‘Hope is good…but ACTION is the force behind change’

2/14/2017

To whom it may concern,

I’m a first time writer, as I wasn’t aware of this newsletter until someone passed it on to me yesterday. Anyway, my name is Rasheem Sahib, and I first want to thank everyone with a voice to speak up for freedom and justice. I’m a born-again criminal and now I fight for freedom and justice. It sickens me to my stomach that these harden-ass criminals in here won’t even stand up for themselves. They are afraid to lose their canteen or TV if they exercise their rights. They stand at the podium and kick it with the police all day but they disrespect one another and try to exercise conflict and chaos to their fellow brothers and sisters. If the powers that be feel that we accept things as they are, why would they change it? Let’s let them know we don’t accept this shit: Fight the Power!

It’s crazy how people’s priorities are twisted and yet they hope for change. Hope is good, never give up hope. But ACTION is the force behind change—and prayer.

Peace!

Rasheem

P.S. Please add me to your mailing list. Thank you!

‘The system seems like it’s on its last leg’

Hey —

What’s been up, I’ve been waiting for a letter from you for forever. Me I’m doing as good as I can. I’m at one of the worst prisons in the state. How are things? That draft (of Durham Human Relations Commission’s recommendations on the jail) looks great! What’s the status with things in the jail? Trump is…I don’t know,,,but what is very evident is that change is coming and not the kind that’s easy transitional type kind of stuff. This is more of the brute force, force feed kind of thing. I listen to the news radio about 3 hours a day and the global climate went from progressively hopeful and optimistic to almost hostile. You got Trump banning people from certain countries from entry, and Iran doing missile tests. Continue reading

‘Fight the real enemy!’

What up,

How ya’ll doing? Shit still fucked up. Tell me this: why the fuck is the A/C on full blast during the winter? Plz answer that for me. It’s freezing in the cells. And when we tell the c.o.’s, they say ‘what can we do about it?’ It’s four days later and the A/C still blowing on full blast.  Continue reading

One year later, we remember Matthew McCain

Matthew PancakesOne year ago today, Matthew McCain died in his cell at the Durham County Detention Facility at the age of 29. Just over a month before his death, Matthew’s daughter, Kinslee, was born while he was in jail. He never met her.

Matthew suffered from diabetes and epilepsy, two serious long-term conditions but certainly ones that can be managed with proper medical care and adequate resources. But competent medical care was never to be found at the Durham jail for Matthew, as is the case for many other people unfortunate enough to be caged there.

In the one year since Matthew’s death, there have been marches, speak-outs, and vigils; there have been balloons and candles, tears and rage. But one thing there has never been is an apology or a public acknowledgment of responsibility for Matthew McCain’s death by anyone connected to the jail, or Correct Care Solutions, the company that profits from providing detainees as little care as possible.

Sheriff Mike Andrews, whose office is responsible for jail operations, never apologized or acknowledged Matthew’s death, either, even as he glad-handed at events attended by Matthew’s girlfriend, Ashley, with Kinslee in tow.

Matthew’s death dramatically affected the lives of many people, including Ashley’s children; his mother; aunts; cousins; and friends, some of whom he got to know inside the jail. Besides the initial report of Matthew’s death that was shared with outside members of Inside-Outside Alliance by a comrade inside, many people on Matthew’s pod shared recollections of him and their own accounts of his death.

See the following: We still place his chair at the table; They do not listen; I feel they may have lied; Officials acted with neglect; There is a rumor going around; Something gotta give; Everything is a mind battle; They try to punish you for little things; Fight til you can’t fight no more

As we joined Matthew’s loved ones to press the sheriff’s office for answers about his death, we were contacted by the daughter of a man, Dennis McMurray, who had died at the jail a year before, and whose death was never made public. This fact made the brave truth-telling of detainees on Matthew’s pod all the more important and integral to the struggle.

The tragedy of Matthew’s death has helped to gain the attention of many who otherwise had not been paying much attention to conditions and treatment in the jail. Recently, the Human Relations Commission of the city of Durham published recommendations about the jail that they will share with the county commissioners and the sheriff’s office.

In the aftermath of Matthew’s death, in the struggle to obtain answers and demand accountability, we published a pamphlet, No More Jail Deaths, No More Jail. As then, we still know the only way to ensure there will be no more horrible, undignified deaths in jail is to get rid of these cages as we transform the world which produces them.

November 25, 2016 marked the day Matthew would have been 30 years old. A week later, his daughter Kinslee, full of life and spark, turned a year old. These birthdays and anniversaries hurt those who loved Matthew and they will continue to be painful. But we take today to say that we have not forgotten Matthew, and we will not forget that the jail killed him. For those who are able to, join us at the jail this evening, January 19, 2017, at 7 pm for a vigil to remember Matthew McCain.

Facebook Event: Candlelight Vigil in Memory of Matthew McCain

‘It’s madness’

Hi,

I thank you for your letter and I appreciate your concern about the inmates here. We need more people like you! You’re right, people can’t put aside their silly beef to stand together to fight this battle of oppression, suppression and depression. It’s hard being an inmate, but even harder being an inmate in Durham County Jail. They suppress us in so many ways. The only good things about DCJ is the STARR and Grad program, and the psych help because I see Mrs. Kelly for my mental issues and she is a big help. She actually cares. Everybody else I can’t really say that for. But I been locked up in the county now for 4 and a half years and I still don’t have a trial date. I have seen and heard a lot since I been here. It’s madness. I remember my friend J’s ankle was messed up and he couldn’t walk, he was layin on the bed and D.O. Boria went into his room and smacked him for some crazy reason. Craziness…I’m gone. Appreciate the letter. O.B.

“Only those Uncle Toms and brown-nosers…”

11-13-16

Hello,

May this missive find you in a state of bliss in all respects. Like always it was a pleasure hearing from and acknowledging your efforts that contribute to the struggle. I really look forward to meeting you and some of the Inside-Outside Alliance comrades soon.

Have you heard that the Neuse C.I. went up in smoke two weeks ago? Yes! A lot of the staff from there have been posted here for work until the Neuse facility is repaired. The inmates burnt the place up, especially the processing part. Heard it’ll take months before they get it back up to par.  Continue reading

‘We stand for something that we don’t even practice’

November 10, 2016

IOA

It’s been a long time coming but I know change gone come. We just have to come together as one. What’s up IOA. I haven’t been avoiding you guys or nothing. I wrote under a friend’s name as I didn’t have any stamps and I’d already sent three free letters out. Tears of an Inmate in volume 23 is my poem, but that really doesn’t matter. I’m doing fine, still stuck behind these walls. The question about the national anthem protest really made me think and before I give my opinion on the matter I want to point out I am not a racist. I have a loving Caucasian family that I love and adore, but honestly I stand strongly behind Kaepernick (and others who follow). Why stand together for a national anthem when we’re not a nation. We’re divided—if it’s not blacks against whites, it’s the government/politicians vs. the civilians. They’re a bunch of hypocrites. We stand for something that we don’t even practice. And, YES, black lives do matter. The government / law enforcement shouldn’t be able to just shoot down our black youth and get away with it because they run things but expect the country to feel remorse and sorrow when someone strikes back and kills a police officer. Don’t get me wrong—violence doesn’t solve everything, but those victims have families, too. The officers that are committing these murders should be treated the same way as a civilian, not a minor slap on the wrist—make them sit in jail two and three years. And to the young black men today: stand up for more than a color or a hood. Stand up and be somebody. Chase your dreams, because a lot of the stuff we choose to do only leads down a road to hell. Why continue to let a system that doesn’t like us continue to run our life when we can make an easy change. It’s there, we have to want it. I’m not above anybody. I’ve been sitting in DCJ for going on 3 years now and it’s been a living hell not being able to come and go as I want, being away from my family and friends and being told what to do by another man. If I learned two things, it’s: 1. I’m not built for a life in jail behind bars. I know I’m way better than that. 2. I now know there is change in me. I want better for myself, how about you? Continue reading