A death row inmate in Tennessee cut off his own penis and attempted to die by suicide amid his ongoing incarceration.
According to his attorney, Henry Hodges cut off his genital in his maximum security prison cell last month. The convicted murderer also slit his wrists after asking guards to put him on suicide watch during a jarring episode inside the prison, according to his lawyer Kelley Henry. Hodges has been on the state’s death row since he was convicted in 1992 of robbing and murdering telephone repairman Ronald Bassett in May 1990. Hodges was also separately convicted in Georgia of killing a North Carolina man in a hotel in Atlanta soon after Bassett’s killing. He has been incarcerated in Tennessee ever since while awaiting his execution date.
According to ABC 24 News in Nashville, Hodges’ penis-severing incident occurred early last month at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. The inmate was reportedly angry that prison officials refused to let him have a special food package he’d ordered. So, his attorney claims, Hodges began smearing feces all over his cell.
In turn, his lawyer alleged guards decided to quit feeding him in order to get him to stop smearing feces. After several days, Hodges reportedly slit his wrists with a razor he’d hidden in the cell. He was taken to the infirmary, where he asked to be put on suicide watch. However, he claims a “high-ranking correctional officer” believed he was “manipulating” staff members with the request and decided to return him to his cell instead.
Once there, the inmate acquired glass from a window he had broken as well as another razor he had previously hidden. The attorney described what happened next:
“He used that to completely sever his penis.”
Hodges was rushed to nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where surgeons were able to reattach his penis. After several weeks spent recovering in the hospital, he was returned to the prison. Then, Henry says, her client was confined to 4-point restraints on top of “a thin mattress on top of a concrete block.” However, Hodges allegedly broke those restraints and ripped out his catheter. He was then placed in 6-point restraints with extra ties around his biceps.
Hodges’ lawyer added her inmate client has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was having psychotic episodes. He had been taking medication in the past for those conditions, she said, but he stopped recently. She also said Hodges is on a hunger strike, adding:
“He is enduring ongoing psychiatric harm as a result of these conditions.”
As a result of all this, she has been trying to speak to corrections officials in Tennessee about her client. She also plans to file a complaint in state court alleging Hodges’ constitutional rights have been violated in the prison. Kelley told the news outlet:
“He needs competent mental health care. Surely the prison can find a place to put him where he is not a danger to himself or others and does not have to be tied down like an animal.”
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