“Its a vicious cycle where their goal is for you to lose everything you have”

G___,

I received two letters from you on March 31st, one was dated February 11th and the second March 27th. So I think there may be some lag time with the mail. You asked if I had received the Human Relations Commission’s Report and I have not! The only thing I received in the mail are two written letters and both March and April “Feedback” booklets. There is no report anywhere to be found if it was sent. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it conveniently was lost by the mail inspection here.

As for your inquiry about any knowledge in regards to Uniece Fennell. There is none in 3D, no one knows a thing here and the officers are tight lipped as if it never happened. When I called home the day after the incident my family was asking about the death – And I had no clue about it at all. When I asked the officer in the pod about it he would not comment and wouldn’t even confirm that anything happened. I watched the local news that evening, there was no story about it there either and nobody gets the newspaper. The women’s pod is on the 5th floor, we are in the dark down here on the 3rd floor. Sorry I couldn’t be of any help this time.

Video visitation seems to be a hot topic lately. I heard that the jail was going to transition to it like Wake County but I didn’t realize it was happening NOW! A couple days in the past few weeks we have been prevented from coming out of our cells in the morning because they had someone working in the visitation room: They’ve already started installing metal mounts to house the video screen. It looks like they are progressing forward despite all the protests inside and out. The feedback booklet hits on a few critical points such as profiting GTL as well as the jail’s profit and how video visitation will dehumanize personal interactions. I want to point out how the District Attorney’s office will directly “profit” from it, too. Just like our phone calls I would think the video visits will be recorded. The district Attorney’s office has access to your phone calls and will now be able to pry into your visits. There is no privacy whatsoever. They read our mail, they record our phone calls, and now they will be keeping tabs on our visits. What would it be like if we had that privilege to listen to the prosecutors and DAs discussions and every phone call that they make. Invade their private interactions. Now that would be something. My point is that the deck is already stacked against you and anytime I speak my mind I have to worry whether or not what I say could be falsely used against me or perceived some other way. It’s ridiculous!

On to other topics! The food and ABL. It has been a roller coaster with them and there is no consistency. When they began in October, there was promise, but now I can see that was just a front. The first 3 weeks were good! A variety of fresh fruit including Bananas, green vegetables, including chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, good portion sizes, and no soy. Currently, the fruit we get is not ripe, heavily bruised, and tastes awful, easily finding its way into the trash container. We have not seen a banana since the first couple of weeks. We hardly get greens, nothing like we got the first few weeks even if we do. Lately the food has been so salty you can’t even eat it. The pancakes yesterday were hard as a rock. At this point I don’t know which company was worse, ARAMARK or ABL. There is absolutely no variety ether. You get the same meals every week multiple times a week. It’s getting old very quick. Honestly, at this point I hope the jail does not review ABL’s contract. What reviews I saw and the article about ABL in the newspaper raving about their good quality and healthier menu is a lie. My vote would be to kick them out too. Their quality and service has been declining since day 1.

I wrote last time about the DA’s office and the prosecutor threatening to obtain another search warrant after a judge has already noted significant misconduct by officers. Well they mangaged to get one, how, I have no clue. The only way is by lying and bad faith, which the DA’s office is notorious for so I’m not surprised. I just read an article in the newspaper on 3/31/17 quoting a supreme court judge. In summary it mentioned that the average person does not think the justice system within North Carolina is fair and a large percentage think the process is too slow. My follow up question to that would be to isolate Durham and see how it compares. My guess would be that Durham would be far worse. I sit here day after day watching how the system in Durham works and it is concerning. Most of the prosecutors are no better than Mike Nifong and Tracy Cline, maybe even worse. I swear they teach a class to these prosecutors on the best way to hide the truth, withhold evidence, and when all else fails keep them in jail and delay, delay, delay. Its a vicious cycle where their goal is for you to lose everything you have; whether its your job, house, car, marriage, etc. And once they’ve exhausted and beat you down by holding you in jail they wait until you give up. It’s just crazy to me and something needs to be done.

Oh, I want to give my thoughts on this jail with regards to Uniece Fennell. I don’t know what happened, but if it was suicide I don’t think that means the jail can wash their hands from liability. My understanding is that this jail was supposed to get more funding for mental health. Officers were supposed to get training on how to better handle mental health issues. If Uniece was troubled enough to harm herself, there were obvious signs that should have been caught. These officers don’t care about anyone in this jail and they are certainly not observant enough. Next, how does the jail provide the means for someone to commit suicide. This should not have happened and should not have even been possible. I’ve lived in these cells for 17 months, if she was able to be successful in her attempt – something was not right and something needs to change. You stress the hell out of people and then place them in a harsh environment. We already know that mental disorders are widely prevalent within the jail. It’s a shame that yet another person dies in this jail.

Alright! Thanks for the letters and Feedback! Looking forward to hear from you soon and any new updates!

– E.X.

Visitation blues

In the lobby, Sunday morning visitation

Person 1, seated and waiting: What happened to all the rest of the benches in here?

Person 2, who sat down next to him: I don’t know.

P1: There used to be two or three more long benches.

P2: Now there’s no place for more people to sit down. You got to stand.Any more people come in here and they got to stand.

P1: And they want you here early (the sign says to arrive 30 minutes before a scheduled visit, which lasts only 20 minutes).

P2: Yeah, so people be standing longer.

P1: And then they got this mess going on outside, and no explanation for it. (Orange fencing extends around the front of the jail. There is a contractor’s name on it, but no explanation of the project)

P2: Oh, this fence? Yeah, what’s that all about?

P1: Beats me. And the officer at the desk didn’t know, either. And he didn’t know how long it would be up.

P2: (Shakes head)

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“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!

_____

“we need more time out of the cells”

I am __________, I got your letter the other day and was glad.  I know that there are many things that are happening in this jail that you all know about and outside people but it seems that no one is doing anything about it.  This is a horrible place.  The food is better but it is still lacking in so many ways.

I think that we need more time out of the cells.  They have you locked back too much.

I think the guards need more training and people skills, because many do not interact with people well, they lack the skills to speak in the right tone or even what to say in some cases.

I think they hold people in jail too long.

Can we do something on the outside, teaching people about the jail and the way it is run to keep them out?  I believe that may help some people.  Not all but some.

The jail program needs to be reworked from the top to the bottom, because it is not working.  It is no longer about right and wrong it is money, who cares about the lives the courts hurt.

If there was more openness, you would not have all this trying to find out what being said in the Feedback.

Thanks for hearing me out and look forward to hearing from you again.

 

Sincerely,

L.V.

Finally got the news…

The two daily newspapers have now ‘covered’ the (near) ending of the lockback, giving the sheriff a chance to pretend that he was going to tell the public about the “new phase of the detainee walk schedule.”

The News & Observer

The Herald-Sun (you can’t read it, though, because they make you pay for their awful content)

and the announcement from the county.

 

The waiting is the only part

4/10/14

Hey,

I received a letter from you the day I took my plea and at that point I decided to wait and respond once I finished processing. As it turns out, you found me before then! I’m writing a brief letter to keep the communication open and to let you know I am committed to helping get change to Durham’s justice system even though I’m out of Durham and never want to return!

I received only your letter. The newsletter was not an “approved publication” but I appealed and now am waiting for some committee to rule on it. It’s a bummer to hear that Durham is rejecting the newsletters now. I’m guessing that one of the volumes with a call for violence* has perked their fear instincts! I certainly don’t believe violence is the answer, but unfortunately it seems no one reacts till they perceive that threat. Will you try to get a court injunction or whatever?

So, how is the Huerta protests going? Was there one in March? Has anyone got answers yet? I’ve lost track of things while in this processing unit. No phones (which I hear is unconstitutional!) That’s right, I’ve been here 30 days without access to any phones. There’s over 100 of us processing and phone calls are not allowed.

The news here is that I’m still here. In 1 day I got my IQ test done, w/in 3 days I had my mental eval, dental eval, and medical eval done. The final step is to see a Case Analyst. The problem is that they had 1 out sick, one quit, and only 1 left to handle the caseload. There are lots of us bogged down, only allowed to go to rec 1 hr a day, and the rest of our day is spent sitting around wondering what’s going on! We can’t even get answers. Guys who have arrived weeks after me have seen a case analyst and shipped out! No one knows what the criteria is to be seen, but it’s not in a first come, first to be seen order.

I will help (man who was beaten by c.o.s at Durham) should he file a complaint, and I’ll share Durham stories as soon as I get to a camp…

thanks, R.A.

*for clarity, no prisoner writings in the newsletter advocate violence in any way.