Durham, NC – A man incarcerated in the Durham County Detention Facility died in his cell on Tuesday, January 19 at approximately 5:30 am. The sheriff’s office has not made this death known to the public. According to those who were incarcerated with the man, his name is Matthew McCain. Eyewitnesses have reported that other inmates in Pod 3D were aware of McCain’s physical distress and pressed the emergency buttons in their cells several times, but their calls for help were ignored by Officer Boria, the detention officer on duty in Pod 3D that morning. McCain was not given medical attention and died as a result. His body remained in the cell for two hours until the coroner arrived at approximately 7:40 am.
Inmates have reported that Officer Boria has ignored emergency call buttons in the past. While Boria bears responsibility in McCain’s death, this tragedy occurred within a widespread system of abuse in the Durham County Jail. Inside-Outside Alliance has heard many reports over the past few years which point to rampant medical neglect inside the jail, with prisoners routinely being denied care, including basic medical procedures and prescription medications. Inside-Outside Alliance has been forced, on several occasions, to publicly pressure Sheriff Andrews and his staff so that inmates can receive basic medical procedures. Detainees pay $20 for every medical visit, which is four times as much as a medical visit in a state prison. Medical care inside the jail is provided by Correct Care Solutions, a private healthcare corporation that is currently being sued in connection with the death of a Forsyth County inmate.
As of the writing of this release, Sheriff Andrews has not released any information to the public about this criminally negligent homicide committed by his staff. In recent months, public pressure has been mounting for more transparency at the jail and for a community-based investigation into human rights abuses occurring there. Sheriff Andrews has insisted that inmates’ health and safety in detention is his highest priority. Yet not only has he kept Matthew McCain’s death a secret, but he has deliberately misled the public, listing McCain as “out of custody” due to “general release” on the jail’s website. Even as McCain’s body was lying dead on the floor of the Durham County jail, Sheriff Andrews and his staff appear to have been plotting to make it look as though he had simply been released. This is unacceptable and must be challenged by the public and the press.
Finally, it is important to note that this act of violence has taken place amid a nationwide onslaught of police murders and jail deaths in a country marked by a deep history of racist state violence. The same structure that killed Sandra Bland and LaQuan McDonald has taken yet another life in the Durham County Jail, and just as lynch mobs used to leave their victims’ bodies exposed as a mechanism of terror, Durham detention staff left another body where it lay for over two hours.
UPDATE: This post has been updated with Matthew McCain’s name in the hopes that his friends, family, and all those who knew him might be able to join in demanding justice for his death.