IN DEFIANCE OF DECADES-OLD U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING
by Sharon Rondeau
“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.
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]
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.
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.