Two local advocacy groups want Durham County commissioners to hold Sheriff Mike Andrews accountable and plan to make their demands known in a budget hearing tonight.
A public hearing on the proposed 2017–18 county budget will be held during the Board of Commissioners' regular seven p.m. meeting tonight. Inside-Outside Alliance, which works on behalf of inmates, and Alerta Migratoria NC, an immigration advocacy group, are asking supporters to "storm" the hearing.
What do they want?
For Andrews (whom they call “Lyin' Andrews”) to take questions under oath about his department's practices, for the Sheriff's Office to cease any cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for the Durham County Detention Facility to forgo plans to roll out video visits
Photo By Alex Boerner
Protesters outside the Durham County Detention Facility
"The County Commissioners have control over the Sheriff’s budget," Inside-Outside Alliance wrote on Facebook. "By funding the dishonest Sheriff's Department, they are complicit in every deportation from Durham, every death in the Durham County Jail, and every dollar that the Sheriff’s department is paid for 'video visits.'"
Alerta Migratoria says people previously jailed at the jail, including those detained under immigration holds, will speak at the meeting.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Durham County Sheriff's Office is not part of the 287(g) program
that empowers local lawmen to carry out immigration enforcement. But information on people detained at the jail can make it to ICE via the Secure Communities program, in which the FBI shares identifying information on local inmates with the feds. This exchange between the FBI and DHS is federally mandated, meaning any information sent from local jails to the FBI (for example, to check for outstanding charges) must be shared with the DHS. If a person is deemed "removable," ICE can then issue a detainer for the person, asking the local jail to keep that person in custody for up to forty-eight hours until ICE can assume custody.
Video visitation has been the subject of regular protests at the jail organized by Inside-Outside Alliance, which is concerned that the new technology will eventually replace in-person visitation, further isolating and dehumanizing inmates. The group is not satisfied
with Andrews's statements that in-person visitation will remain at least through the duration of the video visitation pilot program, or as long as he is sheriff, as he told the Herald-Sun
. (Andrews has said the video system will provide more visitation opportunities, be safer for inmates and staff members, and save money).
According to a Facebook invite to "Storm the Durham Budget Hearing!" thirty-five people plan to attend.