Survey: “The Justice System has its claws sunk deep”

These surveys do not reflect a unified point of view, nor do we in Inside-Outside Alliance necessarily agree with all perspectives that are represented. Despite a few answers which display a white ‘blindspot’–or complete ignorance of the role racial oppression has played and continues to play in U.S. society (and, in this case, Durham)–this inmate’s responses deserve a wide audience.

How long have you been inside? Been locked up for 82 days of a 90 day CRV. I have a hold for a (another county) misdemeanor paraphernalia, I should get time served on that whenever I get there.

How many court appearances have you had? 6 court appearances but that’s because I am in drug court and the expedited the process and get the ball rolling. Usually I would do at least two months for felony removal of a security device but whenever I would get to court they would drop misdemeanor shoplifting.

How many times have you talked to your lawyer? 2 times.

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?) On a probation violation. I absconded from drug court, caught a felony removal of a security device and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia. So once I finish the probation violation and get time served on the other charges I will be back on probation in drug court.

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it. I have been locked back for the day for leaving my cell door cracked. I have been locked back because the pod as a whole was “too loud.”

If there is over 54 or 65 people in the pod, you only get to come out on a rotating schedule because they don’t have enough people working to watch a full pod. So the bottom tier would come out morning and evening and the top tier would come out midday and be locked back the rest of the day and the next day it switches and the bottom only comes out once and top twice. And so you get screwed even though you did nothing wrong.

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC? DCDC biggest problems are the C.O.s they have no consistency and if you’re white you are usually ignored or denied. Unfortunately when someone of the same race asks the same thing it’s given to them.

The fact that you can’t have a pencil in your cell but you’re locked back 16 hours a day and the fact that the jail is ridiculously overcrowded but they still hold people over stupid petty charges.

Also, you can only get a check for your money M-F 9-11 and 1-4, so if you don’t get released between those times you have to come back to get your money.

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? Largest grievance with DCDC would be how appalling the medical care is and how some of the C.O.s are such assholes and how much they abuse their position and power trip.

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC? Parents visit. Parking isn’t very good and they hate having to show up an hour or more early to avoid waiting all evening to see me because there are so many people and it takes too long to get through.

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? They are trying to do their best but it is not cutting it. They need more medical staff, better doctors. They only come like twice a week and one doctor literally walks in, mumbles and walks out within 15 seconds and if you ask him any questions he either walks away or tells a guard to have you take a seat.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? The food is terrible (no taste). Our main food group are starches. Boiled potatoes (plain), mashed potatoes (plain) white rice, boiled beans…white bread…just filler food. I feel like shit eating all this filler and not a balanced diet all the time. 

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? They do have a drug treatment program which is better than most . Jail library is better than most but you have all these assholes who are being their own lawyers and have been here for years and use all the time up for everyone else to go to the library because they are in there using all the law books. 

What do you think of the c.o.’s? A handful of them are really good ones but the older ones can’t handle the job anymore and should be forced into retirement. They make their own rules, are in a bad mood constantly pick fights with inmates, then will lock you back for arguing with them. (Jackson is a young C.O. in particular who needs to be reigned in. 

How do you get along with other prisoners? Get along with most people well. Have trouble getting along with the young black boys b/c we don’t have anything in common and they have no respect and push you all the time to see what they can get away with.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? They don’t really affect my interactions with other inmates. 

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? No good experiences so far in DCDC. Only good experience I have had is getting out.

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? Had to request in person several times and put in 2 sick calls just to get to medical after my arm swelled up to 5 times its normal size from a spider bite and very excruciatingly painful. All I could get was ibuprofen. Aslo, charge you ten dollars to see a nurse cause you got sick from the jail. When they should take care of you since you’re in their care. Not use a 10 dollar fee to keep you from putting in sick calls. 

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? Never signed one at this jail, but never been presented with one to sign either. But would sign if cause was just. 

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea? I think a council would be a good idea or at least a group of people who have been here and gotten out and have the inmates’ interest in mind. 

How could it work? What would it look like? I think because of the high turn over of the jail and how the staff act like there is barely enough of them to handle the jobs they need to within the jail. That any extra inmate movement is unlikely but we could potentially have them print off a survey/poll for the changes they want to implement that way you could hear from a few representatives from each pod. And actually has a chance of happening. 

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are? The root cause of my being locked up is my addiction (heroin addict). I think these circumstances are far too common and like 90% of people here are here because of drugs or mental health issues or that’s the root cause of what ended them up here.

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?) Lots of people I grew up with are here and most are here because of drugs, either selling, possession, or to trying to get money to get more.

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it? They lock up a lot of black people but I think there are more of them in the area and they are from poorer neighborhoods, single parent households and go after fast money and get caught up. 

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up? The poorer you are the more the cops are going to mess with you and stereotype. 

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? Jail and prison are a terrible system for rehabilitation. All they do is keep people detained and doesn’t do anything to help people change or to better themselves for the future. 

Jails and prisons just perpetuate the cycle of incarceration and crime. I think people on the outside look negatively at people who are locked up.

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there? I think it’s possible to live in a different kind of world I just don’t see how we can achieve this goal. The justice system has its claws sunk deep and it will take a hell of a lot to change and uproot the system. 

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2 thoughts on “Survey: “The Justice System has its claws sunk deep”

  1. Again with your racial bias. How can your run this as a legit site but yet, when white people speak of unfair treatment you need to preface with their ‘white blindspot’ Wow. I see what this REALLY is now. ONLY blacks can be mistreated and kept down by the man right? If it happens to whites, well, it just don’t count.

    • Again, this is a situation where the inmate completing the survey is writing about what he perceives as different treatment given to white and black inmates (we’re not sure how others fit into this mix). It is his perspective, something we have not seen with our eyes. We have certainly seen so-called white people say different actions constitute ‘reverse racism’ or, just racism, which is something we don’t buy into, because racism or racial oppression is a question of a power relationship on a societal level. Yes, the specific c.o. has power over the specific inmate, and if a c.o. acts with bias against some, that sucks. But, two things: first, our solidarity is always going to be inclined toward the inmate, and against the c.o., anyway; second, the specific power of c.o. over inmate does not exist in a political vacuum. It happens in a society in which Black men are pulled over or detained at a rate nine times that of white men, in which Black and brown folks are incarcerated at much higher rates than white people, and in which Black men can be killed on the street by police and left for dead and the police face no consequences.
      We are interested in freedom. Are you, also? Or are you interested in being white?

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