by Sharon Rondeau

(Jan. 20, 2018) — Enclosed with a letter received on Friday from TDOC inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, was a copy of a report sent to Commissioner Tony Parker stating that a means of possible inmate escape was not properly safeguarded by Warden Shawn Phillips of the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX), nearly allowing an escape to occur on January 11.

Harmer has been incarcerated since 1999 after pleading guilty to charges of especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment.  He is currently serving a 25-year sentence at 100%.

In 2006, Harmer filed a post-conviction petition alleging that his counsel had been ineffective and that evidence had been suppressed prior to his accepting the plea deal.

Over the last 16 months, Harmer has written scores of letters to this writer and later, to David Tulis of Nooganomics, describing unsanitary food-service practices; abuse of inmates by correction officers; uncontrolled gang activity; denial of prescription medications by prison staff; the alleged over-medication of an inmate; lack of heat in his cell in especially cold wintertime temperatures; and inmate drug abuse and death.

Last June, Harmer was moved from the South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF) to MCCX, where he reported that his personal property was confiscated but that he was told to sign a form stating that he had received it.  After he refused to sign, he was placed in solitary confinement, where he commenced a 32-day hunger strike which nearly killed him.

Harmer’s most recent report, completed on a “Cell Change Request” form presumably for lack of a more appropriate form, states that on January 11, “an inmate was on the recreation yard and attempted to escape by going down a sewer drainage.  Up until now the grates were never welded or secured by any other method.  Had the inmate not been seen the count would of [sic] been off by at least 1 inmate.”

“Count” refers to “head count,” which is conducted at prisons several times a day.

Harmer assigned responsibility for the near-escape to Phillips, who he has called out for a number of other alleged policy and legal violations over the last seven months.  “In the private sector incomptent [sic] persons like Warden Phillips would of been fired.  More then likely you will promote Warden Phillips to Assistant Commissioner rewarding him for his incompetance,” he wrote in the memo to Parker.

However, Harmer acknowledged that after the attempted escape, “the grates were welded shut.”

Harmer, who has a dark sense of humor, added a postscript to the memo which reads, “Yeah, I like exposing your incomptence as well as Warden Phillips incomptence” along with his trademark “smiley”-face insignia.

His closing statement reads, “And you thought you could keep it quiet!  WRONG!!”








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