by Sharon Rondeau

(Sep. 19, 2017) — An inmate at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (BCCX) in Pikeville, TN has reported workplace discrimination against men in favor of female inmates who may not qualify for the jobs they have been awarded.

The Post & Email first received a letter on the issue two weeks ago, with new developments related in a follow-up letter received today.

“On Sep. 16, we are all being fired — not because they don’t need us, not because we are doing a poor job, but because we are men,” the inmate wrote in the first letter, dated August 30.

On page 2, he wrote that “good” time accrues “only when we have jobs.” The term refers to time an inmate accumulates during his incarceration which can reduce the length of his prison sentence.

“Many of us have filed grievances for gender discrimination under Title VII, but haven’t heard anything back yet,” he continued on page 3. “It isn’t that we don’t want the women to have jobs, just not our jobs!”

His second letter on the issue, received on Tuesday, was dated September 12 with the pertinent section beginning, “The Story is a bit more interesting now.”

He went on to explain that the group of women who have replaced the men on the work crew consists of not only BCCX inmates, but also some from a second facility in Nashville. “They had to ship some women from TPFW in Nashville, use women that are not classified as trustee, and still only put 17 women to work. It would seem that the women may need jobs, but the jobs they need should be behind the fence,” he wrote.

On page 2, he explained that prisoners classified as “minimum direct” and “minimum restricted” “are not supposed to work out in the public, because it may put them at risk.”

He said that the “full restraints” and “armed guards” which by policy accompany inmates classified at those levels outside of a prison facility are not present for the female crews which have taken the men’s jobs.

“Is TDOC putting the public at risk by letting these women work in the community?” he asked.

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