Fight Fire with Fire

9/8/16

To my brothers and sisters in the struggle of Durham County Jail and the Durham Justice system, yeah (just us). Yes, it is very real. The New Slavery, mass incarceration is living and gaining more steam as we speak. The only way to dismantle this capitalist machine at 510 S. Mangum St. and new pretty building on 510 Dillard St. (No, not the DPAC. LOL) This County makes its own court docket. So if they want you to sit, you sit here at 510 Mangum St. until you are tried or cop out to an unjust plea bargain. And the condition of the jail (commissary/canteen, GTL phone, medical, food, time out of cell). We must stick together and force them to take all cases to trial, whether it’s a traffic case, misdemeanor, or felony case. This is fighting fire with fire. Stop using the phones and stop making companies like Aramark rich by putting our people’s money in their pocket. And then, only then, something will change for us as whole. If we just sit here and complain and do nothing, they will keep feeding the machine. So if nothing changes, then nothing changes. And that’s real.

 

Be strong and

pray, pray, pray,

-B.R.

 

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protest outside Durham County Detention Center, Sept. 9, 2016

 

 

 

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‘I love writing, especially when we are trying to get something positive accomplished’

Hello,

How are you? I’m doing ‘good’ as expected considering these negative circumstances: If I worry about the negative things in here, my time would go by slower and more painful; so I don’t worry. I am just very concerned about the jail and the judicial system! You all on the outside help to build my hopes up high to know that someone is fighting for us inmates in the DCDF. Continue reading

“I have no doubt it’s because of inmate petitions, IOA and the volunteers and the protesting in front of the jail. It seems like we are making some headway and things are starting to change.”

G___,

Thanks for the letter and the Feedback pamphlet.  I was the first person to receive the new April edition and it has been a hot commodity with everyone wanting a chance to read it.  As for me, I’m doing okay, just waiting for court dates for things to progress a bit faster.  Trying to be as patient as possible.

By the sounds of things, the IOA and the volunteers have been very busy this past month.  I wish I could have been present for the debate with Michael Page and Major Martin to hear their responses and the appropriate actions they are taking to everyone’s concerns regarding the jail.  I will say that after March 15 and for the past two weeks we have been receiving hot meals for dinner instead of cold bologna sandwiches, which has us all a bit shocked.  For the past 5 months it always been cold sandwiches and all of the sudden hot meals.  I have no doubt it’s because of inmate petitions, IOA and the volunteers and the protesting in front of the jail.  It seems like we are making some headway and things are starting to change.

I had a lengthy conversation with one of the CO’s this past week.  We were discussing the IOA and he told me that the Sheriff is starting to make changes and the food is not the only change to come.  Hopefully this is true and we will see here shortly.

There are plenty of things I could go into detail about but one of my concerns now is with the mail.  I have had recent problems with both outgoing and incoming mail.  In February I was notified by my family that my mail was opened and taped shut.  From that point on I started to secure each envelope so that if it was tampered with, it would be noticeable.  Again my family notified me that my mail continued to be opened.  The jail is only supposed to open outgoing mail if there is a threat to security or order of the jail and have probable cause to do so.  My mail should not be subject to this and there should be no probable cause to repeatedly open my mail.  Also, I am not being notified that my mail is being searched.  I questioned the mail services here regarding the issue and the only response I got from Mrs. Walker is that she doesn’t deal with outgoing mail and it being opened or searched.  Still today, I’m unsure why my mail was opened and searched.

Now, incoming mail is a similar problem.  Recently, I have been receiving scanned and printed copies of a national geographic magazine.  I was notified that magazines are contraband and my mail would be returned.  What I am receiving is not a magazine but what is similar to an article printed from the internet.  So now my mail is being censored and I am not allowed to receive National Geographic articles.  How is this contraband?  How can this possibly cause any threat or harm to the jail?  The only thing I can do is write a grievance to appeal their action to send my mail away and prevent me from receiving it.  Though it has been over a week and the sergeant has yet to reply to any of my concerns or problems.

Lastly, my family has also sent me bookmarks and puzzles in the mail.  I know this because they specifically mention them in the letters.  However, they are nowhere to be found within my mail.  This means that whoever is inspecting mail is taking these items out before giving me my mail.  Again, this is an example of them censoring mail.  What bothers me is they do so without your knowledge, without notifying you that they removed items from your mail.  There is no mention as to why it was censored or how it violates any regulations or policy.  I’m almost certain that if the jail censors your mail you should be notified of their actions so you are given the appropriate time to appeal that action.

So to answer your concern about mail from the IOA; I wouldn’t be surprised if incoming mail is being screened and censored or just blocked from being delivered, especially from IOA.  Much of the staff here do not like being within the newsletters or on the website to begin with.  Though, nothing is certain and it seems that I’m receiving your letters without difficulty.

Again, thanks for the letter and newsletter.  I look forward to hearing back from you and the IOA.  We do get to go to the “Library” every week or so and of course there is always a very limited selection.  I would never turn down an offer for a book, and I’m certain that many inmates here would also like it too.  Books are consistently shared among the Pod, especially if it is a good read.  My favorite authors are ____________ and ___________.  So far I’ve found “__________,” “__________,” and “__________” here in the library by ____________ and have read them.  I’ve also read “__________” and “__________” series by ___________.  I’m sure there are plenty of other books by these authors.  However, do not feel obliged to purchase any books, but of course it would be much appreciated.

  • _____

After Winter Must Come Spring

(this statement is included in a newly published zine by IOA called No More Jail Deaths No More Jail, which you can find here)

A statement from Inside-Outside Alliance, April 2016

Everything is everything / What is meant to be, will be / After winter, must come spring / Change, it comes eventually –Lauryn Hill

The days after Matthew McCain’s death on Tuesday, January 19th were as bleak as any this winter in Durham. On Friday the 22nd, a mixture of snow and ice pummeled the Triangle area. As they often do, media outlets focused singularly on the weather event, despite social media outrage about Matt’s death. But the determination of Matthew’s loved ones, and of those who had witnessed his death by medical neglect, could not be denied, and once the snow and ice had melted, the egregious inaction of jail staff began coming to fuller light. Further, Shakiyla Young, who had all but stopped hoping for a drop of information about the death of her father, Dennis McMurray, identified with the pain and helplessness felt by Matthew’s family and publicly came forward again with her story about her father’s death in the jail a year prior.   Continue reading

‘Thanks for letting us say what’s on our minds’

3-21-16

Hello,

How are yall doing? I got to say Thank yall for what yall is doing. I like reading the newsletter and it be a lot of good things in there, too. Oh, and thank you and yall for (offering) to be in the court room for me, but I’m good, just keep do what yall do best. I go to court next month…

I’m ready to leave this fucked up jail behind and move on with life, you feel me? Continue reading

‘I watch inmates rush to take plea bargains’

3.16.16

First off I would like to thank you for writing me and for your concern in DCJ. I have been here for a while and being locked back 16 ½ hours a day can drive me crazy at times. On top of that they run the A/C all year round and only give us one blanket and yes, it’s freezing like hell. I’m not understanding—we already locked up, what more do they need? Continue reading