Report from MCCX: Religious Discrimination, Inmates Performing Work of Correction Officers

“CHECK THE SECURITY CAMERAS”

by Sharon Rondeau

(May 11, 2018) — On Friday The Post & Email received a set of memos dated May 4, 2018 from TDOC inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, alleging a number of “illegal” actions on the part of staff at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX), where he has been housed for nearly a year.

In a copy of a memo addressed to state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Harmer wrote that an inmate allegedly conducted “unsupervised witchcraft (Wiccan) services.”

“The inmate was even allowed to take up the list himself, which is against policy,” Harmer wrote.  From that, The Post & Email gleans that a list of prospective attendees for a religious event is normally compiled and submitted to the chaplain or other authorized individual by a correction officer, not an inmate.  Our conclusion is based in part on TDOC Administrative Policy 118.01, which states that “religious accommodation requests” must be approved by the “Religious Activities Committee” (p. 1).

Harmer additionally reported that an apparently pre-approved Jehovah’s Witness service which he personally attends was arbitrarily canceled by a Corporal Ramsey, which Harmer deemed to be “discrimination.”

“One reason Corporal Ramsey didn’t want Jehovah witness services is because of the illegal activities going on which I’m addressing in attached letter,” Harmer continued.

Perhaps most disturbing was Harmer’s allegation that the Wiccan group sought to exclude anyone who is not Caucasian. “My next door neighbor is black and was told he couldn’t attend. I heard it. A lot of Aryan Nation went,” Harmer wrote in the first paragraph.

The memo was copied to this writer; TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker; “Nathan Pulcifer, Volunteer Minister for Jehovah Witness”; and “Ken Hutchinson, Associate Warden of Treatment.”

The “letter” to which Harmer referred was enclosed in the same envelope and addressed to Hutchinon.  Also dated May 4, it references the “illegal activities” in the Clemmons memo as extending to inmates being permitted to “serve food” and “locking flaps officers are to do.”

“April 16, 18 inmate XXXXXXXXX took the security lock at 6:08 pm off the door locking inmate door flaps,” Harmer alleged. “May 1, 18 inmate XXXXXXXX took the security lock at 6:07 pm off the door locking pie flaps.” “Every morning inmates who work in the unit take up recreation list and then do the count sheets Monday through Friday.”

In his final paragraph in the memo, Harmer asked, “Why is 2nd shift staff being allowed to have inmates do their jobs? As you know policy and post orders prohibit inmates from closing pie flaps, handling security locks, taking up recreation lists and filling out count sheets. Check the security cameras. Please stop all violations I’ve mentioned in this memo.”

That memo is copied to Clemmons; David Tulis, editor and radio host of “Nooganomics” in Chattanooga; this writer; and Tony Parker.

Clemmons, who represents Tennessee’s 55th district in the state House of Representatives, has been Tulis’s guest to discuss Tennessee prison conditions.

The two memos appear below. Inmates’ names and TDOC numbers were redacted by The Post & Email.

The subject of the second memo was not obliterated purposely, but rather, likely blurred because it appears on the fold of the memo occurring from its placement into the envelope in which it arrived.  It reads, “Corporal Ramsey and other staff engaging in security violations.”

Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news.  She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.

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