Panelists discussed medical neglect in the Durham County Jail at a conference in the Divinity School Saturday.

The conference—which was called Criminal (In)justice and hosted by the Divinity School, the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Duke Law Innocence Project—focused on how social activism can be used to combat mass criminalization.

“Mass criminalization is just one of the foremost issues of the time that just seems to want to include more and more people," said Chris Agoranos, a student in the Divinity School and one of the organizers of the conference.

During one of the conference's panel discussions, Shermare Tuck Riley and Victoria Jones, two former inmates, spoke about their experiences of medical neglect while in the Durham County Jail—which became the subject of discussion after an inmate, Matthew McCain, 29, died Jan. 19 while awaiting trial. Another inmate, Dennis McMurray, 52, died in January 2015 in the Durham jail while awaiting trial.

During the panel, called "Toward a community-led investigation of Durham County Jail," Riley and Jones spoke about the physical and emotional impact of the inadequate care they said they received.

Riley—who said she has asthma and epilepsy—said she once waited 26 hours before receiving her first dose of medication. She noted that another time, the jail lost her medication.

“I had a seizure in a chair. [Medical] just looked at me while I was going through the seizure,” Riley said. “What if I could have died, and all y’all did was look at me?”

Jones, who said she was pregnant while an inmate at the Durham County Jail, said she felt she did not receive proper medical care—including never being treated for vaginal bleeding—because she "didn't have money on [her] account."

Panelists and audience members discussed the poor treatment as related to insufficient medical facilities—noting that one psychiatrist on staff treats about 500 inmates.

“They don’t even have enough rooms to accommodate everyone medically,” Riley said. “Only four.”

Tamara Gibbs, senior public information officer for the Office of the Sheriff, noted in an email that there were 485 detainees as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Other panels at the conference covered the importance of storytelling, organizing strategies, the history and work of prison ministries and re-entry into society post-incarceration.

The keynote speaker was the Rev. Starsky Wilson, who urged against the commodification of people and said that the current legal system is not just.

"We are so siloed off here at Duke," Agoranos said. "Real change, real possibility will only happen when we come together. We need a new imagination—we need to realize that when we come together, maybe abolition is possible. But it takes coming together to realize that something like that is possible."

The conference included artists, clergy, elected officials and members of local advocacy groups including the North Carolina Justice Center and the Durham County Jail Investigation Team.