‘I refuse to let them break me’

Hello,

How are you doing? Sorry about writing you all back so late, I’ve just been going through a lot. But I’m doing a lot better now, so you will be hearing from me more often. I hope this letter gets to you quickly and finds you in good spirits and health. How is life on the outside for you? Things have been up and down for me, but I stay praying and strong. I refuse to let them break me or let them make me fold. But I can tell you this: they sure is trying their best. Continue reading

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‘We must be that “one voice” so they will take us more seriously’

the following is from a mother of a man formerly detained at Durham jail and now in a state prison:

…Somehow all the families of those in prisons/jails need to bind together as “one voice” about the injustices and demanding for change. The system does not work to keep marriages and families together but rather works to tear them apart further by sending them far enough away from the families that it makes greater hardships on the family members to see them…as if it’s not hard enough having them here!

And- they take the food in prisons that the tax payers pay for and if the prisoners have left over food… Apple or orange or whatever…the prisons will not allow them to take them to their room to eat between meals or at night…the prisons throw it away! Now they give this food to them on the trays so why cannot they not keep and eat it? Because the prisons are a money racket! They want they to buy food from the canteen! They want you to pay the extra to put money in their accounts, extra money for phone cards to call home. Money everytime they are seen for the dentist or doctor.

Many think jail/prison is free…NOT!  And the burden falls upon the families!!

We as the families must start a petition or something to send to Senators, Governors, the President, to contact the news or whatever it takes! We must speak as “ONE VOICE!” We need someone or people who can somehow bind the families or people together to do this.

I have written the President, Governor, Senator, and Legislative person but not gotten any good response back. I write my state Senator and Legislative person frequently. We must be that “one voice” though so they will take us more seriously.

D.G.

 

 

‘The torture goes on at the Durham County Slave Facility’

Dear —

I hope all is well with you on the outside. Durham County Jail gets worse by the day. Thanks for the help with the whole letter situation. Hopefully we can get it fixed so I don’t have to keep bothering you guys. Other than that, everything is pretty much the same. They’re still treating us like animals. ABL goes against the promise of giving us better food every day. So, I guess you could say the torture goes on at the Durham County Slave Facility. I saw the protest that day that the Klan thought they were going to walk through Durham. I’m against any type of racism against any color of skin. I think I make that clear in the poem I’m sending along with my letter. You guys can feel free to put both of them in the newsletter. I could care less what the next person has to say–I speak my mind.

Yours truly,

Ghost

“I hope the Durham Association of Educators, along with Alerta Migratoria and IOA will coalesce to pressure the Sheriff to bring in educational opportunities beside GED for these up to 24 years old”

Dear G___, ___, and the IOA Family,

Got your letter today with copy of July 17 Feedback enclosed.  Thanks a million.  I enjoyed reading both.  Wish I could have appeared at that meeting with you guys before the City Fathers/Mothers (smile).  I wish even more for the ability to take and send pictures of these trifling meals ABL provides us.  Portion sizes are ridiculous!  My 5 year old grandson would be truly upset.  It’s even worse when they provide meals in the 3 slot styrofoam trays like they did for lunch and supper today.

For lunch we had sloppy Joes.  They (ABL) half filled one of the two smaller slots with meat sauce, put cole slaw in the front large spot, french fries in the 2nd smaller slot and added a bun.  For supper we had apple sauce in one of the smaller slots, baked sliced potatoes w/ very sparse ground meat (probably leftover hot dogs from July 4th) and a piece of bread.  We are all praying they get ousted next month.

I can hardly wait to get out to help join in this fight!  Too often detainees will get out of jail and/or prison and soon forget about the many injustices they’ve had to endure and that those left behind continue to suffer.  Reminds me of how Pharoah’s cupholder forgot about Joseph for some years until Pharoah needed his dream interpreted.  This thing is very personal with me and I will not forget.

Court went well on June 14th.  The Superior Court Judge denied all of the Sheriff’s attorney’s motions filed against me (motion to dismiss my complaints, motion to transfer my case from district to superior court).

We now head back to District Court on July 21st and I am gearing up for it.  Anyone off that day is welcome to show up.  If anyone does come, sit in the gallery on the side opposite of law enforcement.  I have subpoenaed several Sheriff’s deputies and police officers and two magistrates to testify and none will like being there (smile).

I had some rather nice court victories last month.  Back in 2012 three teens stole my Chrysler Sebring Convertible, went joy riding to Granville Counting and coming back, were seen and chased by Wake Forest Police in Capital Blvd.  They wrecked and totaled my car, unknown to me for several months later, they racked up $488 in tolls.  NC Quick Pass tried making me pay it and I refused.  Then they added on processing fees and civil penalties and sent a collection agency after me in Dec 2016.  They even blocked my vehicle registration (which is moot because I’m still in jail).  That did it so I filed a petition for contested case hearing in the NC office of administrative hearings (OAH).  Long-to-short, I won the case last month.  I state spent well over $5,000 trying to force me to pay $488 plus $232.00 in penalties.  That is so irresponsible of them.

I filed a petition for appointment of new defense counsel in Durham Superior Court on Feb 6, 2017 but Durham Officials ignored it after I even made several inquiries about it.  In such cases a person can petition the NC Court of Appeals for what’s called a writ of mandamus to compel state actors to perform a duty owed to them.  I did it and the court of appeals granted me petition on June 26th and I went to court yesterday where a Judge remanded my sorry lawyer Woodrena Baker-Harnell, over the Asst. DA’s (Cynthia Kenney) objection and I now await the appointment of new counsel.  I also got a bond reduction petition filed and to be heard this month.  The AOA also offered me a plea deal for 23 to 30 months that I declined.  I’ve been in here 22 months on this illegal charge and I will fight it to the nth degree or until it is dismissed.

I also filed suit last month against the magistrate who issued the illegal warrant for my arrest.  The hearing against her is to be made public and should take place sometime in August.  The ADA is miffed about that, too.  I – DON’T – CARE!  They trample all over my rights but want me to practice stoicism and not complain.  That will never happen!

The jail’s new, overpaid administrator, Colonel Prignano is not worth the almost $100k he is paid.  He obviously knows nothing about how to effectively manage the jail’s mostly young populace.  I and others have written and tried talking to him about making the 6pm local news and 6:30 world news mandatory.  For some unexplained reason all TVs are turned off at 6:45 pm and we are locked into our ells for the night.  However, shift change is not until 8:00 pm.  It is so annoying to be watching the world news only to have the TVs turned off in the middle of it.  Prignano’s reply to us was: “I don’t care about the TVs.  They could take them out of the jail as far as I’m concerned.”  Really…?

A few years ago some really gung how law and order state legislators felt the prisons were too plush, too soft on crime.  They felt prisoners were being rewarded to be able to lift weights and watch color TVs.  So they contemplated introducing a bill to ban weights and TVs from all prisons.  That sparked a quick from prison administrators, who told the legislators they would resign if such an act became law.  Why?  Because prison administrators know that weights help burn off stress and overactive testosterone, and TVs is one of the most effective control devices in prisons.  Those legislators quickly demurred.  For Prignano to discard our request in such cavalier manner speaks to his lack of experience.  His position ought to be eliminated to start with.  Why would a jail of 550 people need a colonel making 97,800 a year plus a major and several captains all making over $70,000 a year?  It’s insane and is a waste of tax dollars.  One captain for each shift could effectively run the whole jail as is done in many jails statewide.  The Sheriff’s budget is overloaded…at the top!  Prignano is a mere puppet, good ole boy, who does whatever Notorious Andrews tells him to do.  I guess that’s why Andrews did not want to hire and administrator from outside his department.  All this cronyism is state and federal government just makes my stomach want to throw up!

The youth in here have nothing to do during lockback but yell back and forth to each other, bang on doors, table, sinks and windows while rapping, much to the dismay of their neighbors who are trying to read, think, or sleep.  They need educational outlets badly.  I’ve always heard that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.  Prignano could care less.  He is in it for the paycheck and nothing else.  I hope the Durham Association of Educators, along with Alerta Migratoria and IOA will coalesce to pressure the Sheriff to bring in educational opportunities beside GED for these up to 24 years old.

A lot of Hispanics are bilingual.  Few US citizens speak any Spanish.  I would have love taking Spanish clases these past 22 months in here and several Hispanics would love taking English classes.

I will pass the word around and look for good candidates to correspond with members of the Durham Association of Educators.

I am able to use my GTL prepaid phone card to call you guys sometimes.  Is there a good contact # and time to call?

You all take care and continue the good fight.

Love in Christ,

K.O.

PS: I’ve heard other officers say that Ms. Officer Snipes informs certain jail officials the names of detainees who correspond with IOA.  Snipes is a trip.  She and officer Richmond open and read all incoming (and some outgoing) mail.  Neither are certified to do so.  They gossip to other staff about what they read, too.  Neither of them should be touching any mail as they are not certified!

“jail is a perpetuation of slavery”

Hey,

My name is Jemar Beulah Jr. You can put my name in this if you copyright it. But to me jail is a perpetuation of slavery. I say this because the 13th Amendment states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist on these shores except for a person duly convicted of a crime.” But me and a lot of others are not convicted, we’ve been accused or they’re using the hearsay law and it’s BULLSHIT. Let’s say I get mad at you or anybody. I can easily shave my own dog and put the shavings on your porch and call the police and say I watched you kill your dog and you going to jail then, probably. Well, mostly you’re going to prison. It’s that simple now.

Then they got public defenders. How can they bring justice when the people charged with defending us are investing in our incarceration. And there is no lawyer-client confidentiality. The lawyer will give the D.A. hints. If you be real with them, they’ll tell. There’s no beating this shit.

I’m an innocent man in jail. THIS jail has bullshit food. We only come out 6 hours 30 minutes a day. We only get 30 minutes recreation. The shower water breaks you out and dry your skin out. They charge you 20 dollars for a sick call. Canteen high as hell. COs act like they tough all the time. That’s why we locked down. The police will put you in handcuffs and throw you around like a rag doll and when you fucked up they still charge you 20 dollars. Shit crazy up in here.

Ms Parker, Ms Furgoson, Maye, Kobe, Baker, Sgt. Steveson, Elibi — they’re some staff, but these 7 here are some staff that come to work, do their job and go home. They don’t yell at us. They don’t hassle us about little things. They don’t get buck with us or try to get us to buck at them. THEY’RE NICE GENUINE people and I thank them for that.

Oh, I forgot Sgt. Brown, Jerome, Ms. West -> Well, all the STARR staff.

THANKS FOR HEARING ME.

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!