Top Ten Problems at Durham County Jail

Dear —

We would like to thank you guys for all the support. We would probably still be on 23 and one if not for you all. We appreciate all of the long hours that you all have put in this summer and all the time you’re putting in now. We really believe that what y’all are doing is making a difference and you have our gratitude. Please keep up the fantastic work because although you all have accomplished a lot there is still more we have for y’all to do. We have a list of concerns that we would like for y’all to help us with. We would also like for y’all to place these concerns in your weekly newsletter and we will appreciate a copy mailed to us at your earliest convenience. Here is a list of people we would like for you all to send the newsletter if possible. They are good friends of ours going through the same struggle: (list of eight names). We would like our names put in the newsletter after our list of concerns. Thank you and keep up the good work, the jailed send their love…


DP and GH

P.S. We would appreciate if you all can show us some love. This Friday or any day y’all out there protesting, please write Free Biggs and Free G. That will mean so much to us, or you can put our real names. Thank you all…



Top 10 Problems in Durham County Jail!!!

  1. MATS: They are very unsanitary, hundreds of people use these mats and they are not wiped down or sprayed or cleaned in any fashion before the next person has to use them. There are homeless people, people with lice, and people with all kinds of skin diseases and open cuts that use these mats daily. These same people sleep on these mats sometimes without sheets or blankets. Also, most of these mats are old and worn out and very thin, they don’t provide any support or cushion. There are many detainees who are having back problems and sleeping problems in general because of these mats. Detainees should be able to request a mat if the one they have is unfit. Unfit meaning or being the mat has holes, is too thin, or has not been cleaned properly.
  2. MEDICAL: First of all the fee to go to medical has doubled from $10 to $20. There have been no noticeable changes/improvements to detainees’ medical care to justify this increase in payment. Detainees don’t feel it is right to have to pay more for the same services that were not adequate in the first place. For all injuries and sickness, medical staff only gives Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Also, they take their time assisting you no matter your seriousness of the problem. For example: When I first came to this jail, I was suffering from a shoulder injury due to a car accident, my injury consisted of a torn AC joint and a damaged rotator cuff, which I still suffer from today. When I had my physical I told the nurse about my injury and she brought up my medical records from Duke, which clearly show that I have been receiving different prescription medicines for swelling and pain. I been here 8 months and suffer most days and have many sleepless nights, because my shoulder requires surgery and they will not give me anything other than Tylenol which does not help. At least my pain would be bearable if they gave me my prescribed medications until I’m released. There are many other stories like mine. We detainees feel like this is one reason why they should go down on the pay.
  3. TRAYS: It is no secret that they trays are very old. Every now and then they might get new trays, but they don’t take the old ones out of circulation. A lot of these old trays contain holes and cracks in them, and when these trays are sent back to the kitchen they are not being cleaned properly. A lot of them contain water and food inside of them that may stay there for days or weeks due to they holes and cracks trapping things inside. Also, there are many occasions where food has been found from previous meals or days due to improper cleaning. Us detainees feel that the old trays should be replaced with new trays. The old ones are a clear health risk. We detainees feel that what we receive for dinner is not enough for adults. They expect them sandwiches to hold us for 13 hours until breakfast. Also, eating the same sandwich every day is not nutritious for us. We detainees would like it to go back to us getting 3 hot trays.
  4. AC & HEAT: The jail keeps the AC on year round. This is a problem because they only give us one thin blanket. It is hard to stay warm especially now that it is getting cold outside and these walls have no insulation and they don’t turn on the heat. For people who can’t afford thermal undercloth, this is an even bigger problem, which is miserable for them. If being cold all the time is not bad enough, we also have to put up with breathing in dust and dirt from the vents. There are many people in here who have breathing problems, and the dirt and dust only makes it worse. We detainees feel that they need to clean the vents because it’s not healthy for us at all or acceptable.
  5. CANTEEN: Durham County is now considering this facility a prison (housing state inmates for sentences). No other prison in NC has canteen cost this high. For an example, the same soup that they are charging .82 a piece for, they are charging less than half that at any other prison. Also, the phone cards on the canteen are $17 and $27 when in actuality they are $10 and $20 phone cards at any other jail and prisons are selling them for $10 and $20. This means they are taxing 70% on every dollar, which should be illegal. $40 will last a month at any other prison, but here $40 will last a week. Not only are we being overcharged, but after we pay our money there is no guarantee that we will get our things on time. At least 3 times a month the things we order are at least a day late. We as detainees feel we are being overcharged.
  6. TV: The TV is a constant problem. On a day to day basis, there is constant arguing on whether we will watch sports or movies. We detainees feel that if radio and more board games where available that this will decrease altercations. At any other prison, there are 2 TVs and radios and board games. We the detainees feel that with all the money they are making off of us, we should have more entertainment available. We are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Why does it seem like we are already being punished?
  7. SHOWER SHOES: At every jail in NC, they give you free shower shoes. Here in Durham County Jail/Prison they charge us to get shower shoes, which is a problem because not everyone has money to buy them. As we stated before there are homeless people and people in general coming in here in different situations that need to bathe. If they don’t know someone that will lend them a pair of shower shoes, they can’t take showers, which makes it uncomfortable for them and everyone around them. The shower shoes that they sell are low quality so they don’t last long, which is another problem for those with little or no money. We the detainees feel like Durham County Jail should give out free shower shoes or better quality like other county jails.
  8. VISITATION: Visitation has also been a problem in the jail. On average there are more than 50 people in a pod, but there are only 15 slots available each visitation. This means only 30 people max will receive a visit each week, if someone does not get two in a week, which will make that number even less. There are constant complaints about people’s not getting to see their loved ones for weeks and sometimes months at a time for lack of visitation slots. Many people prefer the old way, which was as long as you show up by a certain time with your ID you can see your loved ones. Compared to now you must have internet/email, which some people don’t have. We the detainees feel that the jail should go back to the old way or make more available slots.
  9. RECREATION: We are only allowed 30 minutes a day, with 50 or more people on one basketball court inside the pod it is impossible to have more than 3 games, which means not everyone is going to get ample recreation time. If this is now supposed to be a prison, recreation should be available all day. We the detainees need more recreation time.
  10. TOE NAIL CLIPPER: it is very difficult to regularly clip your finger and toes nails. There is not an established way to request the finger and toe nail clipper. They bring us nail files every month, but they don’t announce when they are bringing them, so pretty often people miss their chance. Some people need clippers more than the files. We have to constantly buy new socks because they keep getting holes. Not to mention it is unsanitary because finger and toe nails collect dirt. They should at least sell them on canteen since they act like it’s a problem to them to give it to us when requested.



Happy Holiday…and New Year 2016


Garrett Hatch, aka G                                                              Dexter Poteat, aka Don Biggs

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