Prisoner Surveys

We do not offer these surveys as an academic exercise or as social research. They are the words of prisoners at Durham jail prisoners and they offer a perspective that is lacking from most conversations about what our problems are and how to get out of our collective mess.

K.N.

How long have you been inside? Going on 9 months

How many court appearances have you had?
4

How many times have you talked to your lawyer?
3

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?)
Awaiting sentencing

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it.

No.

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC?
The lockbacks

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? To not be out all ‘day’

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC? Yes, no contact visit

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? They don’t give people their medication.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? The food is awful, uncooked potatoes, mold on the burgers.

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? No good book. They don’t give people education.

What do you think of the c.o.’s? Some act like they run this jail.

How do you get along with other prisoners? I get along with some. But they be putting gang members in the pod with other rival gangs.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? Does not really affect my ability.

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? None.

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? No

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? No

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea? I totally agree

How could it work? What would it look like? That I don’t know.

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are? The gangs led me to being locked up.

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?) People getting locked up for petty charges, such as biting a girl on the lip.

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it? Everybody chills with whoever they want.

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up? I don’t know.

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? They think we’re a menace to society.

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there? I don’t know.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

E.Y.:

How long have you been inside? Since July

How many court appearances have you had? Just first appearance

How many times have you talked to your lawyer? Once

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?) Awaiting appearance

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it. N/a

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC? Everything: Pencil ban, food, high priced canteen, disrespectful c.o.s

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? About my situation from that beating

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC? No

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? Poor. They give no care. They give you a tylenol and send you back to your pod if you hurt yourself.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? We get the same thing every week: potatoes, beans, more beans, rice, salami (fake), fake ham, grits, oatmeal, cornbread and too much starch.

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? You can only check out one book, and that’s when she comes in every other week.

What do you think of the c.o.’s? I think some take their job too serious and some are allright (overall, they are bitches).

How do you get along with other prisoners? Some are dickheads and some are all right.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? They make us want to stick together even more if something happen.

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? Jail is a place I don’t like so I have no good experiences.

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? Yes, I had gotten hit by sergeant Black.

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? No, never.

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea? I think it would be smart.

How could it work? What would it look like? It could work if they let us eat what we wanna work. I really don’t know how it would work.

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are? Not having a place to stay (househopping).

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?)

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it?

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up?

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? Some can be treated like animals. The people I know think that we should be in here for life.

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

D.I.Q.:

How long have you been inside? 20 months

How many court appearances have you had? One

How many times have you talked to your lawyer? 5-10

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?) awaiting trial

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it. Individually and as a group. I was given 30 days lockback for headbutting a guy who hit me. We’ve all been locked back for stupid things like calling a police guy weenie man because he takes second looks in your cell while using the bathroom. Also, for people making noise. Oh, the guy I hit didn’t get disciplined, just me. 

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC? The biggest problems are authority abuse, high canteen prices and phone prices, visitations too short and last but not least how they treat the mentally ill. They should have handy some of those medication cocktail shots they use in mental hospitals and more training.

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? Higher standards for the guards.

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC? My family. Canteen prices and phone and visits and mental health support for me.

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? Horrible. My dog got better treatment at the vet.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? Horrible. 

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? Horrible. 

What do you think of the c.o.’s? Horrible except the rare few.

How do you get along with other prisoners? Pretty good.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? No affect.

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? Bible study.

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? Yes, for excessive force. Nothing was done.

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? Yes, for the pencil thing and for a homosexual guard who would look at us in the shower and for heat in the winter.

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea? Sounds good.

How could it work? What would it look like? Each pod sends representatives or something like that.

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are? Mental illness and lack of help for it. I’m not sure how common it is, but I bet it happens everyday in this country. 

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?) Kids mostly and veterans from prison they are here for murders, robberies, kidnapping assaults, sexual crimes.

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it? It’s mostly black people then latino then white.

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up? Usually the poor get locked up trying to survive. Some want to get rich.

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? Punishment. We all deserve this and more. 

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there? There has to be a giant revolution and major changes. Like our ancestors by fighting.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

K.X.S.

How long have you been inside? 20 months

How many court appearances have you had? 0

How many times have you talked to your lawyer? 3 or 4 times

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?) DA not satisfied with SBI lab results.

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it. No

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC? The C.O.s not doing their jobs.

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? C.O.s are unprofessional and not able to handle inmates.

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC?

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? Scale of 1 to 10 I give it a 7.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? Scale of 1 to 10 it is a 1. I get hamburgers 5 times a week (Diabetic diet).

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? Library is SAD. There is no educational service.

What do you think of the c.o.’s? Unprofessional, abusive, disrespectful. Female C.O.s need more training in how to carry themselves.

How do you get along with other prisoners? Respect each other.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? When the staff let certain inmates do as they please, it makes it hard for others.

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? STARR program (Substance Abuse Treatment and Recidivism Reduction)

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? Nothing.

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? Yes.

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea?

How could it work? What would it look like?

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are? Drinking and drugging. Making wrong decisions.

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?) Most of the people here alcohol and drugs played a role in it some where.

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it? Black people and hard times, not just lately, for the last 200 years or so.

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up? Growing up thinking you don’t have a future or choice in trying to survive.

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? The government don’t know how to fix the problem, so they lock them up and try to forget there is one.

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there?

How long have you been inside? 3 months

How many court appearances have you had?0 (had 2, but they never came and got me)

How many times have you talked to your lawyer? 0 (keep writing lawyer, no answer)

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?) awaiting trial

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it. No.

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC? Time between court appearances.

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? That they don’t let you know what is going on with your case.

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC? Yes. Not enough time for visit, unfair system.

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? They suck. They don’t give a damn about inmates.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? Everything taste the same bland.

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? It sucks because you can only get 1 book at a time. No educational services. Go to library maybe 1 time a month.

What do you think of the c.o.’s? Some good, some bad.

How do you get along with other prisoners? Okay.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? No comment (bad).

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? None.

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? Yes. Nothing.

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? Yes.

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea? Good idea as long as it is fair. Some c.o.’s have their favorite inmates.

How could it work? What would it look like? Hard to figure.

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are? I was homeless. Violated parole. Very common.

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?) A lot of bullshit. People caught up in a crooked system.

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it? Yes. C.O.’s know most inmates from the street.

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up? Try to fill numbers.

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? Just a way to treat humans like animals. Legally.

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there? Who knows.

–D.H.

How long have you been inside? This time week and 1/2

How many court appearances have you had? 1 so far.

How many times have you talked to your lawyer? None yet.

What is the situation regarding your charge? (Awaiting sentencing, awaiting trial, awaiting appearance, etc.?) awaiting sentencing.

Have you been ever been ‘disciplined’ in your time at DCDC, either individually or as part of a group? Tell about it. Last time I was here, yes. Both myself because I did not return back to my cell at lock quick enough. I was helping clean up. The C.O. told me to leave it for other people to do it. As a group, several of the inmates were acting a fool, being loud and disrespectful so the C.O. keep us locked for breakfast the next morning.

What in your opinion are the biggest problems with the DCDC? The food is bland, no able to get to the library more, and then only have 20 minutes to look for book (one). Unless you have been locked up more than a year.

If you could express one largest grievance, what would it be? I have two: Food and Library.

Does anyone visit you at DCDC? What are their biggest problems with the DCDC? No I have no family here. My mom and grandma passed away. My dad and sister live in other states.

We have heard many complaints about medical services at the jail. What is your opinion of health services? This time I have none. Last time it took an act of congress to get something done, and then they charge you $10.00 if it was a non-medical emergency.

We have heard numerous complaints about food. What is your opinion about the nutritional value and taste of the food? The food is bland and now they serve our food in styrofoam. I know some of the inmates cannot have some stuff due to allergy, medical reasons. But when we get oatmeal or grits every morning along with some type of seasons off. I know only those with diet trays get milk last time everyone got milk.

What is your opinion of library / educational services to prisoners at the jail? We could use more time in the library cause as for myself I love to read and I can go through a book pretty quickly and unless you have been here more than a year you only get to checkout one book at a time.

What do you think of the c.o.’s? They are doing their job. Some you can talk to. Some you can not. I myself do not have a problem with them.

How do you get along with other prisoners? For the most part OK.

How do jail staff affect your ability to get along with fellow prisoners? Some of the inmates might think you are an informer.

What, if any, are some of the good experiences you have had at DCDC? It gives me time to reflect on my charges, not so much as to think what I can do different so not to caught next time. But for me, what do I need to do to stay out of jail and while I’m in here it tells me who my friends are.

Have you ever made a complaint or filed a grievance with jail authorities? If so, what happened? While I was out I found out I have a pinched nerve in my neck. So with only one mat that is tore up and looks like it has been through the mill, I ask for a 2nd mat. I have to wait till the doctors approve it, which sucks.

Have you ever started a petition or signed a petition regarding things happening at DCDC? No.

Some DCDC prisoners have suggested the idea of a prisoners council that would participate in making decisions about things at the jail. What do you think of such an idea? I think it is a good idea. For the ones that have been here a while.

How could it work? What would it look like? Get inmates that have been here awhile, and lease 6 month on (unreadable) for council. As to how it would work only time will tell. You don’t want more than 6 on the council. .

What circumstances on the outside led to you being locked up? How common do you think those kind of circumstances are?  Lost job and place to stay. Too common.

What have you noticed about being inside (who is here? Why are they here?) Mostly young black men, and some latino, some young, some old. In my pod there is 5 white guys here. As to why, mostly drugs, armed robbery, b &e.

In your opinion is there a relationship between race and incarceration? What is it? In here it seems that way. Cause there is not enough education for the young people.

What does social class or economics have to do with getting locked up? Those that are lower middle class or lower seem to be the ones getting locked. Cause if you have money you don’t stay locked up.

What do you think is the point of jail? Prison? The justice system? What do you think people on the outside think about people who are locked up? It is supposed to help rehabilitate people, jail that is, with short term crimes. But now it is a money maker. Prison, somewhat the same as a jail but on a larger term scale. Except for those that commit violent crimes and for these that commit murder I believe in the death penalty. The justice is not perfect. But does need work. If you can afford a good lawyer you can stay out of jail.

What do you think are the possibilities for living in a different kind of world, and how do we get there? Till people can get past skin color not going to happen!!

K. F.

 

 

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