by Sharon Rondeau

(Aug. 29, 2015) — On June 29, 2015, TDOC inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III completed a form with the purpose of obtaining proof of his high school graduation in order to be excused from the Adult Basic Education (ABE) class in which he had been enrolled the day before.

In a 44-page letter written between July 31 and August 3, Fitzpatrick further detailed, from previous letters on the subject, the prisoners-for-profit operation which places inmates in classes inappropriately to garner payments from the federal government.

Fitzpatrick pointed out that the release form contains no signature line for the requester to grant permission for his records to be released to the prison facility requesting it.

Following his graduation from Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai, CA in 1969, Fitzpatrick went on to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, graduating in 1975.  In 2002, he earned a Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.

During the prison intake process last summer, Fitzpatrick was told that he would not benefit from any educational course offered by the TDOC.  Fitzpatrick is currently a resident at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville.

Prior to his enrollment in the ABE class, Fitzpatrick was placed against his will in the “Pro-Social Life Skills” class, but he refused to participate because of his belief that incriminatory statements were required to complete it.

On May 19, Fitzpatrick’s case was argued on appeal by Atty. Van Irion, with no word on a decision as of this writing.

As a result of Fitzpatrick’s refusal to take the course, he was threatened with physical harm by the instructor, Terry Hopper.  After The Post & Email published Fitzpatrick’s written report of the confrontation, he was moved out of the guild where the course is taught as Hopper and others looked on.

TDOC spokeswoman Neysa Taylor made no comment after The Post & Email sent her the article containing Fitzpatrick’s report of Hopper’s menacing threats.

After his relocation, Fitzpatrick was immediately enrolled in ABE despite his high level of post-secondary education.  Fitzpatrick has identified himself as a pawn in a prisoners-for-profit scheme wherein the federal government is billed up to $3,000 for each class participant regardless of his ability to complete it.

In one case, Fitzpatrick reported that an inmate was taking the Pro-Social Life Skills class for the fourth time.  On page 4 of his letter, Fitzpatrick related that “TDOC/NWCX authorities know with certainty they are using inmates to populate by force federally assisted education courses and clinical treatment programs to brazenly steal money paid out by every federal tax payer in the United States.”

The Post & Email has seen many of the ABE worksheets, which include drill on subject and verb agreement and other basics of English grammar in preparation for the student to take the General Education Development (GED), or high school equivalency, test.

Fitzpatrick reported that “school principal” Ronnie Lanier has claimed that he is a graduate of Alabama’s Auburn University.  On July 20, Fitzpatrick submitted an Inmate Inquiry – Information Request form to Lanier, who acted upon it the following day by instructing Fitzpatrick to “Get with CCO [Lori] Avery fill out a release form for verification of education.” [sic] Lanier’s response was included with Fitzpatrick’s letter.

“Guild #2 counselor Gary Copeland handed Lanier’s documented retort on Friday morning, 24 July 2015,” Fitzpatrick wrote in his letter.  However, Fitzpatrick had already carried out Lanier’s suggestion on June 29.

On July 24, a prison uprising involving rival gang members placed NWCX in complete lockdown, which reportedly will be imposed for 90 days on “the Thunderdome,” where the most dangerous prisoners are housed.  In his letter, Fitzpatrick provided a diagram indicating that he is located in the first building of three, known as Site II, with the middle building, Site III, and the Thunderdome, or Site I, on the far edge of the complex.

As of July 27, Fitzpatrick’s section of the prison, Guild #2, remained on “partial lockdown,” causing the cancellation of ABE class meetings until further notice.  Fitzpatrick also reported that Warden Mike Parris has forbidden outgoing inmate phone calls since the incident, which saw eight inmates rushed to area hospitals with stab wounds.

After receiving Lanier’s response, Fitzpatrick discovered an “Administrative Policies and Procedures” handbook published by the TDOC which states on page 5 that any inmate qualifying for disability upon release from prison or who is age 62 or older can ask for an exemption from ABE.  He therefore completed a “Waiver of Placement” form, stating that he is “sixty-three-and-one-half years old.”  However, he remains enrolled in the class.

On page 9 of his letter, Fitzpatrick told of “Earl,” an 84-year-old man placed in ABE who Fitzpatrick was told “will never be able to pass necessary examinations to earn his GED.”  “Teacher Beadles…is in a position to know of Earl’s infirmity first hand, up close,” Fitzpatrick wrote.

Of the staff billing the government for inmates’ enrollments, Fitzpatrick said, “Their jobs depend on success in their stealing U.S. taxpayer monies.  So they do whatever [sic] necessary and possible to ensure success and job security.  Consequently they keep their mouths shut happily concealing from neighbors across the country regarding details of their grand theft!!”

On pages 33 and 34, Fitzpatrick explained that Avery did not appear concerned when he pointed out that he had never signed the release of information form.

On pages 36-37, Fitzpatrick wrote:

The TDOC/NWCX “Release of Information Form” does not act legally in any capacity.  The masquerading paperwork does not authorize the “release” of my high school diploma.  Putting the unsuspecting, uninformed and incurious inmate through the motions of administering the release is nothing but a clever deception.  It’s a head fake.  No one holding legal standing authorizes the release of information.  No one is paying the companion administrative fee to get the document released.

Other gimmicks are being used to dupe inmates holding them in suspension wrongly thinking TDOC/NWCX employees are actively seeking of ascertaining verification of education through the twelth [sic] (12th) grade.

“There exists no reasonable belief TDOC/NWCX authoritarians will respond to the publicly witnessed submission of the request for “Waiver of Placement,” Fitzpatrick wrote on page 41.  “There’s no reason to suggest my high school diploma will surface ’round these parts by then.”

He added:

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  1. It is a total disgrace that Fitzpatrick is incarcerated. Everyone in this country should be ashamed to say they are a citizen of a country that would use incarceration to silence people. I personally am ashamed to say I am a citizen of the United States of America.