Breaking: Tennessee Inmate on Hunger Strike Hospitalized, Returned to MCCX


by Sharon Rondeau

(Jul. 9, 2017) — On Sunday evening, a source reported that he/she received a phone call from Tennessee inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, following a two-day hospitalization after he was found “blacked out” in his cell with a blood pressure of 70/36.

Harmer had been on a hunger strike since June 5 to protest “abusive” treatment he said he received on the part of prison intake staff.

The source said that Harmer was returned to the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) on Saturday after his vital readings were stabilized.

The source told us:

On Wednesday night he blacked out in his cell (he had been moved to a different cell, though still in a restricted area), and the resulting medical treatment there at MCCX was not able to get his blood pressure above 70/36.  Because they could not stabilize him, they sent him by ambulance to the University of TN hospital on Thursday morning.  He remained there receiving treatment until yesterday at noon when they returned him to MCCX.  By then his blood pressure was normal and stable and they had introduced food to him every two hours.

The source added:

There is a policy that requires them to check in on him and they never did.  Nor did the guards report when he refused his trays.

Harmer reportedly survived on institutionally-packaged milk and water for 34 days by this writer’s count.

On Friday evening, The Post & Email reached out for a third time to Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Communications Director Neysa Taylor to inform her that based on the information the source had obtained from Harmer on Friday afternoon through standard mail, he was experiencing considerable pain and had sent end-of-life instructions along with a copious amount of documentation accumulated over his many years in prison.

On Friday we told Taylor in an email that “the information I have this evening is that the above MCCX inmate (noted in the subject line) is close to death after 32 days on a hunger strike with no medical intervention.  He will need emergency medical assistance immediately to save his life if it is not already too late.”

Taylor responded that evening:

As you are aware an inmate’s medical information is private. Therefore, I can not comment on Mr. Harmer’s health. I can inform you that the information you have received is incorrect.

Over the last three weeks, The Post & Email had attempted to alert MCCX staff, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, two members of the Tennessee legislature, and TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker’s office that Harmer was not eating and faced risk of starvation without exigent medical intervention.





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