Prison staff restores heat to Harmer’s cell 16 days after notice given

Prisoner Grenda Harmer is developing strategies to hold prison officials accountable to statute and departmental policy. (Photo David Tulis)

Sixteen days after sending off a two-page administrative notice, an inmate at a prison at Wartburg, Tenn., reports relief from an oppression that forced him to wear every piece of clothing he had.

Grenda Harmer submitted what a prison department spokeswoman said is a “regurgitation” of the law to several officials, including Gov. Bill Haslam.

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7

On Jan. 3, “sometime between 10 a.m and 11 a.m., the heat was turned on,” he says in a letter. “While its not perfect, I can deal with it much better. The heat still goes off for an hour or two and then comes back on Like right now, I’m under my covers, keeping warm because the heat has been off the past two hours. Feels like it just came back on. But I can sure deal with my situation now much better.”

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He goes on to say, “Maintenance had to come in and adjust the thermostat. So it was intentional, them keeping the heat off. they knew what they were doing. Cell is starting to warm up again.”

Mr. Harmer indicates in a letter to The Post & Email that he was out of the cell for his hour a day when the adjustment occurred.

‘Outright fictitious’

Neysa Taylor, correction department spokeswoman

Department spokeswoman Neysa Taylor scoffs at Mr. Harmer’s claims about a cold cell and indicates she sees no purpose in his administrative notice, dated Dec. 18. “I’ve reviewed the administrative notice in which Mr. Harmer appears to regurgitate state law. I’ve also reviewed the unsigned letter” [my letter to the governor asking for information about whether he will obey the law pursuant to the notice].

“The most glaring discrepancy is the thought that the heat has been turned off to his cell. The heat cannot be turned off for one cell. The hearing unit warms the entire pod. This is just another example of the  erroneous and outright fictitious information that is being maliciously spread regarding the department.”

Mrs. Taylor says she will not comment further on Mr. Harmer’s grievances nor methods of resolving them. “In the future, any letters to the Department from Mr. Harmer will be responded to through the normal inmate mail procedure. We will not address Mr. Harmer’s lengthy and erroneous claims with a third party,” such as members of the press.

Other problems

Mr. Harmer says he has been in solitary confinement 142 days without having seen a review board. A defendant in a pending lawsuit was demoted from corporal to regular guard, he says.

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