IN DEFIANCE OF DECADES-OLD U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING

by Sharon Rondeau

(Sep. 28, 2017) — An inmate at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (BCCX) in Pikeville, TN reported to the American Correctional Association (ACA) that he and others residing in the prison “annex” are prohibited from using the federal law library located at the facility to prepare legal documents.

“The annex does not have an adequate law library, but annex inmates used to be allowed to use the Site 2 law library which has Westlaw,” he wrote on page 1 of a copy of the letter received this week by The Post & Email.

BCCX’s warden is Darren Settles, and the Associate Warden is a man by the last name of “Cobble,” both of whom are referenced in the inmate’s letter.

Westlaw” is an online resource which claims to be “the world’s most preferred online legal research service.”

A 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bounds v. Smith found that prisoners have the constitutional right to court access and “adequate” research materials. The case syllabus reads, “The fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts held to require prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law. Younger v. Gilmore, 404 U. S. 15. Pp. 430 U. S. 821-833.

In his first point, the inmate referenced a regulation promulgated by the ACA, “4-4274,” which is a “written policy, procedure and practice ensure the right of inmates to have access to courts.” [sic]

http://www.bing.com/search?q=ACA+4-4274&form=UWDFDF&pc=UWDF

On page 3 of his letter, he wrote that the annex law library does not possess current information, alleging a violation of ACA 4-4276.

A previous report on the behavior of BCCX correction officers and prison management referenced the inmate’s federal lawsuit claiming denial of access to the courts and the subsequent curtailing of his First Amendment rights.

He claims in a different lawsuit lodged against the State of Tennessee that parole, as indicated on his TOMIS registration as having been timely in 2014, has been denied to him out of “retaliation.”

The inmate concluded his letter with, “Please consider revoking BCCS’s accreditation if they will not comply with ACA standards.”

 

 

As The Post & Email has reported over more than two years, Tennessee jailers have been accused of a number of other infractions, including, but not limited to:

  • Providing inadequate medical care to inmates;
  • Failing to prevent the entry of contraband into jails and prisons or to confiscate it once its presence is known;
  • Allowing gang members to roam freely and dictate prison activity, particularly in the state’s privately-run prisons;
  • Physical abuse of inmates not necessitated by self-defense;
  • Providing inadequate food;
  • Failing to treat for bedbug infestation;
  • Confiscating inmates’ personal property;
  • Retaliation for speaking out and/or filing lawsuits naming prison staff/management in commission of wrongdoing;
  • Failing to process grievances according to TDOC policies and procedures;
  • Enrolling ineligible inmates into classes for which the prison and/or TDOC will receive federal remuneration;
  • Gender discrimination;
  • Assigning inmates to non-existent jobs for which they receive pay with the apparent intent of satisfying an external benchmark requirement.

A number of the claims have been corroborated by Channel 4 in Nashville.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. My younger brother has been at BCCX for a decade. For prisoners there suffer serious medical conditions without even being wallowed to see a doctor. My brother has a hernia that is worrying him. He put in the request, then he got to see the woman that makes the decision if you need to see the doctor or not. She referred him to a doctor or nurse Practicioner. That took a week which for there isn’t bad. His time came around and he was to see Cassey. After 40 minutes waiting outside the medical room door a guard came to return him to his cell. My said to the guard that he wasn’t done that nobody came out to even talk to him. The guard told him You are done. The doctor reviewed your file and he isn’t going to see you. If a prisoner isn’t seen they don’t have to be treated. The doctor can refuse treatment and can even refuse to take a look at someone. My brother works in the hardwood floor factory on site and he pays for staying there just like out here we pay rent, I would think that would include some better medical treatment. He doesn’t complain. He is a model prisoner. I can see in his face and hear in his voice that he needs medical attention. I don’t know who sees this. I just wish people who make comments will make a difference. I’d strongly advise anyone to not do anything to end up locked up. They don’t have rights and their voice is not often heard. I do know of once that public outcry made a difference at BCCX in recent years. There was a different warden then. During visits some family will get a Bible from the visitation room and study it with their family member who is a inmate there. Just a few year back the warden walked thru and grabbed Bible out of there hands and threw it and proceeded on to throw a fit throwing more Bibles. Because news of this spread across America the Govenor of Tennessee made a decision
    to replace that warden as the Govenor is the one that put him there.