Last month, Emancipate NC filed a lawsuit against the Durham County Sheriff’s Office for violating the North Carolina Public Records Act by heavily redacting its jail policies in response to a public records request for the Durham County Jail’s manual. Some pages are almost entirely black. In contrast, the state prisons put their policy manual online in searchable text, and the Mecklenburg County Jail provided its full manual to Emancipate NC without redaction.
Meanwhile, conditions at the Durham County Jail are concerning. Under the supervision of Elizabeth Simpson, UNC Law students John Schengber and Nikolai Wise interviewed people in jail custody and collected their stories.
Many of these stories are included in an in-depth article in the INDY Week:
It was freezing outside when a detainee at the Durham County Detention Facility said he saw a staff member at the jail tie another detainee’s wrists and legs to a restraint chair for a few hours, with just a T-shirt and thermals to keep them warm that winter morning.
The man recently recounted the memory to John Schengber and Nikolai Wise, two law students with the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. UNC law students interviewed four detainees who also mentioned the chair.
As of right now, most of the policies on use of restraint chairs at the jail are not available to the public. But a new lawsuit seeks to change that. Emancipate NC, a local nonprofit, filed a lawsuit against the Durham County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, January 17 for violating the North Carolina Public Records Act by redacting too many policies in response to a public records request.
Tonight, Durham residents will support their incarcerated neighbors in the Jail at Duke Memorial UMC at 5 p.m at the Locked in Solidarity event. Students compiled stories from the jail into a booklet to share perspectives of detained people.
|Together, we will learn more about conditions in the jail, and we will explore a life-size solitary confinement cell. Afterward, we will march to the Jail and hold a vigil. These efforts are supported by End Solitary NC, St. Phillip’s Jail Ministry, the Community Safety and Wellness Task Force, and the NC Community Bail Fund of Durham.
Read more stories from the Jail→