by Sharon Rondeau

(Sep. 17, 2015) — On Monday, The Post & Email reported receiving a letter from a 74-year-old inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, TN stating that two hernias from which he is suffering had not received proper care and that he learned inadvertently from a nurse that he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a year ago.

After receiving the letter, we wrote to a group of four Tennessee state senators who on August 27 held a hearing concerning a staffing crisis within the TDOC. We included Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Communications Director Neysa Taylor on the email and attached the entire inmate’s letter as well as portions of two letters received over the last month from another inmate alleging a similar situation.

The inmate with the hernias is Donald E. Lynch, and fellow inmate Jeffrey Douglas wrote that he has chronic kidney failure but has been denied the necessary medication to treat it.  Both gave The Post & Email written permission to write about their cases and respective conditions.

The Post & Email has received a considerable number of letters from NWCX prisoners since inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III related in June that he was threatened with bodily harm should he continue to refuse to participate in the Pro-Social Life Skills class.

Fitzpatrick continued to refuse, filed a criminal complaint against the instructor who he alleged made the threat, and was told he would be disciplined for his refusal.

The disciplinary hearing was abandoned, and Fitzpatrick was released from the class officially on June 26, when he was moved to another section of the prison.

At the beginning of September, Fitzpatrick reported that he was released from the Adult Basic Education (ABE) class in which he had subsequently been enrolled, despite his having earned a high school diploma, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.  The purpose of ABE is to prepare the student for taking the high school equivalency, or GED, test.

Beginning in the spring, Fitzpatrick wrote that he also had medical and dental needs which could not be met from within the prison.  The Post & Email has recently written to Fitzpatrick to discover whether or not those issues are resolved.

On Thursday evening, The Post & Email received a response to our email to Taylor and the senators from TDOC Correspondence Coordinator Tashonda Burton, which reads:

Ms. Rondeau,
Due to HIPPA I cannot  release the  health  information of offenders.  However, we  have looked into the matter below.  Every offender incarcerated in TDOC prisons  receives community standard of care.  Thank you
Tashonda Burton| Inmate Correspondence Coordinator
6th Floor Rachel Jackson Building
320 6th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
p. 615-253-8133 c. 615-934-8402

All of the attachments we sent were included in the return email.

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  1. We should be grateful that the inmate correspondence Coordinator took the time to reply in such detail. The level of detail you received is most likely indicative of the amount of time they spent on looking “into the matter”.

    Somehow I believe this type of treatment, and response to taxpayers, is why Donald Trump is doing so well in the polls.