Tennessee Inmate Reports Assaults While in Protective Custody


by Sharon Rondeau

(Apr. 29, 2018) — A letter arriving on Friday from an inmate at Tennessee’s Bledsoe County Correctional Complex (BCCX) in Pikeville reported that his placement in the Protective Custody (PC) unit has not shielded him from physical attacks by gang members.

In the letter, the inmate wrote that he was placed in the PC unit last August 28 because of threats from Crips gang members.

[Editor’s Note:  The quotes from the inmate’s letter will be reproduced as written.  “C/O” stands for “Correction Officer.”]

He said that on August 13, 2017, “I was told by the crips that while I was out on the streets before I had come to prison that I had robbed one of there ‘homeboys.’ (I did not no the man was a crip.) I got suckerd punch in my cell by a crip who came runnin in my cell stating I owed him money that the money I gave him was no good.”

He continued at the bottom of page 1, “While eating in the chow hall a few minnutes later, me + a crip got into a fight. All of this happend on 8-13-17. I told C/O Paul Turner on 8-28-17 that I am in fear for my life. Then I was taken into protective custody.”

On page 2, the inmate said that while performing volunteer work within the PC pod last month, “a crip came running into my cell + began assaulting me. On March 20th Internal affairs interviewed me + asked what had happend + I told them.” The inmate said he mentioned that he is expecting a parole hearing in December and that the C/O’s response was, “oh fighting is just a class C (violation) You should be fine.”

However, the inmate claimed he was told that in order to avoid a “write up,” he should “say that nothing had happend in my cell basically.” He then alleged that “She then asked 5 times before I stated how I got the marks on my face. Which in order not to get a disciplinary I had to say I got them from basketball. Then I was told to sign an affidavit stating I was (OK) to be around the inmate.”

The assaults have not abated, even when a correction officer was standing “30 feet away,” the inmate alleged.

“I do not deserve to be beaten while in protective custody,” he wrote on page 3. “If I can help this not happen again not just for myself but possibly stop it from happening again to another inmate, my mission would be helpfull.”

On page 4 of the letter, the inmate related a conundrum resulting from having been told that he is required to take the “Therapeutic Community” class offered only to General Population inmates.  “Parole put me off for 2 years in (Dec. 16) I wrote to Parole + told them I could not take a class they want to take due to me being in P.C. + I am in fear of my life being in General Population. They told me I would have to take Theraputic Community,” he wrote.

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