‘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.

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‘It’s like telling these doors to open themselves and let us go’

(Note: the date on the following letter is correct—the envelope had multiple post marks, and seemed to have been opened before going out—editors)

Feb 3, 2016

IOA

I’m doing ok, just another day in jail. Thanks for writing. I don’t really know too much about the death of Matthew McCain, but I know the guard that was working that pod (Erick Boria) the day it happened is very lazy—all he does is sit at the desk either reading a book or looking at TV. He doesn’t do his rounds every 15 minutes like a lot of other guards here. Continue reading

‘They use violence to subdue us but we wrong for using violence back’

The following letters came to us late last week.

Here is Genapher’s note of explanation: The one letter was mailed out on 11/9 and returned to me 12/22. The other letter was mailed out on 11/25 and was returned back to me 12/22. They say the address was wrong when I know it was right. Hope y’all had a good Christmas. Please don’t give up protesting. Continue reading

‘Things changing slowly but surely’

1/2/16

What’s up IOA

One day I was out for my 1.5 hour walk and I realized something…Everybody looks forward to mail and visits. When it’s all said and done I know I and have seen people cry after a visit. It’s people in here that got kids out there in the world that need them. It hurts me real bad. I really do feel for them. I hate seeing people sad. I hate that we all in here hoping and praying that we get a letter or visit or money on our books. I wish/want better for my people. As far as myself go, still trying to shake the fact that I’m still in my room, still locked back/admin. Hate this place. I’m not an animal. Officers come up to me a lot and tell me they hate the way they be treating me and it’s officers that be like they know I’m not the person they trying to make me out to be. I’m really a good-hearted person if you took the time to get to know me. Continue reading

What We Believe. What We Want.

What We Believe. What We Want. / Lo que creemos. Lo que queremos.

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 A statement from Inside-Outside Alliance and friends & family members with loved ones locked inside the Durham County Jail

To sign on in support of this statement, go here.

 

In early March of 2015, Sheriff Michael Andrews implemented an ongoing lockback inside the Durham County Jail, with prisoners held in their cells for 24-48 hours at a time. Prisoners used to be allowed out of their cells for at least six and a half hours per day, but under the lockback they have been allowed out of their cells first for 6, then for 8 hours per week, drastically reducing their time for exercise, showers, socializing, and contacting their loved ones and lawyers. There have been multiple, unreported suicide attempts since the lockback began. On May 18th, in direct response to weekly protests outside the jail, and continued resistance inside, the Sheriff announced that the jail would begin enforcing a daily “detainee walk schedule.” This piecemeal rollback of what are decidedly inhumane punishment practices is unacceptable. Sheriff Andrews professes that his “primary concern” is for the “safety of staff and detainees.” He claims that the lockback measures “were implemented for the safety of all.”

 

We reject Sheriff Andrews’ understanding and practice of safety, and we invite others to do so with us. Safety does not look like extreme isolation; poor nutrition; medical neglect; unsanitary cells; restricted contact with loved ones; denial of reading materials; or lack of educational and vocational opportunities. These “safety measures” implemented by Sheriff Andrews and jail staff do not reduce violence. They create violence.

 

We believe safety comes from having meaningful connections to loved ones. We believe safety is generated when people are treated with dignity. We desire a Durham where safety looks like joy, interdependence, and mutual care, rather than walls, cages, and banishment. We dream of, and dare to struggle for a Durham where no one is treated as a criminal and no one person’s safety is dependent upon the exile of another, and we invite others to do so with us.

 

Toward that end:

 

  1. We demand an immediate end to the lockback: restore full recreational time for all inmates to at least what it was before March 6. Under no circumstances shall such collective punishment be meted out in the future.
  2. We want an independent investigation of the jail led by a team of doctors, lawyers, mental health providers, nutritionists, and Durham residents. These individuals should in no way be affiliated with the Sheriff’s office, the County, or the City, and they should be guided in their investigation by their fields of expertise, by grievances filed by people inside, letters written by inmates about their conditions, and the demands stated here. Inquiry shall include, but not be limited to the following: e coli and other foodborne hazards; temperatures throughout the jail; nutritional value of food served; price gouging by contractors (Paytel and Aramark); and stolen property. The full findings of this group shall be published widely.
  3. We want an end to medical abuse and neglect: all prisoners should have free, meaningful access to health care. This includes a timely response to health-related concerns, mental health services, and access to all prescribed medications.
  4. We demand that inmates have full access to writing and reading materials at all times. All prisoners should have access to pens, pencils, and paper, and a well-stocked library. They should be able to receive books mailed in by authorized publishers and book distributors.
  5. We want jail officials to uphold the right to religious freedom. All prisoners, regardless of their faith practices, have a constitutional right to religious freedom. Jail officials should in no way interfere with or limit this practice.
  6. We want all mail to be delivered to prisoners or properly returned. If a piece of mail is rejected, jail officials are required by law to return the mail to sender with a stated reason for return. Further, the intended recipient should be notified of the mail being returned to the sender, to allow the inmate to appeal the censorship.
  7. We demand an end to the extraction of fees from inmates and their families and friends. Prisoners should not have to pay for medical care or phone calls, nor should their loved ones be charged a convenience fee for paytel services or for adding money to prisoners’ canteen accounts.
  8. We want visitation to be flexible, accessible, and in person. Prisoners and their loved ones should be allowed face-to-face visits multiple times a week for at least thirty minutes. Loved ones should be able to schedule a visit via phone, in person, or online. We reject outright the planned implementation of video visitation at the jail.
  9. We want prisoners to have access to meaningful educational and vocational opportunities while in the jail. In order to avoid perpetuating a cycle of violence, the jail needs transformative activities for prisoners.
  10. We demand that inmates be spoken to and listened to with respect and that they take part in decision making as it relates to the conditions of their confinement. Inmates must be fully informed of all matters that affect them, both individually (e.g. court dates, visits, and transfers) and collectively (e.g. changes to policy) in a timely, consistent manner and in their native language. Further, pod councils should be formed in order so that inmates can play a part in decision making and the dissemination of information in the jail.

Further, with the clear goal of drastically reducing the jail population immediately, we make these demands:

 

  1. Abolish bail. Most of the 500+ people locked inside the jail are pre-trial detainees and pose little to no flight risk. They, their families, and the community benefit from their being home, not in jail. Bail is a regressive penalty that disproportionately impacts people of color, low-income people, and people with mental illness.

 

  1. Prioritize the employment of  formerly incarcerated and convicted people. Formerly incarcerated and convicted people face many barriers to employment. Durham County can take one meaningful step to alleviate this barrier by passing a policy that gives preference in county contracts to business that employ formerly incarcerated and convicted people.

 

We offer the above statement as a grouping of people who have come together around the lockback, but who understand the problems with the jail run deeper. Some of us are abolitionists, and make no bones about it. As such, we stand humbly in the great tradition of such people as Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Wendell Phillips and John Brown. We also are family members of people in jail, and simply want better for our people. We are also community folks and formerly incarcerated people. We make the above statement in the context of the present lockback conditions, and as a way to give voice to the desires expressed by people inside and outside frustrated with a system that provides little liberty or justice. The articulation of these desires is made for the here and now, and should not be taken to be the sum total of what we want, now or in the future. Rather, we put them forward as merely a starting point, recognizing that a movement of many more people (especially including inmates themselves) will carry this statement well beyond what it is and perhaps into the realm of a truly emancipatory project. We embrace that prospect fully.

Lo que creemos. Lo que queremos.

Un comunicado del Inside-Outside Alianza y amigos y familias con sus seres queridos encerrados en la cárcel del condado de Durham

A principios de marzo de 2015, el Sheriff Michael Andrews implementó un encierro, o “lockback”, dentro de la cárcel del condado de Durham, con los prisioneros detenidos en sus celdas durante 24-48 horas a la vez. Antes, permitían a los presos salir de sus celdas para seis y media horas cada día, pero bajo el lockback, primero, les permitieron salir de sus celdas para 6 horas, y ahora les permite salir 8 horas por semana, lo que reduce drásticamente su tiempo para hacer ejercicio, duchas, socializar, y ponerse en contacto con sus seres queridos y abogados. Ha habido varios intentos de suicidio que no han denunciado, desde que comenzó el lockback. El 18 de mayo, como consecuencia de las protestas semanales fuera de la cárcel, y la continuación de la resistencia en el interior, el Sheriff anunció que la cárcel se iniciaría la aplicación de un diario “horario de paseo para los detenidos.” Esta reducción fragmentada de estas prácticas de castigo que son decididamente inhumanas es inaceptable. Sheriff Andrews declara que su “principal preocupación” es la “seguridad del personal y los detenidos. “Declara que “se llevaron a cabo el lockback por la seguridad de todos.”

Rechazamos la comprensión y la práctica de la seguridad de sheriff Andrews, e invitamos a otros a hacer lo mismo con nosotros. Seguridad no se parece a un aislamiento extremo; la mala alimentación; t descuido médico; células insalubres; contactos restringidos con seres queridos; negación de materiales de lectura; o la falta de oportunidades educativas y vocacionales. Estas “medidas de seguridad”, implementado por el Sheriff Andrews y el personal de la cárcel no disminuyen la violencia. Crean la violencia.

Creemos que la seguridad viene de tener conexiones significativas a sus seres queridos. Creemos que la seguridad se genera cuando las personas estén tratadas con dignidad. Deseamos un Durham donde la seguridad se ve como la alegría, la interdependencia, y el cuidado mutuo, en lugar de paredes, jaulas, y el rechazo. Soñamos con, y se atreven a luchar por un Durham donde se trata a nadie como un criminal y la seguridad de ninguna persona depende del exilio de otro, e invitamos a otros a hacer lo mismo con nosotros.

Con ese fin:

  • Exigimos el fin inmediato del lockback: una restauración completa del tiempo de ocio para todos los presos al nivel que se solían tener antes del 6 de Marzo. En ningún caso, no se debe repetir este tipo de castigo colectivo en la cárcel en el futuro.
  • Queremos una investigación independiente de la cárcel dirigida por un equipo de médicos, abogados, proveedores de salud mental, nutricionistas, y los residentes de Durham. Estas personas no deben estar afiliadas a la oficina del sheriff, el Condado o la Ciudad de ninguna manera, y ellos deben usar sus áreas de práctica, los reclamos presentados por personas en el interior, cartas escritas por presos sobre sus condiciones, y las exigencias declaradas aquí, para guiar su investigación. Su interrogación debe incluir, pero no limitarse a los siguientes: riesgos de E-coli y otras enfermedades transmitidas por los alimentos; las temperaturas por toda la cárcel; el valor nutricional de los alimentos que se sirven; la escalada de precios por parte de contratistas (Paytel y Aramark); y el robo de propiedad. Los resultados completos de esta investigación se publicarán ampliamente.
  • Queremos terminar con el abuso y la negligencia médica: todos los presos deben tener acceso libre y significativa a atención médica. Esto incluye una respuesta oportuna a las inquietudes relacionadas con la salud, servicios de salud mental, y el acceso a todos los medicamentos recetados.
  • Exigimos que los presos tengan pleno acceso a materiales de escritura y lectura en todo momento. Todos los presos deben tener acceso a las plumas, lápices y papel, y una biblioteca bien surtida. Se debe permitir a los presos recibir libros enviados por los editores y distribuidores de libros autorizados.
  • Queremos que los funcionarios de la cárcel respeten el derecho a la libertad religiosa. Todos los presos, independientemente de sus prácticas religiosas, tienen el derecho constitucional a la libertad religiosa. Funcionarios de la cárcel no deben interferir o limitar esta práctica de ninguna manera.
  • Queremos que todo el correo sea entregado a los presos o debidamente devuelto. Si una carta está rechazada, la ley requiere que funcionarios de la cárcel devuelvan el correo al remitente con una razón explicita para el regreso. Además, se debe notificar al destinatario que se devolvieron su correspondencia al remitente, para permitir que el preso pueda apelar la censura.
  • Exigimos el fin de la extracción de pagos de los presos y sus familias y amigos. Los presos no deberían tener que pagar por la atención médica o de teléfono, ni si sus seres queridos se cobrará una cuota de conveniencia para los servicios de Paytel o para añadir dinero a las cuentas de cantina de los presos.
  • Queremos que la visita sea flexible, accesible, y en persona. Se debe permitir que los presos y sus seres queridos tengan visitas cara a cara varias veces a la semana que duran al menos treinta minutos. Los seres queridos deben ser capaces de programar una visita a través del teléfono, en persona o en línea. chazamos de plano la aplicación prevista de la visita por vídeo en la cárcel.
  • Queremos que los presos tengan acceso a las oportunidades educativas y vocacionales significativas, mientras que estén en la cárcel. Para evitar la perpetuación de un ciclo de violencia, la cárcel debe ofrecer actividades transformadoras para los presos.
  • Exigimos que todo el personal de la cárcel hablara y escuchara con respeto a los presos y que ellos participen en el proceso de decidir cuándo se relaciona a las condiciones de su confinamiento. Se debe informar a los presos de todos los asuntos que les afectan, tanto a nivel individual (por ejemplo, fechas de corte, visitas y traslados) y colectiva (por ejemplo, cambios en la política) de una manera oportuna, consistente y en su idioma nativo. Además, se debe formar un consejo para cada pod, para que los presos pueden desempeñar un papel en la toma de decisiones y la difusión de información en la cárcel.

Además, con el claro objetivo de reducir drásticamente la población presa de inmediato, hacemos estas exigencias:

  1. La abolición de lafianza.La mayor parte de las más de 500 personas encerradas dentro de la cárcel son detenidos en espera de juicio que no constituyen ningún riesgo de fuga. Ellos, sus familias, y la comunidad se benefician de su ser en casa, no en la cárcel. La fianza es un impuesto regresivo que afecta de manera desproporcionada a las personas de color, las personas con bajos ingresos, y personas con enfermedad mental.
  1. Dar prioridad a la contratación de personas previamente encarcelados y condenados.Las personas anteriormente encarceladas se enfrentan a muchos obstáculos para el empleo. Condado de Durham puede dar un paso significativo para paliar esta barrera al pasar de una política que da preferencia en los contratos del condado a los negocios que emplean ex encarcelados y condenados personas.

Ofrecemos la declaración anterior como un grupo de personas que se han unido en terminar el lockback, pero que entienden los problemas con la cárcel son más profundos. Algunos de nosotros somos abolicionistas, y no andamos con rodeos en esto. Como tal, estamos humildemente en la gran tradición de la gente como Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Wendell Phillips, y John Brown. También somos miembros de las familias de personas en la cárcel, y simplemente queremos mejor para nuestro pueblo. También somos la gente de la comunidad y las personas previamente encarceladas. Hacemos la declaración anterior en el contexto de las presentes condiciones de lockback, y como una forma de dar voz a los deseos expresados por las personas al dentro y afuera que están frustrados con un sistema que proporciona poca libertad ni la justicia. La articulación de estos deseos se hace para el aquí y ahora, y no debe tomarse como la suma total de lo que queremos, ahora o en el futuro. Más bien, les presenta como un mero punto de partida, reconociendo que un movimiento de muchas más personas (especialmente incluyendo los presos ellos mismos) llevará esta declaración mucho más allá de lo que es y tal vez en el ámbito de un proyecto verdaderamente emancipador. Recibimos esa perspectiva con los brazos abiertos.

For ongoing information on how to support: www.amplifyvoices.com / Facebook: Inside-Outside Alliance

Hear our cries, society

We Inmates treated like Animals? Are we still Humans? DO OUR TEARS STILL EXIST?

Josedrawing

Time doing me

I’m a young hispanic 18 year old struggling here in Durham County Jail and over the time being here, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of depression, not only about my situation but the way we’re treated…Do they even remember we’re still humans? I’ve seen what they did to a fellow inmate; he asked to be put in solitary confinement. They refused him; so to get where he felt best he did what they wanted him to do, which was act out, and they went in his cell with 5 grown men and beat him severely. The kid wasn’t any older than I was, probably younger.

Continue reading

‘Our unity is this jail’s weakness’

The following manifesto hits on so many things directly affecting Durham inmates and points to a way out of this mess. It deserves a wide audience and to be read to the end. 

Greetings friends and brothers,

I’m so glad to have found you. I’ve always been one to fight for a cause and now I know I’m not fighting alone which is a blessing. So many places to begin. First thing first my brothers WE MUST UNITE. Leave the street lifestyle on the street. These c.o.s fear unity. How can I be sure? Years ago an inmate told me about a strike he put together which the C.O.s quickly disassembled and separated inmates. The thing is these officers are NO smarter than the rest of us. Truly knowledge is power. Why do you think we are all so repressed? Because they want you to believe they are superior to you.  Continue reading