Defining Black Lives Matter – Part 1

I have been trying to find the right words to explain “Black Lives Matter” to people who have missed the point completely – often deliberately because they don’t want to appear to anyone that they do understand. You can’t keep up the hateful offensive rhetoric if you understand. Please go to the original blog post and read why this was important enough to reblog her post.

I think some white people want to stay openly hostile to impress their friends that they can say racist things as well. White people don’t want to appear sympathetic to blacks. I am appalled by people I know, even family members, who deliberatelly misunderstand the meaning of Black Lives Matter.

Even those who know the years I have put into researching and understanding the racial divide, have a mocking tone to their voice when they say I support Black Lives Matter like it’s some kind of a joke, the way people used to call people “nigger lovers”, and no, I won’t be politically correct and put in asterics instead of the letter I. It’s a hateful word but this is a hateful subject we shouldn’t have to have.

White people feel and think it’s necessary to constantly put down black people and call them derogatory names because they think they somehow have to keep themselved on the top rung of quality people. I have 2 half black grandsons. I’ve been told not to worry, they will be okay. They are being taught to respect authority. But how are they safe when no one is teaching the cops to respect them back? There are so many statistics proving the racism of many cops. Please note I did not say ALL cops. The ones who shoot using the excuse they are afraid as a reason to shoot someone in the back, shouldn’t be a cop. A cop that tells a man named Sterling to get of his ID out but uses that as an excuse to kill him, a man who works with kids.  What does it teach those kids?

My grandsons aren’t any safer than any other black man who has been killed by a bad cop. I don’t want to hear any more but..but..but and bring anything else into this discussion. Fire bad cops who have proven they are unstable. Arrest and prosecute those who kill unjustly, no matter what race they are. Fire the cops who protect and lie for bad cops. Stop defending cops who kill. Stop implying that the man simply walking down the street is suspicious and deserves being taken down and kicked in head. There has been too much of this. It is not justified by anything other than certain white people who are afraid of losing their top dog status. If anything happens to my grandchildren I will be one very angry grandmother.

If you are someone who insists on not understanding the issues and encourages more harm to black people and also wants to let the cops off the hook when they kill without just cause then I feel bad for you because of the divide you continue to encourage. The writer of this post is right. We need to talk. We need to find a way for this to stop.

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We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

Introduction

“We shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game.” Statement of President Obama

As a Pacifist, I believe that every life matters.  For the last two weeks or so, I’ve watched town hall meetings with people speaking about the Black Lives Matter Movement.  I listened.  I learned.

After watching a town hall meeting on CNN called Black, White and Blue, I asked myself why are people who have had no experience whatsoever being discriminated against in America because of the color of their skin, arguing over the meaning of Black Lives Matter?

Each generation sits around the dining table and shares stories of their lives.  They talk about the challenges and…

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The Day We Decided Black Lives Don’t Matter

This is a bit different from what I usually post and has nothing to do with our prisons, but it has everything to do with people – the people who looked at this country as a better place to live and life would be better if they could just move here – and they do. Now this is such an angry country blaming everyone else for all the ills of the world but never looking at themselves or this country think, “What did we do to cause so much hate to people who only want a safe place to raise their families.” I have lately been so ashamed of my fellow Americans who feel justified with their hate and feel no responsibility to make it better.

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There was a point in time when nearly every Kenyan desperately wanted an opportunity to settle in the US.

We had seen the movies.

They all did a good job in portraying the very green pastures that awaited us when we finally relocated. Perhaps we had living testimonies of relatives, who had gotten the opportunity to relocate and we could clearly see, how much their lives had transformed since the move. We yearned to be like them.

To go to a place where tribalism did not exist. Where many diseases had long been put in check. Bye, bye malaria! Where an employee’s efforts were duly rewarded with money that actually seemed to cater fully for one’s needs. Where there was gender equality and a man respected a woman’s opinions and allowed her to spread her wings and fly as far as she wanted.

Where civilization had happened eons ago therefore…

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Special Visit For Inmates

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Dear mom, and hello beautiful.

First I want to say thank you.  Thank you for everything. and most of all thank you for going out of your way to bring my son to see me.  First visit in three years, and a special visit at that! Two days. Two days to see my son. No one would bring him but you. To know you cared that much to do this means so much to me. I had a chance to learn a lot more about him as well as being able to enjoy time with him.  I noticed he is very open to people.  He loves to make friends. I was the same way, only the people I chose to be friends with were not friends.  So I will talk to him about that.  I told him he could talk to me about anything. I want us to be able to have a real father son – bond.  I want him to know he can come to me as he grows, and that he can trust me and talk. I feel that we bonded more than at the last visit, but then he is older, turning 10 on July 12.

No, it does not make up for all the time I have missed, but no one thought it was important enough for him or for me to bring him to see me. No one cared about my family, my son – at all. What was most important is we opened up to each other and that is what matters.

We even share smiles. I didn’t show him, but I can do the same tummy rolls he showed me, but I can’t wiggle my ears like he does! Lol.  Everyone has a special talent.  Maybe that is his. We just have to take the time to find out what they are.  I play that visit over and over in my mind as much as I can.

Now I want you to know I enjoyed your visit as well.  Your company really means a lot to me.  Being able to spend two days talking was more than I had hoped for.  I didn’t want to hope too much in case it fell through for some reason.  I loved looking at you ( since we don’t ever get to see a woman that isn’t in a guard uniform and trust me they aren’t much to look at.)  I guess what I’m saying is that I was really watching you.  That is why I wasn’t doing so much talking.  I was just taking it all in and trying to remember everything.  I appreciate everything you have done for me.  Many men in here don’t have someone who has stood by them for ten years  the way you have, no matter what, being there for me when I needed someone.  You trust me when I say I am trying hard to do things right and that I want to have a good life when I get out.

Only you know who I am right now.  However that is fixing to change because I am going to write a few of my family members.  I know they won’t write back.  I just want them to see who I am now. But to tell you the truth they probably won’t pick up on it. All they have to do is read my letter carefully and they will see the different person I am. I want them to know me as a man. I’m not a kid anymore. I want them to know me as an older person.  I never write to them anymore because I feel like I’m just wasting stamps because no one writes back. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I’m getting sleepy so I’ll write more later. . .

 

***************

(Sonni’s note:  We don’t appreciate life until we almost lose it. It would be hard to imagine losing ten years of my life to a prison, but in some ways we did the time together.  Not literally, of course.  I have had ten hard years with some pretty hefty mountains to climb and he has been there encouraging me when I needed it most.  When I think about it, he has been there through some  major things, just like I have been there through his. I believe he’s been honest with me about things that have happened and I helped him as much as I could. We’ve become very good friends who impacted each others life.

Does the time go by fast or slow? Do the years just blend together? If he never makes parole, which is a toss up, he still has six and a half years to go.  He is right.  He went in a boy and will come out a 40 year old man and I will be 69. His son will be nearly 17. My husband will be 76.  Life keeps marching on.  Aging in prison is not where you want to age. There has been so much he has had to learn about himself and the biggest thing has been controlling his emotions.  But many people have that problem.  I see it every day.  But if he can learn something that will benefit him later then he can take one good thing from this experience.

There is no way of knowing what kind of life he would have had if this didn’t happen, but I doubt he and my daughter would be together as a family.  I have worked with him teaching him things about life he needed to know, but had no one to teach him. Most of all he needed to know he had someone who believed in him; someone who believed he had special talents, too, who wouldn’t judge him by what he did, but by the potential he possessed. This was a new thought for him,  that there was someone who would help him open the door and reach for better things.  But if you don’t even know what those better things could be, how could you reach for them?  I’m going to be on the better side of old when he gets out.  Life will be completely different than when he went in.  Right now he is inside the forbidden outside.  Later he will be outside and life will be challenging.  I believe he will have a better life than he would have had he not gone in.  There is a positive inside every negative.  He will have to find out what that is.)

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White Boy Privilege

A fourteen year old teen named Royce Mann hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately . . .

It is too late to change the hearts and minds of adults. We can not change the irrational need for cops to kill black people no matter how they are retrained, or how often any politician, including our president who says only the hole words, “We need to come together and respect each other.”

Nothing will change as long as there is so much hate and continue to fail to realize who and what has been responsible for the backlash against cops. As long as there is failure to understand that black people didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Let’s go kill cops,” for no reason, the situation will continue to increase.

Too many white people intentionally, willingly, stay blind to the fact that cops have gone too far killing people who should not have died, and never had to pay the price. Black people want that recognized. They want it stopped and they want the law to apply to everyone. If you murder someone, you will be prosecuted and found guilty. A badge doesn’t give you the right to do what you want with impunity.

There has never been equality. Even members of my own family think they understand the situation and blame black people for what our government intentionally did to them, because in their uneducated lack of understanding, devoid of any real research into the issue, think they know what is going on – yet they don’t. Their “experience” is such a small part of the truth. Don’t you dare say cops, any cops, are racist. Not in my house! Do what they tell you to do even if that means you have to let them drag you out of your car and beat you so then – hopefully – they won’t kill you. If you don’t do that, it’s your own fault if they shoot you. Is this really what it comes down to? Is that what you have to teach your children?

So it will be up to the children – like this young teenager – who will have to say, “Enough! I will not let you make me be like you! I will not let you divide my generation and turn us into hateful people. It doesn’t matter what color we are. Color doesn’t make us criminals. And my whiteness doesn’t make me better than anyone else!” Yet he had to be glad to have “white privilege” so he doesn’t have to deal with what black and brown kids deal with every day. So sad. 

Those were not only his words. You can hear his words. We need to teach our children not to hate. I look at this nation of supposed Christians with disgust. Trump is being treated like he is the second coming of Christ by those who condone his disgusting rhetoric and cheer on his hate while they salivate. This example of human being – this example of Christianity is so far from what it was supposed to be and turned it into something as bad as the Muslims who are the terrorists. We are also the terrorists. They come after us like BLM wants to stop the people who come after them. Too many in white America think they and our country are blameless. They think we are the good guys. We used to be – a long time ago.

We can’t cure ignorance. Hate tastes too good on their tongues. It is like an addiction to a drug, but what they crave, what makes them feel good, is the feeling of hate in the empty cavity that used to have a heart.

Children – calling all youth. This country need your help. Stand up for mankind before your leaders and perhaps your parents and teachers destroy what is left of mankind. You’ll be alive after they are dead. What kind of world do YOU want to live in?

Share this please. Something needs to be done.

Sonni Quick – grandmother of two half black grandsons who are being taught to respect authority, but who is teaching the authority to respect them?

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It’s Not Enough Just To Deplore Horrific Violence

(If you don’t know who Michelle Alexander is you should do some research on her history. She is a voice of reason among a sea of voices who speak only to hear the sound of their own voice pushing an agenda that benefits only the mighty few. Earlier in my postings are other articles and at least one video by her as well.)

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Michelle Alexander: It’s Not Enough to Just Deplore Horrific Violence

We need a profound shift in our collective consciousness in order to challenge an entrenched system of racial and social control — and build a new America.

By Michelle Alexander / BillMoyers.com July 10, 2016

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photo credit: flickr

I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. Thursday night, I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. It finally dawned on me that there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, and share some wisdom passed down from struggles of earlier eras, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. My fingers froze on the keys. I could not bring myself to recycle old truths. Something more is required. But what?

I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. And yet silence isn’t an option. On any given day, there’s always something I’d rather be doing than facing the ugly, racist underbelly of America. I know that I am not alone. But I also know that the families of the slain officers, and the families of all those who have been killed by the police, would rather not be attending funerals. And I’m sure that many who refused to ride segregated buses in Montgomery after Rosa Parks stood her ground wished they could’ve taken the bus, rather than walk miles in protest, day after day, for a whole year. But they knew they had to walk. If change was ever going to come, they were going to have to walk. And so do we.

What it means to walk today will be different for different people and different groups and in different places. I am asking myself what I need to do in the months and years to come to walk my walk with greater courage. It’s a question that requires some time and reflection. I hope it’s a question we are all asking ourselves.

In recent years, I have come to believe that truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old. What is happening now is very, very old. We have some habits of responding to this familiar pain and trauma that are not serving us well. In many respects it’s amazing that we endure at all. I am inspired again and again by so much of the beautiful, brilliant and daring activism that is unfolding all over the country. Yet I also know that more is required than purely reactive protest and politics. A profound shift in our collective consciousness must occur, a shift that makes possible a new America.

know many people believe that our criminal justice system can be “fixed” by smart people and smart policies. President Obama seems to think this way. He suggested yesterday that police-community relations can be improved meaningfully by a task force he created last year. Yes, a task force. I used to think like that. I don’t anymore. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy. We cannot “fix” the police without a revolution of values and radical change to the basic structure of our society. Of course important policy changes can and should be made to improve police practices. But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people — we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.

Consider this: Philando Castile had been stopped 31 times and charged with more than 60 minor violations — resulting in thousands of dollars in fines — before his last, fatal encounter with the police.

Alton Sterling was arrested because he was hustling, selling CDs to get by. He was unable to work in the legal economy due to his felony record. His act of survival was treated by the police as a major crime, apparently punishable by death.

How many people on Wall Street have been arrested for their crimes large and small — crimes of greed and fraud that nearly bankrupted the global economy and destroyed the futures of millions of families? How many politicians have been prosecuted for taking millions of dollars from private prisons, prison guard unions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, tobacco companies, the NRA and Wall Street banks and doing their bidding for them — killing us softly? Oh, that’s right, taking millions from those folks isn’t even a crime. Democrats and Republicans do it every day. Our entire political system is financed by wealthy private interests buying politicians and making sure the rules are written in their favor. But selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.

This is not hyperbole. And this is not new. What is new is that we’re now watching all of this on YouTube and Facebook, streaming live, as imagined super-predators are brought to heel. Fifty years ago, our country was forced to look at itself in the mirror when television stations broadcast Bloody Sunday, the day state troopers and a sheriff’s posse brutally attacked civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Selma. Those horrifying images, among others, helped to turn public opinion in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps the images we’ve seen in recent days will make some difference. It’s worth remembering, though, that none of the horrifying images from the Jim Crow era would’ve changed anything if a highly strategic, courageous movement had not existed that was determined to challenge a deeply entrenched system of racial and social control.

This nation was founded on the idea that some lives don’t matter. Freedom and justice for some, not all. That’s the foundation. Yes, progress has been made in some respects, but it hasn’t come easy. There’s an unfinished revolution waiting to be won.

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Michelle Alexander is a legal scholar, human rights advocate and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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Chapter – Looking Back- Year Eight

sad_man

Inside The Forbidden Outside

Looking Back – Year Eight

 

      Jamie had too much time to sit and think inside his prison cell. This is why there were so many inmates who went crazy. They couldn’t stand being alone with themselves. They would lose track of time and start to get paranoid.  If they don’t have anyone on the outside it’s even worse. At least he had Sonni, who he called mom in all the letters he wrote to her.  She signed her letters, Mom, as well. It made them feel like family.  In a way he was, since she was the grandmother of his son.  She wrote to him and helped him get the things he needed. She helped fill his time. Even so, he had good years and bad years when he reached the end of his rope with the guards and lashed out.

He had been locked up for eight years by then and he had more time to think than he wanted. He had been moved around to different cells in different prisons, but this time was different; he had a window. There weren’t many windows in ad seg. They didn’t want the inmates in this section of the prison to have anything they could enjoy, and having a window to look out was enjoyment.

He was told he might be moved from ad seg up to G4 in a few months, which has a few more benefits. He would be able to walk to the chow hall instead of having his food slid through a slot in the door. When the food was being delivered he had to stand at the back of the cell with his hands in front of him, palms visible. He could then go get his food after the guard backed away. Then he need to back away so the guard could lock the slot again. This is one of the few times he saw anyone.

He didn’t know if he wanted to be moved up. He would stand for hours and look at the sky. People on the outside didn’t know how lucky they were to be able to look at the sky any time they wanted. At night he could see the moon and it was so beautiful. Mom sent him a book about Buddhism and there was a guidance in it about the moon, written by Daisaku Ikeda*:

“As you make your way home tonight may you pause for a moment to gaze up at the night sky and let your heart communicate with the moon in wordless dialogue. Perhaps you might compose a poem and set it down in your journal tonight. How good it is to have such a poetic spirit!”

************

He turned around, thirsty, and looked at the faucet over the sink. He wanted something to drink but he doubted the water that came out of the faucet was safe to drink. It was a muddy brown, but he didn’t know why. This prison was old. He thought maybe it came from rust from the old pipes. It couldn’t be good to drink, especially if it was a metal. But he had no choice. It was all he had so he drank as little as possible. How does the prison get away with that. How come no one has ever said, “You can’t get away with that! You can’t give the inmates water like this.” This was only one of the things they did and got away with and no one stopped them.

************

Jamie spent hours of his day thinking about his life. If he didn’t have a book to read there wasn’t much else to do. He thought about how to turn his life around. It was hard to think about what he wanted to do with his life when he had so little experience with living. It scared him sometimes. He didn’t want to get out someday and screw up. He had to do it right this time; not just for himself but for his son.

He didn’t know how to be an adult because he didn’t know how things worked out there, and anything he used to know he was sure had changed. It was a scary thought. If he got picked up again he could end up back in here. He knew a lot of blacks got harassed and arrested for no reason, just because they were black. He had to learn how to do this right. The only person he had was Sonni. His own family won’t be there for him, he knew that.

He already had one parole hearing about 5 years ago, but no one gets out on their first hearing. He also had nothing to show for himself. He didn’t even have his GED. An inmate can’t take classes when they are on the lower levels of solitary, G5 or ad seg, which is the same thing, because you aren’t allowed to leave your cell except to shower or go to rec which was an hour in another cage that was like a dog kennel.

They aren’t going to let anyone out on parole unless they meet all of the requirements. You have to have an address to go to and someone willing to give you a job. His real mother would need to write letters of support, as well as other letters from other people that would vouch for him so the parole board knows he has a chance of making it. None of that would happen for him. It was rare for anyone to write a letter or visit. Expecting his family to put together a parole packet for him was asking too much of them, he was sure. He hadn’t gotten any help so far so he doubted there would be any in his future. He didn’t know if he could ever make parole and if he didn’t he would be stuck in here for a long time. He has only done about half his time.

************

Jamie had a lot of problems with the guards. It was a low paying job and since most prisons are out in the sticks near small towns, many of the people they hire are uneducated and going nowhere with their lives. When you put a uniform on a lot of these guys it not only inflates their ego, the authority goes to their head and they get away with, and are encouraged to be abusive. The crimes they commit on the job should land them in a cell right next to the inmates but that never happens.

The sargaents and captains let them get away with mistreating the inmates. They never got in trouble. They would come around with cocky attitudes and press his buttons until he lost control of his anger. Then they could write up a case on him. Sometimes they wrote up completely false cases. He couldn’t fight it. If he tried to file a grievance it mysteriously got lost.Sometimes the guards would gang up on him five at a time and beat him, smash his head into wall or gas him

Inmates had the right to file grievances. That didn’t mean anything came of them. They were always turned down. Then they had the right to file a second grievance.  It took at least thirty to forty days to get back each grievance and it was rare to have anything done about it – but they did have the right to file it. This process took almost three months to complete so most inmates thought, why bother, so the guards get away with whatever they are doing against them. Then the guards would retaliate. The inmates couldn’t do anything about that, either. The guards were always right and the inmates were always wrong. They enjoyed having the power to hurt people.

************

Sonni started a blog about him during his eighth year inside. By this time she said had hundreds of letters and he had a story that needed to be told. It was weird having someone write about your life. It was hard to answer the questions she asked. Jamie didn’t like bringing up his past because he would rather forget it. There was very little he could remember that was happy. Sonni sent him a few of the blog posts to read to see what he thought. It hurt. He cried because reading it made him relive his past and it was too hard to read about it.

Jamie understood why she was writing about him, but it wasn’t easy to read about his life typed up on pieces of paper. Why would anyone be interested enough in his life to read about him? He hadn’t done anything worthwhile.  He often wondered why she was interested in writing about him.  What did she see no one else saw?  Whatever it was he was glad she saw it. It took trust to let someone that far inside his head and he trusted her.  She wasn’t trying to play him. Telling him his life had value made him want to do better.  Even when he screwed up she didn’t judge him.  “Nobody’s perfect,” she said.”Keep trying.”

Jamie knew he wasn’t the same kid people thought of when they talked about him, but how do they know that?  Maybe that’s why nobody wrote to him. What will they do when he gets out?  Will they pretend all is okay and go on as if they did nothing wrong?  He didn’t think he could do that.  His family didn’t understand what they did to him.  They never did see how much they hurt him by abandoning him all these years and he didn’t think anything would change for the next nine years of his sentence. He took responsibility for the things he did wrong, but he doubted they would ever understand the things they did wrong that told him year after year he wasn’t worth their time.

************

When Jamie was young, life was hard, and it was even harder because he didn’t have a father. He had three siblings and each of them had a different father. He didn’t even know his father’s name. No one cared how he felt not having a dad. He didn’t know how to open up and talk about things. Sonni was the only person he ever opened up to, and she had to pull it out of him. He had stuffed it down long ago and pretended he was okay. Really, it made him feel he was in a world by himself.

Jamie thought there must be something wrong with him because he was the only kid in the family who didn’t have a dad to visit on weekends. Why didn’t his mom tell him who his dad was? Why did he have to be hidden from him? He never knew the answers to these questions. He didn’t even know if his dad was alive. He couldn’t ask his mom now. She rarely came to the prison to see him and she never answered his letters, so he tried to forget about it.

************

When Jamie became a teenager he started hanging out with the wrong kids and picked up a few bad habits. He started selling drugs, a little here and there, so he could have some money in his pocket. Nothing big, but still it was the wrong thing to do. It showed him that what happened in a kid’s life affected what he did when he got older. If he had a man in his life who cared about him would that have made a difference? So many black kids don’t have fathers. Was there a reason why so many black men were locked up? Was it to screw up the kids so they could lock them up, too? If so, it worked.

When Jamie’s mom went to work on the night shift or when she went to sleep, he started sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. Sometimes, when he went to school he would leave before lunch. He got into trouble with his mom when he got caught stealing and skipping school. She never found out, though, about the drugs. But even if he got it didn’t make a difference. It didn’t teach him anything except to be more careful.

His mom did find out about a gun he once had, but he never used it. She told him to get rid of before he got into trouble and she was right about that. Look where he was now. He was still hanging out with the wrong people.

He would usually leave the house around 10pm. He was young, around 14 – 15 years old. It wasn’t his mom’s fault he turned out the way he did. She did the best she could. He was determined to do things the way he wanted, no matter what she said. He didn’t think he was an unusual teen, especially one who didn’t grow up with much discipline.

There was no one around to teach them to want to do better or even to talk about their future. It mattered how kids were raised. If no one expects them to try to be better how were they supposed know? The kids were usually left to do with they wanted when their mom was at work. There was a relative down the street if they needed anything but she didn’t really take notice of what they were doing so they could get away with just about anything. He didn’t have to be accountable to anyone. So his attitude was; he wasn’t going to start now.

Jamie felt free. Hanging around the older kids in the neighborhood made him feel cool. He was supposed to be inside before the streetlights came on, eat, clean up, bathe and be in bed by 9:30. He didn’t like the rules. It was a lot more fun staying out at night. It got to the point where he would stay gone for two or three days at a time. He knew he had it coming when he went home, so he would wait until his mom went to work, and then he would go home and eat and clean up. However, sometimes he would be tired and wanted to lay down and sleep. The belt would be waiting when he woke up. It didn’t do any good. It had long since had any effect to stop him from whatever he wanted to do. He didn’t understand how young he was or how little he knew, and he never really thought about how it affected his mom, not knowing where he was or if he was okay.

************

It would make him happy if he could see and hear from his mom, but she doesn’t seem to have any interest in coming to see him. His sister had been in and out trouble, too, and his mom ended up raising her kids, so maybe his mom just got tired of being a mother or thought he didn’t need one anymore. Maybe he used up all the love she had for him.

Is this why no one bothered answer his letters? It’s obvious no one cared enough to even find out how he was doing. Did he need anything? He gave them so many excuses for why they never wrote or came to see him. He brother did write back once and said, “It’s not my fault you’re in there.” He never wrote back again. Jamie would say things like, “I’ll give them two more weeks, and if they don’t write back by then I’m going to take them off my visitors list.” Like that was going to affect them. They didn’t know or care, and they wouldn’t visit to see they were kicked off, anyway.

************

When Jamie was a child the epileptic seizures scared him. Sonni kept asking him to write about what they were like, but it was so hard. He didn’t want to remember and he tried hard to stuff it all down deep.  When he got out of here and he had one in front of her, what would she do? Maybe she wouldn’t be able to handle it and it would make her keep her distance.  Still she kept asking so he had to say something.

When he was born he was seizing.  The doctors didn’t think he would live.  Unless he was asleep he always knew when one was starting and it frightened him because there was nothing he could do to stop it.  His brain was on fire and his chest felt heavy like he couldn’t breathe. When he was young the seizures happened more frequently. Sometimes his older brother and sister would make fun of him.  They couldn’t understand what he was going through.  One time he fell down a flight of stairs and another time he smashed a glass coffee table with his face. He still had a scar down his jawline.

As a teenager, one day Jamie was found laying in the middle of the street.  A person who found him thought he was drinking or on drugs but another man came by who knew who he was a guessed he had a seizure and took him to the hospital.

Here in prison he fell off a top bunk and broke off a tooth. If he had a bad seizure he’d be taken to the medical unit, but the guards have also let him lay there because they don’t want to do the paperwork so they wait to report it until change of shift. Jamie woke up from one seizure and found his wrists and ankles had been cuffed – for the officer’s safety.  He couldn’t imagine anyone would do something like that to an epilepsy patient on the outside.

************

Some of the early memories Jamie hadn’t thought about in a long time. Some things were best not remembered. Some memories were to painful to try and find the words to write them down. Besides he had never talked about himself to anyone before this. No one had ever asked him how he felt about anything so he learned to stuff things down. All this remembering was new to him. He didn’t know how things were supposed to be, he only knew what had happened to him.  He didn’t know what it was like to have a happy family; one with birthday parties and happy Christmas mornings.

Sonni told him she had a happy childhood and had lots of happy memories as a kid with a mom and a dad. Everyone sat down to dinner together and did things as a family. Jamie didn’t know what that was like. But even though Sonni started out with a happy family, when everyone grew up, her family wasn’t able to show they loved her any better than Jamie’s was. Do people get more self centered the older they get? Was he expecting to much from his family?  They were absorbed with their own lives and didn’t have time for him. If his brother was in prison would he treat him the same way? He didn’t think so.

continued . . .

****************

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Return to Corcoran-SHU from CCI-Tehachapi for “step 3”

black hands on cell door, prison guard brutality
source credit: pittsburgurbanmedia.com

A report from Jabari about his return to CSP-Corcoran for “step 3” of the “Step-Down Program”: April 19, 2015 They finally officially opened up the step 3 program here at CS…

Source: Return to Corcoran-SHU from CCI-Tehachapi for “step 3”

(This is a blog post I found today. It will tell you a lot about what happens in prisons.  Coincidentally, I have a second grandson with a father in Prison yet I haven’t talked about him on this blog.  I haven’t had communication from him.  I wrote to him but didn’t get a return letter.  He has been in prison for a long time – more than once – for about 17 years. This last time was for parole violation.  I bring this up because he is in Tehachapi.  He has tattoos from his neck to his wrists to his ankles.  This will affect how he survives when he gets out again in 2017)

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Why Do Prisons Get Away With Sloppy Medical Care?

no justice in prison,prison guard lies, lockup,inmate loss of privileges
photo credit: adwart.com

Why do the prisons get away with providing sloppy and inadequate medical care? Everyone knows it’s subpar. Everyone knows inmates die, simply because the prisons don’t want to pay the cost. This way they have more profit to spread around. But my question is why? Why do they get away with it? This past election year nearly every politician made a statement that he would be the one to clean up the prisons but it’s all bullshit. For years from now nothing will have changed. There is one good thing, though. This is the first election positive prison reform was even put on the table.

There are so many deaths inside the walls. From Nov 2015 to May 2016 in Mississippi State Correctional there were 14 deaths. One suicide, one murder, a couple with illnesses, worse than necessary because of lack of care, and the rest? The cause of death is still pending. After six months they still have not determined why they died? Why is that acceptable? Are family members asking what happened and they are stonewalling them until they get tired of asking and they have no money to fight it? We have rules and laws for the some stupid things but no enforceable protocol for to prevent deaths in a prison? Over the years I have read so many articles along this line.

Health care in prison

A couple weeks ago I called the medical unit at Allred about Jamie. He had a seizure. The prison staff won’t give him ground floor cell. So they cuff his hands behind his back, along with his ankles, and four men carried him face down, down a flight of stairs by looping their arms through his cuffs. Imagine being carried like that yanking your arms up behind you. He so easily could have been dropped. The nurse I spoke to was so nice. She said it was their standard way of carrying people down the stairs; they do it all the time. They said they won’t give him a ground floor cell because they need those for people in wheels chairs or the elderly. They also have over 300 seizure prone inmates. They can’t all have a ground floor cells. That makes sense, doesn’t? This prison is also denying him the seizure medication that works best for him, and instead give him an earlier developed drug with bad side effects.

Later I got to thinking. Almost 10% of the inmates have seizures? Isn’t that a bit on the high side? Here is reality. If they have to take an inmate down a flight of stairs they are to be taken down on a wooden litter and he should be strapped down on his left side. If he has a seizure while being carried face they would drop him; they wouldn’t be about to hold him. Also, in the wing he is in there are no elderly. No one older than their 30’s and no wheel chairs or walkers. They are all segregated into their own wing. The drug issue is a profit issue.

The bottom line – they do as little as possible as cheaply as possible. The guards are too lazy to get the proper equipment they need to move people, guards will let inmates lay there needing medical care and wait until the next shift comes on because they don’t feel like doing the paperwork.  All the nurse usually says – for every illness and condition; drink more water, because, after all water is the known cure all for everything, right? The staff is trained to lie sweetly when people inquire about the inmates inside – and they lie very well. I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of those lies more than once. This is the result of letting the Prison Industrial Complex run the prisons.

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My Two Day Visit At Allred Prison

Finally I got to a computer! Since I am traveling right now, and also visiting with family and grandchildren, having the time and space – and internet connection – so I can sit and write has been hard to come by. I’m in New Mexico right now and my son lives out in the boonies; great for peace and quiet and lots of land for the kids to run while raising chickens and rabbits – but has no phone reception in the house because of think adobe walls.  If I want to talk or even text I have to go outside and it’s over 100 degrees.  This is the first chance I’ve had to sit and write.  So let me tell you how the visit went:

images (1)
photo credit: Google images. Ironically, #6 was the booth we had with Jamie. At the bottom of the window you can barely see where he would have to squat to unlock  wrists. Two phones on the visitor side and one on his side.

Allred Unit is the largest prison in Texas with 3700 inmates. Visiting days are Sat and Sun.  They have 5 slots for “special visits”, which are two day visits with four hour visits each day. You have to call on the Monday at exactly 8 AM and hope you are one of the first 5 callers.  Otherwise we would have had one two hour visit.  Since it has been nearly three years since I’ve been to see Jamie that was also the last time I took his son to see him, I really wanted to get that special visit.

I stayed with my daughter and took a rental car to the prison which was another 120 miles away. We went to the entrance we were directed to.  There are two entrances.  They gave us a placard to put on our windshield and then told us to go back to our car and wait for someone to come around and signal it was time to go in.  They were full and said we might have to wait and hour or two for people to leave.  After waiting for about 1 1/2 hours they called us to the front and said, “Oh, I’m very sorry. We told you to wait in the wrong place so now you have to go around to the other entrance and give them your ID.  This caused us to only have a 2 1/2 hour visit the first day because they kick everyone out at 5:00.

When we finally got in and went through security we sat in our chairs on one side of the glass for at #6 and waited for them to get him. His cubicle had a door with a small window and I could when they walked him past it to unshackle his legs. They put him in the cubicle and locked the door.  He had to squat all the way to the floor and stick his hands out a slot to unlock his wrists.  Then he could sit down.  He had such a big grin on  his face. The last time little Jamie saw his father he was seven and very shy.  I think that time he was a little scared of meeting this man who was basically a stranger. It was hard to get him to look him in the eye and say more than yes and no answers.  In letters from Jamie he said, “What if he still won’t talk to me?” But Jamie wasn’t shy anymore and told his dad everything he was doing; how his reading had improved – he has dyslexia – and how good he is in sports, especially football and running.  I could tell his father was drinking up every word he was saying. Since we had another day of visiting there was no rush. Since there could be no contact all, the three of us put up our hands on either side of the glass.

Unfortunately there was no picture taking that day.  They only do it the first weekend of the month.  I was hoping since it was father’s day there might be an exception, but no dice.  So all I have are the old pictures. He had a little hair – he said because he couldn’t get a razor, but he’s definitely bald on top.  He had a small goatee and big square black glasses that only a prison would issue.

The next day we got in right away.  Since little Jamie is just a ten year old boy I knew he would get antsy so he was in charge of the quarters. When you go in you can only take your ID, car keys and a bag of $25 in quarters.  Since they don’t check we took in $32. The vending machines that had anything decent, like sandwiches you could heat up, were out of order so the only choices were the standard candy, chips and soda items.  I let little Jamie buy what he wanted because he had no lunch and he picked out whatever he thought his dad might want.  It kept him busy.  Sunday was father’s day so there were other kids there to talk to.

Father’s Day

When I planned this trip I didn’t realize it was father’s day and I knew this made it much more special for Jamie. Also, because he is in ad seg he is deprived of any human contact. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell and the other hour is either to a cage to exercise or the shower. It is hard having no AC but he says he’s okay. He’s been at Allred for 6 months with 6 months to go to get out of ad seg.

If you haven’t read earlier chapters, he intentionally had himself put in ad seg by threatening a guard and  because his last prison, Wynne Unit doesn’t have ad seg, they would be forced to move him.  He wasn’t safe there. The guards were abusive and also retaliated against him by filing false cases.  Inmates have the right to file grievances against abuse but those grievances were not filed.  They were thrown away. I talked to the warden about it and he said, “What grievances?  I don’t see where he filed any grievances.” I wasn’t going to get any help with him.

Jamie has an anger button.  How much can anyone take when they are being pushed and pushed and beat up and sprayed with chemicals.  After ten years of this, anyone would be angry.  It started a cycle of abuse and inmates can’t win that fight.  Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong.  When he got to Allred he had the determination to not let them get to him and also, show respect, even when they didn’t deserve it.  He’s staying quiet and doing good.  He did this before and it took 2 years to get moved to the level of G2 where he could have contact visits and make phone calls, but within a month, because of a false case filed against him his privileges were again taken away and things spiraled down hill. He’s back on track again.

He will be moved again when he’s done with ad seg and if he continues the rest of the year with no cases he will be moved to another prison and be able to apply to study for his GED and then other training.  After four years in juvy from almost 17 to 21, and back in prison at 22 and is now 33 he has a lot of education to catch up on. He’s not a boy anymore but he doesn’t have the life experiences of a man.  He’s a good man.  I believe he has the potential to do something worth while.  What he has learned these years he can use to help at-risk kids.  We talked about the possibility of going to school to become a counselor.  With schooling it would be a paid job. He will need help and guidance.  How can you know what to do when you have never done it?

How To Survive

He has heard nothing from his family at all.  I asked him, “When you get out, do you think they will come to you as though nothing is wrong and want to pick up like all you did was leave town and now you are back?” He said, “Yes.” But I don’t think that will work this time.  I know he loves his family – they ARE family – and I know he loves his mother.  But what they did was fail to show him that he mattered and they loved him, too.  I know what that feels like so I understand the pain. I think it will be hard for him to forget. None of them was there for him or even cared to find out how he was.  He has never seen his younger brother, and got only one letter from him.  He hasn’t seen his older brother in eight years.  Why? “It’s not my fault he’s in there,” he says.  Of course he must have a perfect life and makes no mistakes.

It will be time for Jamie to move on and create the life he wants to have. There was a reason I came into his life when I did.  His life gave my life a purpose.  He has helped me and I have helped him.  When I finish the book I am writing about him, “Inside The Forbidden Outside,”the last chapter will be this visit and the epilogue will be about what he would like to see for his future.  As I gather notes for the sequel, that book  won’t be out for some time – years – because it will be about his last years inside, the process of getting out and reintegrating into society and the obstacles he has to overcome.  In the meantime I will write another book.

I’m also working on the next issue of my newsletter.  Thank you so much to the people who have supported me, read it and shared it. This gives the book name recognition.  I hope to have it out in time for Christmas sales and there is still a lot of editing and rewrites to do.

So after this week of visiting with more grandchildren I’m off to pan for gold and go to the Grand Canyon and I don’t know where else.  I’ll be off in an RV with friends.  Wish me luck.  Maybe I can find enough gold to pay to finish my book!  Well, it’s always good to have a dream. LOL

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Unexpected Vacations are The Best Kind

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 I just couldn’t resist! My daughter sent me new pictures of my grandkids and this was taken just the other day of Jamie’s son Jamie who will be 10 mid July.It will be 3 years this October since – our I –  have seen my grandchildren. He has grown so much. They all have. My oldest grandson is going into the Marines. He’s excited but I’m scared crazy. He doesn’t understand war. He bought the “defend America’s democracy” propaganda hook line and sinker not understanding that corporate profit and resource control is why we are in perpetual war.

I love the great picture apps there are to make the one I have here. I’ve been making great albums of mostly all old time photos. Ill print this one out and send it to Jamie to put on his wall.

I’ll be leaving on Wed. I’m taking my first long distance Greybound bus trip instead of a plane to go to Tx. I’ve had friends who looked at me in horror at the thought, but I’m looking forward to it. Kick back, plug in my Nook, blog, watch movies and work on my book. Sounds relaxing to me. Security is beefed up to a two hour wait at airports, driving to DC in a 5 hour round trip rush hour traffic nightmare and other stressful things.

In addition to seeing grandkids in Tx and going to see Jamie at the prison, and then driving across hell and seeing more grandkids in NM, collecting fresh eggs in the morning and picking fresh vegetables for dinner from their wonderful garden and feeding the rabbits, then I will be RVing with friends to Carlsbad Caverns, planning for gold in Prescott, Az and going to the Grand Canyon, taking some well earned time to go have fun. I haven’t had a “vacation” in awhile. Ill be gone at least 5 weeks. Some of that time I’ll not be near wifi hook up or having too much fun to type. But Ill take lots of pictures to share pictures.

 

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