“We got to stand up for our rights”

10-9-17

Dear C—–,

Hey how you doing? First off I am thinking how you got my name and what made you reach out to me. But I’m glad y’all did because I been thru a lot while I been in the county jail. I mean I’m holding up good because I’m strong and have faith. I would love for my voice to be heard because at 17 years old people need to understand not just from older people but young people too… I don’t want it to be private because this is something positive in my life I need and I’m always trying to help people in a place I’m in and give them hope and faith. Use my name, I want to help all I can, please keep in touch. We got to stand up for our rights and I be seeing y’all out my window on Friday. We gone fight till we can’t fight no more.

– Semaj B

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“I hope the Durham Association of Educators, along with Alerta Migratoria and IOA will coalesce to pressure the Sheriff to bring in educational opportunities beside GED for these up to 24 years old”

Dear G___, ___, and the IOA Family,

Got your letter today with copy of July 17 Feedback enclosed.  Thanks a million.  I enjoyed reading both.  Wish I could have appeared at that meeting with you guys before the City Fathers/Mothers (smile).  I wish even more for the ability to take and send pictures of these trifling meals ABL provides us.  Portion sizes are ridiculous!  My 5 year old grandson would be truly upset.  It’s even worse when they provide meals in the 3 slot styrofoam trays like they did for lunch and supper today.

For lunch we had sloppy Joes.  They (ABL) half filled one of the two smaller slots with meat sauce, put cole slaw in the front large spot, french fries in the 2nd smaller slot and added a bun.  For supper we had apple sauce in one of the smaller slots, baked sliced potatoes w/ very sparse ground meat (probably leftover hot dogs from July 4th) and a piece of bread.  We are all praying they get ousted next month.

I can hardly wait to get out to help join in this fight!  Too often detainees will get out of jail and/or prison and soon forget about the many injustices they’ve had to endure and that those left behind continue to suffer.  Reminds me of how Pharoah’s cupholder forgot about Joseph for some years until Pharoah needed his dream interpreted.  This thing is very personal with me and I will not forget.

Court went well on June 14th.  The Superior Court Judge denied all of the Sheriff’s attorney’s motions filed against me (motion to dismiss my complaints, motion to transfer my case from district to superior court).

We now head back to District Court on July 21st and I am gearing up for it.  Anyone off that day is welcome to show up.  If anyone does come, sit in the gallery on the side opposite of law enforcement.  I have subpoenaed several Sheriff’s deputies and police officers and two magistrates to testify and none will like being there (smile).

I had some rather nice court victories last month.  Back in 2012 three teens stole my Chrysler Sebring Convertible, went joy riding to Granville Counting and coming back, were seen and chased by Wake Forest Police in Capital Blvd.  They wrecked and totaled my car, unknown to me for several months later, they racked up $488 in tolls.  NC Quick Pass tried making me pay it and I refused.  Then they added on processing fees and civil penalties and sent a collection agency after me in Dec 2016.  They even blocked my vehicle registration (which is moot because I’m still in jail).  That did it so I filed a petition for contested case hearing in the NC office of administrative hearings (OAH).  Long-to-short, I won the case last month.  I state spent well over $5,000 trying to force me to pay $488 plus $232.00 in penalties.  That is so irresponsible of them.

I filed a petition for appointment of new defense counsel in Durham Superior Court on Feb 6, 2017 but Durham Officials ignored it after I even made several inquiries about it.  In such cases a person can petition the NC Court of Appeals for what’s called a writ of mandamus to compel state actors to perform a duty owed to them.  I did it and the court of appeals granted me petition on June 26th and I went to court yesterday where a Judge remanded my sorry lawyer Woodrena Baker-Harnell, over the Asst. DA’s (Cynthia Kenney) objection and I now await the appointment of new counsel.  I also got a bond reduction petition filed and to be heard this month.  The AOA also offered me a plea deal for 23 to 30 months that I declined.  I’ve been in here 22 months on this illegal charge and I will fight it to the nth degree or until it is dismissed.

I also filed suit last month against the magistrate who issued the illegal warrant for my arrest.  The hearing against her is to be made public and should take place sometime in August.  The ADA is miffed about that, too.  I – DON’T – CARE!  They trample all over my rights but want me to practice stoicism and not complain.  That will never happen!

The jail’s new, overpaid administrator, Colonel Prignano is not worth the almost $100k he is paid.  He obviously knows nothing about how to effectively manage the jail’s mostly young populace.  I and others have written and tried talking to him about making the 6pm local news and 6:30 world news mandatory.  For some unexplained reason all TVs are turned off at 6:45 pm and we are locked into our ells for the night.  However, shift change is not until 8:00 pm.  It is so annoying to be watching the world news only to have the TVs turned off in the middle of it.  Prignano’s reply to us was: “I don’t care about the TVs.  They could take them out of the jail as far as I’m concerned.”  Really…?

A few years ago some really gung how law and order state legislators felt the prisons were too plush, too soft on crime.  They felt prisoners were being rewarded to be able to lift weights and watch color TVs.  So they contemplated introducing a bill to ban weights and TVs from all prisons.  That sparked a quick from prison administrators, who told the legislators they would resign if such an act became law.  Why?  Because prison administrators know that weights help burn off stress and overactive testosterone, and TVs is one of the most effective control devices in prisons.  Those legislators quickly demurred.  For Prignano to discard our request in such cavalier manner speaks to his lack of experience.  His position ought to be eliminated to start with.  Why would a jail of 550 people need a colonel making 97,800 a year plus a major and several captains all making over $70,000 a year?  It’s insane and is a waste of tax dollars.  One captain for each shift could effectively run the whole jail as is done in many jails statewide.  The Sheriff’s budget is overloaded…at the top!  Prignano is a mere puppet, good ole boy, who does whatever Notorious Andrews tells him to do.  I guess that’s why Andrews did not want to hire and administrator from outside his department.  All this cronyism is state and federal government just makes my stomach want to throw up!

The youth in here have nothing to do during lockback but yell back and forth to each other, bang on doors, table, sinks and windows while rapping, much to the dismay of their neighbors who are trying to read, think, or sleep.  They need educational outlets badly.  I’ve always heard that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.  Prignano could care less.  He is in it for the paycheck and nothing else.  I hope the Durham Association of Educators, along with Alerta Migratoria and IOA will coalesce to pressure the Sheriff to bring in educational opportunities beside GED for these up to 24 years old.

A lot of Hispanics are bilingual.  Few US citizens speak any Spanish.  I would have love taking Spanish clases these past 22 months in here and several Hispanics would love taking English classes.

I will pass the word around and look for good candidates to correspond with members of the Durham Association of Educators.

I am able to use my GTL prepaid phone card to call you guys sometimes.  Is there a good contact # and time to call?

You all take care and continue the good fight.

Love in Christ,

K.O.

PS: I’ve heard other officers say that Ms. Officer Snipes informs certain jail officials the names of detainees who correspond with IOA.  Snipes is a trip.  She and officer Richmond open and read all incoming (and some outgoing) mail.  Neither are certified to do so.  They gossip to other staff about what they read, too.  Neither of them should be touching any mail as they are not certified!

CHECK THE MIRROR

L.O.D. has to be a vehicle of advancement.  It must be understood by all members and soldiers in this struggle that in and of itself ignorance is our greatest enemy.  Through ignorance we are made afraid.  Through ignorance we’re impoverished.  Through ignorance we remain unskilled and unmotivated in the working world and repeatedly fall victim to the many pitfalls that ignorance provides for us.  By designs drawn up and set in motion many years ago we’ve been trained to be so ignorant that we don’t even recognize our enemy.  In ignorance we blindly follow fads, trends, and the whimsical ideals of people just as uneducated, ignorant, and afraid as we are.  To stand FOR something is to stand AGAINST something.  Many have lived and died having never come to this realization.  What is it that you stand for?  What do you love that loves you in return?  Life or death?  Living in fucked up environments of racism destroying everything against the heart.

That is what L.O.D. represents.  The struggle.  The fight.  The stand against systems of ignorance, for the advancement of that which we hold dear to our hearts.  How long will you be a faker in your own skin?  Afraid to BE cause they say you can’t BE.  Afraid to do cause they say you can’t do.

A L.O.D. soldier is unafraid of the fears that ignorance provides.  A L.O.D. soldier’s greatest weapon is education.  “Know how.”  Plain and simple.  Once you know better you should show better.  If we knew better we’d do better.  In this technological age and time where the answers are provided at a button’s touch who can keep you from knowing something?  As an L.O.D. soldier you have accepted the responsibility for not only your own personal advancement, but also for that of your brothers and sisters in the struggle because the best way to get ahead in life is to help someone do the same.  The only way to break the cycle of this crabs in a bucket syndrome we’re stuck knee deep in is to stop being the crab.  Period.  L.O.D. is not a gang and will not adopt the so called principles of such.  What it is, however, is an alliance of like-minded individuals who’ve recognized the perilous situation we’ve had thrust upon us and hunger to be active in making a difference.  L.O.D. recognizes that the Enemy (this governmental machine) does not discriminate and neither shall we.  Any race, creed, color, or sexual orientation will and shall be accepted with open arms.  L.O.D. is a movement that begs the question: is this life or is this Death?  Where a person is born into a design of debt, poverty, incarceration, and death by age 30.

In today’s America there are two species of human being: non-felons and felons.  Felons, have become the new slave, alien, outcast, reject, undesirable, etc.  The promotion of ignorance in today’s society is at an all time high and it is this very ignorance that justifies the oppressive abuses we suffer at the hands of the law.

The 13th amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, EXCEPT as punishment for a crime.  Look it up.  We claim to be adults, but we’re afraid to speak up and speak out against the ignorance in our own neighborhoods that steals our children from us.  That same ignorance that claims our children is the very same ignorance that fuels the fears and frustrations of these quick trigger cops who kill seemingly in cold blood.

Living
In
Fucked up
Environments

Of
Racism

Destroying
Everything
Against
The
Heart

I salute the men and women of I.O.A. and thank you from the core of my heart for your courage and dedication to a selfless cause.  I’d been meaning to raech out to you guys for some time now.

As for your concerns about the complaints with this jail???…

My only complaint would be the lack of educational opportunities for the long term detainees.  I’ve made several requests myself to have some character education/ethics and choices work books sent in so that I can start a class but…instead, as you can see on the back side of page one, I’ve started a creative writing class and had a helluva turnout!  Months back I’d started a mens group in 4-D but I failed the young bros up there by letting my anger and frustration get the best of me.  In life – especially behind bars – people will treat you the way you present yourself.  I cannot echo the complaints you hear in every letter because hey…this is jail.  This building has saved many people from themselves, so as novel the thought of total abolishment of jail is, it would truly do more harm than good.  In a perfect world these prisons and jails wouldn’t be necessary.  Having spent 21 1/2 years day for day with no breaks in between in prison, I can honestly say it (prison) is needed.  I have met many a man who have lost all desire to change…if they ever possessed it to begin with.  Sad, but too true.  My Lord and Savior had different plans for me and so he filled me with the will to endure and to never give up.  He filled me with compassion and the desire to help mend this broken picture of society.  To let my own life and experiences be an example to our youth of not only what not do, but also of how to turn your life around for the better.

Man, I love it.  Inspiring substantial thought in people.

You have my permission to print this letter in its entirety and to use my full name.  I stand on every word I’ve written and fear no reprisal from staff.  I can honestly say that the vast majority of the staff I’ve encountered here are genuinely good people just doing their jobs to pay the bills.

In closing I’d like to ask you guys at IOA to see about sending me some materials (workbooks, etc.) to aid me in my task of creating a change.  Like I said earlier, ethics and choices, character education, anger management, stress management…anything that will bring something new and worthwhile to the boxes that these brothers and sister are unable to think outside of.  Help me help our society.

I am L.O.D.

Sincerely fearless and able,

Curtis Barnette

God bless y’all and I love you all.

“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.

‘I HATE DCDF and everything it stands for’

10/13/16

What’s up?

I’m ok. I could be better but I’m hanging in there. Thanks for writing back…You’re right about the mail, my wife sent me mail on the 6th of October and I received it on the 11th, how crazy is that? I’m also very ecstatic about the change in the food, it’s way more appetizing than Aramark. But anyway, they do all they can to try to make us seem irrelevant, but they can’t stop the mail services. So, with that being said I would like to see them try to stop us from writing you guys. Continue reading

‘They always cry it’s a security concern when they don’t want to change for the better’

Hey J & S,

I hope y’all don’t mind me responding to you both in a single letter. I have just completed putting final touches on a petition for Writ of Mandamus to be mailed to Durham District Court in the AM. Trying to level the playing field keeps me wide open in here!

I can hardly wait to get out of this awful place. I am 65 years young. There is much work to do in the realm of jurisprudence for the offenders and the courts to get the playing field leveled and reduce crime.

I am going to seek a Soros Justice Fellowship when I get out to conduct a study in Durham, Wake, Guilford, and Mecklenburg jails and courts to see just how effective their court appointed lawyer system is and how justice is meted out in these courts. I’d like to compare the plea deals offered by those various DAs for similar offenses committed in those 4 counties. If I get a justice fellowship, I could then hire a small staff and have other non-profit agencies help me to extend this study to all 100 counties.

The courts need someone — a serious watchdog — looking over their shoulders, as District Attorneys. Continue reading

‘We are so hard that we are afraid of change’

That’s what held us down for a long time back in the day. Even when times was hard, there was honor among thrifts. If I sold sandwiches, the next man would sell soda. We all find a way to help each other keep living. There was nobody robbing each other. Because the game was so real you kept extra to give away. That’s why it was all love back in the day. Continue reading