“I believe the officials acted with deliberate indifference and neglect”

G___,

I received your letter today and I appreciate your concern as well as the support from the Inside-Outside Alliance.  I am more than happy to provide you any insight, answer any questions, and provide information you request.  Though, I will ask to remain anonymous, as I’d prefer to refrain from making enemies with the facility in control of me.  However, I feel as if the details I provide to you regarding Matthew McCain are substantial and need to be heard.

It may be hard for those who live in the community to identify detainees at this facility as innocent.  But that is the truth, until proven otherwise.  While detained here we should be treated with respect and dignity and those lines are crossed frequently everyday.  This is the first time I’ve been charged for an alleged crime committed and I’m learning through first hand experience the hardships placed on many individuals and their families within this facility.

I think it’s important to establish credibility, so I will start with minimal relevant background of myself before proceeding into details involving the incidences and questionable behavior I witnessed.  After the death of Matt McCain I made sure to keep written documentation of any and all details I found important.  This is a serious matter and I believe it should be properly investigated.  This death should have never occurred.  That being said, I do not know the specifics as the actual causation to his death, if it was ever revealed to the public?  I’m left to assume the causation is related to his chronic medical conditions, specifically diabetes and epilepsy/seizures.

So here goes!  My name is _______.  I have been a resident of Durham since December 2013.  I am a registered nurse in North Carolina and specialize in cardiovascular + cardiothoracic intensive care.  I moved to Durham to begin graduate studies at Duke university to receive my masters degree in May 2016.  I wholeheartedly believe I am innocent and am being rigorously defended.

To the important details – I was introduced to Matt days after my arrival here in November.  We attended a religious fellowship together most days of the week and communicated on a daily basis.  I was well aware of his chronic medical conditions as he would ask me various medical questions because of my background.

In December, Matt had a seizure in the day room in front of all inmates and guards.  I personally helped Matt from his chair to the ground and protected his head while his body violently contracted.  I was quickly removed from this position in helping by the guards.  After the seizure subsided, Matt was not conscious, completely incapacitated, and struggling to breath.  When the nurses arrived to the code blue on the radio, I watched as the guards recklessly picked him off the ground.  At least 3 officers manually picked him up and threw him onto the stretcher where he was then quickly wheeled out of the pod.

I guess with my knowledge and background, my approach to the incident would have been different.  When the nurses arrived they did not first assess him, check vitals, make note of any possible injury sustained from the seizure before aggressively removing him from the ground.  I saw no nurse establish his respiratory status, possible need for supplemental oxygen, or assess for vomiting.  This is all basic medical care for anyone who suffered a seizure.  I understand I only witnessed immediate interventions, or rather lack thereof,, but I will say basic precautions and medical care were not provided.

I learned after this event that Matt had multiple other seizures previously in this facility.  From December to the morning of his death, Matt suffered numerous seizures in the confines of his cell.  All times seizures occurred in the cell the officers had to be notified by other inmates in adjacent cells of suspicious sounds.  Inmates in neighboring cells were aware of his condition and when they heard continued knocking on the wall or sounds of struggling to breath, they would notify the officer on duty.  If they did not hear these sounds, Matt’s seizures would have gone unnoticed and he would not have received immediate medical attention.

The officers and nurses were well aware that Matt was having multiple seizures that went unnoticed without the attention from neighboring inmates.  We are confined to our cell in lock back for at least 17 hours all day.  Due to circumstances I’m not aware of, Matt was punished and locked in his cell 23 hours.  In fact he was in this 23 hour seclusion during the morning of his death.  A seizure only lasts a minute or two and completely incapacitates him where he required immediate medical attention during and after any seizure.  However, they thought it was safe for him to remain unmonitored in his cell under 23 hour seclusion knowing he would need attention during any seizure outset, which often went unnoticed by officers?  It was not a safe environment for Matt.

In fact, Matt was having increased frequency of seizures days preceding his death.  If I remember correctly, he had a seizure the day before his death and one earlier that week.  Matt told me he had to place his mattress on the floor of his room because he was falling off the bed whenever he had a seizure.  He did not feel safe in that cell.

Now, only a guess, but seeing as his seizure activity was increasing and primarily occurred in the early morning hours, his death is related to his chronic medical conditions.  Maybe respiratory distress, aspiration from vomiting, or even from his insulin management.

Matt was feeling depressed days preceding his death.  He was often refusing medications and did not have an appetite.  I did hear the nurse say, on more than one occasion, “I don’t care if you take your meds or not.”  I guess as a medical professional, my approach to that situation would be completely different.

Officers make inspections or rounds on the cells usually once or twice an hour.  On the evening shifts it seemed as if this was less frequent and I have witnessed officers sleeping at their desk.  Is this an appropriate environment for an individual who could have a seizure at any moment and require immediate medical attention is not suspicious that his seizures were increasing in frequency leading up to his death?

Now, this is my opinion 100%.  I believe the officials acted with deliberate indifference and neglect.  They know about his chronic medical conditions and the increasing episodes.  There was serious danger to Matt if a seizure went unnoticed, they know he required immediate medical attention upon outset of any seizure and provided no means to limit this danger.  They failed to take responsible measures to abate substantial risk of serious harm.  What is questionable here is the fact that he remained in a cell that could not be easily monitored by officers, routine inspections of cells were sporadic and infrequent at night.  They failed to provide Matt a safe monitored environment where any seizure would be quickly noticed.  This led to a delay in adequate medical care/attention ultimately leading to his death.

Now comes the morning of his death.  The nurse usually came between 5:15-5:30 am to check Matt’s blood sugar.  Around 5:20 I heard loud banging and looked out to see what was happening.  At this point I heard the officer say “Is he breathing.”  At no point did I hear the officer call a code blue, instead I saw them both walk away from the room.  It wasn’t until the sergeant arrived that anyone began CPR and appropriate help was requested.  Paramedics did not arrive until 5:45 and life saving medications were not began until 5:52 am.

If you have any specific questions to these events, please do not hesitate to ask!

CO Boria is a very hard officer to like.  HIs motto is “If you do not bother me, I will not bother you” and states this before we are allowed access to the day room every time.  Though, he seems to instigate many interactions that require him to show his authority.  This is not uncommon though among many guards.  Like I stated before there was infrequent checks on cells and the morning of Matt’s death, the actions they took that morning were not appropriate.  Now I’m not sure if he ignored the calls of other neighboring inmates but when the nurse came to give him his insulin that morning they came upon him “not breathing.”  Other instances neighboring inmates caught attention of officers but this morning I did not see or hear anyone trying to gain officer Boria’s attention prior to both the nurse and him opening his door and finding him unconcscious.

I read the newsletter you sent and I will agree with many points made.

Coming up on a hundred days here, I never want to see a bologna or salami sandwich.  The only meat we get here is soy based.  I found the sheriff’s response to the food served as a gross exaggeration of reality.  The only time they ever served actual chicken was on Thanksgiving.

Aramark is an extreme rip off.  One package of Ramen noodle soup is 82 cents.  The same package you can buy in a store for 5 or 10 cents.  A calling card costs $20 but there is an additional $7 charged for the card itself each time.  To place money in your account there is a substantial processing fee Aramark charges if you don’t do so in person at the jail.

My family does not live here in N. Carolina because I was here for school.  They traveled 600 miles to visit me over the holidays.  I was granted 1 visit for 20 minutes in which I was forced to leave the visitation room by the officer.  That is the only time I have seen my family in 3 months due to the distance they live from here.  It’s inconceivable that this behavior exists with the officers, but it is true.

Again, let me know if I can help any further with your investigation and thank you for the newsletter.

  • _____

 

Quiero agradecerles/I want to thank you

Hola, soy H.V. (English below)

Recibi su carta. Quiero agradecerlese por las protestas y el esfuerso que acen ustedes para que este lugar horible y las personas que trabajan en el tengan un mejor trato para nosotros.

Aqui es muy dificil la vida, amigos. Algunos oficiales son buena gente pero ay otros que los tratan como animaales. El 2015 fue muy dificil porque abia beces que pasaban asta 3 dias sin papel de baño no podia acer mis necesidades. como resultado de esto me enferme de emoroidis estube 2 meses con esa enfermedad sufri mucho. Porque la medicina barata que me daban no me alludaba a mejorar.

Pero han mejorado un poco este año al menos papel de baño si tenemos siempre.

Nada es bueno aqui en esta carcel solo salimos 6 horas al dia y lo demas del tiempos estamos laquiados. La berda no entiendo porque en esta carcel asen eso con uno. Por ejemplo, en el condado Wake no laquean a los presos. en el condado Orange tampo laquean.

La comida esta orrible parese que fuera comida de perros tengo 7 meces de estar aqui y he comido sanguich de bolonia en la cena todos los dias.

Aqui hay much injusticia porque la comida que compra uno aqui esta bien cara. Por ejemplo una sopa instantania afuera valen 4 por un dolar pero qui estan a 82 centabos cada una. Esto no tiene sentido si aqui ni podemos trabajar mas bien dependemos de lo que nuestra familia nos da con mucha dificultad. Yo pienso que mas bien aqui adentro deberian de costar menos que afuera las cosas. Aqui esta gente se aprobechan de uno de toda forma pocible. Por una tarjeta de diez dolares tenemos que pagar 17 por una de 20 dolares teneos que pagar 27 esta gente injusta no se conforman con ganarse un par de dolares por tarjeta. Son unos desgraciados. Yo gracia a mi dios ya voy a salir de este lugar. Esta es mi primera bes que estoy tanto tiempo en este infierno y tratare de que sea la ultima.

Gracias con mucho cariño! Que dios los bendiga amigos!

****************

English Translation

I got your letter. I want to thank you for the protests and the effort that you guys make for us so that this horrible place and the people who work here treat us better.

Here, life is difficult my friends. Some officers are good, but others treat us like animals. 2015 was a hard because there were times we spent three days without toilet paper, and I could not take care of my needs. As a result of this, I go sick with hemorrhoids, and I suffered from this for 2 months because the cheap medicine they were giving me did not help me get better.

But, things have improved here this year. At least we have toilet paper always.  Nothing is good here in this jail, we only get out 6 hours a day and the rest of the time we are on lockback. The truth is, I don’t get why in this jail they can do this to someone. For example, in Wake County they don’t do this, in Orange County they don’t do this.

The food is horrible and it seems like dog food. I have been here 7 months and I have eaten a bologna sandwich for dinner every day.

Here there is a lot of injustice because the food that you can buy is so expensive. For example, a instant soup outside sells for 4 for a dollar, but in here it is 82 cents for one. This doesn’t make sense, in here we can’t work, and we have to depend on what our family gives us with difficulty. I think that things in here should cost less than things outside. In this way, they take advantage of you in every way possible. For a 10 dollar card we have to pay 17, for a 20 dollar card we have to pay 27. These unfair people can’t be content without making a couple bucks off of every card. They are idiots. I, thank god, am going to leave soon. This is my first time that I spent so much time in this hell and I am going to try to make it the last.

Thanks you so much. May god bless you, friends.

Rise and Roar: From Inside the Jail and Into the Streets, We Say No More

from The Lion King Welcoming Committee of Inside-Outside Alliance:

NYEpic.

The Lion King returns to DPAC for a month of shows beginning February 16 and running through March 20. A lot of money will flow through the city-owned performing arts center, and a lot of money will go to the Nederlander Organization, which runs the Broadway performances that come to DPAC. Meanwhile, just across Mangum Street, at the Durham County Jail, people continue to suffer and die from medical neglect. Less than a month ago, 29-year-old Matthew McCain died in his cell. Numerous accounts indicate that Matthew received poor medical care for his diabetes, and that he was not treated properly after an altercation he had with another inmate. He did not have to die. Nor did Dennis McMurray, a previously healthy 52-year-old man who died in the jail in January of 2015. Thirty-year-old Raphael Bennett died in the jail in August 2015 under unknown circumstances. The jail, and the sheriff’s department which runs it, has had little to say about these deaths and the repeated accounts of medical and nutritional neglect, as well as brutality and harassment by officers. They deflect questions and never take responsibility for anything. This needs to stop now. Continue reading

“They covered up my dad’s death, and they got away with it”

 

Daughter of man who died one year ago in jail custody speaks out

January 27, 2016

As has come to light, Matthew McCain is not the only person to have died while in custody at the Durham jail in the past year or so. According to the Herald-Sun, the sheriff’s department has said two people died in the jail in 2015. We have not heard anything about one of these deaths. However the facts surrounding the death of Dennis McMurray last January are as sickening as what happened to Matthew McCain last week. Continue reading

“I am having nightmares–what if my son is next?”

 

This is a brief roundup of reactions to news of the death of Matthew McCain in jail custody a week ago  from people who have been locked up in Durham or who have someone locked up there now. There are expressions of rage, and fear and condolences. It is important to remember that although people may accept this Matthew’s death as normal, it is not normal. And it is not ok. Continue reading

Inmates and Family Foil Jail’s Attempted Cover-Up of Death

“Their negligence is the reason my daughter will never meet her daddy”

January 22, 2016

Yet again, the life of a young African-American man has been treated as disposable, this time resulting in death. The Durham County jail continually denied 29 year-old Matthew McCain proper medical treatment, including insulin for his diabetes. Matthew’s family tried to sue the jail last year, when he was incarcerated a separate time, because of the jail’s refusal to give Matthew insulin consistently. Unfortunately, they were unable to find a lawyer that would take the case.

Matthew Pancakes

Matthew enjoying some chicken and waffles.

 

Ashley Canady was Matthew’s girlfriend and the mother of his baby, Kinslee, who was born on December 6, 2015 while Matthew was still incarcerated. Ashley and Matthew spoke on the phone and wrote often.

Since August 2015 when he was incarcerated, Matthew was continually calling and writing Ashley and his family to tell them that he felt like he was going to die in the jail because jail staff and medical personnel weren’t providing him his insulin consistently. Ashley says,

We asked for his release in early November and the DA said I was crazy. I asked to have him released to a medical facility.”

Last Friday, January 15th, Matthew was in an altercation with another inmate that left him badly injured. He was unable to get up from his bunk and had to have his cellmate make calls for him. He received no medical care despite being bedridden.

Early on Tuesday, January 19th, Matthew had a seizure. The other inmates in his pod continually pressed the buttons in their cells but the D.O. on duty, Officer Boria, did not answer the calls.  Matthew died at approximately 5:30am. It was not until 7:40am that the coroner came. Meanwhile, all the inmates were left locked back in their cells while Matthew’s body laid on the floor for two hours.

Matthew McCain Screenshot

Hours after his death, Matthew’s mother, Vicky McCain, and Ashley were both notified that Matthew had been “released” (this was an automatic or VINE notification of the change in his incarceration status). Vicky went to the jail to pick Matthew up since he had been released. When she got there, Matthew was nowhere to be found. Jail staff evaded her questions about Matthew’s whereabouts. Finally a staff person informed her that he had died that morning. 

Jail staff have refused to let Vicky see her son’s body and she has no idea where his body is. She was told that they won’t let her see the body until after the autopsy.

Ashley received a letter Thursday (1/21) from Matthew that was postmarked on the day of his death, but was written on the 15th.

Matthew McCain should be remembered as someone who would do anything for his loved ones. He was part of the VISIONS Minority Male Leadership Initiative at Durham Tech. He regularly helped with the resident council food drives in the community of McDougald Terrace. He was a loving son, boyfriend, and father.

This horrifying situation raises numerous questions, but we in Inside-Outside Alliance start with this simple one, and implore you to ask the same: Where is Matthew McCain’s body? And we, Inside-Outside Alliance, for now make the simple demand that his mother be told where his body is, and be able to see her child’s body immediately.

We also demand that the autopsy report be made public, and that Matthew’s family be able to view all relevant video footage of Matthew’s last days should they so desire.

To jail staff, Ashley says this:

“I just want them to know their negligence is the reason my daughter will never meet her daddy. I will never hear his voice or see him.”

Matthew’s loved ones ask that everyone share his story widely and demand justice for his death.

 

Rest in Power Matthew McCain.

And may the criminals in charge of the Durham County Office of the Sheriff, Sheriff Mike Andrews, Detention Director Natalie Perkins, Detention Officer Boria, and all those on staff at the jail have no peace. Everyone in this oppressive system — the jail administration, the corporations like the medical provider, Correct Care Solutions, who profit off the jail, the media and politicians who cover up for the jail — is complicit in the killing of Matthew McCain by collective neglect.

Matthew’s fellow inmates bravely spoke out, risking retribution, to share the story of his death. They foiled the jail’s attempt to cover this up. We owe it to them, to Matthew’s loved ones, and to the memory of Matthew, to amplify his story. Please share this widely.

 

Below, find the previously issued statement by Inside-Outside Alliance on Matthew McCain’s death as well as some photos of Matthew, Kinslee, and Ashley.

Ilovedaddy.png

Kinslee, Ashley and Matthew’s daughter, with a shirt Matthew bought for her that reads, “I love daddy.”

Banana pudding

Matthew McCain

Bible Matthew Kaia

Matthew reading the Bible to his buddy Kaia. He was a strong believer.

Ashley and Matthew

Matthew and Ashley enjoying a drink together.

Ashley and Matthew together

Ashley and Matthew together

 

 

See below for further information:

Continue reading

Inmate Dies in Durham County Jail After Medical Neglect by Detention Staff

Sheriff’s Department Remains Silent About Death

Durham, NC – A man incarcerated in the Durham County Detention Facility died in his cell on Tuesday, January 19 at approximately 5:30 am. The sheriff’s office has not made this death known to the public. According to those who were incarcerated with the man, his name is Matthew McCain. Eyewitnesses have reported that other inmates in Pod 3D were aware of McCain’s physical distress and pressed the emergency buttons in their cells several times, but their calls for help were ignored by Officer Boria, the detention officer on duty in Pod 3D that morning. McCain was not given medical attention and died as a result. His body remained in the cell for two hours until the coroner arrived at approximately 7:40 am.

Inmates have reported that Officer Boria has ignored emergency call buttons in the past. While Boria bears responsibility in McCain’s death, this tragedy occurred within a widespread system of abuse in the Durham County Jail.  Inside-Outside Alliance has heard many reports over the past few years which point to rampant medical neglect inside the jail, with prisoners routinely being denied care, including basic medical procedures and prescription medications.  Inside-Outside Alliance has been forced, on several occasions, to publicly pressure Sheriff Andrews and his staff so that inmates can receive basic medical procedures.  Detainees pay $20 for every medical visit, which is four times as much as a medical visit in a state prison. Medical care inside the jail is provided by Correct Care Solutions, a private healthcare corporation that is currently being sued in connection with the death of a Forsyth County inmate.

As of the writing of this release, Sheriff Andrews has not released any information to the public about this criminally negligent homicide committed by his staff.  In recent months, public pressure has been mounting for more transparency at the jail and for a community-based investigation into human rights abuses occurring there. Sheriff Andrews has insisted that inmates’ health and safety in detention is his highest priority. Yet not only has he kept Matthew McCain’s death a secret, but he has deliberately misled the public, listing McCain as “out of custody” due to “general release” on the jail’s website. Even as McCain’s body was lying dead on the floor of the Durham County jail, Sheriff Andrews and his staff appear to have been plotting to make it look as though he had simply been released.  This is unacceptable and must be challenged by the public and the press.

Finally, it is important to note that this act of violence has taken place amid a nationwide onslaught of police murders and jail deaths in a country marked by a deep history of racist state violence.  The same structure that killed Sandra Bland and LaQuan McDonald has taken yet another life in the Durham County Jail, and just as lynch mobs used to leave their victims’ bodies exposed as a mechanism of terror, Durham detention staff left another body where it lay for over two hours.  

UPDATE: This post has been updated with Matthew McCain’s name in the hopes that his friends, family, and all those who knew him might be able to join in demanding justice for his death. 

‘This is state-sponsored or funded madmen’

The following letter is from a state inmate who was serving time in Durham jail until he suffered a major hip injury in an altercation with other inmates.

Hey —,

Got your letter, thanks. I also got a letter from — that’s part of IOA. He liked something I said. It made me happy. It is a true blessing to have found like-minded folks out there. It was strange for years, I was like, “Are y’all reading this shit?” All my friends like to drink. It has destroyed my life. They maintain. They agree, but it is hard when you are fear stricken. Where I lived with my buddy for years in Durham on Vickers Ave, walking distance to the jail in 10 min. Anyway, we got tickets for having a beer on the sidewalk while we were working on a broken truck. Continue reading

‘They say ‘sir’ while kicking the shit out of us’

Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. I’ve been busy!

They are continually housing state inmates with county detainees and it is causing problems…I myself have been constantly double bunked with county detainees and am told they can bunk me with whoever they want. We state inmates are regarded as regular detainees, when we are not. I work 35 to 40 hours a week for Aramark without pay, however I eat well, better than the others. I have not seen any caseworker, and they fucked up my release date to keep me here longer. My lawyer…is working to help me get it fixed, but it’s slow going.  Continue reading

‘They treat us as if we’re other than human’

How is everything going?

Well, I received your letter & it came to me as a surprise cause I watch you all out there every Friday thru my window right in the front. So I want to thank you & everyone else for the time & concern you all are giving us here, the inmates of the Durham County Jail. And I do have a few things I would like to shed some light at about the problems & the conditions we are having in this jail! These problems are nothing new. It has been going on for some time! Continue reading