The Backgate Website staff member that broke the story of Darrington Warden Thomas Merchant, and other ongoing issues at the region 3 Darrington unit, among other issues, has come under fire by regional, and unit staff. Our reporter, who will remain nameless at this point, has come under fire , and possibly been retaliated against for his reporting of misdeeds in region 3.
The situation arose about a week ago when admin. staff of the CT Terrell unit in Rosharon, where the anonymous reporter is assigned, was placed into a precarious predicament with the payroll dept. in Huntsville. The reporter, who is assigned to that unit, was denied relief by the region 3 director, Jackie Edwards, when the issue was brought to light , even when the situation was proven to be admin error. Thus possibly creating a situation where the reporter will be denied salary benefits.
As current employees of the agency, and also the reporters of truth with TDCJ, we all knew that the time may arise when an agency administrator would attempt to violate our constitutional rights, and retaliate for our true, and proven stories we post here for the Texas public, and TDCJ staff.
In this case, with the advice of site legal counsel, all we can say is there was a witness that was present when the reporter was unveiled in the wardens office sometime back, and that witness can verify that there was a negative attitude shown about this employee for that almost 12 months back for nothing other than his participation with this website. Not to mention a paper trail a mile long.
See the rest of the post for more. Back Gaters are asking supporters to contact elected officials to get the warden off the blogger's back.
TDCJ has always had a brutally cutthroat internal bureaucratic culture. This episode casts a ray of light into the dark corners of our prisons where employees and prisoners rights alike historically have be trampled without anyone speaking up. As the blogosphere grows there will inevitably be more such conflicts in the future, but ultimately some protocols must be established at state agencies to protect whistleblowers and the First Amendment rights of state employee bloggers.