‘Am I a commodity to Durham County?’


My name is Jason. I am a North Carolina State inmate serving my sentence in the Durham County Jail. I want to start by saying I am NOT trying in any way to justify my wrong actions. However, the system in place here is taking FULL advantage of people’s misfortune, for whatever reason that may be. I myself am serving a 2-year sentence for DWI. Which was cut in half under the “Fairness Sentencing Act.” It seems public officials don’t “sell drugs,” although they more than likely have a hand in it! They don’t “rob” people (not blatantly). They don’t beat their wives or spouses (or get caught doing it), but one way they are common with “us” is that they do drink and often “drive” and are subsequently subject to their own laws. So passing legislation to go “easier” on a DWI offender will be in ‘their’ best interests mind you. Providing you have enough money to hire a lawyer to convince a biased district attorney to go along with a reduced sentence (enough grease is in the pockets). Given the right judge to accompany the biased D.A. (judge Brian Wilkes, to name the obvious). A lay person who must apply for a court-appointed representation, you will surely receive a “maximum” sentence in Durham County, as everyone I know in here is serving “maximum sentences.” Why then do we need judges? If they are automatically inclined to dole out maximum sentencing and omit the human factor. By weighing the evidence or even listening to a case whatsoever, in my case Mr. Wilkes never so much as looked at me! But swiftly lowered a maximum sentence upon me and on to the next victim. This is wrong! As I found out after serving over 8 months so far, Durham County Jail receives considerable funding to house “state inmates” and shows no partiality in differentiating between ‘detainees’ and ‘inmates.’ No regulations have been put in effect to keep state inmates from county detainees, or have there been any differences formulated whatsoever. Supposed “state inmates” are treated with the same disrespect or consideration as detainees awaiting trial. I myself have NOT been treated as a state inmate. I have NOT seen or heard from my “caseworker,” have NOT been given an honest release date. Also, I have been taken for 37 days of which my sentence had started and told it reset 37 days later, my lawyer will do nothing on my behalf, nor Mrs. Pillgreen or Sergeant or whatever she is called. Basically, I have been thrown in here and left. I will get out, but when? We are also lied to by these people who tell us, “Oh, you may be eligible for “parole.” This is also bullshit, they have no intention of paroling any DWI offender. However, the parole board is more than willing to parole drug offenders, larcenists, violent offenders of any sort. But DWI offenders are told in order to be ‘eligible’ we must complete a 90 day drug and alcohol treatment class, which brings me to the illustrious STARR Program! This is a JOKE! STARR is a 60-day in house treatment class required by Durham County “detainees” which all I found after taking this class personally is that it employs about 20 people and Durham County keeps it running to pay their salaries. It does NOTHING to help the inmate (oh, but they do offer pizza and soda and a 30 minute visit with your family, only one of them, though, after you “graduate.” Oh, and you must pay for your own pizza, $8) It is the biggest scam I have ever seen. And when it comes time for parole to supposedly consider your case, you are automatically denied because we are told me must complete a 90-day course, not a 60-day course? What they DON’T tell you is that there is no 90-day class offered by DCJ. Come to think of it, there’s not even anything mentioned in the statute of sentencing where we are required to even have a 90-day class. At least I couldn’t find it! It all boils down to this: Durham County Jail and Durham County Court System are sub-contracted under the state of North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections to house these inmates, and are making a shitload of money doing it. Judges are handing out maximum sentences to keep people in their fucked-up fun house of torture for as long as they can get away with it to gain as much “funding” from the state budget as they can squeeze out. This is wrong, and something needs to be done to stop this criminal activity. People are not inherently bad. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to get a DWI and go to jail. I lost everything I had, though, including my daughter. I have an alcohol drinking problem and no amount of incarceration will fix the problem. But they don’t want the problem fixed because they would lose all that money! So I am a commodity? Not, a father, a son, a brother, uncle, nephew? I am not human because I have fallen into the grips of alcoholism? Despite what the system labels me as, I will recover from this disease on my own without the help of the sovereign state of N.C.

These new laws need to be redefined, lawmakers need to be exposed to the truths about what they are inflicting upon its people. Inmates, however you want to look at them, have rights, and they are being taken advantage of and it needs to stop NOW. And those responsible need to be exposed and held accountable for their actions. Period.

Recently, I suffered the tragic loss of my youngest brother. He was out of the state at the time. One of my best friends is a minister and knowing that I was incarcerated in Durham County, he contacted the Durham County Jail and had arranged a funeral service to be held in Durham County so I could attend. It was agreed upon by DCJ officials and the place where the service was to be held was checked out by a Durham County detective. All was good. Until the night before the service. I had no idea this was being done for me. I had called my girlfriend and she told me the next day, they would bring me to my brother’s funeral. Shortly after that call was made, DCJ contacted my friend the minister and informed him they were understaffed and that I would not be attending. My mother flew from China to attend this service. Yes, China, halfway around the world. All I was allowed to do was call (on the pay phone, mind you) and listen to the service over the phone, which cost my girlfriend over 30 dollars. That is the injustice I speak of, this is how they treat people here, like they are insignificant nobodies with no one who cares for them.

A commodity. Enough is enough…

We are people. Right or wrong, we deserve fairness and decency. Durham County Jail is none of those.

Listen. Hear. Act.


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