WHITE INMATE AND BLACK INMATE RECEIVE UNEQUAL TREATMENT IN SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jul. 31, 2015) — On Friday, The Post & Email received a second letter from Mr. Jerome Johnson, an inmate at Tennessee’s Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) who has become acquainted with Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III.

Fitzpatrick has been an inmate at the facility since early December last year after having been convicted of aggravated perjury and extortion by a McMinn County, TN jury.  His attorney had argued that Fitzpatrick was simply exercising his First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances when he took a number of petitions to the McMinn County grand jury alleging corruption on the part of judges, court personnel, law enforcers, and the grand jury foreman.

On August 19, Fitzpatrick was sentenced to three years in state prison by Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood.

Nearly six years ago, after having moved to Tennessee from the West Coast in 2007, Fitzpatrick discovered that Tennessee grand jury foremen are hand-selected by the criminal court judges without any standard vetting process. A law passed by the legislature in 2008 which states that all jurors must be chosen randomly is ignored in the case of the foreman. The Post & Email has found, in speaking with various county court clerks, that some grand jury foremen cast votes with the 12 grand jurors allegedly chosen lawfully, while others are described as having strictly an administrative role.

Mr. Johnson’s initial letter, published on July 23, related events similar to those described by Fitzpatrick stemming from his refusal to participate in the Pro-Social Life Skills course taught by instructor Terry Hopper.   Both Fitzpatrick and Johnson have stated that if they participated, utilizing the accompanying workbooks which ask the inmate to admit to criminal behavior, they would jeopardize their chances of succeeding on appeal.

The Post & Email has seen the workbooks, which emphasize behavior modification following recognition of aberrant conduct by the inmate.

The workbooks are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced in any manner.

Attorney Van Irion argued Fitzpatrick’s appeal on May 19, and Johnson is awaiting a post-conviction hearing which he expects to take place within the next 60 days.

To the best of The Post & Email’s knowledge, Fitzpatrick has heard nothing on his appeal.

On June 19, Fitzpatrick reported in a detailed letter that Hopper had backed him against the wall in an office with a witness and threatened to “beat you to the middle of next week” if he should continue to refuse to participate in the course.

The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) was said to have denied that there was any “evidence” of the event Fitzpatrick described in his June 19 letter and those written subsequently.  However, Fitzpatrick filed a grievance which he characterized as a “criminal complaint” against Hopper and

In his earlier letter, Johnson enclosed a “Class-A Write-Up” issued by a Mrs. Ruth Long as a result of his refusal to take the course.

Fitzpatrick was threatened with punishment in solitary confinement, or “the Hole,” but according to Johnson, the disciplinary hearing which would have preceded any penalties never took place.

Also on Friday, The Post & Email learned that a letter sent to Fitzpatrick dated June 26, 2015 was not placed in Fitzpatrick’s hands until nearly a month later.  Early this month, we received a mailing from Fitzpatrick in which he stated that the disciplinary hearing had been postponed due to a lack of necessary staff on July 1.

Johnson reported that his punishment for the same perceived transgression will be meted out as promised, to include revocation of certain privileges, ten days in “the Hole,”  a $5.00 fine, and loss of the job he held in the Guild kitchen. Johnson also suggests that he has been the target of racial discrimination since Fitzpatrick’s write-up was dismissed and his own was not.

On several occasions, The Post & Email asked the U.S. Justice Department to intervene in Tennessee as a result of judicial corruption which has deprived virtually every defendant over the last six decades, if not more, of constitutional due process.

The U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a civil lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio for alleged constitutional violations of Latinos and Spanish-speaking jail inmates, but it has failed to examine the Tennessee courts, grand juries with their hand-picked foremen, law enforcers who regularly violate citizens’ civil rights and are often physically abusive, and criminality which has led to murder described by a close observer as “a government hit” for which no one has been held accountable.  Similarly, the FBI, which reports to the Justice Department, has failed to act.

Over the last 6 1/2 years, the Obama regime has publicly commented on cases of alleged discrimination by whites against blacks and reportedly dispatched activists to cities where blacks have been killed by law enforcers who are not black.  To our knowledge, however, no investigation of Tennessee’s prisoners-for-profit operation has been undertaken or the allegation that racial discrimination could be a factor in prisoners’ treatment.

“This is now a Title 6 (1964) Civil Rights Act, for Discrimination on Warden Michael Parris, Sgt. Sandy Cagle, The Program Director Mrs. Vivian Windor, Program Instructor Mr. Terry Hopper. And Job Coordinator Mrs. Ruth Long.  Because anytime an Inmate has the same like issues and they Dismiss one, they has to Dismiss the other. Mr. Fitzpatrick and I had the same like issues on the matter of not surrendering our guilt. But they Dismissed his write-up, it just went away, disappeared. But me a black man of color having to be punished by going to the “Hole” for 10 days, having my Job taken away from me, having my package resptriced for 1 whole year and having to pay a 5 Dollar Fee just for receiving the write-up, and my security level will go up one point. But as I said before, for the 3 years I’ve been here never have I had a write-up…” [sic] Johnson wrote.

The Post & Email responded to Johnson’s first letter earlier this week.  His second letter, which crossed in the mail, appears below.

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