Class War on the Color Line: Reform and Repression at the Durham County Jail

More than a year after the Sheriff’s department’s murder-by-medical-neglect of Matthew McCain, the Durham County Jail is, once again, in the news.  On Tuesday, January 3, after receiving letters from almost a hundred detainees and after three individuals blocked the entrance to the jail on the night of November 18, declaring it #ANightWithNoDetentions, the Durham Human Relations Commission released ten recommendations for how to improve conditions at the plantation on Mangum street.  Some of these, most notably that a community-based research team be allowed to do a survey in the jail, were things that detainees, their families, and the community at large have been demanding for a long time.  Others were extrapolations from what detainees wrote to the commission, and what members of the public said in a forum the HRC held on September 15 of last year, including concerns about mental health, corporate price-gouging of detainees and their families, bail, and the Sheriff’s department’s cooperation with ICE.

Then, on January 6, the News and Observer reported that the jail will move to video visitation this summer and that retrofits are already underway.  Inside-Outside Alliance has known for some time that this was in the pipeline – Global Tel’s latest contract to provide phone service in the jail includes a provision for them to run a video visitation system – but we’ve never had a definite timeline before.  Now it appears that, over the course of this summer, the jail will be retrofitted and its policies rewritten so that in-person visitation will be eliminated and replaced exclusively with visitation-via-videoscreen.  It should go without saying that depriving detainees of even the limited in-person interaction with friends and loved ones that they now experience at visitation is the height of inhumanity even for an institution like the Sheriff’s department that has raised contempt for human life to the level of a ghastly art form.  We should also note that GTL advertises video-visitation as a way to derive profit from and reduce the costs of inmate visitation. Continue reading

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First 100 Days

10-29-16

First and foremost, let us thank the most high God for his countless blessings. In my first 100 days I been on a tour of 4 counties, 4 jails: Durham, Wake, Alamance, Orange. One might say I took my show on the road. Every jail and court system has been eye-opening and challenging, but the most disturbing thing that I see in all of them are the presence of racism. Believe me it is alive and breathing and in some cases it’s hidden very well.

Durham County Jail and court system is really sad, and Wake and Alamance are not far behind. But Orange seems to have a good idea of how things go. Pre-trial release is real over here. They really give you a fair shake. Never have I seen people being released at first appearance and court dates here at OCJ.

Now having been to Alamance County Jail on this tour, it’s really sad also. When you enter the pod there is no hope to look forward to, no court dates, no attorney visit, your people have to come visit you on a TV screen. No wins in the court room, food is like Aramark, dinner is served at 7:00pm cold!!

Wake County Jail is in the capitol city of this great state of NC. There they threaten you with the habitual felony or misdemeanor offenses to make you take a plea, so they get their conviction numbers up. Everything is politics. 😦

Orange County Jail is very bearable. It puts you in the mind of the jail. They have on the Andy Griffin Show. You have your regulars to come in and dry out to be right back out the door. I have found it hard to get paper to write letters. You have COs here that care and ones that don’t care. So you have to pick your battles. And the food is real oatmeal with sugar, grits with butter, fried fish, FF with tarter sauce, beef tips and rice, fried chicken every Wednesday. The only down side is on the weekend last meal is 2 cold cut sandwiches, apple, carrots.

So to all my brothers and sisters in the struggle, I request of you to fall on your knees and cry out to God. You will be victorious in all your battles and see how your outlook in all areas of your life will drastically change.

The obstacles that looked so huge can be conquered by the power of God.

Sidebar: Pray, keep hope, exercise your faith, and pray for others.

Shout out to my homegirl in 5-D

  1. Carlton, C. Carlton

This to shall pass!!!

Still in the struggle and solidarity,

Coy AKA Plastic

‘We must kill this injustice…’

Injustice/ America Controlling the Oppressed through Class Structures

America, how smart you are in your ways of evolution. You began with slavery, then brought Jim Crow, after that began the counterintelligence breakup of Black, Yellow, Brown and Red political groups, then you created the final step in the output of crack cocaine, and its ugly partner in crime, the War on Drugs.

To your steady success in oppression and control over the Black race, I salute your ingenuity.  Continue reading

‘Coffee is like air, and sleep the cousin of death…’

As my daily routine changes, coffee has become like air, and sleep has become the cousin of death. I’ve been operating on 3 to 6 hours of sleep, my revolutionary studies have reached an all-time high. I currently have been disregarding individuals whose presence only waste time, and I’ve been spending more time preaching my outlook/standpoint on social issues and conditions we face. In any area, my vision has been clearing up by the day, my self-discipline  been worked on also daily. Noticing my influence, I’ve also been trying to tap into the other brothers’ consciousness.
Continue reading

“the jail system is mis-run and mis-managed”

Dear Mr. W_______,

Thanks for the letter and n4.  It came at a much needed time.  I’m glad to hear there are concerned citizens who care about how the jail system is mis-run and mis-managed!  It more often than not sends people worse off back into neighborhoods angry, hurt, and totally demoralized and at times animalistic!  Its truly a system designed to oppress and exploit the lesser, poorer persons in society, 1. high bonds, 2. wrong search and seizures at homes (my house was trashed and 1100 dollars stolen), 3. very poor sleeping quarters (my dogs have better), 4. slop for food, 5. the cells are freezing while we get little clothing and blankets 5. husbands/wives should at least be allowed to visit if incarcerated at the same time (I fit that category, the family is the fabric of society), 6. they arrested us quickly and put us in cages, yet the legal process once here is slow and tedious, even the process of bond reduction takes weeks all the while people lose good jobs and families are damaged sometimes beyond repair.  The jail system is a business of making money, not reform and helping most who may have made a bad choice or mistake become a better citizen, neighbor, co-worker, or friend (cuz that’s what 99% of us are!).  I’m very glad to hear that our neighbors are getting educated and involved, cuz believe it or not…this could happen to any of us!  And unless you have access to 10-50k your whole life could change forever and your family’s also.  The phone situation is laughable, the grievance officers are simply yes people, as I’ve made several complaints and requests with zero results or even responses back.  I thought in our legal system you’re innocent until proven guilty.  Well that doesn’t appear to be the cause here.  All and all its hard to believe this is happening in the United States of America.

 

Signed, E.Q.Y.

‘How many Mike Browns will it take?’

the following letter was postmarked three times: Sept 9, Sept. 23, and one other time (illegible). 

Hey —,

What’s been up? I hope you’re doing good. I’m very motivated by your perspective and outlook. I’m very thankful to you and all those involved, each one of you who don’t just show concern but carry the burden. Thank you for placing yourselves in our shoes. As I read over your letters I see so much but I don’t know where to start. Continue reading

‘When will enough be enough?’

In last month’s feedback edition (volume 9), a girl by the name of “Dora” wrote in about the conditions of the jail and the injustices against her dad. I know exactly who this man is because I was there when he fell out in visitation! When one of the inmates in the visitation room beat on the window for help—the officer in the pod gave him the finger. The officer only called medical. When the inmate began to beat on the window again, the officer finally “called code” but cussed the inmate out and locked him back. Continue reading