“being a freedom-fighter comes with its own particular vocabulary and diction”

Peace,

How are you?  I hope all is well.  I got your letter with a copy of the “Feedback.”  I really enjoyed this edition of Feedback (lol).

I don’t want to go off in a different world but I just want to vent a little bit.  Can anyone explain to me the reason for these “excessive bonds” Durham County is giving people?  Could it be that by law you can not deny a person a bond, unless he or she is an immediate danger to society, correct?  It looks like to me that the excessive bond has taken the place of having a no bond.  In reality, damn near everyone in jail has a no bondbecause the average Joe can’t post a hundred-thousand dollar bond and if he or she do post the bond he or she has to worry about the Feds coming to ask question about how they got the money.

Its the new way of holding people hostage in the blind-sight of the law.  The 8th amendment of the Constitution states “excessive bond not required.”  So, what’s making it be required?

Furthermore, how does a non-violent offense get a greater bond than violent offenses?  “It’s crazy.”  Lady justice sure is blind, she needs to retire or get her vision checked.  I believe we are political prisoners, we’re hostages held against our will, and are victims of law or victims of misused law.

We need to start protesting and agitating our local legislature to make them abolish all these racist and un-just laws.

The habitual felon law needs to be done away with, also prior record levels because it conflicts with the double jeopardy clause.

The state is adding more time to new offenses committed because of old offenses you did time for in the past.  So, in essence, I am being punished all over again for something I already been punish for.  “That’s crazy.”

But anyways, to move along, I believe words are powerful and very important.  Words alone can provide certain thoughts or ways of thinking.  We believe prisoners alone changes the dynamics of how society view prisoners.  Society has been shaped and molded to believe that all people that are incarcerated are crooks, liars, murderers, and con artists.  A people that can’t be trusted.  We believe prisoners says a lot, like, we believe that nobody is somebody, that’s someone’s mother, brother, uncle, wife, husband, etc.  That prisoners can be the next world leader.  Also, being a freedom-fighter comes with its own particular vocabulary and diction.  So, the choice of words is very important, especially, when it come to liberating the minds of the people.

Now, the subject about the black woman, I never meant to imply or make it seem that she was weak.  But to the contrary she was the strongest out of all.  She endure countless rapes, whippings, having her fetus cut from her body while still alive and having her children sold off and toss about from plantation to plantation and still come out the mother and cradle of civilization.  Of course, you going to have beautiful women like the ones that you named and the ones that haven’t even been born yet.

Also, you got to keep in mind that a lot of the slave that were already here were country born slaves.  So, most grew up knowing nothing but how to be a slave.  It was mostly the constant introduction of Africans from the on-going slave-trade that kept the seed of resistance in the country-born slave also.  For example, the Movie “Roots” by Alex Haley, which is a movie about slavery in America.  The African, Kunta Kintae, is brought on a slave ship to America from Africa and is forced into slavery.

On the plantation, he sees other slaves that begin to try and communicate with him and show him what is required of him, but the whole time in Kunta mind is how will he escape “bondage.”  The country born slaves is trying to get him to conform to their way of life which is slavery.  Kunta ended up running away twice and ended up caught each time.  Once he got a whipping in front of all the slaves, second time they chopped his foot off.  He was so strong minded that didn’t even stop him from wanting to be free again.  he didn’t even acknowledge his slave name “toby.”  he was so rebellious that his master had him whipped in public until he said his name was toby and even then he kept saying his name was Kunta.  The other slaves beg him to say his name is Toby, which he did in the end.  This is to show you a person who is educated that knows his God given right oppose to the ones that don’t know freedom.  Also, this tactic was used to put fear in the other slaves and naturally the mother pass this fear on to the children.  It was only self-preservation to ensure that her children don’t get beat or killed.  (Dang, I just realize I wrote a whole paragraph unrelated to the woman.  Its still information).  Even in the sixties, the parents of freedom fighters used to beg their children not to go bother the whites.  For an example, every time black folks riot, they don’t tear-up white folks stuff.  They tear up their own stuff.  Just like the jail and prisoners, the inmate will oppress and fight his fellow inmate for the simplest matter but the CO or the institution that is the real problem, he will not lift one finger to do any harm.

But anyways, Harriet Tubman said something back then that is relevant today: “I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed ten thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”  That quote is so damn powerful.  That’s what we are faced with today.  The people is so damn blinded that they can’t see the enemy.  Instead of racism being in plain view they hide it because, remember, power is mostly felt, in other words, I don’t got to call you a nigger, I can just treat you like one, this goes for nigger-lovers too! (lol)

I believe we have lost sight of our common enemy, and if racism isn’t knocking at our front door, then it simply doesn’t exist.

As far as jails and prisons goes, most of the people behind the walls do not know they are slaves and are being handled unjustly because it has become normal.  it, also, stems from a lack of proper education in our homse and schools.  Frederick Douglass in his narrative didn’t have a burning desire to secure his freedom until he became “educated.”  The prison industrial complex limited information to inmates  behind their walls.  They even got a ban on certain books that they want to allow in the prison.  They reason being is to keep the people asleep!!

Therefore, education is a very important key to liberation.  And not just any education, it got to be proper education.  Information that will open the eyes of the people to see the condition that they are in and the tools to change those conditions.

As for visitation, they already installed the monitors and will start the video-visitation the beginning of next month.  I heard a few say that they were going to break the monitors but that remains to be seen.  In reality, nobody is trying to stand up for anything.  To many people are for self and don’t want to sacrifice for the collective.  I told everyone all they got to do is refuse visitation, don’t work the kitchen, don’t work in the PODS, make the CO do everything and I promise they will take that stuff out.  Nobody is trying to buck, so we will see what happens after the first visit, which probably nothing will happen.

You stand for nothing, you fall for anything.

Sincerely,

Black Holocaust

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Fight Fire with Fire

9/8/16

To my brothers and sisters in the struggle of Durham County Jail and the Durham Justice system, yeah (just us). Yes, it is very real. The New Slavery, mass incarceration is living and gaining more steam as we speak. The only way to dismantle this capitalist machine at 510 S. Mangum St. and new pretty building on 510 Dillard St. (No, not the DPAC. LOL) This County makes its own court docket. So if they want you to sit, you sit here at 510 Mangum St. until you are tried or cop out to an unjust plea bargain. And the condition of the jail (commissary/canteen, GTL phone, medical, food, time out of cell). We must stick together and force them to take all cases to trial, whether it’s a traffic case, misdemeanor, or felony case. This is fighting fire with fire. Stop using the phones and stop making companies like Aramark rich by putting our people’s money in their pocket. And then, only then, something will change for us as whole. If we just sit here and complain and do nothing, they will keep feeding the machine. So if nothing changes, then nothing changes. And that’s real.

 

Be strong and

pray, pray, pray,

-B.R.

 

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protest outside Durham County Detention Center, Sept. 9, 2016

 

 

 

‘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.

‘If we weren’t down here doing it, they would have to…’

6-8-16

Hey, my name is —, but you can call me Blaze. Well, first off I want to say nice to meet you and yes I will be writing you a lot since I got your letter. I have seen a lot of things, so let me get started. Yes, use the name BLAZE in the letters (newsletter or in the IOA booklet–Thanks!!) Well, I worked in the kitchen here at DCJ and I seen things down there that wouldn’t have known if I did not work, such as: Bugs (gnats) flying all in the kitchen, in the food when it’s on the line to serve for the inmates, in the juice that the inmates drink, and when you tell the d.o.s or the Ararmark people that’s in charge, they say ‘you are in jail,’ and I say ‘what’s that got to do with it–these are still people’s food. Then when the inspection people come in they try to make us scrub and clean heard as hell to cover up the REAL PROBLEMS in the kitchen and if we try to talk/tell the inspector people what’s going on or try to show them anything they will get mad, look at us funny or worse FIRE US. that is crazy, it’s like they don’t care about us (Well, I know they don’t) Then they always pass inspection I don’t know how, has to be some under the table stuff going on or something, because the kitchen here is nasty. Mold on the walls, covered with paint, but you can see it and tell. Then it’s this lady down there named Pam who work for ARARMARK, too, she thinks she can talk to you any type of way, curse at you and think just because  you are an inmate and working in the kitchen she can do that and you just supposed to sit there (SMH). She knows if you say anything back, and she tell the man who hires you to work (Tyler) it’s over and you willl be fired and that’s not fair. That is why people don’t be wanting to come to work like that in the kitchen because she talk to you like you ain’t shit because you in orange/in jail. It is one new lady down there in the kitchen and she so sweet, kind, respectful, never get loud with you or curse at you, we need more people like her. First shift work from 3:30 a.m. or 4:00 till about 10:00 a.m. Working hard as hell, never get no good food for working, thank you or non-thing, just the same food as the inmates and a bye? Second shift work from 9 or 10 a.m til 6 or 8:00 pm, working like slaves while Aramark sit on they AZZ and talk shit to us workers all day. If we weren’t down here doing it, they would have to, you know? If they had more people down there like the New Lady and gave us different food, then the inmates, then more people would want to come to work…That’s it about the kitchen part.

Showers: These showers here are the worst and the water is, too. It’s rust, mildew all in the shower and bugs flying in the shower and in the pod. The water don’t even be hot most of the time (4 real)…How do you take a shower with Dial Antibacterial Deodorant soap and get out the shower still itching and bumps all over your skin, chest, back, stomach? The water got to be dirty, then when you drink the water out your sink it feels like something in your throat/mouth. We need all this stuff I talked about to change. Please help. Thanks I.O.A. Thanks 4 the support/help…We need it.

Blaze, till next time

‘This jail needs to be flushed out and reorganized’

Hello IOA,

My name is Bernard Cheek. I don’t care if anyone see my name. I’m not afraid of any man or woman but Jesus and God. I would like to say the medical screening is a joke here, they don’t have the right size blood pressure cuff for my arm. The commissary is too high for the inmates, GTL is making a killing off of inmate phone calls. The hot tray they sell are very expensive. The c.o.s get wholesome food at very reasonable prices. The inmates pay for the c.o.s food, because Aramark, the jail’s food service provider triples the inmates’ hot tray price. Continue reading

On the work pod: Another chain link in the extortion process

This interview is also available in zine form (pdf at the end of the interview).

Vincent, tell us what it’s like to work in the jail.

You can work 40 hours a week in the jail, and still owe money when you get out. Like me, I was put in there for owing in child support, I worked most of the time I was in there, and I came out and was no better off. The people in the kitchen work from 4:30 in the morning until 6 at night. It’s crazy. But they don’t want anyone to know all that worker-inmates do to keep the jail running. They don’t want the public to know. When you go to court, you have to change out of your blue uniform (signifying work pod) to go to court to appear in orange. They don’t want you to have any special recognition. The orange shows you are a criminal. The public knows that, they know orange = criminal. Even though you are doing a service for the jail. But they don’t want people to know that.

How did you come to be on the work pod?

Because I was having trouble adjusting to being confined. I went five days without eating when I was there. Mental health suggested I go on the work pod and I accepted. (As an aside, mental health is overworked, understaffed—for 400 people, it’s not enough). Basically, it was a way for me to keep busy, and keep my mind off things.

What expectations did you have for that, or what did you get?

Basically there’s more out time. You get an extra walk—the night walk. That’s all you get. Fried leg quarters every two weeks—I guess that’s the paycheck. Every two weeks on Tuesday you get fried leg quarters. And some hygiene stuff: Free deodorant, soap, toothpaste. You can get an extra tray at lunch. Extra helping of slop at lunch—potatoes, soy and carrots. Raw potatoes for breakfast, all-the-way done potatoes for lunch. You usually have to sign up to get on the work pod, but I didn’t go through the kiosk. Mental health did it for me. Most people try to get on there to have more time out of their cell. Some people who are doing time there, on a sentence, might be able to get up to 4 days off their sentence per month (but this is discretionary). DWI or child support or probation violation get no gain time. It’s up to the facility to grant you the days off. Those people not getting the days off is because of the sheriff (see general statute).

There was a day people were refusing to go into the kitchen, and they threatened to lock everybody back. The other threat is you’ll be removed from the pod. Those threats keep people in line.

They don’t want to cut days off of those people, because that’s money for them. The longer those people stay, the more money the county gets. The added bonus they get is they’re working in the work pod, and that’s 65 people for free labor.

In my opinion, it’s the same thing they used to do in the Old South. Keep everyone in field working, you keep all the money. 65 people running your jail, from laundry, to sanitation, to cooking your food—all the officers have to do is just sit there, pretty much. Conditions in DCJ are like the Old South because c.o.’s are like black slavers. They work their own people and rarely assist in the work. I’ve noticed that they have a White Sheriff followed by a black female Colonel Perkins who is submissive to him and Major Couch submissive to Colonel Perkins so the black female has Authority over the black male who is submissive to a white male. It’s the best way to divide and conquer.

The sheriff’s department is the new headquarters of the Klan—they even recruit black people. The best way to oppress a people is to use their own people because they know them.

How does anyone get to be on the work pod?

Most people ask at the kiosk. As long as you fit the criteria. As long as you’re sentenced, or have a bond less than $20,000. It’s totally voluntarily done. But if you give limited recreation time, people will jump at the opportunity.

Everyone does it just to get out of the cell. Sitting in a box all day long is no fun.

For people who don’t understand, what work do inmates perform at the Durham jail?

In the kitchen they don’t have enough kitchen staff. They are totally dependent on inmates. Most of the time, you’ll have one cafeteria worker, who works for Aramark. He or she is like the whipmaster, the dictator. Roughly 10 to 15 inmates per one paid kitchen staff paid by Aramark. The inmates work for the whole day. They treat you like you’re getting a check.

What did you do? Take us through a typical day.

I did laundry. A typical day in laundry, there’s only four of us who work. We wash everything. We pick it up, we wash it, we dry it, we bring it back. We do at least two floors, or eight pods a day. Wash, dry, put each bag back on the appropriate door. One officer is with us everywhere, to make sure you’re not doing anything you’re not supposed to. They don’t do the work. They’re the overseers. We started about 7 a.m., and we’d be done by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. Everything that has linen on it, we do it. Intake and outgoing laundry.

In the laundry we fold all inmate jail-issued clothes. And washed all personal items in net bags. We fold blankets, sheets, towels, washcloths and supply the kitchen and sanitation departments. We go in every pod except for the female they don’t even want us to look at them, it’s like they think we’ve never seen women before. But we hang the bags back on the doors we take them off in the morning. We do it all.

The clothes they buy are the cheapest possible. So people will buy more. The blankets are like sheets; if you get a pinhole in them you can rip them from end-to-end with little force. The sheets are see-through. The new uniforms are stock piled in the back, out of circulation, while the old raggedy laundry ones are circulated.

I did try other work, but laundry suited me best. I worked a little in the kitchen, and another inmate-worker said to me “you’re putting too much meat on there.” (We’re talking four pieces of thin, thin meat.) I looked at him like, ‘what the fuck you talking about? If I’m gonna be down there, I’m gonna do it my way.’  It’s funny how they feel like it’s coming out of their pocket. That’s the assimilation stuff I’m talking about, they identify with the jail in a way. Inmates prepare food for officers. Spaghetti with real beef in it. They pay two dollars for a tray. The officers get milk. No inmates get milk at all. No fruit, except for applesauce. But, sometimes the inmates get the officers in their own ways.

Would you say the work of inmates is very important to the daily functioning of the jail?

It’s essential! You can’t have all the inmates sit in the pod all day and have all this stuff happen. Inmate workers save that jail a lot of money. 65 times 8 times 40. I figured minimum wage, I forgot the amount, but it’s a lot of money (at $7.25/hr–$18850).

How aware are all inmates of how vital their work (or the work of the work pod) is?

I think most inmates know, but they become assimilated. They feel like they’re obligated to work there, like it’s a real job they’re getting paid for, where there is no gratitude whatsoever. My thing is they’re feeling like they have to do it. But I guess you do, because if you don’t you go back in your box.

What did you think about your role as a worker-inmate at DCDF?

I felt like I was giving them a discount on ways to confine me. It was ultimately disrespect. Everything I did was to benefit them, nothing to benefit me. No payment, no less time to serve, you’re pushed into the streets and no means of taking care of yourself. You come out to more problems than what you went in with, which is my case. And they got a lot of my labor.

What do you think people on other pods think about the work pod?

They think we’re privileged. But we earn every moment we had out. Grass on the other side of the fence always is greener til you get there.

It’s interesting because you would think with all the work that inmates do that the jail would be clean. But one of the things that people complain about a lot is not having access to cleaning materials.

As far as the jail being dirty: imagine you have 65 inmates in a pod in 48 cells with one mop head for seven days and you’re cleaning around toilets with diluted chemicals. Those mop rooms smell like urine and sewage.

What is people’s understanding of who and what Aramark is?

Aramark: people know how they are making money off them. You feed people potatoes three times a day and they know people are starving them out to buy hot trays at 8 or 9 bucks a pop, and/or canteen. And they’re doing this with almost all inmates doing the work.

What would happen if no one agreed to be on the work pod, or they just didn’t do the work?

They’d have to hire people and actually have to pay people. And it would be a county job so it would have to be over minimum wage. They are running their business as cheaply as possible. Period. The jail is a business. It’s a racket.

I mean the work pod, it’s another chain link in the extortion process. If you owe the county money, and you work six months for them, and you still owe them money afterward—who benefitted? I didn’t. Not at all. Matter of fact, the jail and the whole legal system is the source of my anxiety.

I talk about assimilation, but it’s not just the inmate being assimilated, it’s the employees, too. This assimilation comes from the Willie Lynch mentality. The Old South is like a roach problem. You can’t stomp it out.

ontheworkpod (1)

on the work pod

‘Everything associated with this jail is a mind battle’

Hey! What’s going on?

I don’t know if you have paid close attention to my letter I wrote about me being an analyst…it was even posted in this month’s feedback under “Point Blank Period” in association with the inside information about Brother McCain’s death and the severe head injury he experienced. I mentioned how the Durham County Jail’s staff would meet the demands being made but also unequivocally cause conflict in the meeting of these demands to continue an uproar in the jail, because its result would boil down to what’s more important. Continue reading