by Sharon Rondeau

The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) operates 13 prisons throughout the state. NWCX is located in Tiptonville near the Missouri border.

(Jul. 27, 2015) — In an article dated July 25, 2015, The Chattanoogan reported that eight gang members currently imprisoned at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) “were involved in an uprising on Friday afternoon.”

In response to the occurrence, an unnamed prison “official” was quoted as having said, in part:

While our inmate population has grown more violent, our staff continues to implement processes that enhance security. The quick response and containment of the incident at Northwest demonstrates our processes are effective in being prepared to transition from normal operations to enhanced security protocols. The Tennessee Department of Correction will not tolerate any threat to our prisons and any disruption will be met with swift corrective measures.”

According to The Chattanoogan, no correctional officers were injured in Friday’s altercation, but all eight inmates were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

Last week, The Post & Email published two articles resulting from a letter received from an NWCX inmate stating that conditions at the prison are dangerous and volatile because of gang-related activity.  “Do our lives matter?” the inmate asked in a handwritten addendum to his typewritten communiqué.   “The staff here is over worked [sic] and on a skeleton crew because they cannot keep correction officers. These officers are afraid of working in the units were the gang members control the prison because they are only armed with a radio, set of keys and maybe a flashlight. Their job here is to protect and care for 128 adult men in each housing unit while acting alone. At any given time the gangs can erupt sending chaos throughout the prison,” the inmate wrote.

He also stated that a correctional officer had lost an eye in an attack initiated by violent gang members.

Approximately two months ago, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III told The Post & Email in a letter that a fight had ensued between two men in another section of the prison, resulting in the death of one of them.

After Fitzpatrick reported on June 19 that he was physically threatened by an instructor for refusing to participate in the Pro-Social Life Skills course because it required him to admit to criminal activity, prison officials reportedly told state representative John Forgety that there was “no evidence” to support Fitzpatrick’s claim.

However, Fitzpatrick later reported that he was unexpectedly relocated to a different section of the prison, excused from the Pro-Social Life Skills class, and as of his last letter, the disciplinary hearing scheduled over his refusal to participate had not been held.

Fitzpatrick filed a grievance against the instructor, Terry Hopper, who reportedly has threatened a second inmate, Jerome Johnson, with punishment for refusing to participate in the same class.


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