“soy county jail”

Hello Inside Out!  I think that you all have made a big difference in the way the jail is being run.  They are definitely checking behind themselves and doing some things out of the ordinary.  I am hoping to get your help with a menu change here.  I hate to say it but I think that sandwiches every night may be better than what we are getting now!

I want to call this the Soy County Jail!  How can we work together to get something done?  I know that everyone in my pod doesn’t want it!  We all pretty much refer to it as cat food!  How can everyone’s voice be heard?

This company ARAMARK is supposed to be hired out for the contract of our food and the canteen.  They sell little bags of stuff and charge a lot for it.  If we could buy stuff in big bags and get more for what we pay for it would be better.  I think someone needs to look at the money ARAMARK is making and do something about it.  They are getting filthy rich!  Stinkin rich!

I would bet that there would be 100 companies that would love to have the contract for the work at the Durham Co. Jail!  The opportunity to make such great money.  To have a secure job, you can work 7 days a week.

Let’s see if we can get Mr. Aramark fired.  If we could, I think he would be the saddest person in town.  To lose his gold mine.  What?

If Inside Out could please help this is #1 grievance here!

Thanks for your help and all that you do.  Here is what they have mustarded up for us with the SOY!

These here we can actually eat, most of us:
– Soy chili beans
– Soy spaghetti
– Soy taco meat
– Soy gravy
– Soy manwich

3 different kinds of soy rice –> garbage

Soy potatoes
Soy in bag noodles
Soy in macaroni and cheese

There may be something I have left out.  But you get the picture.  We are getting this too much.  I am getting sick of it.  The first 5 types of the soy can be eaten if we had too that much.  But the other 6 kinds of soy food isn’t edible.  Guess what they give us the worst 6 kinds of soy more than the better kind.  It is like they are punishing us for not wanting sandwiches every night.

Soy must be the cheapest food that they can buy.  I know that if we could get them fired, there would be plenty of companies that would love to make the good money at the Durham Co Jail.  Please help us if you can.  This should be a crime against nature.

Thanks Again,



PS: I forgot to mention the percentage of soy we are getting in our meals.  This is the percentage of lunch and supper.  Lunch and supper percentage is 60 to 70% soy meals.  If I put breakfast in it it messes the high percentage up.  We do get soy gravy about twice a week.  That is supposed to take place of eggs.  Even no powdered eggs.  Hek powdered eggs seem to be scumsious right now!  Help us get some food in here!  Thanks.  Bye bye soy!

‘We want respect’

I don’t know what it is about your mail, but the stamp went through Raleigh on June 2 and they say they did not receive here until June 8. That is a lot of days to come from Raleigh to Durham. Right! But it seems there is always something going on with the mail, not getting picked up or brought in on time. You complain and then you don’t get it at all, and how would you know if it came? Or, it’s like you said they say you can’t have it for some reason.

I am with you and others that snacks and hot trays are too high, but the people feeding us are making sure that we eating just so you have to buy the snacks to get by and the hot tray if you want a taste of home, well the outside anyway. The cost of the food they sell in the jail is way too high and needs to go down. Continue reading

‘This jail needs to be flushed out and reorganized’

Hello IOA,

My name is Bernard Cheek. I don’t care if anyone see my name. I’m not afraid of any man or woman but Jesus and God. I would like to say the medical screening is a joke here, they don’t have the right size blood pressure cuff for my arm. The commissary is too high for the inmates, GTL is making a killing off of inmate phone calls. The hot tray they sell are very expensive. The c.o.s get wholesome food at very reasonable prices. The inmates pay for the c.o.s food, because Aramark, the jail’s food service provider triples the inmates’ hot tray price. Continue reading

On the work pod: Another chain link in the extortion process

This interview is also available in zine form (pdf at the end of the interview).

Vincent, tell us what it’s like to work in the jail.

You can work 40 hours a week in the jail, and still owe money when you get out. Like me, I was put in there for owing in child support, I worked most of the time I was in there, and I came out and was no better off. The people in the kitchen work from 4:30 in the morning until 6 at night. It’s crazy. But they don’t want anyone to know all that worker-inmates do to keep the jail running. They don’t want the public to know. When you go to court, you have to change out of your blue uniform (signifying work pod) to go to court to appear in orange. They don’t want you to have any special recognition. The orange shows you are a criminal. The public knows that, they know orange = criminal. Even though you are doing a service for the jail. But they don’t want people to know that.

How did you come to be on the work pod?

Because I was having trouble adjusting to being confined. I went five days without eating when I was there. Mental health suggested I go on the work pod and I accepted. (As an aside, mental health is overworked, understaffed—for 400 people, it’s not enough). Basically, it was a way for me to keep busy, and keep my mind off things.

What expectations did you have for that, or what did you get?

Basically there’s more out time. You get an extra walk—the night walk. That’s all you get. Fried leg quarters every two weeks—I guess that’s the paycheck. Every two weeks on Tuesday you get fried leg quarters. And some hygiene stuff: Free deodorant, soap, toothpaste. You can get an extra tray at lunch. Extra helping of slop at lunch—potatoes, soy and carrots. Raw potatoes for breakfast, all-the-way done potatoes for lunch. You usually have to sign up to get on the work pod, but I didn’t go through the kiosk. Mental health did it for me. Most people try to get on there to have more time out of their cell. Some people who are doing time there, on a sentence, might be able to get up to 4 days off their sentence per month (but this is discretionary). DWI or child support or probation violation get no gain time. It’s up to the facility to grant you the days off. Those people not getting the days off is because of the sheriff (see general statute).

There was a day people were refusing to go into the kitchen, and they threatened to lock everybody back. The other threat is you’ll be removed from the pod. Those threats keep people in line.

They don’t want to cut days off of those people, because that’s money for them. The longer those people stay, the more money the county gets. The added bonus they get is they’re working in the work pod, and that’s 65 people for free labor.

In my opinion, it’s the same thing they used to do in the Old South. Keep everyone in field working, you keep all the money. 65 people running your jail, from laundry, to sanitation, to cooking your food—all the officers have to do is just sit there, pretty much. Conditions in DCJ are like the Old South because c.o.’s are like black slavers. They work their own people and rarely assist in the work. I’ve noticed that they have a White Sheriff followed by a black female Colonel Perkins who is submissive to him and Major Couch submissive to Colonel Perkins so the black female has Authority over the black male who is submissive to a white male. It’s the best way to divide and conquer.

The sheriff’s department is the new headquarters of the Klan—they even recruit black people. The best way to oppress a people is to use their own people because they know them.

How does anyone get to be on the work pod?

Most people ask at the kiosk. As long as you fit the criteria. As long as you’re sentenced, or have a bond less than $20,000. It’s totally voluntarily done. But if you give limited recreation time, people will jump at the opportunity.

Everyone does it just to get out of the cell. Sitting in a box all day long is no fun.

For people who don’t understand, what work do inmates perform at the Durham jail?

In the kitchen they don’t have enough kitchen staff. They are totally dependent on inmates. Most of the time, you’ll have one cafeteria worker, who works for Aramark. He or she is like the whipmaster, the dictator. Roughly 10 to 15 inmates per one paid kitchen staff paid by Aramark. The inmates work for the whole day. They treat you like you’re getting a check.

What did you do? Take us through a typical day.

I did laundry. A typical day in laundry, there’s only four of us who work. We wash everything. We pick it up, we wash it, we dry it, we bring it back. We do at least two floors, or eight pods a day. Wash, dry, put each bag back on the appropriate door. One officer is with us everywhere, to make sure you’re not doing anything you’re not supposed to. They don’t do the work. They’re the overseers. We started about 7 a.m., and we’d be done by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. Everything that has linen on it, we do it. Intake and outgoing laundry.

In the laundry we fold all inmate jail-issued clothes. And washed all personal items in net bags. We fold blankets, sheets, towels, washcloths and supply the kitchen and sanitation departments. We go in every pod except for the female they don’t even want us to look at them, it’s like they think we’ve never seen women before. But we hang the bags back on the doors we take them off in the morning. We do it all.

The clothes they buy are the cheapest possible. So people will buy more. The blankets are like sheets; if you get a pinhole in them you can rip them from end-to-end with little force. The sheets are see-through. The new uniforms are stock piled in the back, out of circulation, while the old raggedy laundry ones are circulated.

I did try other work, but laundry suited me best. I worked a little in the kitchen, and another inmate-worker said to me “you’re putting too much meat on there.” (We’re talking four pieces of thin, thin meat.) I looked at him like, ‘what the fuck you talking about? If I’m gonna be down there, I’m gonna do it my way.’  It’s funny how they feel like it’s coming out of their pocket. That’s the assimilation stuff I’m talking about, they identify with the jail in a way. Inmates prepare food for officers. Spaghetti with real beef in it. They pay two dollars for a tray. The officers get milk. No inmates get milk at all. No fruit, except for applesauce. But, sometimes the inmates get the officers in their own ways.

Would you say the work of inmates is very important to the daily functioning of the jail?

It’s essential! You can’t have all the inmates sit in the pod all day and have all this stuff happen. Inmate workers save that jail a lot of money. 65 times 8 times 40. I figured minimum wage, I forgot the amount, but it’s a lot of money (at $7.25/hr–$18850).

How aware are all inmates of how vital their work (or the work of the work pod) is?

I think most inmates know, but they become assimilated. They feel like they’re obligated to work there, like it’s a real job they’re getting paid for, where there is no gratitude whatsoever. My thing is they’re feeling like they have to do it. But I guess you do, because if you don’t you go back in your box.

What did you think about your role as a worker-inmate at DCDF?

I felt like I was giving them a discount on ways to confine me. It was ultimately disrespect. Everything I did was to benefit them, nothing to benefit me. No payment, no less time to serve, you’re pushed into the streets and no means of taking care of yourself. You come out to more problems than what you went in with, which is my case. And they got a lot of my labor.

What do you think people on other pods think about the work pod?

They think we’re privileged. But we earn every moment we had out. Grass on the other side of the fence always is greener til you get there.

It’s interesting because you would think with all the work that inmates do that the jail would be clean. But one of the things that people complain about a lot is not having access to cleaning materials.

As far as the jail being dirty: imagine you have 65 inmates in a pod in 48 cells with one mop head for seven days and you’re cleaning around toilets with diluted chemicals. Those mop rooms smell like urine and sewage.

What is people’s understanding of who and what Aramark is?

Aramark: people know how they are making money off them. You feed people potatoes three times a day and they know people are starving them out to buy hot trays at 8 or 9 bucks a pop, and/or canteen. And they’re doing this with almost all inmates doing the work.

What would happen if no one agreed to be on the work pod, or they just didn’t do the work?

They’d have to hire people and actually have to pay people. And it would be a county job so it would have to be over minimum wage. They are running their business as cheaply as possible. Period. The jail is a business. It’s a racket.

I mean the work pod, it’s another chain link in the extortion process. If you owe the county money, and you work six months for them, and you still owe them money afterward—who benefitted? I didn’t. Not at all. Matter of fact, the jail and the whole legal system is the source of my anxiety.

I talk about assimilation, but it’s not just the inmate being assimilated, it’s the employees, too. This assimilation comes from the Willie Lynch mentality. The Old South is like a roach problem. You can’t stomp it out.

ontheworkpod (1)

on the work pod

DCJ Objective: To cause as much misery and discomfort as possible


How’s it hanging? I pray that God blesses you and all those who are associated with IOA and he provides the resources needed to make a major change, not only in our lives in here but out there in your lives as well. Now what I meant by Durham County Jail “unequivocally causing conflict…” this is the inside scoop. Continue reading

‘I love writing, especially when we are trying to get something positive accomplished’


How are you? I’m doing ‘good’ as expected considering these negative circumstances: If I worry about the negative things in here, my time would go by slower and more painful; so I don’t worry. I am just very concerned about the jail and the judicial system! You all on the outside help to build my hopes up high to know that someone is fighting for us inmates in the DCDF. Continue reading

‘I watch inmates rush to take plea bargains’


First off I would like to thank you for writing me and for your concern in DCJ. I have been here for a while and being locked back 16 ½ hours a day can drive me crazy at times. On top of that they run the A/C all year round and only give us one blanket and yes, it’s freezing like hell. I’m not understanding—we already locked up, what more do they need? Continue reading

‘Can’t keep writing because I’m low on cash’

Dear IOA,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your time and energy to write me, and also for the “feedback” newsletter. I’m overwhelmed to witness people like yourself and others who still care about us here in Durham County Hell. I’m also passing the newsletter around the pod and I can say that some of the guys are interested and wanted to share their story also. Continue reading

‘That’s how it is. What are you gonna do about it?’

We recently spoke with M—and Y—about GlobalTel (GTL), the phone service contracted by the jail, along with all the ways families are exploited by the ravenous companies who set up shop at the jail. We also talked about the tremendous creativity of their dad and all the detainees.

M: I work cleaning carpets and get paid every two weeks. And as soon as I get the money it comes here (DCDF). Pretty much all my money from my job goes to this place. Like take GTL. It is way too expensive for the service they give. So every two weeks I put $50 on, because it’s down to nothing in that time. And that’s just for phone calls for me, cause I get the best rate of everyone in my family. Continue reading

‘Being treated equally is not in the math!’

Dear —

How are you? I hope all is well and that you are making progress in your efforts to support the inmates of the Durham D.C.J…Well I received your letter a couple weeks back. I guess it would be better to say last year lol, but anyways it was nice of you to write me back. I was in the window that night you all had the street blocked off and wouldn’t let anyone through. Power is in numbers and you all have surely proven that…Hard work and perseverance brings forth results and you all are working super hard for us and I want to thank you and the rest of inside-outside alliance for all help, care and support. Continue reading