Tennessee Inmate Alleges Discrimination in Use of Law Library

CLAIMS FIRST AMENDMENT, CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jul. 2, 2018) — On April 17, 2018, TDOC inmate Jeffrey Johnson, #105994, completed his preparation of a ten-page civil rights complaint with the service of a notary present that day at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC).

We have had the complaint in our hands since early May but due to time constraints have not been able to present it until today. As the calendar would have it, Monday is the 54th anniversary of the signing by President Lyndon B. Johnson of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, upon which Inmate Johnson’s complaint is largely based.

TTCC is owned and operated by CoreCivic, a private corporation based in Nashville.

The document is addressed to the U.S. Department of Justice, “NWB Special Litigation and Compliance Department for the Office of Civil Rights, Office of Justice Programs,” with copies sent to Tennessee state representative Mike Stewart and Tennessee state senators Thelma Harper and Jeff Yarbro.

The Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department is responsible, among other things, for safeguarding the civil rights of incarcerated Americans.

The complaint initially names TDOC’s commissioner, Tony Parker, and Title VI coordinator, Vashti Holt, as well as CoreCivic and four of its employees as respondents.

A notation at the bottom of page 1 reads, “Affidavit and complaint for Title VI pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and retaliation for exercise of the First Amendment right of redress pursuant to both, the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution.” [sic]

Title VI is a component of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.”

The first paragraph of the cited law reads, “To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.”

The 1964 Act followed the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which led to the establishing of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

A timeline of actions within the Special Litigation Section dating back to December 2011 indicates that it has focused on juvenile institutions, some juvenile courts and city police departments rather than adult prisons.

On page 2, Johnson states that the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division have “jurisdictional authority” to adjudicate his complaint given that “the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center [that] is void of impartiality and is biased to a point of prejudice when investigating a Claim of a Civil Rights Violation and/or a Deliberate Act of Discrimination based specifically on a Inmate’s race, color, national origin, and/or religion, sex, disability, or political views…” [Emphasis the author’s]

On page 3, Johnson describes himself as “a known government Whistle Blower” and accuses the Respondents of violating TCA § 39-16-402 for “Official misconduct”; TCA § 39-16-403, Official oppression”; and TCA § 39-17-309 for “Civil rights intimidation.”

Johnson further cited TCA § 41-1-103, which contains the oath of office taken by “officers and employees” of penal institutions.

Additional Tennessee respondents are named on page 4.

The complaint states, expressed in the third person, that Johnson has been denied “reasonable access to the Legal Law Library needed to complete his filings and pleadings against the Tennessee Department of Correction, Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, Core Civic LLC.”

Over the last 2 1/2 years, a number of inmates at the same facility have written that access to the law library is extremely limited and in some instances, nonexistent. Johnson states on page 5 that because of ongoing litigation against CoreCivic and the TDOC, “He is continuously having his access to the Legal Law Library abridged, by Library Supervisor Ms. Cherry Lloyd, as a subordinate of the other named respondents; under the direct supervisory authority of Educational Principal Mr. John Kerr, known as respondent Kerr, to this complaint.”

On page 6, Johnson alleges that on April 2, 2018, Lloyd requested to see his “legal work; in which she took upon herself to violate the confidential privacy and privilege of my legal work; when she went beyond inspection of my legal documents and decided to read the contents of my litigation, I did ask why she reading my pleadings, when it was unnecessary for her to do so in determining whether the correspondence and preparation, was indeed legitimate legal documents.” [sic]

On page 8, Johnson wrote that a “Caucasian Prisoner” was treated differently than he at the moment in which Lloyd asked to see his legal documents. “… Lloyd neither required Inmate John Wells #00242633, to produce documentation, and neither did she require this Caucasian inmate to produce a date in which his legal work product was due, she as well did not take time to read his legal work product; to determine whether he was actually doing legal work or not.”

At the top of page 9, Johnson summarized that “The Complainant Asserts, that he [Inmate John Wells # 00242633,] was giving [sic] a new legal deadline pass to legal law library, that was in excess of more time than what was afforded the complainants [sic] four hour pass, that was for only one day per week namely Wednesday.”

Johnson concluded by asking the Office for Civil Rights “to investigate, his claims for discrimination and retaliation for his use of the prisoner grievance process and the exercise of his 1st Amendment Constitutional Right, to litigate against a government agency…” [sic]

One Response to "Tennessee Inmate Alleges Discrimination in Use of Law Library"

  1. Charlotte Jones   Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 1:25 AM

    Still happening in August 2019.

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