Tennessee prison places gang member in close proximity to inmate target

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Warden Shawn Phillips

Warden Shawn Phillips

Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tenn., overseen by Warden Shawn Phillips. (Photo Bell & Associates Construction)

Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tenn., overseen by Warden Shawn Phillips. (Photo Bell & Associates Construction)

By Sharon Rondeau / The Post & Email

In a report from Nooganomics radio show host and former Chattanooga Times Free Press copy editor David Tulis on Sunday evening, Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, whose case The Post & Email has followed closely for  a year, stated that a Crips gang member was moved to a cell directly across from his with the warden’s knowledge that he poses a threat to Harmer.

On July 28, Harmer documented that the gang member was allowed, against TDOC policy, out of his cell while the pod was unattended by a correction officer to enter his cell, where he threatened to steal property and brandished a knife.

Harmer said he then reflexively “laid hands” on the gang member to protect his cellmate and himself, reinjuring a sprained ankle in the process.

At the time, Harmer was recovering from a near-fatal hunger strike which landed him at the University of Tennessee Medical Center for several days at the beginning of July.  In a letter written to The Post & Email just after his release, Harmer included a hospital menu he was given from which to make meal selections while a patient.

Since the altercation with the Crips member, Harmer has stated that he believes staff at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX), where he has been housed since early June, “orchestrated” the incident so that he would need to be placed in protective custody (PC).

At MCCX, protective custody is accomplished by means of the “maximum security” section of the prison.

To The Post & Email’s knowledge, Harmer remains in solitary confinement, necessitated by his “PC” status, but is now in direct physical danger from the Crips member during recreation times, when all of the inmates in his section reportedly exercise together.

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