Is the Hawkins County Jail Abusing Inmates?

INMATE FORMERLY HOUSED THERE ALLEGES BEATINGS, EXTENDED LOCKDOWN PERIODS, DEATHS

by Sharon Rondeau

Hawkins County is located in the northeastern section of Tennessee bordering Kentucky

(Jul. 7, 2016) — In a recent letter from a Tennessee state inmate, The Post & Email was told that the Hawkins County, TN jail carries out off-camera beatings of inmates and that the facility is “one of the worst jails around.”

“…this jail is so bad, it got its state funding when it open [sic] in 2010, and it is housing inmates that has time up to 8 yrs.  well they had inmates there that has life, + some with 10+ years at 85% + will not ship them off to prison, that jail keeps its inmates locked down over 20 hours a day the food is always cold + is never enough to fill you up…” he wrote.

The inmate said that he contacted the Kingsport Times News to report the alleged brutality but never received a response.

On Thursday morning at approximately 9:06 AM EDT, The Post & Email left a voice message for Hawkins County media representative Stacy Webb after calling the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department and being transferred to her extension.

The inmate additionally reported that a number of lawsuits have been filed against the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department, presumably for abuse and/or jail conditions. In a internet search, The Post & Email was able to find one federal lawsuit from 2013 which appears to have been dismissed, although the U.S. District Court judge did not state the reason.

The Post & Email has previously noted that corruption in the Tennessee courts extends to the U.S. District Courts located within the state, as in the cases of Darren Wesley Huff; Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III and Timothy Aaron Baxter.

“You can look into everything I’m tellin [sic] you bout that place, from C/O (correction officers) beating inmates up, they turn off camera + whipp inmates, they go off into cells where cameras can’t see them! all kinds of stuff goes on there at this jail,” the inmate wrote on the fourth and last page of his letter.

Snip from page 4 of inmate letter
Snip from page 1

The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department states on its website that “In keeping with the philosophy of the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, convicted prisoners are sentenced to jail as punishment, not for punishment, and will be treated in such a manner as to provide maximum security without undue discomfort. All inmates are treated in a humane and courteous manner without regard to personal prejudices and feelings. We strive to be firm, fair, and consistent with all inmates and all inmates are treated with dignity and respect…”

The inmate also reported three deaths as having occurred in the jail, although he did not state a time frame during which they might have taken place.  The Post & Email specifically questioned Webb about that allegation in its message and will update this story if and when a response is received from her.

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