Sullivan County Jail- Blountville,Tennessee: Abuse, Hanging & Flash Bang devices

In the spotlight currently is Sullivan County Jail located in Blountville, Tennesse. This department was recently featured on National Geographic’s “Southern Justice”. Of course, the truth was not shown or exposed, so we decided to put it here so you can review and draw your own conclusions.

We received the following as a message on July 11th;

As the director for Prison Reform Movement (a national grassroots group dedicated to Criminal Justice reform), I was absolutely sickened to receive the following message. Identifying information was redacted due of the reality of retaliation:

“I wanted to call to your attention an incident that occurred at Sullivan Co., TN, jail Monday, July 6, 2015. Inmates were awakened around 9:15 am with a ‘flash bang’; this was followed by pepper balls being fired into the housing unit at the sleeping inmates. 10-15 officers dressed in riot gear and face masks then entered the pod, while others stayed at the bars and continued to fire on inmates. After being fired on, inmates were told to get down on the ground. They were made to crawl from the back of the housing unit to the front; those who could not crawl fast enough were dragged. One of the ones who was dragged was an inmate that has a colostomy; after being dragged, he was stomped in the back as were other inmates. A black inmate was told by a white officer that he would be taken out of view of the camera and have his teeth knocked down his throat. The inmates were strip searched and the housing unit shook down; inmate belongings were scattered. My husband, who is mentally ill, called me to tell me what was happening. Because he was on the phone with me reporting the attack, more pepper balls were fired in his direction; I could hear a female officer in the background yelling out orders…she was telling him to shut up. Since the attack on these inmates, several are experiencing symptoms of PTSD including anxiety, sleeplessness, panicked feelings when officers come near the pod, etc. When I spoke with the black inmate, he told me he felt afraid. Fearing retaliation against my husband, I cannot go to the press with this. I have contacted an attorney – Most attorneys are afraid to take such cases because it can be professional suicide. I would like another attorney option. Any advice you could have would be most appreciated. I am concerned that the trauma of this attack will trigger a psychotic episode with my husband; the effects of trauma are not always immediate.
thank you…”
and then there is this:

Inmate found hanging at Sullivan County Detention Center

There’s an investigation underway after an inmate was found hanging in his cell at the Sullivan County Detention Center.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office reported officers checked the area and found Joey Edward Cunningham just before 9pm Monday. He was hanging by a sheet tied to an air vent.

Cunningham faced charges of initiation of process intended to manufacture methamphetamine within 1000 feet of a school, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He’d been incarcerated since June 11.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will investigate his death. Via WCYB Channel 5

Yes, Southern Justice at its finest, right? Shame on National Geographic…glossing over the real issues and celebrating the abusive criminal justice system.

Season 2 of Southern Justice premieres Wednesday, July 15th at 10:00PM on the National Geographic Channel.

2 thoughts on “Sullivan County Jail- Blountville,Tennessee: Abuse, Hanging & Flash Bang devices

  1. I have been abused by Sullivan Co. officials over the course of the past nearly 3 years after leaving one of their Lt’s due to his extreme verbal, emotional, and even sometimes physical abuse against me and my kids. We have a child together, which is the reason I moved in with him, against my better judgement. He had “friends” that work in security at dept stores, charge me (falsely) with shoplifting after I left him. He had began to “track me” on my cell phone that I had under his account the day I was charged. I was trying to visit his mother at the vision center of the store and upon approaching the vision center, I was stopped by a man in regular clothes, and a braided go-tee. When he grabbed me, I began to pull away out of fear that I was being abducted! I didn’t know I had done anything wrong, so I didn’t understand I was being detained until they showed me a badge. Come to find out, he was going to every store I would visit on a regular basis and use his authority to convince managers and security that I was only coming in to shoplift. I took the poor advice of my crappy attorney and took a plea out of fear of what would happen if I didn’t. They were obviously on his side and had obviously had great influence even within the court system, as they gave me 2 years probation and 250 hours community service. Even my PO said that he had never seen anyone that has never been in trouble before get as much as I did. I used to work for Sullivan county as a 911 dispatcher, which is where I met my ex. He has had me chased by fellow officer friends and taken to jail, in front of my kids, after dropping our son off for visitation. Unbeknownst to me, I had a Probation Violation, but the excuse the officer used for pulling me over was that my tags weren’t coming back registered to that vehicle, which he later admitted “he must’ve made a mistke while calling in the numbers”. He nearly hit me in the side by almost running a stop sign trying to catch up with me just to pull me over. My kids were on the side he almost hit. He’s interrogated so many inmates over me and my family, just trying to find something else to use against me. I’ve had numerous people approach me and tell me about his tactics. He brags to everyone about knowing where the camera’s are and which ones work and will use that as an opportunity to beat the inmates to the point of needing medical attention. I’ve seen photo’s of people after their encounter with him. Eyes swollen shut, face full of stitches, and even hands stitched up. Which to me shows that to be a defense wound. He has a “library” of books to help aid him in things like his rights, verbal judo, defense tactics, and others that he uses to help him get away with…well, one day it will be…..MURDER. How many people must suffer from his wrath before something is done? It’s going to take someone getting SERIOUSLY hurt or killed before they do anything about him. The Sheriff and his superiors are well aware of his behaviour but refuse to do anything about it. My entire family is suffering because of someone so evil having so much power. And like the lady said in your article, people are too afraid of retaliation by him to do anything. I hate sending my son with him. He is 3 and every week he BEGS and cries for me to not make him go, and even tells me it’s because “daddy’s mean and hits me”. But because of him ruining my reputation, who will they believe? A Lt that has worked there for 15 years or me…a thief with a record. I am disgusted by this county and the government. Surrounding agencies from different counties will agree that Sullivan county is corrupt. Every bit of it. Something should be done. National Geographic should expose THAT side of them.


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