Justice for Dashawn Evans who Died in the Durham Jail

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On May 27th, 2018, 23-year-old Dashawn Devonte Evans was found dead in the Durham County Detention Facility. He was a healthy young man with a bright life ahead of him.

Over the last few days, people who knew Dashawn have shared information about his compassion, generosity, and commitment to his family. Statements from 9 members of Dashawn’s family are provided below.

As the family of Dashawn Evans moves forward in their struggle for justice in the Durham County Detention Center’s failure to keep Dashawn safe and alive while in their care, his family demands the following:

  • An independent investigation beyond the State Board of Investigation (SBI)
  • A copy of the SBI’s report based on its investigation
  • For the Durham County Sheriff, who is in charge of the Durham County Detention Center, to be held accountable for Dashawn’s death.

For anyone who would like to support Dashawn’s family during this difficult time, please consider donating to this GoFundMe to help the family cover funeral expenses and legal costs for an independent investigation:

https://www.gofundme.com/justicefordashawn

Dashawn’s death is undeniably tragic, all the more so because it does not stand alone.  His death marks the seventh that has occurred in the jail since 2013, a reflection of the indifference and incompetence shown by the sheriff and many in the jail’s staff. We demand justice for Dashawn Evans and those before him: James Earl Staton Jr., Niecey Fennel, Matthew McCain, Raphael Bennet, Dennis McMurray, and Terry Lee. Their stories and testimony from their loved ones and fellow inmates are available on our blog. The jail must stop this pattern of neglect and abuse.  We cannot let them rest until it ends.

Please join the family for a PROTEST and press conference this Friday, June 1st, at 6pm, at the Durham jail.

 

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Statements from Dashawn’s family – 5/29/18

 

Valisha Evans, Dashawn’s Aunt: “He’s going to be missed. I loved him. He was always smiling. He loved his family and his children.”

 

Karen Kirkland, Dashawn’s fiancé: “I want to say that he was a great father, and he will be truly missed. And he was my best friend. I love you, Dashawn.”

 

Venise Jones, Dashawn’s grandmother: “Dashawn was in jail for some problems, but I can promise you that he got a charge that he didn’t do. I know for a fact, because it was on his birthday, he did not do it. I can say, he is a good child. Everybody has good children, and most people’s children do stuff. But he still was a good dad. He was a good grandson. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me. And I love him. Whatever it is [that happened in the jail], it will come out.”

 

Mercedes Jacobs, Dashawn’s sister: “I just want to say that, even though he grew up a little troubled, no matter how hard his life got, he always had a positive outlook or a game-plan and a big smile on his face. Everybody goes through stuff, but he was the type to get through it and not give up. I love my little brother, and I’m gonna miss him.”

 

Robert Miles, Dashawn’s cousin: “We had a lot of good times. We had a lot of bad times. One thing I can say about him: nobody in this family can out-gamble him! <laughter> He wasn’t a good child, he wasn’t a bad child. He was a family man. It’s sad that he’s gone. But it’s a blessing he’s somewhere peaceful. We don’t have to worry about him no more. But at the end of the day, what happened was wrong. He made sure everybody got taken care of. He loved his momma. He loved his kids. He’s gonna be truly missed.”

 

Shereka Evans, Dashawn’s cousin: “One thing Dashawn always did, when he saw me, was hug me. He always hugged me and told me that he loved me, regardless of anything. I will always remember that about him. He loved his family, and I know that he didn’t do anything to jeopardize himself being with his family. He did anything for anybody, whether it was a quarter, whether it was a bag of potato chips. It doesn’t matter what it was, he gave it. So, I know it was something wrong, what happened with my cousin. And we just want to get to the bottom of it, and make sure everybody has light and peace in this situation in the end.”

 

Lewis Jacobs, Dashawn’s father: “One thing I can say about my son is he’s a survivor. He’s always been a survivor through all kind of ups and downs. He’s a survivor and I love him to death. And I knew that he loved me and he loved his family.”

 

Sharnella McCrae, Dashawn’s cousin: “Growing up with Dashawn, you would never know what to expect. Dashawn was so active. Growing up around my house, my grandma had ten children, so there’s a lot of us on both sides of our family. He has a big family. So, Dashawn always was family oriented. Dashawn loved his family, loved both his grandmothers, loved his grandfathers. Dashawn loved to play. No matter whenever I’d see my cousin–if I’m driving down Main Street, Liberty Street, wherever I’m at–I can look out the window and say, ‘what up, Day-Day, what up, cuz, I love you!’ Every time we saw each other, we’d say ‘I love you.’ Even though he got on my nerves, when we departed from each other, we’d say we loved each other. No matter what it was, if I ever felt like I needed Dashawn, Dashawn would be there. I would be there for Dashawn. It’s just an unfortunate situation that we have to see a young man go away from two families that dearly loved this young man. He was really loved. He has two children that will miss him. They’ll never really get to see the young man that I knew Dashawn to be. But he’s looking over them, so that’s a positive. We’re gonna always keep Dashawn lifted. We love you. You’ll never be forgotten. And whatever it is, Dashawn, we will get to the bottom of it. Just know that we got your back, just like you had our back.”

 

Roy Dunkins, Dashawn’s uncle: “He loved his family. Anything he could do for anybody, he would. He loved being around his family. All I can say is he’s a family oriented man. Everybody has their issues, but at the same time, he’s a good dude. He’s gonna be missed by his family. He’s loved by his family. Anybody that comes up against him: we want to come together as a family, as a team, and show them that just because one person makes one bad decision, that doesn’t mean that’s their whole life.”

 

 

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Just a girlfriend…

This girl looked very young, at first I thought she was 15 or 16 (we have those age girls at the pod too and stop wondering why such a young girl are here with insignificant (not felony) misdemeanors in here with experienced criminals – but I’ll write about that next time).

She is 24 years old. Tomorrow is one of the worst days of her short life – the funeral of her boyfriend. He left this life one week ago, the same day that she got here. An overdose. No need to say that she wanted to be close to him one last time and say “goodbye” – at the very least. It didn’t happen. Mrs. Bell didn’t give her permission to go to the funeral, because she is not a wife, just a girlfriend. Anna and James (not their real names) were together for 7 years and have two daughters. They did love each other. When Anna learned that James died, she lost consciousness. Her grief is huge, and what’s with the combination of being in jail, just unbearably painful.

Her felony is not proven yet but she already must suffer from punishment being here. Plus one more punishment – lacking the very right to say “bye” to the one she loved only because she did not have official papers.

I know it’s a jail policy that you can only go to a funeral if you have an official connection. But it is still not normal and not human! But again – who cares – in their view, let the young widow suffer, if she is in jail, she must deserve it!

 

– F. L.

“Yes, this is medical neglect”

My name is _____. I come from New Jersey. Been in Durham 40 plus years. My parents are deceased. My mother passed here in Durham 7 years ago. I come from a family of 5. I am the middle child: 2 sisters younger, 2 brothers older. Me and my brother been in and out of jail and prison. We’re all locked up now. My oldest brother got 14 months and my other brother got about 2 years or less to go. So I am 47 and unemployed, but a jack-of-all-trades, master of none!!! I applaud what you’re doing and if I was free I would be standing beside you.

I am in here for a number of charges. My first violent crimes. I had gave up on the world a long time ago. But out of 47 years, this was the first time in my life that I gave up on myself. I am not a violent person but my spirit was being pulled at my so very strong demons (stress). But I believe that things happen for a reason. But now I am in jail without the bail. …

I found out today that I’ve got some medical problems. Medical drew my blood and all they state to me is that I need to stop eating fatty food. But I been here since February and now my legs are swell and they do not wish to do nothing at this time but give me a pill for three weeks and an ice pack for my triglycerides count, which is 469 and should be 200 and below. I’ve got to wait even longer to start a diet here. The nurse said that “she would let the doctor know.” Okay, it will be Monday of next week before I hear anything. … Yes, this is medical neglect. Just to give me a pill that does nothing. Something donated to the jail.

I think your Feedback is on point, and I wish to further this, because I and others need to be heard.

The Sheriff race I do not have no information on any of the candidates, but I am unaffiliated. So I received a late ballet. It was too late by the time I received it. These people here at the jail had something to do why I got it so late. …

Thanks for everything from all in here that I tell about your stand and where you stand.

– The Ferret

“Our greed and pride is our downfall”

Hey man,

I’m glad you wrote back, letters are important in here. You spoke about things being fair. I wish! Not only for me but the countless others. The most bizarre thing is this, humanity as a whole has the means and knowledge to provide for one another in such a way that none should lack much of anything. The great wealth combined with the knowledge we have is more than capable to provide solutions for the problems of poverty and great oppression that we as a world all share. Our greed and pride is our downfall, our world leaders are blind to these things and ideals. They seem to care more about how powerful their nation is rather than look to the true needs of a people that they swear an oath to provide and protect. They spend trillions and billions of dollars on military arsenal to “protect” a nation that needs protection from ourselves. Drugs, violence, hunger, shelter, and clothing are on the backlist that is ever growing. We worry about weapons of mass destruction yet we are destroyed within our own lands. I wonder if our leaders think about the addict that is only addicted because he wishes to drown the pain of abuse they suffered. Do they see or think about the homeless that are hidden by the shadows cast by the wealthy as they pass them without even a word or hint of empathy? What about the single mom with four kids of all ages, who can’t work because she has no money to pay for the daycare. She is stuck with minimal food stamps, no transportation, and low income housing in a high crime area. Do they see her tears at night when she cries for her little ones? I am in amazement at all of this, so when I start to think my situation is bad I’m humbled at the lives of others that share the struggle.

I did not mean to get as deep as I just did, but I’ve lived my life in a lot of these situations. When I was homeless, I was also an addict. I was a shadow, no one saw me. I do have to admit some people showed me kindness, and I’m grateful. But mostly I was a shadow, at 3 am I remember digging through a garbage can looking for food and was happy to find a “McDonalds” bag with a half-eaten hamburger and a few cold fries. I would shoplift clothes, hygiene, food, even my drug.

You see, I was a huffer, and I huffed “spraypaint”. My life was hell, mostly it was just sad and I would get high to forget and dull the pain. I knew I had a problem, but to get real help cost money or you had to have insurance. I didn’t have anything. Some nights I would just cry. I did bullshit crimes, like, B&E “Breaking and Entering”. I wouldn’t even steal anything, then I’d go to jail or prison. The cycle continued.

It was all I knew. Success was something that I knew not, but it was easy to fail, so fail I did. I didn’t even know I had mental health problems, but all & all, today I’m a better person. My mind is way different and set on a better future. So. . .

You asked about the mental health pod. Well, we do some fun things sometimes, like we play bingo for prizes on Friday, or we do arts and crafts. We have cards, checkers, chess, Uno cards. Other than that it’s still jail. It’s also a lower population than the other blocks so it is a lot less stressful to me, anyway. I have anxiety and paranoia, the pod is still new and they say more things will come down the line.

You also asked what things IOA could do for us to make it better in here. Support is major knowing someone is thinking about you. That’s why I was talking about mail, that’s also why I asked for more people to write. That’s just me though, I’d like to meet more people and network a little.

Another big thing I know a lot of guys don’t get is money. It’s hard to sit around and watch all the guys that get canteen when it comes and they eat cookies, honey buns, candy, etc. And plus the hygiene they give you is shitty and they have deodorant and other products on canteen. They also have a care package you can send inmates at i-caregifting.com. It’s just something that I know guys struggle with. I know I do, who don’t like a snack once in a while. I’m sure you heard of how shitty the food is (haha).

Well man, I guess this is it until next time. . .

Wallace Eubanks

Give us freedom or in God we Trust

Hello P,

This is D, whom you wrote to through Inside-Outside Alliance. I wanted to express my thankfulness for your concern, I am humbled. This is very overwhelming at times and I thank God for a loving family. I have lost a lot of things, relationships, time, sleep – but God has sent some people right when you need it. When you allow the devil or arrogance to make bad decisions, to me, I can’t blame anyone. Being black or poor does not make you lose freedom, peace, family and love. Life is a decision (sin).

No complaints, but I am very thankful. The sheriff is in need of replacement (just like the dead, over-priced batteries that Commissary sells). Sheriffs can’t rise people but he can allow the Life Skills program (taught by the Durham Literacy Council) to be open to all the jail and the program for youth offenders and recovery to be jail-wide, something else beside STAR for recovery from drugs, poor decisions, sex, anger, etc…Instead of being like Thomas Clayton (TomTom), who admitted to nothing but crime. Also, during this election, don’t forget the District Attorney (who has to go even though is black), like a true hypocrite who doesn’t benefit anyone righteous except their self. With a 90 percent conviction rate, 5 years to TomTom of being there but 2 years without concrete involvement, give us freedom or in God we Trust….Devil and his lawyers with a waiting game to convict, or be censored in the process by GlobalTel (what, can I get a contact with God for good behavior?)

Pray you preach that,

Hope to hear more,

D. Q.

The pain of that green color

…With pain and bitterness, I watch the next victim in a strange green outfit be escorted to the corner cell, Number 24, to be locked up. Answering my question, “why?”, the sad latin girl told me – “I was crying – That’s all.” One year ago, I arrived in this jail myself. It was the first time in my life. Sure, I cried from fear, despair and the unknown. After a short talk with the nurse on duty, I was put in a green outfit in that damn room 24. Three days without sheets, blankets, or underwear. With bare feet, in that green fucking robe. When I questioned why they were doing this to me, the answer was “You could commit suicide – it is for your security.”

This was absolutely a rude lie: never, ever in my life, even in here, in jail, did I want or plan to commit suicide. I was not even hysterical.

Almost everyone who is locked up here for the first time is in terrible condition. No wonder: they have no experience to compare with like repeat criminals may. They are scared – and it starts with booking already. Here is a hell indeed: dirt, rudeness, screams! The absence of any elementary respect. But you don’t dare cry here. If you cry, they think it means you will commit suicide. So, the turtle suit is unavoidable. You try to talk to the CO through the door, but who cares? You could die here of a heart attack. And what? Ok, it’s not a suicide!

Where is the logic? A crying person in despair needs comfort and understanding, not a punishment (even if it calls itself “security”). A crying person is suffering in jail already! But the serge is saying “No, put them in cell 24” and putting the crying person “under observation” for at least 24 hours.. and if they got in on Friday, for three days!

An acquaintance of mine almost cut her veins in this room. She just wanted to be noticed. And they almost missed her…!

My inmates admit if you want to commit suicide, you will find the way to do it anywhere, even in cell 24. This is true! And another truth is that the crying person (in this case, a woman) locked in this scary cell is put here to be intimidated, humiliated, and paralyzed. What else could it be?

  • F. L.

Racism against whites

(Caveat: IOA publishes articles written by those locked up in the Durham County Jail whether or not those articles align with IOA values and politics. The following article expresses an individual’s concerns, not IOA’s)

Dear friends,

As far as we know, you are trying to protect black inmates in the Durham Detention facility. Would you like to protect white ones tooo? We want to tell you about discrimination against white female inmates in this jail…

On of us speaks. “Everything started a long time ago. I had an opportunity to observe this from the beginning. My white cellmate asked the black CO to give her some toilet paper and got denied because she is white.” The IOA newsletter already published this fact – thanks! Then a lot of unpleasant things happened and I asked my black social worker what she thinks about racism against whites. She said: many many complaints.

Did you see a white member of rugbee team female?

Our black inmates use unlimited freedom even in jail: they can speak with teh CO from 1pm to 4pm while other women are locked up. They are doing each others hair, screaming, dancing, singing, and such 24-7 – always ! They don’t care if some white idiots (name for us) by them want to sleep – enjoy! I wanted to talk about this problem with many officers here, but they are always busy for this conversation.

Today, a group of white inmates was trying to watch TV but couldn’t. Black girls were especially demonstratively rude and loud. If girls of white colour would behave like that they would be locked up immediately for sure and not for 1 day.

So it was the last drop that made our cup overfull and we decided to write you.