Why would someone facing prison time quit TROSA?

Just short of two months in the TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers) Program, I walked out the door. I’m facing 30-48 months with three years probation. I took time in TROSA. Now, we’ve all got our reasons why we’re looking for a solution and answers to our drug addictions, alcoholism and other habits that cause us harm. I’m a drunk and I was looking for help. Continue reading

‘I think they wanna control every aspect of each inmate’s life’


Ms. Bell,
Everybody know that DCJ is the worst jail in NC and now they are going to cut out face to face visits.

I think they wanna control every aspect of each inmate’s life. I understand that this is jail but it is very cold in here even in the summer. I don’t know why they feel it has to be this way!

Continue reading

‘DCJ: Same shit, different toilet’


What’s up IOA? Thanks for writing. I’m hanging in there. Can’t really complain, God let me wake up. But as far as DCJ goes, same shit, different toilet. They find a way to make our lives worse by the day. The pod that I’m in has had a problem with our kiosk for damn near a month and the jail has still failed to fix it. Continue reading

Death to Imprisonment!

Hello, my name is Brandon Sutton but my friends call me Sutton (Remember that name) and I’m an inmate who is currently on work release from this Zoo called Durham County Detention Center. I’m here incarcerated on a DWI charge, my third one actually. I was fortunate enough to hire a lawyer to reduce what could’ve been a 3 to 4 year sentence down to 8 months with a few other stipulations given once I’m released. I’m contacting you because they’re others like me currently serving time in here. Non-violent/ non-accidental prone offenders who have several DWI’s but didn’t have the means to afford an attorney so they settled for a Public Defender. Continue reading

‘What a screwed-up system!’

Thanks for your letter. I was surprised and glad to receive it. Please overlook my tardy reply…

I’ve heard some views about bail reform and I hope something positive comes about. These bonds are ridiculously high in Durham County. I just don’t get it. I was very happily surprised last month to hear I had a visitor (I don’t normally get them). I walked into the room and there was IOA member –. He asked me about the court date I had for the week of Feb. 6th, but I did not go. It turned out my lying lawyer again failed to file my motions to dismiss and to suppress in January as promised. Such motions are typically heard during the first full week of the month but must be filed during the previous month at least 5 working days in advance. Continue reading

“The prison system is a modern-day slave ship”

To whomever it may concern:

I am a P.O.W. (Prisoner of War) that’s being held at Durham County Jail (for a ransom). I just want to share my thought with the public about our criminal justice system and the Corporation of North Carolina and the Corporation of the U.S.A. in general.

First off, we got to understand that all crimes are commercial and profits is being made from it. The ones who benefit are the lawyers, state attorneys (DA), judges, etc. Also, the prisons which is a Business Industrial Complex, and you also have a lot of private factors that are also fattening their pockets. So, I would think that it’s fair to say that it’s going to be a lot of systems put into place so that crime will continue to grow, and more prisons will be built, because so many have sacrificed 8 years of their life in the study of law to make dollars.

Now, let’s deal with facts and statistics. America’s power structure is built off of racism and white supremacy, “correct”? Alright. It’s a known fact that we (Blacks) are the majority of the governed body of the prison population in the United States. In a 2010 census we were at a 67 percentile. (I might be off a little bit but not much if memory serves me correctly.) Latinos somewhere in the 30% and whites 5% or 10%. Something is very wrong with that picture!!!! And this was 2010. It’s more than likely higher or the same now.

So if we make the majority of the prison populace, then to the American power structure there’s nothing wrong with the system because it’s putting Blacks, “Black men at that,” back where they supposed to be — in slavery. The prison system is a modern-day slave ship that sits on land, not water. Also, to prove what I said earlier, back in 1865 the powers that be made vagrancy laws or the infamous Black Code where they made petty offenses major felonies and this was set up for Black people just like the 1994 Crime Bill that was put in place by the Clinton administration that targeted the Black communities with the 100 to 1 ratio for selling crack, also the mandatory minimums and the gun law and a year for each bullet. Them laws created the mass incarceration you see today. How in the world a person can get 7 years 10 and 15 years for drug offense crimes that’s non-violent.

As a people we must wake up.

Peace for now.

Sincerely,

The Black Holocaust

“There is a word for what they are doing, It’s called price-gouging.”

____,

Thanks for checking in on me. It’s crazy to think an entire year has passed sitting in this jail! Nothing much has changed since the last time I wrote. At one point the jail was censuring my mail and refusing to give me certain letters, but those issues were straightened out a while ago after addressing the matter with Major Collins. It seems as if the Detention Officers sorting through mail were going about and beyond what they should have. The mail service here has really struck a nerve recently though. Apparently the jail ahs recognized several days as holidays that are not considered state holidays. As a result mail was not distributed or sent out for 6 days. This not only interfered with communication with family members over the holidays but also directly impeded our access to the courts. I know several individuals who prepared letters to be sent to the courthouse but that was halted until the Detention Officers felt like coming into work and doing their jobs. You are telling me that not a single officer in the entire jail could collect the mail and send it ot the post office in that 6 day time period? Come on!

I did catch the “Night Without Detensions” protest on the news where individuals shut down the entrance into the jail by shackling themselves together. I’m glad people on the outside have the courage to draw attention to the rights Detainees are supposed to have. I’m also glad to hear that the complaints written to the Human Relations Commission of Durham has pulled some weight which led to recommendations on improving the jail. I would definitely like to see what recommendations they have provided! I know that IOA has been aggressive with coordinating an independent investigation into the jail, especially since January, and I hope this is one step closer to reaching that goal. I’m sure a lot will be uncovered during the results of any investigation of this jail. Some of what I read is unfortunately exaggerated and I wish people would stick to the facts instead of falsely inflating petty matters, but there is some truth to everyone’s comments. Many things are wrong here that need to be fixed!

I’m also surpirsed the Human Relations Commission expressed concern about the private companies profiting so much from Detainees. There is a word for what they are doing, It’s called price-gouging. And unfortunately it’s not just the private companies fault, but the jail’s too. From what I understand ARAMARK has won the new contract for canteen/commissary, they aren’t going anywhere. However, the jail charges ARAMARK to sell their pdocuts here. Part of the reason prices on canteen are so high is to blaance out what the jail charges to even sell the items. We are a captive audience and have no choice but to pay these ridiculous prices on items and ARAMARK knows this. I don’t blama ARAMARK for trying to make money, but there really needs to be boundaries on how much they can inflate these prices!

As for the Human Relations Commission recommendation to abolish bail, seems a bit far fetched to me. I do agree that bail in Durham is excessive in many cases, to the point that not even a wealthy many could post bond. Simply, the point of bond and detention is to make sure you come to court. I would assume many people have all intentions of coming to court, but I know some, are going to flee any chance they get. For that reason part of me agrees with bond, but something that is reasonable at the very least. Of course everyone who is being detained is going to support the contention of abolishing bail. That would mean we wouldn’t be detained any longer. However, I know this jail brings in a lot of money to this city (over $21 million) and many jobs, all of which would suffer if bail was abolished. THe state and county would never let that happen.

I know IOA has wored very hard and has made substantial progress with the jail. What I would like to see is the same progress with the DA’s office. I have had the pleasure over the past year to witness a lot of questionable behavior come out of that office. And the Assistant District Attornies have perfected every under-handed trick in the book to delay, keep you from getting a bond reduction, add more charges months down the road to railroad you and further enhance your bond, mishand evidence, and did I mention they delay your case? I have heard the prosecutor make every excuse imaginable to continue or delay my case from “I was on vacation and need more time,” to “my child was sick and I haven’t had a chance to look at the case,” and my favorite “I want more time so I can offer a plea bargain he probably won’t accept.” But yet somehow they always are able to prevail and get a continuance to the next month, sometimes 2 months. With all that said, I’m hoping to mave on to trial soon. It only took 14+ months to get to this point. Oh, I forgot to mention I had a court hearing the first week of January, and yes, it was continued to February. I think this excuse tops them all. Over the past year my attornies have easily widdled away at the states case and 2 separate search warrants were found to be defective. Which translates to Durham police officers violating my 4th amendment rights and numerous North Carolina statutes repeatedly. Judges ruled in each instance police officers conducted an illegal search. At the court hearing in January, the prosecutor wanted a continuance so they could now go back and search the same place that they had illegally searched to begin with. This is or would be an illegal search again in an attempt to exploit information that a judge has already suppressed. Basically, the prosecutor asked for a continuance so they could conduct an illegal search! Crazy. But nothing surprises me here in Durham anymore. And they got the continuance, hopefully they think twice before acting though.

Alright that’s enough ranting – thanks for the letter and updates. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

– ____