‘What a screwed-up system!’

Thanks for your letter. I was surprised and glad to receive it. Please overlook my tardy reply…

I’ve heard some views about bail reform and I hope something positive comes about. These bonds are ridiculously high in Durham County. I just don’t get it. I was very happily surprised last month to hear I had a visitor (I don’t normally get them). I walked into the room and there was IOA member –. He asked me about the court date I had for the week of Feb. 6th, but I did not go. It turned out my lying lawyer again failed to file my motions to dismiss and to suppress in January as promised. Such motions are typically heard during the first full week of the month but must be filed during the previous month at least 5 working days in advance. Continue reading

“There is a word for what they are doing, It’s called price-gouging.”

____,

Thanks for checking in on me. It’s crazy to think an entire year has passed sitting in this jail! Nothing much has changed since the last time I wrote. At one point the jail was censuring my mail and refusing to give me certain letters, but those issues were straightened out a while ago after addressing the matter with Major Collins. It seems as if the Detention Officers sorting through mail were going about and beyond what they should have. The mail service here has really struck a nerve recently though. Apparently the jail ahs recognized several days as holidays that are not considered state holidays. As a result mail was not distributed or sent out for 6 days. This not only interfered with communication with family members over the holidays but also directly impeded our access to the courts. I know several individuals who prepared letters to be sent to the courthouse but that was halted until the Detention Officers felt like coming into work and doing their jobs. You are telling me that not a single officer in the entire jail could collect the mail and send it ot the post office in that 6 day time period? Come on!

I did catch the “Night Without Detensions” protest on the news where individuals shut down the entrance into the jail by shackling themselves together. I’m glad people on the outside have the courage to draw attention to the rights Detainees are supposed to have. I’m also glad to hear that the complaints written to the Human Relations Commission of Durham has pulled some weight which led to recommendations on improving the jail. I would definitely like to see what recommendations they have provided! I know that IOA has been aggressive with coordinating an independent investigation into the jail, especially since January, and I hope this is one step closer to reaching that goal. I’m sure a lot will be uncovered during the results of any investigation of this jail. Some of what I read is unfortunately exaggerated and I wish people would stick to the facts instead of falsely inflating petty matters, but there is some truth to everyone’s comments. Many things are wrong here that need to be fixed!

I’m also surpirsed the Human Relations Commission expressed concern about the private companies profiting so much from Detainees. There is a word for what they are doing, It’s called price-gouging. And unfortunately it’s not just the private companies fault, but the jail’s too. From what I understand ARAMARK has won the new contract for canteen/commissary, they aren’t going anywhere. However, the jail charges ARAMARK to sell their pdocuts here. Part of the reason prices on canteen are so high is to blaance out what the jail charges to even sell the items. We are a captive audience and have no choice but to pay these ridiculous prices on items and ARAMARK knows this. I don’t blama ARAMARK for trying to make money, but there really needs to be boundaries on how much they can inflate these prices!

As for the Human Relations Commission recommendation to abolish bail, seems a bit far fetched to me. I do agree that bail in Durham is excessive in many cases, to the point that not even a wealthy many could post bond. Simply, the point of bond and detention is to make sure you come to court. I would assume many people have all intentions of coming to court, but I know some, are going to flee any chance they get. For that reason part of me agrees with bond, but something that is reasonable at the very least. Of course everyone who is being detained is going to support the contention of abolishing bail. That would mean we wouldn’t be detained any longer. However, I know this jail brings in a lot of money to this city (over $21 million) and many jobs, all of which would suffer if bail was abolished. THe state and county would never let that happen.

I know IOA has wored very hard and has made substantial progress with the jail. What I would like to see is the same progress with the DA’s office. I have had the pleasure over the past year to witness a lot of questionable behavior come out of that office. And the Assistant District Attornies have perfected every under-handed trick in the book to delay, keep you from getting a bond reduction, add more charges months down the road to railroad you and further enhance your bond, mishand evidence, and did I mention they delay your case? I have heard the prosecutor make every excuse imaginable to continue or delay my case from “I was on vacation and need more time,” to “my child was sick and I haven’t had a chance to look at the case,” and my favorite “I want more time so I can offer a plea bargain he probably won’t accept.” But yet somehow they always are able to prevail and get a continuance to the next month, sometimes 2 months. With all that said, I’m hoping to mave on to trial soon. It only took 14+ months to get to this point. Oh, I forgot to mention I had a court hearing the first week of January, and yes, it was continued to February. I think this excuse tops them all. Over the past year my attornies have easily widdled away at the states case and 2 separate search warrants were found to be defective. Which translates to Durham police officers violating my 4th amendment rights and numerous North Carolina statutes repeatedly. Judges ruled in each instance police officers conducted an illegal search. At the court hearing in January, the prosecutor wanted a continuance so they could now go back and search the same place that they had illegally searched to begin with. This is or would be an illegal search again in an attempt to exploit information that a judge has already suppressed. Basically, the prosecutor asked for a continuance so they could conduct an illegal search! Crazy. But nothing surprises me here in Durham anymore. And they got the continuance, hopefully they think twice before acting though.

Alright that’s enough ranting – thanks for the letter and updates. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

– ____

‘Sucked into the system because I fit a description’

Hey–

My name is —, but everyone knows me as 700. This is my first time getting charged with anything in my life. I’ve been here 8 months and have only been to court once (after first appearance) to have my $650,000 bond reduced to $150,000, which is still too much even after I told the judge I was working at Kroger and attending — High and living on my own. I mean, I only just turned 18 while I’ve been in here. He still gave me an out the roof bond, it’s like one day I’m up, the next I get sucked into the system because I fit a description–”pssh” yeah mufucking right. And don’t get me started on this new video visitation shit. It don’t make sense why our peoples got to come down here just to “face time” their loved ones for 20 minutes. It’s already bad enough with the scarce amount of time we get, now I gotta talk to my people through a camera, ain’t that what cell phones are for? But this money hungry jail couldn’t care less what the kings and queens in this jail go through. It’s like the one thing you look forward to after being here so long is getting took away. And could someone tell me why co’s are wearing three layers, a uniform and a jacket and we in here freezing our asses off and get put on lockback for having too many jumpsuits? That shit’s crazy.

–700

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

‘Fight the real enemy!’

What up,

How ya’ll doing? Shit still fucked up. Tell me this: why the fuck is the A/C on full blast during the winter? Plz answer that for me. It’s freezing in the cells. And when we tell the c.o.’s, they say ‘what can we do about it?’ It’s four days later and the A/C still blowing on full blast.  Continue reading

‘They should do away with these high-ass bonds…’

Jan 4 2017

IOA

What’s up? Thanks for the holiday card. Your reader’s poll made me think a lil bit because doing away with bail could do some good, but at the same time hurt. It can help those who can’t afford to bail out of jail for whatever reason. You also got those people that has stupid crazy bonds set by the court that can’t be touched at all, so they’re put in a situation where they have to sit in jail against their will. But then you do have those complete assholes who would take something as good as that and throw it away, so I guess I would say getting rid of bail is crazy but strongly do think they should do away with these high-ass bonds, like the average motherfucka is living like Donald Trump….other than that, ain’t nothing changed in this shithole but the fact I’m currently trying to fight to get off 22 and a half hour lockback after a year plus and they’re pissing in the wind. It’s easy for them to blow it off because they get to go home at the end of the day. I’m left in a box all day for what??? Really don’t know how much more of this bullshit I can take.

-Ghost

“been locked up going on 14 months next month”

Hey,

My name is _______, DOB ________ and I’m still housed at Durham County Jail but the reason for this letter so you can get to know me better and see what I’m going thru.  I’m mental health and on medication for it and been locked up going on 14 months next month.  They haven’t drop my bond knowing what’s going on with my mental health and know I need outside attention.  I’m not doing good in here my A/C don’t work in my cell, the food make me sick I wrote medical and told them that put me on a special diet because of the season in the food and know I have stomach problems.  My bond is way too high for what I’m in here for $_____ it not like I kill nobody or hurt nobody period.  And plus I’m mental health I can’t help what I do when I’m not on my medication and when I wake up I can’t remember anything.  And plus when I was out I didn’t have no where to sleep at night.  If you can please help me on how they treating me and try to get me pre-trial release until they do something with these charges.  And plus I have a real sick mom out there right now.

 

Sincerely,

_______