TDOC Inmate: Dangerous Situation Diffused, then Recreated by Staff


by Sharon Rondeau

(Mar. 17, 2018) — In a letter dated March 10, 2018, Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) inmate Grenda Ray Harmer reported that an experience he had with a prison gang member last fall resulting from a faulty decision on the facility’s part has been replicated with another inmate.

Both are currently housed in Unit #1, which is designated as “protective custody (PC)” at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) in Wartburg.

In Harmer’s case, an inmate gang member had entered his cell, then located in the “general population” area, and threatened him, causing Harmer to be moved into PC.  However, in October, the gang member was inexplicably relocated to Unit 1 in close proximity to Harmer, which violates TDOC policy concerning “incompatible” inmates.

After Harmer filed a number of grievances, he reported that the following month, MCCX correction officers relocated the gang member out of Unit 1.

Over the last several years, Tennessee media has reported that gang activity is a serious problem within the state’s prison population and has been corroborated in letters from dozens of inmates and their relatives.

Harmer’s letter begins, “These people are doing inmate Boler #515353 the way they done me Oct. 30, 17. Remember when they moved the gang member who assaulted/injured me to Unit #1 with me? They’re doing it to Boler #515353.”

In a memo addressed to MCCX Warden Shawn Phillips the same day, Harmer wrote that Boler “had an altercation with his cellie while in cell 10.  To aleviate [sic] the situation inmate Boler #515353 was moved to cell 5; by Sgt. Lamb.  It should be noted there was no documentation by Sgt. Lamb about what happened because the inmate that Boler #515353 had an altercation with was moved from cell 10 to cell 5.”

Harmer enclosed three handwritten notes from Boler and said that he assisted Boler in filing “an emergency grievance” with a Cpl. Potter.  Harmer’s memo to Phillips said that Potter and a correction officer by the last name of “Flannery” “did their job,” but that Sgt. Cashmore, who has been a subject of previous reports, attempted to shift responsibility for the problem to the “first shift.”

In the memo’s final paragraph, Harmer requested that four actions be taken, including that Lamb and Cashmore be “disciplined” and that “Boler be moved to another cell.”

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