Q&A: Guards abusive in prison system that enriches corporations

Tennessee prisoner Grenda Harmer complains of abuse at several state slavery installations, the most recent one in which he is confined run by CoreCivic, a for-profit company trading as CXW at about F$26 a share. (Photo David Tulis)

Tennessee prisoner Grenda Harmer complains of abuse at several state slavery installations, the most recent one in which he is confined run by CoreCivic, a for-profit company trading as CXW at about F$26 a share. (Photo David Tulis)

The following is my interview by correspondence with Grenda Harmer, a whistleblowing inmate  consigned to Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tenn.

David Tulis — Why are you in prison? What crime did you commit? What is the duration of your term?

Grenda Harmer Aggravated assault, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, reckless endangerment, and aggravated robbery.Noogaradio logo 92.7 fm

Q If you had not been put into the prison, what do you propose to have done for your victim by way of restitution and compensation?

Grenda Harmer I could have paid back the money I took. As for the fear I am still in the victims, I can only apologize for. However, I could of helped society by speaking to use about prison life and how it affects not only their lives, but the lives of loved ones.

Q What connections are you allowed with other inmates, and what have you done on their behalf?

Grenda Harmer When I was in population, I helped inmates with properly filing grievances, issues involving disciplinary matters, sentence credits, etc. Inmates would come to me. I never had to look for them. So I had good access to inmates. Now I’m limited to helping inmates in protective custody. For example, inmate Joseph Durman, No. 30549, is being denied behavior sentence credits for July and August. The only way behavior sentence credits can be taken is if he receives a disciplinary report, *** and only during the month he received the disciplinary report. According to his ETOMIS printout, the last time he received a disciplinary report, and found guilty of, was June 19, 2017, for refusing a cell assignment.

I guarantee Warden Shaun Phillips will deny this. Yet his printout for sentence credits for behavior he has not been given them (I’ve got the paperwork to prove it) for July and August.

Q Say something about the legal materials to which you have access for petition and relief.

Grenda Harmer Access to legal materials at MCCX is difficult at best for protective custody inmates.

Denial of soap, bedding

Q Please sketch for my reader several of those who are jail management or officers.

Grenda Harmer I’m sure there are some MCCX employees who are decent people. But my experience with them has not been positive. Here are four examples.

No. 1. Sgt. Ruppert threw away a pair of desert boots I purchased from Union Supply. I had the paperwork to prove it.

Example No. 2. Cpl. Anthony Hill, at intake, because I challenged the way he processed inmate property is illegal. So he refused to give me my property and I had no blanket, sheets, pillow case, washcloths, towels and hygiene products. I went from June 2nd to June 6th without a bedroll and hygiene products. I slept in a plastic mattress bare and couldn’t take no shower.

Example No. 3. Nurse Michelle Mulrey told me, when I asked her to take my information request to medical director explaining why I was in a hunger strike, that she doesn’t care if I live or die and refused to take the information request.

Example No. 4. Officer Steve Kennedy forced me to stand in the rain getting soaking wet if I wanted to eat breakfast. When I challenged his legal authority to do it he told me “go tell the warden.” This is normally how MCCX employees treat inmates here. I have no respect for them.

Q Does the state use your enslavement to prosper itself, reduce its costs, serve its financial interests, serve those with whom it has contracts or serve any of his clients or claimants?

Grenda Harmer No. Tennessee even doesn’t, in my opinion, care about the victims until it gets near election time.

State slavery prospers not itself, but ‘greedy businesses’

Grenda Harmer

  1. Prosper itself. The state does nothing to prosper itself. Instead, it seeks only to prosper greedy businesses. For example, in 2011 and 2012 (if I remember correctly), TDOC budgets [for] CoreCivic prisons [in] Hardeman County, Whiteville, and Smith Central basically $25 million each to operate all three prisons. However, in the upper right hand corner in very, very small print, the CoreCivic prison in Whitesville was given an additional $45 million that was not included in the budget. I wrote Gov. Bill Haslam accusing him of corruption because no prison needs $70 million to operate.
  2. Reduce its cost. The state refuses to cut its costs. For example, one suggestion, of many I’ve made, I made to Gov. Haslam was to erect around 30 240 wind generators and maybe 1,000 solar panels. Pay inmates $1 per hour to learn how to do maintenance on wind generators and solar panels. Once the inmates graduate, they get paid $3 an hour to do maintenance on the wind generators and solar panels. The state would drastically reduce its energy costs. The extra energy not used could either be sold to local utilities or earn credits on days the state wind generators and solar panels did not produce enough energy to operate. TCIX is a prime area for this venture. State officials ignored my suggestions.
  3. Serve its financial interests. The state does not serve its financial interests. The state only serves the interests of big business like CoreCivic. For example, the state could reduce its budget if inmates were given the program’s parole board requires and get them on parole. However TDOC instead puts prisoners and inmates in those programs with 100% sentences. The reason the TDOC does this is so they get this the extra funding and keep the prisoner or inmate. I’m sentenced at 100% and don’t qualify for pro social life skills. Yet they try and put me in it instead of someone parole eligible so they get the extra funding and remain in prison. And it deprives inmates like Freddy Holt, No.  220836, [from] getting his program done and go home. Holt No. 220836 was denied parole because he has to do TCOM before the parole board will release him. Holt No. 220836 could have been out of prison if TDOC and MCCX officials got him in tecom. (TCOM is a drug program.)
  4. Serve those with whom it has contracts or serve any of its clients or claimants. YES! YES! YES! It definitely serves those it has contracts with which is also its clients. Any major business in the prison industry, like CoreCivic, the state worships, bows down to, in order to allow its top TDOC executives to enter a lucrative position upon termination in the private sector. Then those top TDOC executives use their contacts to keep a tight grip on state funds. Former commissioner Derrick Schofield is a prime example of this type of activity that goes on in Tennessee.

Whence budged ‘transition centers’

Q Is the prison merely punitive, a loss of your time and freedom, or is it by intention or by effect restorative of your personal character and moral makeup?

Grenda Harmer There is nothing restorative about TDOC prisons. Everything is punitive only. For example, I’m basically institutionalized after doing so much time. The TDOC has been money to open transition centers and slowly release people like me back into society and help us get a job to work in society during the day and then go back to prison at night.

This is supposed to be one in Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. The only one TDOC has is in Memphis. The first question taxpayers should be asking is: Where the money for transition centers go? The second question eating answered: Why is there no other transition center? The TDOC budget keeps going up and the taxpayers aren’t getting anything for it except higher taxes.

Prison self-perpetuates by being criminal training ground

Q Prisons are training grounds for crime, or so it is said. Is this true? If so, how?

Grenda Harmer Yes, prisons are training grounds for a future criminal activity and to create deadly criminals. For example, I hate those who work in government because I’m retaliated against for exposing corruption. Over the years, I’ve been working on how to be a better criminal since TDOC and MCCX prison officials refuse to help me learn to adjust and to be a productive citizen. The sad thing is TDOC officials are aware of it. They want me to return to prison, as well as others, to continue increasing tdoc budget. Why? Helps corrupt businesses.

Radicalization in Islam

Q The teachings of Mohammed are rampant in prison life around the country. Is it true in MCCX or other Tennessee facilities at which you have been enslaved?

Grenda Harmar Yes, Mohammed is taught in every TDOC facility I’ve been at. The majority of Muslims are radicals. One reason for the radical views is the way TDOC prison officials mistreat inmates.

Q What brand of Mohammedanism is taught? Are inmates converted into a form of that religion which envisions a violent overthrow of either Christianity or secularist materialism sponsored in Tennessee by the public school and the media?

Grenda Harmer There are different factions of Muslim sects. The dominant one is Nation of Islam, which is radical. They hate the white devil. Sunni is the second-largest sect in prison. It’s more of a peaceful sect. Nation of Islam condemns Christianity. We’re infidels. Prisons in Tennessee are the perfect environment to recruit wannabe terrorists. Given the resources, I could take inmates fresh out of prison and create enough havoc in society to bring our nation to its knees.

Q Does Mohammedanism soothe the grievances of the inmates and give them comfort while they endure their trial?

Grenda Harmer I’m not a Muslim. So I can’t say if Mohammedanism soothes them during their trials. I personally doubt it.

Q What do you make of the teachings of the Bible?

Grenda Harmer I believe what the Bible teaches I personally accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. But because I’m constantly being harassed by prison officials I’m having difficulty overcoming the hate I feel towards prison officials.

Q What account can you give for the state of your soul in the prison? Have you used the tribulation of imprisonment to further your thoughts about God, and your worship of him and service to him? He will ask you for an accounting of your time? So I’m thinking about your soul, and believe I do you a favor in asking about these matters now.

Grenda Harmer Although I believe I’m saved, I also believe if Jesus came back right now I barely make it into heaven because of the way I feel towards my enemies. I struggle every single day with how I feel about prison officials. In 29 months I get out. Chances are I won’t be able to function. Where do I go? How do I support myself.

Please let me know if I can be of further help. Sincerely Etc

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