#JusticeForAbdul

#JusticeForAbdul

Abdul Jalil Rasheed-Burnette is a 20-year-old young man living with Autism and ADHD.  On April 17, 2017, he was arrested by officers of the Durham Police Department and charged with misdemeanor simple assault (stemming from a warrant issued on April 6, 2017 in response to a complaint made by Caleb Alexander Hoover on April 3), misdemeanor disorderly conduct at a public terminal, and misdemeanor assault on a government official/employee.  He was released on a $5,000 bond.  On May 25, 2017, he was arrested again and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, misdemeanor communicating threats, and misdemeanor assault on a government official/employee.  In addition, officer Baker of the DPD alleged that Abdul resisted during his arrest.  For these misdemeanors, Abdul was held in the Durham County Jail on a $13,000 bond, until on October 12, 2017, he was found incompetent to stand trial and all of the charges were disposed of.  However, instead of being released, Abdul was sent to Central Regional Hospital in Butner, NC for “evaluation” under H.B. 95, which allows pre-trial detainees to be held in a hospital until an adjudication of their competence can be made.  Abdul was held after October 12, even though he had already been found to be incompetent and his father had been appointed his legal guardian.

On April 24, Abdul was brutalized by the arresting officers.  He and his friends were walking from a friend’s grandmother’s house and the police pulled up and began harassing them.  When Abdul asked why they were being harassed, the police grabbed him and his friends and slammed him on his face.  Sergeant Johnson of the Durham Police Department later made a statement to Abdul’s mother, Estellalah Rasheed, admitting that officer Offenburg had subjected Abdul to excessive force.  Both Sergeant Johnson and Officer Offenburg are white.  Medical examination and photos later showed that Abdul had injuries to his head, face, and wrists.  Inside-Outside Alliance has obtained these photos from Abdul’s father.  On April 24, Abdul’s father filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Unit of the Durham Police Department, who stated that they had received witness statements to the effect that Abdul had been harassed and assaulted by the DPD officers.  Captain Pickel of Internal Affairs also told Abdul’s father that Sergeant Johnson had requested medical leave for two weeks while the IA investigation took place, presumably to avoid accountability.  Since that time, however, he has not received any response to his complaint or even an acknowledgement of it.

As Inside-Outside Alliance, we want justice for Abdul Jalil Rasheed-Burnette not only because he has, himself, been heinously abused by every part of the “justice” system in Durham – brutalized by the police, held in the degrading conditions of the Durham County Jail, given an outrageous bond, and held far longer than was necessary or even legal by officials who are clearly incompetent, greedy, or both – but also because his case bears witness to the larger issue of how Durham County treats people with disabilities and mental health issues, particularly if they are black and working class.  While those wealthy and privileged enough to afford it can get treatment and care, Abdul’s case shows how Durham has effectively decided to make people with disabilities and mental health issues a police issue rather than a community or a medical issue.  This is why, even though seven people have died in the Durham County Jail in the last five years, even though it continues to cost $20 for those detained in the jail to see a doctor, and even though Inside-Outside Alliance and other community groups have documented a sustained pattern of abuse against detainees, the Durham County Board of Commissioners approved a $228,000 grant from the US Department of Justice and kicked in $55,205 of county money for the jail to create a “mental health pod” instead of redirecting those funds to provide disability and mental health services in the community.  Durham County has effectively decided that, at least for working class people and people of color, it will address the problem of mental health and disability with cops and jails, not with doctors and caring communities.  In Abdul’s case, we see the result of that decision: the brutal beating of an autistic kid, one instance among way too many more of violence and brutality towards the members of our community whom it should be our highest priority to support.

As Durham community members, as Inside-Outside Alliance, as friends and comrades of Abdul Jalil Rasheed-Burnette, we say NO MORE!

WE DEMAND

  1. The immediate and unconditional release from custody of Abdul Jalil Rasheed-Burnette.
  2. Police accountability – we want to know what Internal Affairs found and what, if anything, happened to the officers who beat Abdul.
  3. Documentation – we want any body camera and dash cam footage of Abdul’s arrest.
  4. Fire Chief “CJ” Davis – and all other police officers in Durham.
  5. Care for People with Disabilities and People with Mental Health Issues in the Community, not from Cops and Jailers – Durham County should take the $55,205 and any other money for the so-called “mental health pod” and put it towards community care instead of policing and incarceration.  The rest of the Sheriff’s budget, too.  Really, all expenses for health care should come directly out of the Sheriff Andrews’ salary and the Sheriff’s department’s budget.
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‘Break through the red tape’

8/6/17

Dear —

First I want to thank you!!! You and others from IOA helped my brother, whom I have not seen in 2 years, break through the “red tape” of an out-of-town visitation. I feel it is one-sided and unfair, because it’s only allowed once a year. I feel every six months would be more fair. When he told me what you all did, my heart was touched…Thanks for your help!!

–JG

At a Friday protest against video visitation, demonstrators accompanied the writer’s brother into the jail after he was initially denied a special, out-of-town visit. With a group of folks behind him refusing to take no for an answer, the man and his son were able to visit his brother for the first time in two years. 

‘You’ll never succeed in walking if you don’t take the first step’

July 6, 2017

IOA

Whats up? I’m living, just trying to keep this jail from stealing my spirit. Yea, I passed word to a couple people in my pod about writing and giving their thoughts on our visits or incarceration problems period. Continue reading

“this for the Durham Association of Educators”

Dear g______ ________

I’m doing alright thanks for asking, yes we are doing a creative writing class where we get to express ourselves in different kinds of ways.  Rap, poem, drawings, speeches, & a lot more.  Curtis Barnette [another detainee] started the class & we sign up for it.  We start at 12 or when the multi-purpose room ain’t at use & any action book or drawing book is good & a dictionary, too.  I like making great drawings so I’m like more tattoo drawings.

this for the Durham Association of Educators, & the union of public school teacher: thank you for focusing on our Education.  I’m still enrolled in my base school.  I was 17 when I got here, now I’m 18.  I’m up in here for a couple a months now.  The government should focus on building schools & jobs instead of making money for the jail, b/c this jail system is so crooked.  I’m here with no proof of me committing any crime of what they blaming me for – no weapon found, no evidence of any stolen goods, no witnesses.  I’ve been just waiting for my court dates & they cancel my court date every time its been scheduled.  My lawyer just once he came and see be.  I haven’t been to court at all.  The DAs lying on everything, the court appointed lawyers ain’t helping, to be honest.  Fuck Durham County Jail, they want me to feel down & plead guilty so they can make money off me.  You know what they chose the wrong person, b/c I’m staying strong.  I got into the word of God & he helps me to stay strong & for my family & loved ones who support me they can’t even come to visit me.  I only saw my mom 3 times & now they ain’t allowing her to come.  I’m against the video visitation.  So many young teens like my age die in this cells & they just say they committed suicide or natural cause.  It ain’t true.  The COs allow it to happen & if they ain’t do nothing about it that’s how they move up to new positions.  The canteen be ripping us off of our money, they don’t return our money when we order canteen & they don’t bring our canteen, & they act like they don’t know nothing.  Man shyt crazy.  I can’t even trust the law & I never did & never will.  I speak for all my latinos up in here.  I got a friend here & they don’t let him have any visit.  His family want to see him but they don’t allow him to have any visit, & when they feel they loosing our case they put a deportation order on my people with out having proof of anything.  We get crazy rash on our body b/c of the sope & our clothes are being washed with only water & we get rash from it & we get back pain from the bed they give us.  They treat us like a bunch of animals.  They hold us over years & trying to make us commit suicide & if you don’t have money you can’t get no medical attention or get the medication you need to live.  Shyt crazy man.  They block the phone sometimes so we can’t call anyone.  People are still here fighting o live & some lost their life fighting the system.  Thank you IOA for working on protest to help us students & anyone up in jail.  Thank you and god bless y’all.

 

Sincerely,

ghost z:.

Letter to Wendy Jacobs from a Detainee in Durham County Jail

May 30, 2017

ATTN: Chairwoman Wendy Jacobs
To: The Honorable County Commissioners
Durham County, North Carolina

I write and appeal to each of you who revere and fear the Lord God Almighty, to search your hearts and consciences and hear my complaints, and do your duty in Godly fashion.  Keep in mind that as God has allowed you each to be in authority over how the Durham jail is operated, you each will be held accountable for whatever decisions you make when your every knee is bowed before Christ’s Judgement Throne to give an account of your life’s deeds.

We all can agree that jail is not a resort, and hardly anyone wants to be detained herein.  But for those of us who are here, be we guilty or innocent of the charged offense(s), we should be treated with dignity, respect and fairness.  Nevertheless, we also know that many abuses exist in jails nationwide and your office has the ability and duty to curb and put an end to such improprieties in the Durham County Jail.  If not, then such violations and abuses will continue to exist with your Board’s imprimitur.

 

VIDEO VISITATION

What is the purpose of video visitation?  The Sheriff claims it’s only an alternative – not a replacement – to face-to-face visits.  If that’s true, then it would be advantageous to those who live hundreds of miles away and out of state, provided they can utilize Skype or some other home computer video to implement such visits.

I believe most detainees’ families live in or near Durham.  If these family members are relegated to coming to the jail, only to sit before a monitor downstairs to see and communicate with us through another monitor upstairs, that would be a travesty of justice, an unnecessary invasion of privacy on our visits, and a waste of tax dollars.
Instinct and history tells me that video visitation is not going to be an alternative form of visitation.  Rather, due time, face-to-face visits will be phased out to give the Sheriff a captive audience to charge exorbitant fees for visits.  Otherwise, why try to fix what’s not broken?

For the most part, detainees in jail ahve not been convicted of any crime.  Under our system of jurisprudence, we are supposed to be deemed innocent until we are proven guilty.  But in reality, this jail treats us in opposite fashion with this Board’s seal of approval.

 

MAIL

Our mail is unlawfully censored daily, particularly by a black female officer named Snipes.  Too often she sits in the hallway outside the programs office opening and reading our incoming letters, line-by-line, on both sides of each page.  She does this to every letter her hand touches in the name of “security.”  She is just nosy as can be and knows she can get away with this abuse of authority.  She is not authorized to even touch our mail.

 

TELEPHONE CALLS

Likewise, our telephone calls are all recorded and are vetted by law enforcement to include the District Attorney’s office.  We don’t get to listen to the Sheriff’s and DA’s conversations and strategies concerning us, so why should they have this unfair advantage to hear ours?  Our most intimate conversations are violated by jail officials – telephone calls that cost us or our families an arm and a leg to utilize.  And now, the Sheriff wants to record our personal visits and charge this captive audience ridiculous prices for that too.  When will this Board put a stop to “Big Brother’s” abuses upon our privacy rights?  We are detainees – not convicted felons.

If we could afford bond, many of us would not be subjected to these privacy rights abuses.  We could talk unimpeded with absolute privacy to our attorneys and loved ones.  Simply because we cannot afford these staggeringly high and needlessly excessive bonds, the Sheriff is permitted to fleece our families and us in a myriad of senseless for-profit schemes.

 

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE ABUSES

Just a few years ago sheriffs did not outsource canteen and telephone services provided to detinees.  They provided such services themselves, just as the NC Dept of COrrection continues to do today (canteen services) at a 15% to 25% markup.

Allowing the Sheriff to outrsource canteen services, as well as our daily meals, invites abuse.  Rather than go with the vendor who offers the most reasonable products at the most savings to detainees (and our struggling families and friends who sacrifice to help support us), the Sheriff readily rejects them.  Why?  It’s all about greed and profit.  The Sheriff wants a 50% kickback off of every canteen item sold to us!  In all other entities, this practice is called illegal price gouging.  Here again, your Board is well aware of this unconscionable practice, yet turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.

Detainees are already deprived of their freedom and lose income, held by excessive bonds.  Why would any fair-minded person want to exacerbate our hardships by imposing grossly inflated canteen prices on us for the most generic brand items, e.g. one square packaged Ramen Noodle soup costs us $0.82, yet you can buy these same soups 6 for $1.00 at any Food Lion or Dollar Tree and they still make a profit selling at such price.

There is supposed to be a service fee of $1.00 for a pre-paid GTL telephone card.  A $10.00 card plus $1.00 service fee is supposed to cost us $11.00 total, or $21.00 for the $20.00 GTL card, but we are charged a whopping $7.00 service fee (profit) for each, having to pay $17.00 for a $10.00 card and $27.00 for the $20.00 card.  This is highway robbery and this Board’s sense of propriety surely knows this.

Hebrews 13:17 states in pertinent part: Obey your leadrs and submit to their authority.  They keep watch over you as men who MUST given an account.  I implore you each to depart from politics and from doing business as usual and do what is godly and righteous.  Jesus is often quoted to say: when you have done this (whatever you do) unto the least of these, you have done it unto me, Matthew 25:35-40.

It’s easy to shun those in jail and to care more about appearances to your constituents.  But you each will pay a steep penalty if you fail to exercise the God-given authority you have been entrusted.  If your conscience has not been seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2) then you will do what is just and equitable.

Please put a stop to the Sheriff’s abuse of the canteen system.  The annual budget your office approves for the Sheriff’s office is more than sufficient for all of its needs; in fact, it’s excessive.  The Sheriff should not be allowed to operate any “for profit” program against his detainee charges.  Again, such practice invites abuse administratively and monetarily.

The Sheriff’s office and Jail are stacked with excess employees; it’s like a huge welfare system.  Many of the jail’s detention staff are obese, out of shape, cannot promptly respond to emergencies and are paid well over $50 and 60 thousand dollars a year, a total waste of tax payers’ money, who sit in an office all day.  A lot of Pod officers are overweight, too.

There needs to be a qualitative management program put into effect for several reason.  All overweight personnel’s names should be placed on a list requiring mandatory weight loss over a specified period of time or be terminated.

A time-in-motion study should also be conducted to get rid of excessive personnel.  Too many people are assigned to do the same job but only few do the actual work.  I say this in all sincerity: you could reduce the actual personnel in the Sheriff’s department by 33 and 1/3% and get an increase in production by 50% by requiring the remaining staff to do their jobs.  A lot of cuts need to be made at the top in administrative and longevity positions, who demand the lion’s share of salaries.  If they had comparable jobs in the private sector they would have long ago been terminated for failure to produce, and their redundant job slots would have been eliminated.

There are ample people here at the jail who could easily operate the canteens (as Wake County Jail Sheriff’s staff do) to eliminate the existing price-gouging practice.  The same applies to the kitchen.  If our military can train and provide its own cooks, why doesn’t the Sheriff’s office still provide this service?  It would certainly help reduce contraband from entering in by private vendors providing such services and would reduce costs.

Let me comment on the new ABL management group that was hired 9 months ago.  ABL promised to improve the quality of our food by leaps and bounds provided they were paid the additional money demanded.

The first two weeks ABL came on board we were provided fresh bananas for breakfast on Saturdays, and then that stopped.  We still get grits or oatmeal (without sugar) each morning – no meat – but a turkey sausage gravy on Fridays.  The only improvement we see is the cheap plastic bag of milk we get daily and the elimination of soy producets.  We get a lot of moulded apples and oranges, no fish products at all, and maybe 3 times we have received some tough-to-chew greens.  The lack of fresh vegetables causes a lot of skin disorders.  We also get lots of unpalatable cole slaw and wilted lettuce as poor substitutes for green leafy vegetables.

Had Aramark been given the same amount of money as ABL, we would be provided more wholesome meals.  Aramark did give us baked chicken for our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.  After many complaints, ABL gave us baked chicken on New Year’s only.  ABL likes to feed us patties for lunch and supper, with wilted lettuce and baked potato fries and molded fruit as a whole meal.  That might work for teens and kids but not for adults

Why is it difficult for us to get dry cereal like corn flakes, bran or rice krispies or something similar to them?  Why can’t we buy a salad tray for $2.00 as ABL sells to staff – a salad that is wholesome and contains fresh veggies and meat?  It’s punitive to deny us a mere chef’s salad.

Why are we not served any fish products ever by ABL?  What happened to the fish sandwich that schools and even prisons serve?  ABL is as greedy as they can be.  They put excessive salt in food items that we often cannot eat.  And when we complain, they get an attitude or claim to still be training cooks!  And why do they put nasty tasting stewed tomatoes in scrambled eggs?

Lastly, jail officials put too much emphasis on sports and entertainment on the jail’s TVs.  Every morng when TVs come on at 9 am, they are automatically placed on channel 31, ESPN, for an hour or more.  At noon they watch TMZ, a celebrity entertainment news program.

TVs are supposed to be on Univision from 5pm to 6pm for Hispanics and from 6pm till 7pm for the local and world news.  But too often staff will not turn TVs to the news, catering ot the youths’ desire to watch videos, gangsta movies, and other incorrigible programs.

The jail has all but cut out newspapers for us to stay informed – a constitutional violation.  We get one newspaper a week if we get to go to the library on our scheduled day to read it.  We should get newspapers daily, as well as get to watch local and world news.

Commissioners, why don’t y’all make surprise visits to the jail during lunch and supper time so you can see for yourselves what is being provided us to eat?  Visit the pods so you can see what is on our food trays.  The Sheriff is only going to show you the good food items ABL provides for staff to eat.

These problems will continue to fester and become more systematic until you each say “ENOUGH” and put a stop to it.  Please make some positive changes.  Give the food contract back to Aramark (with the same money you now give to ABL) until the jail takes this responsibility back.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

KFO

PS: your office controls the Sheriff’s budget.  You thus have a lot of influence as to what occurs in the Sheriff’s office.  So use it!

‘This damn jail is destroying my family’

What’s going on? Sorry it’s taken me so long to write back, but let’s just say I have not been myself lately. Sometimes I don’t know what or how to feel. Because I am so weighed down by personal issues and with the fact of being incarcerated for a year now. As far as this jail goes it’s still the same slave ship it has always been. These people act like they care about us, but they really don’t. They have made it much harder for our people to see us. Speaking of which, I have not seen my kids in 3 months. And that is the only way I can maintain. Hell, I have a son that’s about to be a year old, and one that’s soon to be 8 years old. I can’t take not seeing them…This damn jail is DESTROYING my family! Continue reading

‘Not being able to see (mom) in the flesh would give me one less reason to live’

What’s been up brother? How are you, me I’m fine. I just met a man not too many weeks ago. He’s about 65 or so years old. His name is Ronnie Long. He did forty years for a crime that he did not do and there was no evidence of. His base is in Durham…They recently granted a retrial because of some help from some lawyers in Durham. I think you may know more about him than me. Anyway, how are you? I’m so glad to hear from you.

I am fine. I’m very hurt that a girl of 17 should lose her life in the jail. That’s painful. I hate to say that I think more people die in DCJ than her where people are stabbed (fairly often). I know that it’s a shitty comparison.  Continue reading