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by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 4, 2017) — On May 27, The Post & Email received a mailing in a large envelope from an inmate at the Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) in Only, TN containing a petition signed by a significant number of inmates protesting prison conditions.

The first page of the document states that it was created “due to the lack of faith in TCIX Grievance procedures” and is directed to “T.C.I.X. Inmate Council Members and Staff.”

TCIX is one of 14 prisons overseen by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).

The handwriting on the envelope, which was sent by inmate Christopher Robertson, #322628, is some of the neatest we have ever seen.  Because the envelope is a gold color, it unfortunately did not scan well.

The 13-page document lists and expands upon a dozen inmate grievances focusing on prison security, better racial relations, greater inmate employment, and a stop to the “unauthorized use of force.”

The Post & Email has received previous reports of excessive use of force by TCIX correction officers against inmates which in one instance reportedly caused bloody wrists from handcuffs fastened too tightly.  In another related instance, the inmate was described as “beat so bad that there are still light remnants of his blood stains on the side walk coming out of the housing unit.”

The graphic featured above is a Post-it note from Robertson which was affixed to the document’s front page referring to an April 8 assault at the institution by 16 inmates on three correction officers which made national news.

While writing this article, The Post & Email found that at least two articles detailing the incident have been removed.

Following the April 9 assault, a concerned individual contacted several dozen Tennessee legislators and this writer claiming that “the story that TDOC told the media is far from what everyone, including those that were not even near Unit 3, are saying.”

Notably, on page 2 of his response letter, Robertson wrote that the petition “was presented approximately 3 weeks before the April 9th, 2017 when 3 correctional officers were stabbed.”

Of the prison grievance process, Robertson wrote:

Grievances are deflected by misuse of the excuse of ‘inappropriate’.  If you are in segregation a.k.a the hole’ and you file a grievance you are denied your right to the grievance process.  The first step is supposed to take 7 days max.  Many inmates complain after months with no response.  In this very, frustration, anger and resentment builds up to explosive incidents.  Many grievances are actually ‘lost’ or thrown away… [sic]

One of the inmates’ listed grievances was that water was reportedly not made available to them during meals.  In a follow-up letter received on Friday, Robertson wrote, in response to one of our questions, that “The response has been null except for the water in the inmate dining room.”

While many of the pages appear to be duplicates, they contain different inmate signatures.

Since we had not corresponded with Robertson before and had some questions, we sent a letter enumerating our questions to which we received a response on June 2.

[Editor’s Note:  In our letter, we mistakenly wrote “April 8” as the date of the TCIX incident rather than “April 9.”]

Robertson’s full response is as follows:

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