County jail, yet the denial by state officials continues.

Why?

The Post & Email has never received anything in either verbal or written form from any public official in Monroe County which refutes any of its reports about the conditions in the jail, the alleged rigging of the grand juries, and the judicial malfeasance which has been reported.  We have actually received documentation which supports what residents there have told us, such as an arrest warrant with the wrong address on it.  Unlike local publications in Monroe County, this newspaper has an open mind and would welcome and publish any documentation which refutes any of the information published here.  However, unlike other publications, we do not toe the government line.  We expose the facts as they become available.

Cover page of letter written by Todd Sweet, inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex

Mr. Sweet wanted the readers to have the address where he can be contacted:

The text of the remaining pages of the letter is reproduced in its entirety below interspersed with the handwritten pages from which it is extracted.

Page 1 of Todd Sweet's letter regarding conditions in the Monroe County jail

© by Todd J Sweet – Conditions 2012 used with permission TJS

Conditions

I want you to imagine a unique little place.  In the center of this little town is a block structure.  Very old.  Very outdated.  The structure is where you are kept if you have one to [sic] many beer [sic] and get in your car.  Or you get into an arguement [sic] with someone in your home and the police are called.  Or it is where you are kept if someone punches your child in the mouth and you take vengence [sic] on them.  It is also where rapists and murderers are kept.  But a crime is a crime.  Even cops come here to this little block structure if they do wrong.

Now as you await a trial to see if you are to be kept here in this block place, the cops get to trick you, acting like they are your lawyer to gain a confession.  The cops can even stop your outgoing mail that is addressed to attorneys.  Attorneys that you are trying to lure because its [sic] your right to hire whom you think is best to defend you.  By federal law.

But your letters never make it.

So you sit and wait as the injustices unfold.  You even let the judges know.  They dont [sic] care.  No one does.

Page 2

Now inside this block structure, where you are kept it is very cold.  Though it is winter, the air ducts blow cold air into some cells.  In others it is hot.  There is no in between.  You are fed fairly well.  You are even given ice for your drink.

But that is it when it comes to provisions.  In two of the holding places it is dirty.  Very dark.  It is built to hold 16-20 men.  This would be fine because then there would be a bunk for your mattress.  But as you enter you realize that if your [sic] not willing to fight for it then you must lay your mat on the dirty floor that is your new home.  And guess what?  There is [sic] not 16-20 men in this place.  No.  There is [sic] 40 or more.  You must step over bodys [sic] to get to the toilet.  To get to the shower.

It stinks.  Staph infection and M.R.S.A. are rampant but because you are forced to lay your blanket and mat on the dirty floor you are more susceptible to these infections.

Page 3

The men around you are stressed because in this little town there is little chance of justice.  There is very little safety in this building.  Guards rarely make a round to check on your well being [sic].  And assaults are an everyday thing if not many a day because as I said, there is not security and when someone is beat the agressor [sic] or agressors [sic] get no discipline.  No new charges.  Why stop picking and beating on the weak if there is [sic] no reprocussions [sic] for doing so?

And those two ‘cells’ are the more decent ones.  There is another one that if you cant [sic] be in the first two you must endure the one called #9.  It is all cement.  The walls are pink.  It is actually a drunk tank.  There is one below it called #10.  In these places you have no running water.  The toilet is only flushed when you beg over and over for a guard to flush it.  Water is only given after many requests.  Getting a shower is a once a week event.  If you are lucky.  These arent [sic] “drunk tanks” any longer.  These are perminent [sic] homes to many inside here.  In #9 the ceiling and wall is cracked so when it rains your blankets get wet.  It floods as the water runs in.  Its [sic] cold because the vent is blowing cold air.

When the staff gets wind that someone is comeing [sic] to inspect this place they change.  Clean it up.  Try to get people off the floor.  When the inspection is over it goes back to what it was.  A cement hell.

There is so much misery and stress that there’s [sic] been a few riots in a mere year.

Page 4

Let me tell you from many years of experience, inmates only riot when they cant [sic] be heard.  When they are stressed to there [sic] limits.  Inmates know that they will destroy their only provisions such as T.V. and telephone.  They will not be allowed to order any commissary items.  They will be beat [sic] by staff and tazored [sic].  Inmates that riot only do so because all of that is better than the current status.  At least then staff has to do there [sic] job if even just for a few moments.

At this place the guards, not all but most [sic] are quick to use violence.  Several times in recent history officers have assaulted inmates.  Mis-treated [sic] them.  Put hits on them.  Not only inside this structure but outside as well.  Officers are allowed to do as they please.  Pull onto your private property and harrass [sic] you.  Shoot at you.  Wound you.  Even when out of their jurisdiction.

All of them, though known and well documented [sic] get away unchecked.

The town and the little block structure is [sic] all ran [sic] by old money.  People who suppress the lower class and even some middle class.  They do as they please.  Violate laws that they prosecute others for.

When someone begins to expose the injustices that go on, the law makers that are guilty and the law enforcers will make up stories in town.  Print media will back their stories in fear.

Page 5

Swat [sic] teams will move on the very people trying to bring the injustices to light for the good of the town.

And the town will allow it.

Sounds like a town in Iraq, Cuba or Mexico [sic] doesnt [sic] it?

Well its [sic] not.  It is Monroe County Tennessee and every single word I just stated is truth, backed by court record and facts.

I use [sic] to be a confidence man.  A liar.  But the Blood of Jesus Christ has redeemed me from the hands of satan [sic].  I’ve been rehabilitated by God.  So its [sic] my desire that others are as well.

I dont [sic] lie.  I dont [sic] steal or cheat.  I am now what the law makers and enforcers have tried years to make me.  A rehabilitated ex-con.

And now they dont [sic] like it when I tell the truth.

Not one word I write gets laid on paper prior to lengthy prayer.  The Holy Spirit keeps me in get back in line [sic] when I begin to stray from the facts or begin to get angry at the law makers and enforcers.  The Holy Spirit reminds me that they arent [sic] walking in Jesus, but the devil, the prince of this world.

That is who their father is.  The father of lies.

That is fact.  That is confirmed.  And that is why me [sic] and several others spend hours in prayer to fight the demons of Monroe County and give strength to the prisoners.  The prisoners are still human.

But they are not being treated as such.

Page 6

Now.  Could this injustice happen to you?  You say taxes.  Maybe your [sic] an officer.  Maybe you served in the armed forces.

Can it happen to you and how?

Well Im [sic] going to tell you through a factual example….

There is a man.  Late fiftys [sic].  He has a wonderful upstanding past.  In 1969 he made it to every young mans [sic] dream.  Eagle Scout.  He moved on and joined the United States Navy.  In 1975 he was a Distinguished Military Graduate from the United States Naval Academy.

While in, he worked Surface Warfare and was a naval parachutist.

He achieved the rank of Lt. Commander.  A high ranking officer that oversees alot [sic] of responsibility.

Page 7
Page 8

He made a living out of protecting our rights.  It was blead [sic] into him.  Ingrained in his heart and mind.

He also is a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ.  he lives by John 15:13.

The man served us, our rights and our Navy well.  He is a good man.

In 1994 he finally retired.  He is still paid retirement wages from the Department of the Navy because he is in good standing with our government.  He originates from the North West State of Washington but in 2008 he moved to Sweetwater Tennessee.

He did it to help a man.  While helping the man through his legal issues this Distinguished Military Man uncovered the corruption in the Grand Jury formation and Selection process.  He brought it to several individual law makers and enforcers [sic] attention.  Their response?

They painted him a militia man.  Then painted him as a sovereign.

They (Amy Reedy, Carroll Ross and Jim Stutts) claim this mans [sic] affiliations to discredit him to make the people of Monroe County believe he is against the government.

If he was a sovereign, he would not still be receiving his government check.  If he was a sovereign he would not care of  [sic] U.S. Laws, nor would he try to make a Citizens [sic] arrest.

If he was militia, there would be bigger issues already in Monroe County.

His name is Walter Fitzpatrick III.  You may think he tried to “blow up the County Building,” thats [sic] what Monroe County officials make you think because you let them do your thinking for you.

Page 9

No different than you did in my case and many others.

You gossip, you glue yourself to the papers.  You dont [sic] know whats [sic] real because you only know what “others” tell you.

Mr. Fitzpatrick was arrested a while back and incarcerated at the Monroe County jail for a misdeameanor [sic] that stemmed from him [sic] exposeing [sic] Monroe County Corruption.

Part of his sentance [sic] was suspended.  During his stay in #9, the cell I told you of earlier, he was pulled out and given a “talking to” from the jail administrator.  Walter was told that if he left his nose out of the corruption the law would leave him alone.

Walter refused and was let go on Dec. 03, 2011.  But his freedom would be short lived.  Just a few days later he entered the Court house to observe (which is his right as a citizen) the picking of the Monroe County Grand Jury.

Page 10

What he found was Judge Amy Reedy hand picking the Grand Jury.  This is absolutely illegal by Tennessee State Law.  Absolutely.

Guess what happen [sic] next?

Monroe County Swat [sic] Team attacked his home.  Took him to jail.  Put him back in Cell #9 and claimed his prior release was a mistake.

You know what the administrator of the jail said at the earlier date talking to Mr. Fitzpatrick?  That he should drop the issues of Corruption because “nobody cares.”

Page 11

Thats [sic] right [sic] Monroe County Citizens.  The law enforcers say you the taxpayer dont [sic] care what they do.

You the taxpayers dont [sic] care what laws the law breaks.

You the taxpayers dont [sic] care what the public officials do or who they do it to.

And I believe that official.

You the taxpayers of Monroe County do not live by the laws that proceed [sic] all laws.  The Laws of God.

Brings a scripture to mind.  Hebrews 12:15.  “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Many are being defiled in Monroe County because they allow satan [sic] and his fallen angels to run the town, useing [sic] the minds of the law enforcers and makers to pull you all from Gods [sic] plan.

Period.  Your excuses are lame.  Your excuses to disobey Gods [sic] command to love EVERYONE (even prisoners) are old and dont [sic] work.  God will judge you for your disobedience if he shows up today.  Tomorrow or 30 years from now.  Right this second he [sic] ready for your heart.

Some of you say that I got “prison religion” [sic] I dont [sic] care what you say.  If I got prison religion at least I’ve found the real truth.  I may be locked up, but I am free.  And when I am free to sin and death and when I hit my knees and truly gave me [sic] to God, he answers my prayers.  He has never failed me.  Not once.

Page 12

 See.  You all said I was never to see freedom again.  I was to do life.  You believed what officials stated.  You believed what you were told about me.  My past, my lies.  Or was it theirs?

How do you all feel now that I am here?  God cleansed me.  Redeemed me and the more obedient I became the more He did for me.  I paroled from Arizona on April 14, 2011.  I paroled from Michigan November 22, 2011.

And I have an outdate in Tennessee because God wants me out.

Page 13

See.  Anyone can change.  But its [sic] gotta be real and its [sic] gotta be through prayer.  We, followers of Christ are known to God as “the Saints of God.”

God cant [sic] release his heavenly warriors into the streets, homes, churches or courts until the Saints of God pray for intersession [sic].

Its [sic] our duty.

Some unbelievers and believers alike say their prayers dont [sic] get answered.  Well then your [sic] not obedient, or you’ve not ask [sic] for forgivness [sic].  God wont [sic] answer any prayer other than the one of repentance in a non-believer.

He wont [sic] answer a prayer of a so-called Christian if that person has unforgivness [sic] against anyone.

I know what the Word of my God states.  Do you?

Monroe County wake up!  Take back what use [sic] to be.

If you think it doesnt [sic] effect [sic] you because your “works” are clean or you dont [sic] get into trouble you are wrong.

When you stand at the throne your [sic] going to find out that by doing nothing you chose to break fellowship with God.  Doing nothing is  choseing [sic].

There is a lake you will spend your eternity in.

Monroe County..on your knees!  Pray satans [sic] dirty mitts off your public officials.  Off the enforcers.  Out of the prisoners and guards [sic] hearts.  Pray for it now so our children have something in the future in Monroe County.

Some say Monroe County “has went [sic] to hell” [sic] Well not yet.  But its [sic] truly headed there.

Pray for me and Walter.  We only want what is best for everyone.  And we want the law to obey the law.

And all of us to be under Gods [sic] law.

The law of Love.  Pray it.  Live it!  Until next time.

T.J.S.

——————–

Editor’s Note:  “Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” — John Adams

4 Responses to "Tennessee State Penitentiary Inmate: Monroe County “Like a Town in Cuba”"

  1. "Zeb"   Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    There are different ways to “attack” the corruption issue in Monroe County.

    Walt spent a great deal of time with the FBI in Knoxville and Sharon has talked with them, as well. Up until now they have taken a position that it was not their responsibility, but most recently they have given an indication that they might be involved. I am sure it is because I sent their office a box of Constitutions. . . . They will have even more incentive when we are able to elevate the legal challenges to the federal level.

    One of Walt’s big supporters has engaged a public official. He or his staff can be charged with following up on the federal paperwork. He has that authority and has expressed an interest in Walt’s condition.

    Lastly, I put great stock in what the folks in Manchester, KY did with their similar situation. Their clergy was able to petition the governor to establish a special task force of the branches of his government to go into Manchester and conduct an investigation. Charges by the attorney (female, spitfire) on the team resulted in many officials going to jail. I think Haslam may be ready to hear a request for this task force. His number is posted on another thread. It wouldn’t hurt to follow up on that on Tuesday.

    Walt has not been in a worse position then he is now. We should ratchet up the phone calls as much as possible.

  2. John Sutherland   Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    Zeb, it is apparent to many people that the Monroe County jails as well as the rest of the legal system must be audited by a non-county resource and then the audit findings must be made public. These county thugs will continue to get away with their crimes as long as they are allowed. It is past time when corruption can be merely swept under the carpet.

  3. A pen   Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Just remember;
    Inasmuch as ye did to one of these my brethren — the least — to me ye did it.

    Let the thugs alone who enjoy their craft. You can not change their hearts. It is enough to seek truth and righteousness to be known as a friend while the others are turned away to forever be unable to know peace and love.

  4. "Zeb"   Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Mr. Sweet describes Cell #9 the same way Walt does. However I was curious about Cell #10, as it is used to adjust the attitudes of unruly inmates. Walt described fan sounds in Cell #10 louder that below decks and a constant high flow breeze. This could only be caused by close proximity to the air conditioning return air system, with the return air being flowed thru the cell. So the gargoyles that run the Monroe County jail discovered that if they stripped an inmate down to his skivvies and left him in Cell #10 for 24 hours or until he shivered uncontrollably, whichever was longer, it would adjust his attitude.

    So this is the “torture” chamber in the Monroe County jail. Walt has also described a torture chamber in the Blount county jail. It is not beyond imagining that most east TN jails have some sort of setup to assure violations of prisoners’ rights.

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