“ACTING IN AN OUTLAW FASHION”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 15, 2018) — Approximately two weeks ago, the warden at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) in Wartburg, TN, Shawn Phillips, changed places with the warden then at Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX) in Tiptonville, Mike Parris.
Parris had been warden at MCCX prior to his transfer to NWCX. The latter facility was in the local news in July 2015 following a major gang-member uprising which sent eight people to the hospital.
At the time, inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III informed The Post & Email that Parris had attempted assiduously to prevent news of the uprising from reaching the media, and by extension, the public.
MCCX inmate Grenda Ray Harmer has written extensively about his perceptions of Phillips’ performance since Harmer’s arrival at the institution in early June of last year. He has reported Phillips’ alleged actions and inaction to TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker and Gov. Bill Hslam on dozens of occasions as evidenced by copies of grievances, memos and administrative notices Harmer has sent to this outlet.
In a letter replete with shocking allegations received last week, NWCX inmate Jerome L. Johnson, #150724, who has communicated with us copiously in the past, reported that directly upon Phillips’ arrival from MCCX, he instituted a new policy wherein beard-trimmers, which Parris had allowed inmates to possess, were confiscated without notice. Among a host of other developments, Johnson also said that two units in the prison were converted to “a punitive pod” where inmates are allegedly placed “without due process of law for approximately 90 days.”
Johnson wrote that Phillips, his associate warden and the unit manager are placing inmates in the punitive pod “that never failed a drug test, never had a write-up nor been in any trouble while being incarcerated.”
“There is no protection procedure here to prevent them from arbitrarily and capriciously placing prisoners in these units, the government officials here are acting in outlawed fashion to violate all inmates at all cost,” Johnson further alleged. “This has to be exposed to the world, because those inmates are being held hostage, and treated under cruel and unusual punishment, they can’t call anyone to let them know about the school situation their in.”[sic]
According to pages 9 and 10 the TDOC “Inmate Rules and Regulations” 2016 handbook, a specific process is laid out whereby inmates receive discipline if it is found to be warranted.
Similarly, the TDOC’s 36-page administrative policy concerning inmate discipline states that the policy’s purpose is “to provide for the fair and impartial determination and resolution of all disciplinary charges placed against inmates committed to the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).”
The policy is said to rely upon Tennessee codes TCA 4-3-603 and TCA 4-3-606 as well as two opinions deriving from legal cases. TCA 4-3-603 states:
TCA 4-3-606 reads: