Dear Gov. Lee, An inmate at Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg is giving me disturbing news about lack of access to legal materials needed to pursue his claims and litigation for the rights of inmates.
His name is Grenda Harmer, No. 88710, and he is my correspondent for 92.7 FM NoogaRadio and Nooganomics.com, an economics blog, about doings within the department of corrections. Attached is his report, based on a Feb. 1 letter he sent to Commissioner Parker.
I’m concerned that obvious things are not being done in favor of inmates in protective custody. Mr. Harmer says he is in protective custody as a way to silence him and deprive him of breaks and liberties rightly belonged to him as someone who has done nothing wrong and is not under punishment.
He points out at the end of his letter the incongruity of “the system” allowing an inmate to come into a special area for a haircut but not an inmate to come into a special area to give legal assistance. I would like you to investigate this situation on behalf of my correspondent, Mr. Harmer. — David Tulis
Lies keep law access at minimum
Dear Commissioner Parker, Warden Mike Paris is knowingly and intentionally hindering my access to courts, violating my 1st amendment rights, Tennessee constitution article one, section 17, and TDOC policy No. 501.04.
For the past year I’ve consistently tried, verbally, to request inmate legal assistance be provided protective custody (PC) offenders without success. When Amanda Kelly was appointed as library supervisor last summer, she eagerly corrected many of the problems involving PC inmates’ access to legal supplies.
When I approached Ms. Kelly about having inmate legal helpers assigned to the library to come 2 times per week for the 2 hours each session to serve PC offenders, Ms. Kelly said she liked the idea because it would help her provide inmates with legal assistance. Ms. Kelly [saw] the area where population legal helper could be locked in a small area separated from PC offenders. And the population legal helper would go no further than the front area. But Ms. Kelly told me that she does not have the authority to implement the program, that I would have to write Larry DeWeese, principal.
In November 2018, I handed Ms. Kelly a letter outlining my suggestions to help provide PC offenders legal assistance from inmate legal helpers, within security concerns.
On Dec. 6, 2018, Ms. Kelly told me that Principal DeWeese rejected the idea because legal aides can only pass out legal materials, that a policy change needs to be made for legal library aides to assist PC offenders.
On Dec. 8, 2018, I wrote associate warden of treatment (AWT) Ken Hutchinson stating Principal DeWeese lied. I wrote “no policy change needs to be made” for 2 reasons.
First, I wrote that each “facility of been banned from gives their legal aides a test under TDOC policy No, 501.04. Once they passed that test (I’ve taken one) they provide legal assistance to offenders. One legal library aide, for security reasons, is assigned to high security areas add PC units.”
Second, I went on to explain that “it’s common knowledge at every facility I’ve been banned from, legal library aides provide legal assistance. Mr. DeWeese’s lame excuse is nothing more than a smoke screen. To deny PC offenders legal assistance.”
When I talked with AWT Hutchinson, I gave detailed information how Mr. DeWeese lied to Ms. Kelly.
Finally, on December 26, 2018, one issue I addressed with Warden Parris was the fact unit No. 1 PC offenders were being denied legal assistance comet that ultimately denied PC offenders access to the courts to litigate their criminal convictions and potential lawsuits. Warden Parris quickly told me that no legal aide from population would provide PC offenders any legal services. Warden Parris stated general population inmates can not have access to Unit No. 1. I agreed that general population inmates can not, and should not, have physical access to PC inmates.
I went on to explain the legal aides would not have physical access to any PC offender for one simple reason. As soon as the legal aide entered the front door, the aide would be escorted into a cage with a lock on next to the officers restroom.
Furthermore, the inner security door prevents the legal aid from accessing the unit. So the legal aide could not even enter the pod area while being locked in the cage that is not being used. Warden Parris said, basically, it did not matter, that legal aides would not ever be allowed to help PC offenders.
What is interesting is Warden Parris allows a general population inmate to actually pass the inner security door, enter the pod itself, go to the GED classroom and give PC inmates haircuts. This is every month. Interesting!
The real reason Warden Parris is preventing legal aides from providing legal assistance to Unit No. 1 is to prevent me from getting the legal help I need to litigate my lawsuits. If an inmate from general population can physically enter the pawed area to give haircuts, please explain to me why a legal aid cannot enter the security cage that is not beyond the inner security door to provide legal assistance? Especially since the legal aide would not have physical access to PC offenders?
Please order Warden Parris to permit general population legal aide access to the security cage by officers restroom to provide legal assistance. Sincerely, etc.