“CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT”
by Robert Z. Whipple, III, ©2019
(Oct. 23, 2019) — [Editor’s Note: The following email was sent to TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker; TDOC Communications Director Neysa Taylor; CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger and other company officials; and more than a dozen members of the media, including this reporter.
CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), operates four prisons in Tennessee, one of which, the Trousdale Turner Correction Center (TTCC), it owns outright. Since early 2016, The Post & Email has reported a myriad of allegations on conditions at the facility claimed by dozens of inmates in scores of letters and documentation.
Whipple, a former Tennessee inmate and diabetic himself, described in numerous communications while incarcerated the difficulties he encountered in receiving treatment in the form of medicine, exercise and diabetic footwear, for which he was provided a doctor’s prescription. Ultimately, his family purchased the shoes after the TDOC failed to procure them through its standard medical route.
In June 2017, WSMV in Nashville produced a four-part series on TTCC which remains online today despite CoreCivic’s claim that then-senior investigative journalist Demetria Kalodimos’s reporting was inaccurate. Other reports on the facility followed.
Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) is another of Tennessee’s CoreCivic-run prison.
Whipple’s letter follows.]
I am an advocate and friend of Bobby Parris #400602. He was recently transferred to Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF) and has diabetes and diabetic neuropathy, which is a serious medical need (see Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerves throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.For several years prior to being transferred to your WCF, he was treated with gabapentin.
The day after Mr. Parris arrived at WCF, your Nurse Practitioner told him they’d “ween him off” because CoreCivic doesn’t want to pay for a “bunch of expensive meds.” On October 17, Parris was given his morning dose of gabapentin, but not his evening dose. On October 18, Parris went to the clinic for blood work and asked to speak with the Nurse Practitioner because he thought the medication orders were in error. Another nurse came out of an office and informed Parris that CoreCivic’s doctor cut the meds in half, and he insisted that without his full dosage, he would be in a great deal of pain (his dose was previously lowered on a trial basis, and promptly had to be restored to the higher level) and to inform this nurse that he has an Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and this means prison administrators must provide medical care for his serious medical needs. This nurse became hostile and aggressive, told Parris that they could do whatever they wanted and don’t care about the constitution. This nurse then cancelled his meds altogether in retaliation for his trying to assert his rights (such retaliation is a separate violation of Parris’s civil rights–see Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378 (6th. Cir. 1999)). Since being denied all medical treatment for his diabetic neuropathy, Parris has experienced nausea, fever, dry heaves, tremors, and severe pain and extreme mental anguish.
I am sending CCing TDOC officials and the media on this email. I invite you to respond and take steps to remedy this civil rights violation.