by Sharon Rondeau

(Sep. 30, 2018) — In a letter received Thursday, TDOC inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, wrote to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam that the “Jobs Coordinator” at Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX) “is engaging in fraud.”

As evidence, Harmer presented a copy of his GED certificate, earned from the state of Indiana in December 1976, and his claim that Jobs Coordinator Rhonda Armes “fraudulently assigned me to education to increase MCCX funding.”

The “education” to which Harmer referred is a GED class which he obviously does not need.

“The more offenders are assigned to education department the more it increases education department’s funding,” Harmer’s letter continues. “When an educational slot becomes vacant an offender is immediately assigned to keep the funding for that slot; and without any regard whether or not the offender has a G.E.D. or High School Diploma.”

Harmer called his enrollment in the class a means of “wasting tax dollars” and called upon Haslam to have Armes “verify every offenders education status at MCCX prior to assigning them to G.E.D. class.” [sic] He additionally called upon Haslam, who is leaving office in January, to launch an investigation seeking evidence of “fraud.”

Harmer’s report is not unlike others The Post & Email has received from not only Harmer previously, but also inmates at the Northwest Correctional Complex (NWCX), who were enrolled in the Pro-Social Life Skills (PSLS) class even though they were not qualified to take it.

In 2015, then-inmate Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III reported that he was physically threatened when he refused to report to the class, which is designed for offenders whose transgressions involved drugs and/or alcohol. Fitzpatrick’s imprisonment did not stem from either of those habits.

At the time, Fitzpatrick reported that many men who had already taken the class were enrolled multiple times thereafter so that the prison could collect federal funding in what he believed was $3,000 per student.

After refusing PSLS, Fitzpatrick was enrolled in Adult Basic Education (ABE) despite his having earned a Bachelor’s and two Master’s degrees while serving in the U.S. Navy.

In Harmer’s case, when he was housed at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC) in early 2017, he reported being enrolled in the PSLS class despite being disqualified for having to serve 100% of his sentence. TDOC policy states that only inmates eligible for parole are to be enrolled in PSLS.

As have several other inmates, Harmer also reported receiving wages for a prison job to which he was never assigned and for which he performed no work at the CoreCivic-run prison.

MCCX is owned and operated by the State of Tennessee.


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