Death to Imprisonment!

Hello, my name is Brandon Sutton but my friends call me Sutton (Remember that name) and I’m an inmate who is currently on work release from this Zoo called Durham County Detention Center. I’m here incarcerated on a DWI charge, my third one actually. I was fortunate enough to hire a lawyer to reduce what could’ve been a 3 to 4 year sentence down to 8 months with a few other stipulations given once I’m released. I’m contacting you because they’re others like me currently serving time in here. Non-violent/ non-accidental prone offenders who have several DWI’s but didn’t have the means to afford an attorney so they settled for a Public Defender. Continue reading

‘What a screwed-up system!’

Thanks for your letter. I was surprised and glad to receive it. Please overlook my tardy reply…

I’ve heard some views about bail reform and I hope something positive comes about. These bonds are ridiculously high in Durham County. I just don’t get it. I was very happily surprised last month to hear I had a visitor (I don’t normally get them). I walked into the room and there was IOA member –. He asked me about the court date I had for the week of Feb. 6th, but I did not go. It turned out my lying lawyer again failed to file my motions to dismiss and to suppress in January as promised. Such motions are typically heard during the first full week of the month but must be filed during the previous month at least 5 working days in advance. 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.

– ____

Jail Talk

  1. 1st week of October, 23:55 in 3D: A detainee was hollering and kicking the door at minutes before midnight. About 10-12 officers rushed the detainee, and he was put in the chair.

2. Fri, 21st of Oct, about 15:00: Maintenance came into 3D and repaired some cell locks. There’s still some that are not working!! I hope they finish the rest of them. I still not notice 5 more cell doors not working! If power goes out–which it does–and there was a fire, or some other emergency, people in these cells would have no way out.

3. Oct 21 was officer Johnson’s last day over the library. She’s now working down in medical with the other sorry asses! Most everyone knows this b-tch. She really is. She doesn’t like men at all, and if you like to read on your 12 hours a day lock down, to get a book you used to have to go through her. No more!

4. on Oct 26, an employee with Aramark named Bull–not just any employee, the one who delivered canteen items–got fired for coming to work on drugs. The saying is the vice president came here and fired him! Interesting that this guy who did what the fuck he wanted for so long all of a sudden gets fired when the bid on the commissary contract is coming.

More Jail Talk…

  1. On Oct. 10, an inmate goes to superior court, where his name is called out and the lawyer’s name as well. The lawyer, Lisa Williams, confronts her client and asks who was he. And what was his charge? Note, the client has had Lisa Williams his entire jail stay, 8 months.

2. Around the 1st of Oct, again Lisa Williams was in court, and while there she went and talked to the judge, then announced to her client that she was no longer going to represent him, because of conflict of interest. What led up to this day was an ongoing conflict between Ms. Williams and the client over an assault charge he was wanting to plead guilty to as quickly as she could get him in front of a judge. Which she continued to avoid for more than two months.

–this is a way to update on what’s going on in a pod…

‘God only knows’

Hello. I am well. I did get the books…I have a court date coming up on the 5th and I have no idea what is going to happen that day because I have not seen my lawyer in sometime. I hope all is well, but God only knows. I pray that it will be okay daily, but if you don’t have money to fight them you are at the mercy of the courts. And so I wait.

Thanks again.

H.R.