AFTER FILING COMPLAINT, THREATENING TO EXPOSE ALLEGED SCHEME BY PRISON TO GARNER FEDERAL DOLLARS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 18, 2017) — An inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Complex (TTCC) in Hartsville, TN who recently blew the whistle on his placement in and ineligibility for the Pro-Social Life Skills class reports that his enrollment was promptly canceled after he filed a formal complaint with Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Commissioner Tony Parker and Gov. Bill Haslam.
A report dated January 17 directed to Haslam and to this publication, among other parties, states that he first raised the issue while housed at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) during Derrick Schofield’s term as TDOC Commissioner which ended last June. Having been relocated to TTCC last July, his forced placement in the class recurred last month.
“The reason you people put me in it is so you can get the funding and keep the inmate and/or convict,” he wrote last month. “I am requesting you stop this fraudulent act and start complying with state law and federal funding requirements. If you don’t have me removed from the PSLS I will seek to have your federal funding discontinued. Everyone that refuses to comply with state law should be criminally charged.”
TTCC is owned and operated by CoreCivic, a private corporation formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
In his January 17 letter to Haslam, the inmate explained that he is sentenced at 100%, which precludes him from participation in the class based on TDOC administrative policies. The inmate’s report of involuntary placement into the Pro-Social Life Skills class despite his ineligibility coincides with that of Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III, who in 2015 was enrolled in the same course at Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX).
NWCX is run by the State of Tennessee.
Pro-Social Life Skills (PSLS) is a course designed by The Change Companies to alter thinking and behavior in those convicted of offenses involving drugs and alcohol. Exercises in the workbooks used for the course which The Post & Email has seen require the student to admit to criminal patterns of behavior leading to incarceration.
Neither Fitzpatrick’s indictment nor his conviction cited any offense connected with substance abuse, and Fitzpatrick objected to what he saw as coercion into admitting guilt of a crime he did not commit. He was then threatened with “a beating to the middle of next week” were he to continue to refuse to participate.
He maintained his stance and was then placed in Adult Basic Education despite his advanced level of education and 20 years in the U.S. Navy, including as executive officer of the USS Mars.
Fitzpatrick reported that each participant in PSLS earns the prison facility up to $3,000.
For the last seven years following Fitzpatrick’s exposure of the phenomenon, The Post & Email has extensively reported on the questionable nature of all Tennessee grand jury indictments given that the grand jury foremen are hand-picked by the criminal court judge from outside of the legally-impaneled jury pool. For more than a century, the legislature, governor, and citizenry have looked the other way as judges have wielded control over the grand jury through their personally-selected foremen, who serve consecutive terms which at times stretch into decades.
The Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights mandates that anyone accused of an “infamous crime” receive the benefit of a grand jury review of the evidence before a government prosecutor can file a formal charge. With a compromised foreman, no grand jury in Tennessee can be considered impartial, which bears enormous implications given the thousands of inmates in Tennessee’s jails and prisons.
In a letter accompanying a February 4 follow-up report addressed to Haslam touching on a number of subjects, the inmate told The Post & Email, “They acted very quick. They gave me a job drop from Pro Social Life Skills classes. But the morons put me in a Clerk’s job that don’t exist and will pay me .50⊄ per hour.”
This particular inmate is not the first to report that TTCC prisoners are assigned to “ghost jobs” to which they never have to report and for which they are never paid. According to dozens of letters received by this publication from TTCC inmates over the last nine months, virtually no inmates are employed within the facility.
CoreCivic has previously been reported to employ staff willing to falsify records.
As he noted in his February 4 report, TCA 41-21-207 states that “(a) All persons sentenced to the penitentiary shall be kept at labor or at school when in sufficient health” and
“(b) The work of inmates shall be generally from six (6) to eight (8) hours per day during regular work days throughout the year and the number of hours to be worked in the different seasons of the year shall be regulated by the commissioner of correction. For purposes of this section, any hour an inmate attends school each day shall be credited to the hours the inmate must work each day.”
The top of page 2 of the inmate’s most recent complaint to Haslam reiterates that “Core Civic [sic] CEO Damon Hininger and Warden Blair Leibach are putting inmates/convicts in jobs that don’t exist.”
CoreCivic has not thus far responded to any of The Post & Email’s several requests for comment, including a letter sent to Executive Vice President Harley Lappin on January 24. Haslam’s office has also failed to respond.
Toward the end of page 2, the inmate wrote: