5 arrested following protest during Durham County commissioners meeting

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DANIEL HOSTERMAN_363820

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Five protesters were arrested Monday night when they disrupted the Durham County state of the county address.

Inside-Outside Alliance said it attempted to get video visitation at the Durham County jail on the agenda but it was refused. The Alliance wants to stop the implementation of video visitation at the county jail.

That led Joe Stapleton and four others to interrupt chair Wendy Jacobs.

“How badly they did not want us to talk about video visitation at the jail,” said Stapleton.

Video visitation is a project that is planned to start this summer at the Durham County jail, allowing inmates to see their loved ones via video.

“To make it so that you’re going to the jail to see them on a screen, it’s just beyond the pale in terms of cruelty,” Stapleton said.

Durham Sheriff Michael Andrews said the protesters have it all wrong.

“The situation of whatever people have presented that it’s total video visitation is incorrect,” Michaels said.

He said the project was not ever about going to total video visitation and taking away face to face visits.

Instead, it’s about using technology, he says, for family members who can’t make it to the jail.

“It was part of a compassion inside of me, that said hey we can do this and we’re not so closed off that we’re not allowing accessibility,” Andrews said.

Stapleton is worried that although it may not start off that way –that’s how it will end up.

“What I really just ask everyone to do, is think about what they would do if their child, their brother or sister, or mother or father was locked up in jail and they were not able to see them in person,” Stapleton said.

The sheriff’s office says video visitation is nothing new. It’s currently being used in other counties.

But protesters said this is not something inmates want.

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