Love, light and noise on the last night of 2016

A small but spirited contingent of 30 or so people assembled in downtown Durham on New Year’s Eve and marched to the county jail for the sixth straight New Year’s Eve with a noise demonstration. Before starting out, the group briefly reflected on the struggles waged within the jail in 2016, as well as in prisons and detention centers throughout the land, and we looked forward to supporting and growing resistance inside in the new year. Continue reading

‘There has been remarkable improvement–Thank you!’

12-21-16

Dear —,

My deepest apologies. This letter is well overdue. Through no other fault than my own, I have avoided writing for the past 12-14 months. I blame this avoidance on my own indolence, self-consciousness of my penmanship (sloppy and unreadable), and also mostly due to the depression of being incarcerated and what I’ve lived through in the hands of the city of Durham Police department. I believe you have spoken with my parents; you may already be aware of some of what has happened to me.  Continue reading

‘The hole: another form of control’

Hello Comrade,

How are you? I wrote you a letter last month and it was returned. I don’t know what that was about. As for me I’m still standing and always prepared to fight. I’m back in population now but I appreciated the solitude for them 30 days. I met a good brother and a comrade for life. Was that y’all out there about (three) weeks ago protesting, if so I heard y’all but I couldn’t see. Continue reading

‘Something to make the time go by’

Thank you for all that you all are doing for us. It really means a lot to know that it’s some people out there in the world that cares about us. The woman’s pod is still the same. They could at least let us have a radio or something to make the time go by. Also, some board games and some uno cards–anything is better than nothing. Other than that there’s nothing else, just a shout out to my peeps in 5D: SC, GBae, Gooch, Pinky, Rd, BL. To everybody else, keep y’all head up.

An announcement from the top: ‘So many of you have been writing…’

Friday morning September 9, Lt. Col. Natalie Perkins, jail director, came into the pod and made an announcement. She told detainees that because “so many of you have been writing to the Inside-Outside Alliance about how dirty and bad the trays are” there was going to be a new process for cleaning the trays and all food materials so that they “wouldn’t have anything to complain about anymore.” She said that all trays and utensils and anything to use to eat would be collected after the last meal of the day in order to clean them. She said nothing about who would clean them, or how the process for cleaning the trays (which have come under a lot of scrutiny) was better or different than before. However, Perkins was likely well aware that many people like/need to eat snacks between their last meal (around 4:30 pm) of one day and their first meal (around 6:30 am) of the next day, and that this new process to ostensibly redress the lack of clean trays would actually create another problem (no utensils to eat snack soups and other items) and piss people off. And she wanted to be sure detainees would know to be upset with Inside-Outside Alliance, which listens to and sometimes publishes the words of people who are hoping to get “these inhuman standards addressed,” rather than the detention facility, its staff, and its corporate partners’ staff, who perpetuate the conditions of filth and squalor.

The timing of this announcement from the top dog, an extreme rarity in itself, is also significant: on the day that prisoners in at least 24 states were participating in a mass strike, and less than a week before the city’s Human Relations Commission was set to host a forum on the impact of the county jail on city residents.

‘That fist bump keeps me going til the next time’

fencing at DCDF (1)

This photo was taken near the end of June. The fencing is still up.

In front of the jail last week, topics of conversation ranged from the construction all around us (that has been underway since late June with little to show for it), to the jail’s plans for video visitation, to the new contract for food preparation, and much more. The following are snippets of conversation:

M: You look around, and it just seems like things are going to get worse here. This construction, for one. They used to have trees here and benches. Then they took down the trees, and they took out the benches.

Y: Yeah, when we started protesting.

M: But what are they putting in here? It’s not gonna be better. You can only assume it will be worse based on what goes on here. They also seem to be doing some kind of construction on the roof. I saw porta potties up there, and stuff hanging off the edge. What’s going on up there?

S: I don’t know.

M: This whole place is a mess.

S: And then there’s fewer benches to sit on in the lobby, and the recently removed curtain where the locker area was. That’s gonna be for video visitation, right?

M: There’s fewer benches because there will be less waiting for visits maybe? We don’t know because they never say. For video visits, forget it. If it comes to that, I won’t go. I’d rather talk to my dad on the phone. It’s bullshit that they’re doing that. I would rather talk to him on the phone than through a video screen.

_______________________________________________

C: Visits on a video monitor is gonna be worst on children of inmates. And on the inmates themselves. Why would they take away face to face when there’s no reason to? That’s gonna kill people. It’ll make people so much worse off than now even.

T: They’re not doing that, or, if they try it’s not gonna fly. No way. It might be with glass between you, but you’re really seeing them. And the fist bump. I live for a fist bump at that end. You can’t do that on video. If I don’t have that fist bump…It keeps me going til the next time.

S: What do you think they’re doing here (construction)? Do you know?

G: I don’t know. They don’t say. Maybe someone is digging a tunnel out of the place? (Smiles).

S: I like the way you think. (Smile)

_______________________________________________

N: We were told they put up this (construction fence) to stop us and others from talking to the inmates at the windows.

S: Really? Someone from the jail told you that?

J: No, other people said it, not anyone who works here, I don’t think.

S: So, I see it hasn’t really stopped you from communicating. Or anyone else.

J: (Laughs). No, not really.

S: Does anyone from the jail ever try to tell you to stop signaling?

N: Hell no. They know it ain’t gon’ stop me.

 

 

‘At times it feels like we are in a hole…’

8-14-16

Dear –

My name is —. I’m currently at Wake Correctional in Raleigh. I’m writing you in response to the article that was in last week’s newspaper. I want to begin by saying thank you to you and the whole Inside-Outside Alliance and to all the organizations and people that are involved with the protest and rallies that you all are doing. And I believe that I speak for the majority of the inmates in prison, if not all, when I say that what you’re doing is so very great. At times it feels like we are in a hole with no way of getting out. With very little contact or help from the world. But it’s groups like yours that give us all a little more hope in life. I want to share a little of my story with you and I’m completely ok with you sharing it with people if you’d like. Since 1999 I’ve been in and out of prison 5 times. And in and out of jail I’m not exactly sure how many times. All because of being on drugs. I was a drug addict of all drugs really. Some more than others. But drug addict none the less. Each prison sentence I was given got longer and longer. I’ve been in since October 2011 now. And I have about 57 more months left before I go home. Each time I’ve been to prison is because of stealing to support my drug habit. Every time I got locked up in jail I would ask for help. To be send to a rehab. I was pretty much accepted to TROSA once. But the judge wouldn’t allow me to go get help. The only treatment I’ve had was a 90 day AND90 program at Burgaw prison in 2006. That program is a joke. A waste of taxpayers’ money. Nobody can begin to get clean in 90 days. Not even in a year. It takes time and help. But the system feels like they are doing something major by having that program. Anyway for the first time in a very long time, I decided to get clean in 2011. And I’ve been clean since. From drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. And I work hard to stay that way. Since the first prison sentence I ever done until now, the wages that are paid to prisoners for jobs are still the same. Very, very little money. And the prices of everything in the canteen have more than tripled on most things, from food to hygiene. The prices for medical have went up. And they charge us taxes on the gift money that our families send us. And I believe that gift money is supposed to be tax free. And on top of that, since we have to pay taxes on items from the canteen we should be allowed to have our families file for those taxes on their income taxes. But we’re not able to. If we get a write up then we are charged $10.00 And they write us up for simple things a lot. Like not having our shirt tails tucked in. For having an extra pair of socks or boxers or pants. We get wrote up for feeding the wild geese and deer. What kind of write up is that? They treat our families like criminal when they come to visit us. And the list goes on and on. There is no reason worth this type of treatment. They put us in the hole for simple things. And for 15 to 100 days depending on the write ups. The federal prisons have ipads for inmates to email their families. And they pay inmates for the work they do. The prison system don’t have any type of real resources to help inmates when they are released. We have to have a way to get to the DMV to get an I.D. And we have to have an I.D. to get a place to stay, cash checks and other things. You are right, prison is a modern day slavery. And the prison is a bad place for people with drug problems. They lock us up off the street from being drug addicts. And with no help to get clean, they throw us in a prison which is full of drugs, that are possibly brought in by the guards or administration…And when we use drugs we fail drug tests, and when we fail drug tests we are written up for failing a drug test, and then put in the hole for a minimum of 30 days. These are just a few of the many problems in prison. One more problem is that there are a lot of prisons like Pender, Sampson, Harnett, etc., that don’t have A/C. And it gets 100 degrees or more in the dorms. The prison won’t put in A/C because we are inmates. But the animal rights activist will have a national standoof/protest if an animal shelter don’t have A/C. So if a dog or a cat has to have A/C then why don’t a human being have that right? Anyway, these are just some things that maybe you’d like to know. And I do hope that you’ll keep up the protests and help that you are giving us. It is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for all that you do. Be safe and take care!

Sincerely,

E.G.L.

Living the struggle

Hello,

Well first let me say sorry it took this long to write you back. I’m doing ok, trying to hang in there. What about yourself? Man, it feels good to hear someone is out there who is trying to support the struggle we go through in here. Yeah, we finally came off lockback, but they took away our 9:00 pm (night) walk. And sometimes we get locked down for no reason and come out late, but they lock us back on time, smh. Yep, we still getting inedible food, d.o.’s still abusing and brutalizing us, and still getting denied medical treatment, and now our family can’t even send us stamps. But hope you’re doing ok, keep the letters and newsletters coming. Hope to hear from you soon.

Living the struggle,

A.N.

“soy county jail”

Hello Inside Out!  I think that you all have made a big difference in the way the jail is being run.  They are definitely checking behind themselves and doing some things out of the ordinary.  I am hoping to get your help with a menu change here.  I hate to say it but I think that sandwiches every night may be better than what we are getting now!

I want to call this the Soy County Jail!  How can we work together to get something done?  I know that everyone in my pod doesn’t want it!  We all pretty much refer to it as cat food!  How can everyone’s voice be heard?

This company ARAMARK is supposed to be hired out for the contract of our food and the canteen.  They sell little bags of stuff and charge a lot for it.  If we could buy stuff in big bags and get more for what we pay for it would be better.  I think someone needs to look at the money ARAMARK is making and do something about it.  They are getting filthy rich!  Stinkin rich!

I would bet that there would be 100 companies that would love to have the contract for the work at the Durham Co. Jail!  The opportunity to make such great money.  To have a secure job, you can work 7 days a week.

Let’s see if we can get Mr. Aramark fired.  If we could, I think he would be the saddest person in town.  To lose his gold mine.  What?

If Inside Out could please help this is #1 grievance here!

Thanks for your help and all that you do.  Here is what they have mustarded up for us with the SOY!

These here we can actually eat, most of us:
– Soy chili beans
– Soy spaghetti
– Soy taco meat
– Soy gravy
– Soy manwich

3 different kinds of soy rice –> garbage

Soy potatoes
Soy in bag noodles
Soy in macaroni and cheese

There may be something I have left out.  But you get the picture.  We are getting this too much.  I am getting sick of it.  The first 5 types of the soy can be eaten if we had too that much.  But the other 6 kinds of soy food isn’t edible.  Guess what they give us the worst 6 kinds of soy more than the better kind.  It is like they are punishing us for not wanting sandwiches every night.

Soy must be the cheapest food that they can buy.  I know that if we could get them fired, there would be plenty of companies that would love to make the good money at the Durham Co Jail.  Please help us if you can.  This should be a crime against nature.

Thanks Again,

 

K.K.

PS: I forgot to mention the percentage of soy we are getting in our meals.  This is the percentage of lunch and supper.  Lunch and supper percentage is 60 to 70% soy meals.  If I put breakfast in it it messes the high percentage up.  We do get soy gravy about twice a week.  That is supposed to take place of eggs.  Even no powdered eggs.  Hek powdered eggs seem to be scumsious right now!  Help us get some food in here!  Thanks.  Bye bye soy!