Thanks for keeping in touch and for the newest Feedback booklet. I finally did receive the second Human Relations Commission report you sent. The first one you sent is missing, most likely due to the mail services here, not a surprise! I read it thoroughly and agree that a community based research team to survey the facility would be beneficial, along with a civilian oversight board to address continuing issues within the jail. More knowledge can never hurt, except for the jail’s reputation and how they function. Video-visitation seems to be a hot topic raising significant controversy. I’m trying to remain optimistic throughout the whole process and shift to this “hybrid” approach. I agree that video-ONLY visitation should be prevent. Though, at the moment, I’m trying to see how the hybrid approach could be beneficial. They plan to launch the “hybrid” approach funded by the US Department of Justice sometime in the near future. The newspaper quoted Mike Andrews (Sheriff) today 5/12/17, stating that in-person visits will remain and that the implementation of this new technology was to better serve the community and allow more access to visitation. From what I’m understanding, there will be more days and times family members can come to utilize the video-visitation. And there is talk about the possibility of external use for visitation. Meaning that people can connect and speak to you face to face from their home device, without the inconvenience of coming down to the jail to do so. I understand the frustration everyone is having with the possibility of them converting completely to video-only visitation. And one can assume that this trial period with this “hybrid” approach is a way of slowly but inevitably transitioning to video-only visitation. So, I think it is important and a good proactive step that everyone is already voicing their opposition of the jail to utilize video-only visitation just like other counties including Wake. But, like I said, I’m trying to see what good things may come from these new computers. My family does not live in this state and most of my friends have graduated and moved away to where their careers took them. I have not physically seen my family in over a year. I would love the opportunity to speak face to face with them even if it’s on a computer. Talking on the phone only does so much, actually seeing them would be great. And I’m sure my family feels the same. I can’t be the only one in this predicament at the jail. Hopefully the jail doesn’t convert to video-only visitation but I can see how the technology may give people more opportunities to visit and more options to those who can’t physically come to the jail.
In the newspaper the new replacement of Lt. Colonel Perkins was announced, Colonel Prignano. What he said showed some promise. Though, is it all just talk like Trump’s first 100 days in office? The new colonel said he is willing to sit down with members of organizations like IOA to address any concerns head-on. Lets hope he keeps that promise. But, what I would like to see is that the new colonel make regular rounds through the pods just like Lt Col Perkins did. I will give her credit, she came into the pds during our recreation time and addressed many of our concerns personally. It showed that she cared and was actually doing her job well. As for Major Couch, the person who temporarily filled LtC Perkins spot, I haven’t seen him in months. When I did see him we were all locked in our cells and he quickly snuck right beck out the door without ever talking to a single detainees. I’m glad they did not promote him to the new position – but let’s hope the new colonel surpasses LtC Perkins’ performance.
Last week the gentleman that manages Aramark and the canteen at this facility, over both Paul and Ms. Myers, indicated that they have numerous items in their inventory that they “could” sell, however the jail and its “security” refuses to let them do so. Apparently every time sold must be approved by the jail. Interestingly, he said that they have small radios, like ones similar in most prisons, but the jail refuses to allow them to be sold. We asked the person in charge of security (Cpt. Barnes) about his position on allowing these radios to be sold. The only excuse he gave was that he was too concerned about them being stolen, lost, and/or broken. Is this a valid concern that outweighs what these devices could provide for us? If prisons across the country have permitted the use of handheld radios, I’m not sure why the County Jail cannot. 17 plus hours in a cell is a lot, especially when we are supposed to be considered innocent. I would love the opportunity to listen to music, news, and even NPR each day. Every day its a fight with the officers to be able to even watch the news on TV for 30 mins, and don’t even try to watch MTV, VH1, or BET; those channels are blocked and some officers even go a step further and prohibit any music videos from being watched. I don’t understand why its censored? What’s even more interesting is that when Cpt Barnes was pressed with the issue even more he indicated that the jail was looking into “new technology” that would have access to the radio, among other things. Though, I don’t know if this was said to pacify us or if it was really being researched. My only comment, don’t get your hopes up anytime soon – things progress so slowly around here, it might take yars to actually see whatever this new technology is!
Now, the Food! you asked if you could rely my previous complaints in my last letter to the Human Relations Commission and Wendy Jacobs. I have no problems with that. Back in March, I sent a grievance to the kitchen and ABL notifying them on multiple occasions that portions of their meals are not edible due to massive amounts of salt. The one bite I took I had to spit out, I couldn’t bear the taste. I didn’t receive a response for almost 8 weeks and when they finally did they aid, “we are working on training our cooks” and to be patient, the food will get better. If I counted correctly, we are in the 8th month of a 10 month contract with ABL. What? What has ABL been doing up to this point? Is their management that poorly handled? They obviously have problems. Yesterday, the officer refused to pass out the fruit and sent it back down to the kitchen because they were rotting. Why would they even send that up here? Probably the same reason they sent up curdled milk that looked grey, obviously past the expiration date. I will admit that over the past couple weeks the cooking itself has improved but their menu is no where near healthy or nutritious. It is filled with complex carbs, breads, starches,a nd processed meats or breaded patties. how is this healthy, especially when you can’t even eat part of it due to its sub-standard quality. I’ve already mentioned before about them cutting foods from the menu they originally began serving. Where did the bananas, raw tomatoes and cucumbers, spinach/lettuce, and real meat go to that we saw the first couple weeks? The only thing I see now is brown soggy lettuce overpowered with dressing. It’s obvious they are cutting corners and the reviews I saw in the paper prior to their start here was nothing but a show. Whoever manages ABL at this facility needs some help, a better menu, and better quality food. What irritates me more is that I see the officers purchase food that ABL makes for them and it doesn’t even compare to what we get. I’ve seen salads with freshly cut veggies, chicken on the bone – things we’ve never had prepared for us. I understand this is a jail, but they are being paid more in a 10 month period than Aramark. I don’t know the obstacles ABL faces down in the kitchen, but they were given more funds to outperform Aramark and provide healthier, more nutritious foods. But I don’t see much of an improvement. I’m left to think Aramark would have done a better job if given the extra funds. And that’s crazy to think. I think part of the reason we were all so disgusted with Aramark and what they served us was partially the jail’s fault with the limited funds they provided to them.
Lastly, Canteen! They need help and bad. it’s a sad sight to see each week. Bull, the previous manager of the canteen here before he got fired, never had any of the problems I see now. The two women, Pam and Ms. Myers, don’t get along and refuse to work together. It’s a confusing mess. They can’t keep anything stocked downstairs in their inventory. There are weeks without essential things like stamps, phone cards, toiletries, clothing including socks and underwear. In the year and a half I’ve been here I’ve seen nothing that compares to this dysfunctional management. Even when they have the items in stock it’s hit or miss if they decide to come to the Pod to deliver our purchased items. They posted a schedule in our Pod when canteen is to be delivered each week – what good that did, they didn’t follow it. And it irritates me every time they substitute the items I purchased with something else I didn’t want and is usually at a cheaper price. I get responses like, “we don’t have that item and we charged you for it so we are giving you this other item instead.” Ahh, what? No you’re not, I don’t want that. And if you don’t catch it and they sneak it in without you noticing, too bad, they won’t refund it even though your order is wrong. The whole service is pitiful. Since Bull left Canteen has been falling apart. I’m waiting for it to finally crash and burn. Don’t even get me started on Hot Trays canteen offers. The one time I order a meal it doesn’t come until after midnight and was ice cold. Since then I refuse to purchase one and that’s been a good thing. Lately they’ve been charging you, processing your order, and then deciding not to make the meals when scheduled, but at a time and date they want to even though you’ve already purchased it. Last week they decided out of the blue not to serve meals with chips due to some “executive” decision, even though when you purchased it the order said w/ chips. I don’t think they understand that some of their decisions are fraudulent. when I purchase something I don’t expect to be cheated and deceived every time. Then they get mad at me for being frustrated with them!
Due to the new technology coming in, the jail has been replacing their computer systems. This inhibited us from puchasing anything from canteen for a week and a half. No stamps, phone cards, toiletries, nothing. We complained, so canteen provided us with physical paper ordering sheets. We asked over and over when our orders would get filled! PAM told us they had absolutely NO intentions what so ever of filling the paper order sheets even though they were provided. Some people went 2-3 weeks without the ability to purchase anything because of complications with the new system. This jail doesn’t give you anything when you are forced through that door into this facility – and then Canteen refuses to process paper orders despite not being able to access the computer system. Again, pitiful, it’s not Aramark that needs to change – it’s the people who work here that need to change! Okay, thanks for your letter and checking in, hope to hear from you soon.