Death to Imprisonment!

Hello, my name is Brandon Sutton but my friends call me Sutton (Remember that name) and I’m an inmate who is currently on work release from this Zoo called Durham County Detention Center. I’m here incarcerated on a DWI charge, my third one actually. I was fortunate enough to hire a lawyer to reduce what could’ve been a 3 to 4 year sentence down to 8 months with a few other stipulations given once I’m released. I’m contacting you because they’re others like me currently serving time in here. Non-violent/ non-accidental prone offenders who have several DWI’s but didn’t have the means to afford an attorney so they settled for a Public Defender. Continue reading

Class War on the Color Line: Reform and Repression at the Durham County Jail

More than a year after the Sheriff’s department’s murder-by-medical-neglect of Matthew McCain, the Durham County Jail is, once again, in the news.  On Tuesday, January 3, after receiving letters from almost a hundred detainees and after three individuals blocked the entrance to the jail on the night of November 18, declaring it #ANightWithNoDetentions, the Durham Human Relations Commission released ten recommendations for how to improve conditions at the plantation on Mangum street.  Some of these, most notably that a community-based research team be allowed to do a survey in the jail, were things that detainees, their families, and the community at large have been demanding for a long time.  Others were extrapolations from what detainees wrote to the commission, and what members of the public said in a forum the HRC held on September 15 of last year, including concerns about mental health, corporate price-gouging of detainees and their families, bail, and the Sheriff’s department’s cooperation with ICE.

Then, on January 6, the News and Observer reported that the jail will move to video visitation this summer and that retrofits are already underway.  Inside-Outside Alliance has known for some time that this was in the pipeline – Global Tel’s latest contract to provide phone service in the jail includes a provision for them to run a video visitation system – but we’ve never had a definite timeline before.  Now it appears that, over the course of this summer, the jail will be retrofitted and its policies rewritten so that in-person visitation will be eliminated and replaced exclusively with visitation-via-videoscreen.  It should go without saying that depriving detainees of even the limited in-person interaction with friends and loved ones that they now experience at visitation is the height of inhumanity even for an institution like the Sheriff’s department that has raised contempt for human life to the level of a ghastly art form.  We should also note that GTL advertises video-visitation as a way to derive profit from and reduce the costs of inmate visitation. 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

‘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

‘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