To lay Niecey to rest, we must never let the sheriff rest

Two weeks after her death in the Durham County Detention Center, Uniece “Niecey” Fennell will be memorialized at a funeral service for her family and friends today, Thursday, April 6. Although her mother is glad to have her daughter’s body near her now (and is appreciative to those who have donated), this day will bring no solace or peace. And that is because there are many more questions than answers surrounding Niecey’s death on March 23. Seeing Niecey’s body in person has left her mother, Julia Graves, more convinced than ever that, with the bruising all over her body, she was beaten and that the state of her body is not consistent with that of a hanging, as the jail asserts happened. Niecey’s mother believes “it was not a suicide.”  The jail, through its various media mouthpieces, has been able to get away with asserting that a detention officer that had given Niecey a particularly hard time had resigned two weeks before an email her lawyer sent Major Couch about the abusive behavior. The only problem with this narrative? The email exchange between Niecey’s attorney and Couch and his legal advisor, Curtis Massey, does not actually name an officer. Not exactly artful liars, this bunch.

Although the NC chief medical examiner’s autopsy has not been completed yet, Julia is not confident that it will tell the entire story. How closely does the CME work with detention officials? Why was Uniece’s body moved by the jail to a funeral home in Durham so soon after her death, and before her mother was aware of it and well before she signed off on releasing it? How come no one from the jail has contacted her to let her know what she should expect and when she should expect it regarding the autopsy?

Due to all these questions, and many, many more, Julia would like to pay for a second, independent autopsy in order to gain some closure and in order to hold the sheriff’s office and jail officials responsible for Niecey’s death. Thus, please keep the donations coming in to help pay for the second autopsy. Share the following link as widely as possible:

Bringing Niecey Home to Rest

No donation is too small.

If you’re in Durham, come out this Sunday:

Cookout Fundraiser: Justice for Niecey


R.I.P. Niecey. Justice for: Niecey. We love you, Niecey.

“This is just another hint to the new age of high tech slavery.”


How are you doing G___? I hope all is well with you and your team. I received your letter on the 21 of March, but I had received the books two days before, which I am truly grateful. I am still waiting for the WEB DuBois “Souls of Black Folks,” and yes, you can send me more books by similar authors that deal with the struggle of liberation and the fight against oppression. My mind has a thirst for knowledge, so please, keep the well running.

On another note, the video visitation is another form of control and the further removal of privacy. The whole point of an in-person-visit is to be able to converse with your people about your well-being (that can be seen with the eyes) if you are being mistreated, and most importantly things about your case that can’t be said on the regular phones.

Its bad enough having to keep your loved ones in the blind about your fate with the Criminal Justice System because the phones is recording. Also, every single moment we are being recorded and watched and now they want to watch our visit. This is just another hint to the new age of high tech slavery. Also, its psychological warfare, the conditions of the mind to be more passive and non-rebellious. It is to imply we know what you’re planning before you do, I see your every move and its these very thoughts that become embedded, subconsciously, in our mind that causes the majority to be timid or content when it comes to checking the powers that be.

So, all in all, its just another infringement upon our privacy and to insert the county dominance over the convict. Also, to take every little things away that can bring joy to a convict soul.


Black Holocaust

‘I can’t stand another minute!’


Mayor : Hey, Sheriff Andrews, aren’t you supposed to be raising money for charity by being locked up in the Durham County Jail? Where are you going? The Muscular Dystrophy Association needs you here collecting money for your bail!

Sheriff: Change of plans, Mayor Bell! I can’t stand another minute in the Durham County Jail! The ABL food is horrible, the cells are freezing, and many of the officers are just plain jackasses. Plus, they gave me such an excessive bond, there’s no way they’re going to raise enough money for me to get out. And I better escape now, because with my office bringing in video visitation, the community might just pay money to keep me in jail!

‘You’ve still got power’

At a recent visitation time, we met D, whose partner is locked up in the jail. She was going to visit him in person and face to face. D reminded us of a very simple but very profound truth that is at the heart and the beginnings of this group: “Whether you’re locked up or not, you’ve still got power. They’re trying to take it from you, but you’ve still got power.”


Durham Democrats Oppose Video Visitation

On Saturday, April 1, the Durham County Democratic Party met for its annual county convention. The following is the text of a resolution that they passed opposing video visitation at the Durham County Jail.


Whereas; Eliminating, or even minimizing, in-person visits (visits behind plexi-glass in Durham County) can affect recidivism rates. Allowing inmates to see friends, family and loved ones face-to-face (even when behind plexi-glass as in Durham County) can reduce their chances of re-offending once they get out of jail, according to a 2015 study called “Screening out Family Time,” conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative. More personal communication improves an inmate’s well-being, while video visits make the contact less personal. (Screening out Family Time,” conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative.)

Whereas; Prison and jail visitation policies should recognize that family support is crucial to maintaining the relationships between those incarcerated and those who love them, especially as it pertains to developing and maintaining bonds between parents and children. Every available study agrees: Best practices for developing those bonds involve in-person visitation.(This would include current plexi-glass visitation as in Durham Detention Center.)

Whereas; Using video visitation technology requires computer literacy, which becomes a barrier for many desiring to use the service. Even those with a firm grasp of computer technology report frustration dealing with the many glitches and interruptions of service. Given the demographics of those in American jails and prisons – poor, mostly minority, a significant portion of whom speak Spanish as a first language – this technology may prevent any meaningful communication. (Public Policy Center, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition)

Whereas; The Durham County Detention Facility detains people who have not been convicted of any crime at the time of detainment, may only be unable to pay a few hundred dollars to be released while awaiting trial, may only suffer from mental illness, does not warrant the hardship of video visitation to the detainee and/or their family.

Whereas; Currently our Sheriff says he has no plans to make video visitation the only method of visitation, he, nor any county official, has any way of guaranteeing that in the future. We do know it will be expensive to implement and maintain for the county and potentially for the citizens trying to visit detainees, (ie: Wake County charges visitors $1.50 a minute) (

Therefore; be it resolved that the Durham County Democratic Party requests that the Durham County Detention Center NOT incorporate video visitation as a means of visiting persons detained in the county jail.

Be it further resolved that the Durham County Democratic Party requests the Durham County (Commissioners) and City (Council) and all Durham County elected officials not support, nor budget for any video visitation at the Durham County Detention Facility.

Justice for Niecey Fennell: Come out Friday, March 31 @ noon

From the family of Uniece “Niecey” Fennell:

Standoff/Protest this Friday @12pm at the Durham County Detention Center for Niecey Fennell. This is for those who can’t participate in adding money to help with her expenses.  It is absolutely FREE to express your emotions. There’s no excuses other than a ride and your job that you can not be there!!!!!!!

We will meet in front of the DPAC and start a line in front of the Detention Center forming a standoff and protest. If y’all really care like y’all say y’all do y’all will make it your business to be there!!!!! SHARE SHARE SHARE