Youth Grow in Community, Not Cages Town Hall

On 11/17/2021, Durham county issued this following statement regarding the New Youth Detention Center.

Durham County Statement

On 11/18/2021, a coalition of local Durham organizations, hosted a Town Hall to discuss the plans for building a new $30,000,000 Youth Detention Facility, in Durham, NC. EPiC believes in the power of people’s voices and the value of hearing and affirming people’s lived experiences. The Town Hall, facilitated by Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock, afforded the opportunity for data to be presented to the community regarding the budget, planning and process involved while also making room to spotlight the stories of Durham community members directly impacted by carceral processes for youth, in Durham. Some of those who shared in this forum were as follows:

  • Kimberly McCrae (EPiC Sr Program Strategist, and mother who navigated family separation due to youth adjudication)
  • Julia Graves (mother of Niecey Fennell, who died in Durham County Jail)
  • Alani Rouse (Youth who has survived pushout)
  • Mama Ruby Johnny (naming strengths-based culturally-rooted programming as a life-saving resource)
  • Nicole Cooper (mother of five with family experience in the carceral system, who wants more positive options for her sons and Durham youth)
  • Amber C (works in DPS and shared strategies that worked to assist an at-risk youth),and 
  • Blue Miller (working with a youth who has been suspended 13 times in the last couple months). 

Several County Commissioners were also present, along with Angela Nunn, the Director of the Durham Youth Home, who addressed the community in response to concerns raised. 

One of the takeaways from this gathering was the outpouring of suggestions and visioning, from community members, for alternative ways that the $30 million dollars can be spent in service to the needs of Durham youth. A few of the suggestions made were wraparound services for youth, affordable and accessible mental health services in schools and in community and affordable/safe housing options. Heidi Carter thanked those who had spoken and offered suggestions, noting that this gathering had given her a lot to think about and reflect on concerning the system as it currently exists. Nida Allam expressed an interest in continuing community conversation around this matter.

The calls to action from those who have coalesced these meetings are as follows:

-If you are in agreement with a pause in the development of the New Youth Home, then you are invited to sign a petition. (Data from this petition is being collected and stored by Durham Beyond Policing)

-A request was made that this initiative be added to an upcoming County Commissioner meeting. No date has been confirmed for this to happen.