One year later, we remember Matthew McCain

Matthew PancakesOne year ago today, Matthew McCain died in his cell at the Durham County Detention Facility at the age of 29. Just over a month before his death, Matthew’s daughter, Kinslee, was born while he was in jail. He never met her.

Matthew suffered from diabetes and epilepsy, two serious long-term conditions but certainly ones that can be managed with proper medical care and adequate resources. But competent medical care was never to be found at the Durham jail for Matthew, as is the case for many other people unfortunate enough to be caged there.

In the one year since Matthew’s death, there have been marches, speak-outs, and vigils; there have been balloons and candles, tears and rage. But one thing there has never been is an apology or a public acknowledgment of responsibility for Matthew McCain’s death by anyone connected to the jail, or Correct Care Solutions, the company that profits from providing detainees as little care as possible.

Sheriff Mike Andrews, whose office is responsible for jail operations, never apologized or acknowledged Matthew’s death, either, even as he glad-handed at events attended by Matthew’s girlfriend, Ashley, with Kinslee in tow.

Matthew’s death dramatically affected the lives of many people, including Ashley’s children; his mother; aunts; cousins; and friends, some of whom he got to know inside the jail. Besides the initial report of Matthew’s death that was shared with outside members of Inside-Outside Alliance by a comrade inside, many people on Matthew’s pod shared recollections of him and their own accounts of his death.

See the following: We still place his chair at the table; They do not listen; I feel they may have lied; Officials acted with neglect; There is a rumor going around; Something gotta give; Everything is a mind battle; They try to punish you for little things; Fight til you can’t fight no more

As we joined Matthew’s loved ones to press the sheriff’s office for answers about his death, we were contacted by the daughter of a man, Dennis McMurray, who had died at the jail a year before, and whose death was never made public. This fact made the brave truth-telling of detainees on Matthew’s pod all the more important and integral to the struggle.

The tragedy of Matthew’s death has helped to gain the attention of many who otherwise had not been paying much attention to conditions and treatment in the jail. Recently, the Human Relations Commission of the city of Durham published recommendations about the jail that they will share with the county commissioners and the sheriff’s office.

In the aftermath of Matthew’s death, in the struggle to obtain answers and demand accountability, we published a pamphlet, No More Jail Deaths, No More Jail. As then, we still know the only way to ensure there will be no more horrible, undignified deaths in jail is to get rid of these cages as we transform the world which produces them.

November 25, 2016 marked the day Matthew would have been 30 years old. A week later, his daughter Kinslee, full of life and spark, turned a year old. These birthdays and anniversaries hurt those who loved Matthew and they will continue to be painful. But we take today to say that we have not forgotten Matthew, and we will not forget that the jail killed him. For those who are able to, join us at the jail this evening, January 19, 2017, at 7 pm for a vigil to remember Matthew McCain.

Facebook Event: Candlelight Vigil in Memory of Matthew McCain

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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

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NoMoreJailDeathsFINAL

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”

G___,

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!

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‘What’s wrong with that picture?’

I’m doing good, thanks for asking. I’m really glad you all have reached out to me. To tell you a little about myself. My name is Niajel Slad, 24, and I been in the Durham Co. Jail since Aug. 26, 2015. Mind you, when I found out I was a suspect, I turned myself in. Even though the lack of evidence, my bond is 3 million. The media and police said a lot of inaccurate things about me. They treat me like a monster. Continue reading

‘We want respect’

I don’t know what it is about your mail, but the stamp went through Raleigh on June 2 and they say they did not receive here until June 8. That is a lot of days to come from Raleigh to Durham. Right! But it seems there is always something going on with the mail, not getting picked up or brought in on time. You complain and then you don’t get it at all, and how would you know if it came? Or, it’s like you said they say you can’t have it for some reason.

I am with you and others that snacks and hot trays are too high, but the people feeding us are making sure that we eating just so you have to buy the snacks to get by and the hot tray if you want a taste of home, well the outside anyway. The cost of the food they sell in the jail is way too high and needs to go down. Continue reading