"All Durham Detention Center residents are now going to be tested. We regret that an outbreak had to occur before this step was taken."

August 26, 2020

Mr. Rodney Jenkins

Director, Durham County Department of Public Health


Dear Director Jenkins,

It is with sadness and continued concern that we write to you.  Circumstances at the Durham Detention Facility have changed drastically since our last letter

According to Sheriff Birkhead’s statement announcing the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, all residents are now going to be tested. We regret that an outbreak had to occur before this step was taken.  In light of these developments, we have two follow-up questions for you:

First, will your department now mandate and fund testing for all new admittees into the Durham Detention Facility before they are moved into the general residential pods? 

Second, will you publish on the Durham County Coronavirus Datahub the following statistics for the Durham Detention Facility: tests performed, positive results, and negative results? 

We know that the Datahub links to a site of the state Department of Health and Human Services that lists the number of positive cases at a correctional facility when there is an outbreak.  However, that information does not list total tests performed, and the information is removed from the site after two weeks passes from the outbreak. We again insist that the most appropriate and transparent policy would be to list all three statistics for the facility, just as the North Carolina Department of Public Safety does for all its facilities. 

We know how serious your responsibilities in this moment are and we are grateful for your hard work for our community. We certainly appreciate the difficult circumstances your department faces. We continue to write because we want to make sure that the residents in the Durham Detention Facility, one of the most vulnerable populations in our community, remain a priority for your department. If we can assist you in any way, please let us know. 


Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods

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