This too shall pass


Included with this beautiful drawing:


Ebony Fields was in the STARR program in Durham. She was transferred to Wake County for about 50 days. She knew Uneice “Neicey” fennell who died here in Durham at the jail on Marc 23rd. Ebony drew this in her memory and asked me to forward it o you for possible publication in the IOA.

Thanks so much



“Its a vicious cycle where their goal is for you to lose everything you have”


I received two letters from you on March 31st, one was dated February 11th and the second March 27th. So I think there may be some lag time with the mail. You asked if I had received the Human Relations Commission’s Report and I have not! The only thing I received in the mail are two written letters and both March and April “Feedback” booklets. There is no report anywhere to be found if it was sent. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it conveniently was lost by the mail inspection here.

As for your inquiry about any knowledge in regards to Uniece Fennell. There is none in 3D, no one knows a thing here and the officers are tight lipped as if it never happened. When I called home the day after the incident my family was asking about the death – And I had no clue about it at all. When I asked the officer in the pod about it he would not comment and wouldn’t even confirm that anything happened. I watched the local news that evening, there was no story about it there either and nobody gets the newspaper. The women’s pod is on the 5th floor, we are in the dark down here on the 3rd floor. Sorry I couldn’t be of any help this time.

Video visitation seems to be a hot topic lately. I heard that the jail was going to transition to it like Wake County but I didn’t realize it was happening NOW! A couple days in the past few weeks we have been prevented from coming out of our cells in the morning because they had someone working in the visitation room: They’ve already started installing metal mounts to house the video screen. It looks like they are progressing forward despite all the protests inside and out. The feedback booklet hits on a few critical points such as profiting GTL as well as the jail’s profit and how video visitation will dehumanize personal interactions. I want to point out how the District Attorney’s office will directly “profit” from it, too. Just like our phone calls I would think the video visits will be recorded. The district Attorney’s office has access to your phone calls and will now be able to pry into your visits. There is no privacy whatsoever. They read our mail, they record our phone calls, and now they will be keeping tabs on our visits. What would it be like if we had that privilege to listen to the prosecutors and DAs discussions and every phone call that they make. Invade their private interactions. Now that would be something. My point is that the deck is already stacked against you and anytime I speak my mind I have to worry whether or not what I say could be falsely used against me or perceived some other way. It’s ridiculous!

On to other topics! The food and ABL. It has been a roller coaster with them and there is no consistency. When they began in October, there was promise, but now I can see that was just a front. The first 3 weeks were good! A variety of fresh fruit including Bananas, green vegetables, including chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, good portion sizes, and no soy. Currently, the fruit we get is not ripe, heavily bruised, and tastes awful, easily finding its way into the trash container. We have not seen a banana since the first couple of weeks. We hardly get greens, nothing like we got the first few weeks even if we do. Lately the food has been so salty you can’t even eat it. The pancakes yesterday were hard as a rock. At this point I don’t know which company was worse, ARAMARK or ABL. There is absolutely no variety ether. You get the same meals every week multiple times a week. It’s getting old very quick. Honestly, at this point I hope the jail does not review ABL’s contract. What reviews I saw and the article about ABL in the newspaper raving about their good quality and healthier menu is a lie. My vote would be to kick them out too. Their quality and service has been declining since day 1.

I wrote last time about the DA’s office and the prosecutor threatening to obtain another search warrant after a judge has already noted significant misconduct by officers. Well they mangaged to get one, how, I have no clue. The only way is by lying and bad faith, which the DA’s office is notorious for so I’m not surprised. I just read an article in the newspaper on 3/31/17 quoting a supreme court judge. In summary it mentioned that the average person does not think the justice system within North Carolina is fair and a large percentage think the process is too slow. My follow up question to that would be to isolate Durham and see how it compares. My guess would be that Durham would be far worse. I sit here day after day watching how the system in Durham works and it is concerning. Most of the prosecutors are no better than Mike Nifong and Tracy Cline, maybe even worse. I swear they teach a class to these prosecutors on the best way to hide the truth, withhold evidence, and when all else fails keep them in jail and delay, delay, delay. Its a vicious cycle where their goal is for you to lose everything you have; whether its your job, house, car, marriage, etc. And once they’ve exhausted and beat you down by holding you in jail they wait until you give up. It’s just crazy to me and something needs to be done.

Oh, I want to give my thoughts on this jail with regards to Uniece Fennell. I don’t know what happened, but if it was suicide I don’t think that means the jail can wash their hands from liability. My understanding is that this jail was supposed to get more funding for mental health. Officers were supposed to get training on how to better handle mental health issues. If Uniece was troubled enough to harm herself, there were obvious signs that should have been caught. These officers don’t care about anyone in this jail and they are certainly not observant enough. Next, how does the jail provide the means for someone to commit suicide. This should not have happened and should not have even been possible. I’ve lived in these cells for 17 months, if she was able to be successful in her attempt – something was not right and something needs to change. You stress the hell out of people and then place them in a harsh environment. We already know that mental disorders are widely prevalent within the jail. It’s a shame that yet another person dies in this jail.

Alright! Thanks for the letters and Feedback! Looking forward to hear from you soon and any new updates!

– E.X.

To lay Niecey to rest, we must never let the sheriff rest

Two weeks after her death in the Durham County Detention Center, Uniece “Niecey” Fennell will be memorialized at a funeral service for her family and friends today, Thursday, April 6. Although her mother is glad to have her daughter’s body near her now (and is appreciative to those who have donated), this day will bring no solace or peace. And that is because there are many more questions than answers surrounding Niecey’s death on March 23. Seeing Niecey’s body in person has left her mother, Julia Graves, more convinced than ever that, with the bruising all over her body, she was beaten and that the state of her body is not consistent with that of a hanging, as the jail asserts happened. Niecey’s mother believes “it was not a suicide.”  The jail, through its various media mouthpieces, has been able to get away with asserting that a detention officer that had given Niecey a particularly hard time had resigned two weeks before an email her lawyer sent Major Couch about the abusive behavior. The only problem with this narrative? The email exchange between Niecey’s attorney and Couch and his legal advisor, Curtis Massey, does not actually name an officer. Not exactly artful liars, this bunch.

Although the NC chief medical examiner’s autopsy has not been completed yet, Julia is not confident that it will tell the entire story. How closely does the CME work with detention officials? Why was Uniece’s body moved by the jail to a funeral home in Durham so soon after her death, and before her mother was aware of it and well before she signed off on releasing it? How come no one from the jail has contacted her to let her know what she should expect and when she should expect it regarding the autopsy?

Due to all these questions, and many, many more, Julia would like to pay for a second, independent autopsy in order to gain some closure and in order to hold the sheriff’s office and jail officials responsible for Niecey’s death. Thus, please keep the donations coming in to help pay for the second autopsy. Share the following link as widely as possible:

Bringing Niecey Home to Rest

No donation is too small.

If you’re in Durham, come out this Sunday:

Cookout Fundraiser: Justice for Niecey


R.I.P. Niecey. Justice for: Niecey. We love you, Niecey.

Justice for Niecey Fennell: Come out Friday, March 31 @ noon

From the family of Uniece “Niecey” Fennell:

Standoff/Protest this Friday @12pm at the Durham County Detention Center for Niecey Fennell. This is for those who can’t participate in adding money to help with her expenses.  It is absolutely FREE to express your emotions. There’s no excuses other than a ride and your job that you can not be there!!!!!!!

We will meet in front of the DPAC and start a line in front of the Detention Center forming a standoff and protest. If y’all really care like y’all say y’all do y’all will make it your business to be there!!!!! SHARE SHARE SHARE


R.I.P. Uniece “Niecey” Fennell

Uniece Glenae Fennell’s death is a horrible tragedy. We extend our condolences to those who knew and loved Uniece and we hope they can find space to grieve and mourn in peace.

At least this time the public was informed about a death at the jail. That is only because of the fierce struggle for justice undertaken by family, loved ones, friends and community members after Matthew McCain’s death in January 2016.

Uniece is the fourth person since 2015 to die in the Durham County Jail under the direction of Sheriff Mike Andrews. The Durham County Jail does nothing but isolate, abuse, neglect, and kill our friends and family. Though we don’t know the exact circumstances of Uniece’s death, we do know that no one should ever die in jail. Because this jail has already killed so many, and before it kills even more, we say no more jail deaths, no more jail

We are trying to find out more about this tragic death. Please contact us at or 919.666.7854 if you have information.

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

Remember Matthew McCain, Remember Chuy Huerta. Rest in Power!

November 19 marked ten months since Matthew McCain was taken from this earth due to the criminal neglect of staff at the Durham County Detention Facility. Matthew would have been 30 years old next week.

It also marks three years since Jesus “Chuy” Huerta died in the back of a Durham police vehicle. The Durham Police are responsible for his death. Chuy was 17.

We continue to stand with their families and loved ones and mourn their passing, and vow to continue the struggle against the jail and the police.

Chuy Huerta and Matthew McCain, Presente!

Banana puddingEPSON MFP image



We remember Matthew McCain

Six months ago today Matthew McCain died in his cell at the Durham County jail. We want to take a moment to say that he will not be forgotten by those who loved him, and by those in the jail who still write about him. We know he would still be here today if not for the inadequate medical care provided at the jail. To this point, the jail and Correct Care Solutions have escaped accountability.

A survey done by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care pointed out four essential standards the jail fell short on—including caring for detainees with long-term illness—and even the county health department’s review resulted in recommendation for changes.   In the meantime, we have gotten word that the detention officer on duty at the time of Matt’s death and who reportedly ignored pleas for help, Erick Boria, has been promoted. And the sheriff’s department has very publicly conducted detainee baptisms, but neither Mike Andrews nor Natalie Perkins has ever apologized to Matt’s kin.

With the very public, high-profile deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in the news and on people’s minds, it is very important to remember others who are victims of state-sanctioned murder and severe neglect. The jail (or prison) and its backers seek to render its captives invisible. But they are not invisible and they are not forgotten.

Rest in peace, Matthew McCain.Banana pudding

“There is some rumor going around that visitation will soon change too”


Thanks for the Feedback newsletter this month.  Yep, I’m still here waiting on the ever so slow legal system.  Seems like everyone here is in the same boat, waiting months on end to go to court just to have it postponed by the prosecutor for some nonsense reason.  I’ve been here 9 months and finally ready to get some pertinent motions heard, and the prosecutor claims she hadn’t had enough time to prepare for my motions, postponing my next court date for yet another month.  It’s crazy!  As Donald Trump would say, “It’s rigged.”  Other than that everything has been okay.  The mail has been like always, slow and sporadic.  Occasionally they’re opening my mail, still, but the only response I can get from the officers that manage the mail is that they don’t regulate what mail gets searched and why.  I guess I’ll get no answer as to why my mail is being searched.  We got a letter this week from major Rita Collins saying we will not be able to receive stamps in the mail anymore.  I didn’t like that news, now I have to give Aramark more money just to get stamps.

I did catch the article in the paper a couple weeks ago about the County Board of Health’s report and finding them deficient in 4 of 38 regulations.  The jail was obviously not in full compliance with these health regulations and my assumption is they never were to begin with.  It’s also obvious the National Institute of Corrections and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare who came to assess the situation after Matthew’s death in January swept any non-compliance under the rug.  Both deaths that occurred in this jail in the last 2 years have been preventable given the appropriate preemptive measures that should have been taken.  Now I’m wondering how long the jail has been in violation of standard regulations set by the county board of health?  I guess the more eyes that come to inspect the jail the better, and I hope the City of Durham’s Human Relations Commission is able to make a difference here, whenever they do their public forum.

There is some rumor going around that visitation will soon change, too.  Instead of in-person visits, they are organizing to set up audio/video feeds and monitors for visitations.  Your family members will still have to come to the jail to “visit,” but you will only see a T.V. transmission in which you can both hear and see each other.  I’m gonna say it’s similar to Skype or FaceTime.  Yet another way for the jail to record every action you make when you are here, just like the phones.

Anyway, thanks for your letter, the Feedback newsletter, and your continued support!