‘Our unity is this jail’s weakness’

The following manifesto hits on so many things directly affecting Durham inmates and points to a way out of this mess. It deserves a wide audience and to be read to the end. 

Greetings friends and brothers,

I’m so glad to have found you. I’ve always been one to fight for a cause and now I know I’m not fighting alone which is a blessing. So many places to begin. First thing first my brothers WE MUST UNITE. Leave the street lifestyle on the street. These c.o.s fear unity. How can I be sure? Years ago an inmate told me about a strike he put together which the C.O.s quickly disassembled and separated inmates. The thing is these officers are NO smarter than the rest of us. Truly knowledge is power. Why do you think we are all so repressed? Because they want you to believe they are superior to you. 

I had an encyclopedia that was taken for ‘safety reasons.’ I guess the c.o.s felt threatened from the knowledge I was accumulating from it. My brothers, these c.o.’s are nothing but gangbangers with ‘authority.’ They believe they are indestructible. Don’t ever believe that. There’s power in unity. Our unity.

Think about the work pod. There’s a reason so many people get arrested for such minor infractions. It’s because the jail saves money. They arrest us and let us work in the work pod. Doesn’t cost them a dime. We need to stop working. Cost them money. Is an extra tray really worth your dignity? The reason the C.O.s lock us back extra time is to make the work pod sound more appealing. They offer you anything better than your current situation. If the work pod united and struck then we would cost the jail THOUSANDS. They’d have to hire people to make us food.

Speaking of the food this jail breaks that ‘rule’ immensely. If you read the rules it is stated the food will be ‘appealing.’ They don’t mention they mean appealing to a starving cat. Not to mention the meals are FAR from FDA regulations. The only vitamin D we get is from oranges and milk. Normally we get vitamin D from the sun. Not in here. Most inmates don’t even receive milk. The oranges alone do not provide the adequate daily value. Lack of vitamin D can cause anger and depression among other health risks. Something seem fishy? We’ve got to learn to be skeptics about everything. Could it be they lack us our vitamins so we’re all angry or depressed? Anger at each other causes division among inmates and depression will cause you to take a plea so you can be out of here which is bullshit. Take a plea for them so they can make money? I’d rather not.

Do you wonder why the C.O.s beat the inmates? Not so they can set an example. They do it to condition you to violence. Just like you conditioned yourself to use the potty, the officers are conditioning us to accept violence as an answer and punishment. Just last week an inmate was beat. The full story is the inmate wanted to go to the hole back with his friends. So he tells his roommate get on the bed I’m gonna kick the door until they take me. So all goes as he says until the 20+ C.O.s pop his door. He turns his back to be arrested and they put the cuffs on him. Mind you, this inmate is freely going to the hole. Then suddenly a wicked c.o. decides to say he’s ‘resisting arrest.’ His roommate told me what happened. As soon as they put him in handcuffs a c.o. hit him in the face. Another pushed him down as then multiple c.o.s stomped him. Necessary?  Hell no. It’s conditioning. Then all the inmates laughed at him. Is that fair? Hell no. They laughed because they’ve already conditioned themselves to accept it because they believe there’s nothing they can do. WELL THERE IS!

These c.o.’s would push you to believe they’re God on Earth. I’ve been here 9 months. I’m on a 6 month drought of not hearing from my lawyer AND no court. If they have no evidence they just hold you. They believe they don’t owe us an explanation. You’re just as human as them. You do deserve an explanation. The c.o.s try to slowly break you down. How? They make the smallest tasks seem like moving boulders. They do this to condition you to not expect much (if anything) from them. It is a sad day when I pray my thanks to God just because a c.o. did their job without altercation. Popping doors or getting toilet paper isn’t that big of a deal. Yet, many inmates find themselves waiting an hour plus for supplies. If you don’t release your bowels regularly when your body tells you, you could get colon cancer…We shouldn’t have our health put at risk because of careless c.o.s. Now supplies seem to always be short around the jail. How can you run a jail without being able to provide for everyone. You’ve got to see all the money the jail receives from bondsman fees, government funding, inmate funding, money orders, Aramark, Pay-Tel, all the money saving from hiring inmates, and wonder where all the extra money is going that they can’t provide us with basic needs. I remember one time I ran out of toothpaste I banged on my door until the c.o. would answer me because the phone was off. (Another risk for inmates.) She came up and told me no and tried slamming the door in my face, but I stopped it from closing with a roll of toilet paper, she continued twice until she succeeded in closing my door then called the sarges. They came and did the tough-guy routine until I used their own rules against them and told them they weren’t supplying me as regulated. They complied and then stopped bothering me.

Ms. Walker the mail lady holds the mail consistently. I know for sure because my mail had 2 separate ‘received’ stamps on it. That is illegal along with them reading our mail. If you try to debate this with her you personally pay the price. She is the only courier of mail and has full control. I remember seeing an inmate’s mail a week past due on her cart, when confronting her, that inmate got locked back instead of an answer.

Hot tray prices are skyrocketed. Most of the menu items on the hot trays are what we’re supposed to be having served to us anyways. Leg quarters for example. Inmates in prison eat full hearty meals like that regularly while we’re charged for it. Seems like the motto here is ‘pay up of go hungry.’

Does anyone know the reason the rec yard isn’t open all hours? I could understand if it was regulated to stop 2 adjacent pods from communicating, but why only 1 hour a day? That doesn’t give every inmate opportunity for exercise or the sport of their choosing. Some c.o.s cut it to 30 minutes. There is no reason we shouldn’t have the rec yard open all day. When all the good basketball players get picked other inmates lose out on the chance to play. Not to mention soccer players don’t usually get an opportunity in the rec yard. With the rec yard being our only time to truly get exercise we’re undoubtedly short-cut of it.

Medical costs are outrageous. They stick us in a filthy room surrounded by inmates who are sickly and don’t regularly shower and WE ARE expected to pay the costs when we get sick. Why should we be charged for being a victim of circumstance? It is just more the ‘don’t expect much or anything’ attitude the c.o.s give us. It is the medical personnel job to heal us, why are WE paying if we’re in the jails’ care? Perhaps to make us less of a nuisance? Well guess what? It’s their job! $10 for a band-aid? Thanks, but I think I’ll bleed and get an infection instead. Reminds me of an inmate and friend of mine, E.H. He was sickly and I cared the best I could for him. He was too sick to even use the kiosk. He and I both asked multiple times for a medical call. Of course, the c.o.s said ok. Were they telling the truth? Nope. They just let him get worse. One day he was moving too slowly up the steps for a c.o.s liking so the c.o. roughly handled him back into the room. On a weak, sick inmate. Eventually a blessed c.o. called medical and after another day, they decided to give him a quick check up and left. He got sick to the point where he defecated himself and c.o.s finally decided it was serious. He was taken to the hospital with MRSA (a type of life-threatening staph infection). I don’t even know if he survived. All because c.o.s didn’t give a damn.

Commissary prices are outrageous. The jail knows it has a monopoly especially on soups. Haven’t you noticed cent by cent the price keeps rising? They are 10 cents in the world. Yet they charge 80 cents plus for a SINGLE SOUP in here. That’s why they make the food so unappetizing. It’s an endless cycle of sell your tray, buy a soup. The trays have enough grease to make a slip-n-slide with. Extremely unhealthy. The jail attacks us where we are most vulnerable. Our stomachs (commissary) and our families (pay-tel) charging us Donald Trump money to survive.

Shakedowns are also unlawful. We as inmates are supposed to have the right to watch the c.o.s shakedown our rooms to stop personal destruction or planting of items. They also take our extra shoes and newspapers. What does it matter to them? It doesn’t. They make rules as they go. The courts break our amendments regularly. Our 8th is one. Our 8th amendment is no excessive bonds. I was at 3.6 million. I have no rape, molestation or murder charges which would obviously bring the most. I have only 7 charges. That’s to say I’m being charged $515,000 a charge. Yea…not excessive at all. I remember reading in the newspaper some guy with statutory along with child porn and a gun charge and his bod was only $667,000. How the hell do my charges which are so less severe almost 6x the amount…?

Our first amendment is a joke. Just the other day an inmate, to himself mind you, said ‘we get no respect in this place.’ A c.o. snapped on him and locked him back which is bullshit. You’re telling me you can talk shit on me without repercussion, but I can’t even voice the truth without repercussion?

The rules say we’re supposed to get the library once a week. We usually go once every 3 weeks. This isn’t the librarian’s fault. They load her with stupid tasks so she doesn’t get the opportunity to take us. The jail tries to deny us whatever they can. Lockback is a joke. I could understand an hour and a half a day to keep regulation, control and inmate account. Where is the reason for 18 hours in a cell a day? There isn’t one besides laziness. Sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to me. And we’re not even convicted!

I’ve got to mention once again the importance of unity here. About 2 months ago a bunch of inmates all sent a grievance in about the a.c. being on during the winter (this includes snow days) and I got a response (not sure if other inmates got replies.) Either way enough pressure was put on the jail from the inmates unifying, that very same day we had heat for about 2 weeks straight. Well, that’s just a (very quick) summary of my current vacation at Durham County Hotel (DCJ).

I was reading your feedback about a pencil petition. I made one about 3 months ago. I’m not sure if it is the one you’re speaking of. I’ll send it in along with an alpha list of every inmate in the jail if I can get my hands on one. My hope is for you to make copies of the petition to every inmate in the jail and in response we unify and send our signatures and letters to Major Couch. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to get some changes around here. Including but not limited to depriving myself or pod time (because the D.O.s believe they’re doing US a favor by giving it to us), denying trays (which would cost them money until they serve better meals), not locking back (in mass numbers if we can), not order canteen (more money loss), and any other ideas. If these inmates realize our unity is this jail’s weakness then we can truly accomplish change. I will gladly go to the hole for a cause and take a beating that goes with it. Remember, non-violence is the answer, we’ve got to be smarter not more violent than the d.o.’s. Better believe you are just as smart as them, doesn’t take too much to get the job. Proverbs 25:15 tells us the gentlest tongue can break the strongest bones. As Harriet Tubman once said ‘Freedom isn’t bought with dust.’  So let us stand strong, patient and vigilant. They can’t stop all of us. When the c.o.’s see that threats of violence and lockback won’t work, they’ll cave. Stay strong my brothers of every race, religion, orientation, and my sisters, too. United we stand, divided we fall.

Sincerely and with a smile,

R. W. a.k.a. Skiddle

P.S. Thank you for the New Year’s Eve parade, my heart rejoiced knowing someone cares. Us inmates loved it and even had D.E.R.T. (disaster emergency response team–or correctional emergency response team) called on us. HA!

P.S.S. Shakedown last night, they took the Alpha list, by God’s grace I was protected.

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