“COLD AIR IS BLOWING IN”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Dec. 22, 2017) — In a letter received on Friday, TDOC inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, reported some good news: that the heat in his cell at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) was at long last “turned on” on one week ago on December 15.
“On Dec. 15th, while I was it recreation, they turned the heat back on in my cell,” Harmer wrote in his letter dated December 16, 2017. “It’s starting to warm up in here. Just having it on makes me happy. It’ll take a minute to warm up, but it will by tomorrow if they leave it on.”
Since last month, Harmer has been reporting that he feels cold air being “pumped in” to his cell and that the temperature is below freezing.
A letter of Harmer’s on which The Post & Email reported on Monday stated that “The middle of the pod is warm because the cells keep the cold air from getting into the middle. Others have complained as well. I was intentionally put in the coldest cell, with cold air being pumped in through the vents.”
Harmer reported that a correction officer admitted that his cell is much colder than other areas of his pod, which is located in the “protective custody” wing of the prison.
However, at the bottom of the same letter, he wrote, “Would you believe the heat is back off?! Yeah!! Cold air is blowing in. Got to plug it up. Man!! That was short-lived. It’s back to being cold again.”
TDOC spokeswoman Neysa Taylor has not responded to our request on Monday for comment regarding Harmer’s multiple reports of frigid air being blown into his cell and the accompanying need for him to wear four or five layers of clothing in an attempt to maintain body heat.
The Eighth Amendment of the Bill of Rights prohibits the imposition of “cruel and unusual punishments” to those convicted of crimes.
Article 1, Section 13 of the Tennessee Constitution has a similar provision which states, “That no person arrested and confined in jail shall be treated with unnecessary rigor.”
A Tennessee statute, TCA 41-21-201, states that each prison warden “is charged with the duty of treating the inmates with humanity and kindness.”
Update: At 12:55 p.m. EST, The Post & Email left a voice message for Tennessee State Rep. John Ray Clemmons, who has spoken out about the reported deficiencies within the state prison system, about Harmer’s situation.