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Durham jail inmates complain of unsanitary conditions

September 24, 2012

From Capitalist Media

DURHAM – Thirty-three inmates in the Durham County Jail have complained in a letter of unsanitary conditions, including food trays, and ask for “adequate supplies” to maintain proper hygiene.

The letter asks that the inmates “be free from undue harm by the bacterially hazardous food trays and drink dispensers. It is unconscionable to think that in our progressive humane society that ‘pretrial’ detainees should be treated with disdain, indifference, and such basic disrespect.”

In response, Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews, whose office runs the jail, said he has directed his chief deputy, Don Ladd, to investigate the concerns cited in the letter and discuss them with jail supervisors if they prove to be valid.

Andrews said his jail supervisors and staff “routinely do a very good job of identifying areas needing repair or replacement in the facility. This could range from replacement of mattresses, clothing, food trays, cleaning materials or general maintenance.”

“When you manage 500 to 600 people on a daily basis that are housed in our facility, there are items that need to be replaced or maintained,” Andrews said.

The letter was sent to Andrews, The Herald-Sun, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and a Durham television station.

It says the jail’s food trays are of particular concern.

“The trays our meals are served on have scuff marks so deep as to render them a bacterial hazard, coupled with the condensation build-up inside the actual tray, which furthers the bacterial breeding grounds,” the letter states. “As we watch as the trays are passed out, that same condensation from inside the trays leaks over and into other trays. Or as we remove our lid, the condensation leaks all over our food.”

The letter says the jail fails to provide enough personal hygiene products and writing material to the inmates.

“Our protest is simple,” the letter concludes. “All we ask is that we be allowed adequate supplies to maintain property personal hygiene, cleanliness, to be able to correspond with attorneys, courts, family members, and to be free from undue harm by the bacterially hazardous food trays and drink dispensers.”

In his response, the sheriff noted that the state conducts periodic inspections of the Durham County Jail.

“The professional men and women who work daily 24/7, 365 days a year in the [jail] have the knowledge and experience to recognize [problem] areas and address them accordingly when needed,” Andrews said.
kupchurch@heraldsun.com; 919-419-6612

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