‘Face-to-face visits are the only time we feel human’

Hi,

It was good to get a letter from you in this dark place. How are you? I’m doing about as good as I can in here, you know. I read the magazine (feedback). It’s nice, very informative and REAL!  I feel that the video visitation is a horrible idea because it’s the one time for twenty minutes to be free again and be a father and talk to and catch up with your children’s life, to be a husband/boyfriend and speak with your significant other and feel human again. I am for face-to-face visits. It’s the only time we as detainees feel human and are actually connected to our real lives outside of this filthy, overcrowded hell on Earth. Continue reading

‘I think they wanna control every aspect of each inmate’s life’


Ms. Bell,
Everybody know that DCJ is the worst jail in NC and now they are going to cut out face to face visits.

I think they wanna control every aspect of each inmate’s life. I understand that this is jail but it is very cold in here even in the summer. I don’t know why they feel it has to be this way!

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.

– ____

‘One voice is but a whisper, a thousand are a mighty roar’

Dear IOA

I am a female inmate currently in custody at Durham County jail. First, I want to praise the work and efforts made to give voice to any and all parties willing to speak out against issues that would otherwise go unaddressed. As a temporary resident in this jail I am expressing the need for all inmates, male and female, to be properly screened and searched. Lice were discovered in 5D (women’s housing unit). The woman came into the facility with them, and was a part of general population for nearly a week before they were discovered. She was given one treatment, placed on medical lockback and virtually forgotten about besides meals. When approximately two weeks had passed, there was a breech in communication. One squad was told she was medically cleared, when she had not been. She again joined general population, only to be locked back until she was released. There have been grievances filed about females grooming and styling hair in the eating area, which is highly unsanitary, but no one has formally addressed this matter. Another issue in the female pod is the constant unnecessary request for toilet paper and feminine products, which should be kept on hand. There is no reason a woman should have to wait for items that are necessary to ensure good hygienical practices. Continue reading

Canteen and Tray Petition

the below letter was signed by 35 detainees on 5A.

To whom it may concern,

We the inmates of Durham County Jail are addressing fairness, equality and the expectation of appropriate functioning of services provided by this facility in associations with ABL food services and Aramark employees.

Food Trays

We are addressing the issue of continuous empty slots every morning for breakfast, and for lunch and dinner. This may not be all the time, but it is the majority of the time that they are not adequately filled.

Another issue is the fact that diet trays are not appropriately prepared in regards to an individual’s specified diet which has been set by medical. We have witnessed on several occasions an inmate whose meal says no cabbage receive cole slaw, lettuce or straight cabbage; another, whose specified no onions/no red sauce receive exactly this and they are allergic. Not only did they receive this meal, but the detention officer wouldn’t get it fixed, but forced the inmate to keep the tray even knowing the individual’s allergies. Another inmate who is a diabetic and receives a 2800 calorie diet continues to get trays packed with starches, which is worse than the consumption of cookies. He will receive a tray with bread, pasta and potatoes with applesauce. That’s ridiculous. And there is an individual who receives a Heart Healthy diet/ no red sauce and there are moments when he, as well, receives exactly what should not be on a cardiac diet. ABL needs to be addressed pertaining to the inmates who are in the initial care of this facility. Hands down. Continue reading

‘Not falling for the trick this system uses…’

Jan 4 2017

Dear —

Hello to you all the IOA. I pray you all had a wonderful holiday season. Yes, I’m still here after 39 months standing strong in my faith. Refusing to bend. Not falling for the trick this system uses (waiting you out) hoping you sign a plea for something you did not do! Continue reading

‘WAR: It’s time to fight back’

Whatz up.

I’m still fighting. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while. I been doing a lot of reading and thinking. Like the question what goal are we trying to get to? How do we plan on getting there?

What the system doing to us is the same thing they been doing for years! They just change the shell. Like slavery instead of working the fields, they send us to jail and prison. Instead of house niggers, they have c.o.’s or d.o.’s. Also D.A.’s.  Continue reading