Prison Propaganda At Its Worst

Jamie spent a couple years in the prison in this video, the McConnell Unit, in Beeville, Texas, during the years 2010 – 2012. This is a video of a news broadcast on prisons made in 1995. Government was cracking down in a fictitious crime wave that began in the 1980’s and needed to appear to be tough on crime to the public.

Every politician is now afraid if they appear soft on crime they won’t be re-elected. But they aren’t afraid of what the people think. They are afraid of losing the donors who line their pockets and fill their war chests for re- election – the most important aspect of being a politician who is comfortable with being bribed in order to keep their job. New politicians are zealous about doing what is right for the country. Long time politicians not so much, which is why there needs to be a cap on how many terms they can stay in office.

I’ve been publishing some of the chapters of my upcoming book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside” on this blog. Last week I published a chapter about the Smith Unit in West Texas where Jamie was first housed. McConnell Unit is the next prison he is sent to. It is not uncommon to be shifted from prison to prison. One reason is it keeps the inmates from forming lasting friendships or planning something within the prison. It is located in SE Texas in Beeville, near Brownsville, not far north of the Mexican Border.

I’ve been reading through the letters Jamie sent me from the McConnell Unit. The difference between reality and the propaganda shown in this broadcast is overwhelming. But in 1995 the government needed a lot of propaganda to get the American people on board to support ramping up the “Tough on crime” stance and the “War on Drugs” which began in the 1980’s, thanks to the corruption of Richard Nixon.

A Brief History of the Drug War | Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org › issues › brief-hist…

There were two things Nixon was passionate about; winning the Vietnam War at any cost, and his racist views of Black people. Black people were not friends of the Republican party or their view of what was good for America. Nixon put pot smoking hippies center stage. Massive protests to stop the war were beginning to interfere with his drum roll. They were getting too much support to end the war and had to be stopped. But people were done with sacrificing their sons and buying into the concocted need to fight communism. The real reason for the war had been kept from the media. If he could heighten people’s fear of marijuana and increase drug laws he’d be able to control the young people and their ablility to gather in large groups, especially at the White House.

Propaganda began appearing in the media, teaching people that pot was as dangerous as heroin. It said people were becoming addicted and violent. (I have never seen a violent stoned person who wasn’t laughing and raiding the fridge.) It justified tripling the prison population over time and created the need for more prisons. They were now seen as a business opportunity to make profit. Ironically, even today, our Attorney General is trying to revive those laws and fears again but people aren’t buying it.

NEWS – http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/sd-trump-sessions-marijuana-20180416-story.html

Black people have been portrayed as dangerous heroin addicts and dealers who might come to your hometown to rape white girls and addict the young. (We have since learned it is the pharmaceutical companies in bed with the government who is to blame). Women were to fear black men walking near them on a street and move to the other side. Black men are used to women clutching their purses in fear of snatch and grab putting all black men in the role criminal.  Or government has perpetuated this false identity in the quest to destroy and incarcerate many black men – and women as possible. Incarcerated Black women is the fastest growing segment of society. Since 1980, the amount of women locked up increased 8-fold and are locked up 4x more often than white women. That would lead you to believe black women were more deserving of incarceration. 

http://www.incite-national.org/page/women-color-prisons

Black men became the poster image for the heroin drug dealer . In reality more heroin was sold and used by white people than black. It’s been proven overall that drug usage is equally used by both races, but in the prisons, the black population is much higher than white. Why? Prisons are a tool to enslave black people much the same way slavery did.

This video is a good representation of the type of propaganda fed to the American people in the mid 90’s. Heinous crimes are inflicted on those in prison. Think about it. Do you really think the prisons would bow down to inmates demands for nicer prisons with benefits like what is shown in this video, saying their hands were tied and there was nothing they could do about it? That’s a laugh. I don’t think so.

Twenty-five years ago prisoners couldn’t tell people on the outside the truth about what was happening on the inside. Information coming out of the prisons was censored. Not any longer. Now there is the internet and people are demanding change.

With social media, in the past few years, information began getting out. Videos from cell phones inside were being shared online. Prison beatings and murders by guards were now known. Unsanitary conditions. They have been hard to prosecute, just like cops who kill and priests who sexually abuse young boys. There its too much money behind them.  There are too many prison abuses to list here. Texas prisons began threatening and punishing inmates with time in solitary confinement if they were found supplying their writings to people on the outside to be put on social media. The prisons needed to stop the flow of information. It didn’t work. 

I began publishing information four years ago, but Jamie doesn’t write it. I do. I believe people have a right to know how bad it is. Millions of people are currently locked up and many more millions have already served time. These lives have been negatively impacted through racism.

Families have been broken and left without the ability to make enough money to survive. Lack of education has hurt the ability to raise families. Children grow up with the stigma of having a parent in prison. 70% end up in prison themselves because of it and the cycle continues.

One in three black men are now incarcerated because of this concocted war on drugs. They are targeted as young as preschool and expelled from schools for the same behavior by white boys, who don’t get expelled. They portray black boys as being more dangerous. But look at all the mass shootings. Every. Single. Shooting – every one – was done by a white person. So who is really more dangerous? The government will not call these white people domestic terrorists. They have mental problems we are told. What would they call a black mass shooter?

Disrupting education is a major cause in becoming part of the school to prison pipeline – and later – part of the prison to poverty pipeline. This is intentional. It isn’t hidden. It is as open crusade to make America white again – when has never been a white country.

People really did believe inmates have had it easy. People bought it hook, line and sinker. This video shows the cells looking nice. It appears to be a vacation getaway for criminals. The good life. Crime pays, it implies. But reality was far different.

The food looks plentiful. Even the tray being served through the cell door looks piled high with food with a female pouring ice tea from a pitcher just like at a restaurant. Really?? That’s ridiculous. Hot meals in reality are served cold, thawed right out of the freezer.

Medical care is not better than at a hospital. Much of the medical care is via a computer like Skype and involves being prescribed water and Tylenol. Heart problem? Take cough medicine. The law says they have to provide “adequate” care but doesn’t stipulate what adequate care is. ally ill patients with diabetes and heart disease are left to die because it costs the medical corporations like Corizon too much of their profit. Today I got a letter from Jamie saying they are withholding his seizure medication again. Playing dumb – again. They said they forgot to order it. 

From 1995 until now conditions have gotten much worse. The prison industrial complex, the corporations that control different aspects of the prisons such as medical care, food, education and skills, spend as little money as possible on the inmates because it increases their bottom line. Many people are now aware of the horrible conditions inside but changing the system through reform is difficult. These corporations throw a lot of money at politicians to vote in their best interest. Right and wrong no longer matter.

People should know by now the government is not on the side of the people. But they have to want to understand the world they live in. Many people don’t. They prefer to live in a world of make believe.

 

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Watch and Whirl – Sonni Quick.   My second blog. An odd assortment of rants and raves, music and poetry.

 

New YouTube Music Video For Jamie’s Book

I recently posted the chapter, poetry and music for the title, “Can Anybody Hear Me?” , one of the chapters in the book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” Last night I uploaded the music video. Little by little I work through finishing all the parts.  I can actually see light at the end of the tunnel ( way down at the end and around a corner.)

 

I have posted some chapters over time of the rewrite, but I haven’t given links to be able to read them with any continuity. I’m going to post them so anyone who wants to can read the early part of the book, to hopefully create enough interest to want the finished product when it is completed.  You can subscribe to ITFO News at the and get info on other chapters and music published.  I will depending on readers to help share what they like. 50% of the profits go to Jamie sso when he gets out of prison he will have a cushion to help get his life started and also to help write sequel to this book.

This book will end before he is released. The sequel will about the process of getting, and the difficulties, mentally, emotionally and actually living in a society who has already prejudged him as a person.  Our society is not very welcoming. There is often so little we can do to help the people who have been abused in our prisons.

But the one thing people can is to support the efforts being made to help them be able to stand up when they get out.  If I thought for one minute that he was a threat to society in any way I would not be doing this.

These chapters do not start at the beginning, and don’t entail what happened to put him in Juvenile detention from late 16’s through 21.

Waiting . . . too long

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

How Much More Can I Take?

The Falling Rain

The Smith Unit – Prison #1

Can Anybody Hear Me?  ( The post before this one )

 

 

The Smith Unit – Prison #1 – ITFO

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Inside The Forbidden Outside

The Smith Unit – Prison #1

Jamie could see the Smith Unit long before they reached it. After the bus drove through the small town of Lamesa he saw it sitting way back off the road on flat, treeless, desert land. Ugly and boring. The prison was a series of large, connected concrete structures sprawled out in different directions. He was definitely a long way from the piney woods of East Texas.
     Guards were in the towers at the corners, watching everything below. He could see big guns sticking out. Jamie wondered if they had ever used them to shoot someone trying to escape.
     High metal fences inside even higher metal fences were topped with multiple rolls of razor wire. No, he decided. He doubted anyone could escape if they tried. The only set of buildings in sight, this monstrosity, was now his new home so he better get used to it.
     Jamie could feel his stomach churning. He was scared and didn’t want to show it. Trying to calm his nerves, he took deep breaths and slowly blew them out. He had never been inside a prison, but he knew it would not be good it he appeared nervous or scared. The men inside would be looking for any weakness they could take advantage of. He was told not to look them in the eye or draw attention to himself. If he looked confrontational he might become a target before he had a chance to figure out what was up from down.
     He saw two huge buildings with two floors of tiny windows. That must be where the prisoner cells were. He could see fields in the distance with people dressed in white, working in the rows of whatever they were growing.
     Men on horseback with dogs walked next to the horses. Jamie frowned. Is this what his life was going to be now? It was hot as blazes outside. Maybe it was better than being kept inside, but he knew when he got overheated it could bring on a seizure. He didn’t think they’d care much about that.
     He had a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. This was a different world, inside a world that most people would never see, or even think of. He was now going to be part of a part of a society that would always be considered outcasts, even when they get out.
There were millions of people locked up in America; more than anywhere in the world.

It was a way of life for people like him, much more than whites, but it was still hard to believe there were so many, of either race who were locked up. They were being hid in plain sight if anyone bothered to look. They were able to provide jobs for people because someone had to look after them.
     This was his new address. He had traded his name for a number. Towns with prisons were only to happy to have it there. Of course, they were far enough away so no one had to look at it. They could pretend it wasn’t there, unless it was putting food on their table.
     Pains were taken to keep people from knowing what really went on inside, no matter how brutal it was. He didn’t really know himself yet how bad it could get. All he heard were stories. He learned a lot from talking to other dudes at the jail who had been locked up before. Would his time be any better?
     Why would anyone care about people who were locked up? They were criminals. They were bad people. It didn’t matter what kind of criminal. Murderer, drug addict or bad check writer, they were all treated the same. He was about to find that out for himself.
     Jamie told himself he didn’t care. He could make it, as long as he had Morgan and the kids, he didn’t need anything else. Just thinking about it made his heart hurt. All he knew, if he had been inside before, he wouldn’t do anything that would send him back here again.
     He was headed into this prison and there was nothing he could do about it. He no longer had any control over his life, or anything in it. He better get used to it because it would be a long time before he got it back.
     Do what you’re told, when you’d told to do it. Eat what you’re given you to eat, no matter how bad it is. Sleep when you’re told. Wake when you’re told, even if it is breakfast in the middle of the night. Shower when you’re told. Crap at the right time, before the toilets automatically flush. Wear the same prison uniform every day. There was no decision he could make on his own for the next seventeen years.
     Jamie knew he had to worry about other inmates as much as he needed to worth about what the guards could do to him. There were different laws inside, enforced with a different set of rules. His rights as a human being were taken way. There was supposed to be prisoner’s rights, that maybe looked good on paper, but enforcing them was another matter. This would be a hard transition.
     He wanted to scream at the driver, “Pull over. Let me off. This is a terrible mistake. I’m not supposed to be here,” but he didn’t. He kept his mouth shut. It would be a bad way to start day one.
     None of the dudes he started with on this ride were still on the bus. One by one they had been dropped at other prisons and new faces came onboard. Five men got off with him at Smith Unit.
     It was hot as hell when Jamie stepped down to the pavement. They were lined up in front of the bus. In spite of the heat, it felt good to stand and stretch his legs. Sitting so long made his knees swell.
     The heat coming through the bottom of his slip-on tennis shoes would probably fry up some bacon and eggs. When Jamie was hungry he tortured himself thinking about the different food he knew he couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have again for a very long time. He really was hungry, though.
     There were no clouds in the sky and the sun beating down was brutal. He wanted to shield his eyes but didn’t want to raise his hand to his face. It might look like an aggressive move. Three guards had walked up to the bus and two of them had a mean looking German Shepard at their side. He was not about to test them.
     The third guard stood in front of them and carried a clip board. The first name called out was “James Cummings?”
     “That’s me,” he answered back.
     “When I speak, you say, yes Sir.” The guard instructed.
     “Yes Sir,” Jamie repeated back.
     He called off the rest names and said, “Follow the yellow line into the building. Stop at the desk on the right for instructions.” The guard backed away and they filed into the building.
     The guard standing at the desk handed each of them a clean set of whites along with a worn, white towel wrapped around a tiny bar of soap. Jamie looked down at it. This was all he had. Everything else was gone. He didn’t know when, or if his property from the jail would be sent to him. He wasn’t counting on it. Others told him sometimes things had a way of getting lost when you were sent someplace.
     They were taken into a room and told to get naked for a strip search. No privacy, of course. If anyone was embarrassed, too bad.
     “Open your mouth,” he was told. “Stick your tongue out, then lift it up and down so I can see under your tongue and the roof of your mouth.”
     “Put your hands behind your head,” while they patted him down and checked behind his ears and arm pits.
     “Lift your balls,” was the next order, and Jamie listened. The guard then turned him around while he put on latex gloves to do a cavity search from behind. It wasn’t his first strip search. He knew there would be many more so he better get used to it.
     The men were then taken to the shower, which was good because he he knew how much he stunk from the bus trip. They were naked as they followed orders to walk down the hall. He felt eyes sizing him up as they walked toward the showers. They entered one big room with a shower nozzle every three feet.
     The mold on the floor and walls made him want to back out of the room before he touched anything. There were a few men already in there, standing under the water, going to town on themselves as if they were in a room by themselves. They didn’t seem to mind an audience.
     He had five minutes to wash. As filthy as he was, it was barely enough time. He would have enjoyed standing there for awhile letting the water pour over his body, but he was no longer allowed to decide how long his shower would be. They shut the water off whether you were done or not.
     When he tried to put on the clothes he was given, he realized they gave him a white shirt and pants that were way too small. Maybe it was done on purpose to see if he would complain. The pants had an elastic waist and drawstring but he could barely stretch the elastic enough to pull them up. He was going to split the seams for sure.
     He was led to the first tier of a cell block in medium security. The cells lined the interior wall. There was a walkway around the second tier with men standing outside their cells, leaning over the railing looking to see who the new guy was. Cat calls and rude comments were shouted down at him. He ignored them. He was put in a cell with another person sitting on the bottom bunk. They didn’t say anything to each other. There was plenty of time for that later.

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After a couple weeks he wondered if he was ever going to get his stuff from the jail. He didn’t know what they did with the clothes and shoes he had on when he was arrested. That stuff didn’t matter so much, but there was also papers he didn’t want to lose.
     Maybe Morgan had them. There was also her letters to him and his pictures. She sent him pictures of herself and the kids and little Jamie’s pictures this first year. She also sent him pictures of his family. Now he had nothing.
     So many times Jamie had laid the pictures out on his bunk and stared at each one, trying to memorize it. His mom and brother came to see him in the beginning and then they stopped. He didn’t understand why.      All he had were their pictures and now they were most likely gone. 
He missed them. He figured it was his fault his mom wouldn’t answer his letters. He gave her a hard time growing up. And the letters?          Morgan’s letters were his lifeline. He reread them so many times. It was like she was talking to him. He didn’t feel lonely when he read them. Now he did. Now he had nothing. A little more of him was chipped away every day.

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Jamie never knew who his dad was, at least not for sure. There was never a man who was active in his life. His mama didn’t talk to him about it. The other kids in the family each had fathers and he was jealous sometimes when they went off to spend the weekend with their other family and he had to stay home.
     He got one letter at the prison from a man who said he was his father. Just one and then he never heard from him again. If he was his father, how come this was the first time he was hearing about it? Did this man write to his mom but never ask about him? Or he did ask about him but his mom never told him. What was the truth?
He told Jamie he just got out of prison. For what? Was he in since he was born? How come his mama didn’t write to tell him now that she gave his address to this man?
     In this letter he asked Jamie to give him a chance to be a dad. He was twenty- five so it was a little late to be a dad. Still, Jamie told him it was okay and asked one thing from him; to give the love to his grandson that he never gave to him.
     Jamie never heard from him again. He gained and lost a father in one letter. That was fast. Was this man really his father? Did it matter at this point? He was over not having a dad. He knew the most important thing now was that his son knew he had a dad.
     His son would grow up knowing his father was in prison. He didn’t like it that and hurt real bad. Jamie knew he wouldn’t be there for all the growing up years. He wouldn’t be able to teach him anything. He couldn’t watch him play sports. He couldn’t help him with school or share holidays. So in a way he was absent just like whoever his own father was.
     Maybe his dad loved him but couldn’t find a way to tell him because he was ashamed to tell him. Not knowing was worse because he thought his dad didn’t love him. But since he will never know the truth, it was too late to wonder what it would be.
     Jamie did know one thing for sure. He loved his son. He wanted the best for him. He wanted him to grow up to be a good man. He had to trust that Morgan would raise him right and keep him safe. When he got out, Jamie would make it up to him as best he could.

 

wh jamie2

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Can Anybody Hear Me? ITFO Book Chapter

Anyone who is reading this chapter, I have favor ask you. I’d like feedback from you. I can tell how many times this post has been opened but I can’t tell if it as been read or what you think, except for just the wordpress bloggers who “like” it, but I don’t know why. I need good honest critique. What you like about my writing or about the story and what you don’t like. I spend a lot of time looking at it from every angle, but fresh eyes see things I don’t. When it is time to be read for professional editing, I want it in the best possible shape. If you can PLEASE comment. If you are coming from Facebook, leave a comment there if you want. Chapters are often shared with Facebook – tell me why. If you see it on my newsletter in April you can comment there. If you have read other chapters, tell me. If you think you might buy the book and music when it’s done, I’d love know. Are you a first time reader? Do you want to read more? Would you like to a beta reader and read everything? In your opinion, what can I do better?

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CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

“Put your shirt back on,” a female guard barked at him. Jamie and other inmates were being led back inside after working in the fields. “You can’t walk around like that.”

     “I need to cool down. I’m on seizure medication,” Jamie tried to tell her so she would understand. She cut him off mid sentence.
     “I don’t give a crap what your excuse is,” she fired back. “Put your goddamn shirt back on,” then turned and started in on another inmate.
     “Yes ma’am,” he replied with all the respect he could muster. No point in pissing off a guard. He couldn’t win that fight. He was learning he had to show respect and not expect any in return.
     Jamie continued down the hall until he reached his cell and went inside hoping his cellmate wasn’t there. He wanted to get some rest. His cell door was unlocked during the day, but in the evening all the doors were locked at the same time after the guards did the count to make sure they weren’t missing anyone. They needed to know everyone was in their cell and no one was someplace they shouldn’t be.
     He knew there were inmates who sold drugs and hid it in places outside their cell so they couldn’t get caught with it. Sometimes it was the guards who smuggled it in for them. You could get any kind of drug you wanted. Hooch was made, too. They could distill just about anything and make it into alcohol. Most of it tasted pretty nasty, but if it got you drunk that was all that mattered.
     He tried it a couple times but it wasn’t for him. If they got caught making it, so what. They were already locked up. They might do some time in solitary, but it was worth the chance if they wanted to get a buzz.
     General population – gen pop – his classification, meant he wasn’t confined to his cell and had more liberties than other classifications. G2,G4, G5, ad seg and solitary got lower and lower with less and less liberties. Some of the dudes couldn’t even leave their cell to go to chow, and had to be cuffed and in leg chains if they went anywhere. That wasn’t fun. They had a food tray shoved through a slot in their door. He never wanted it to get that bad. He needed to be able to at least walk around.
     It could be dangerous outside his cell, but it could be dangerous in his cell, too, if someone had a beef with him and came looking for him. He could never let his guard down. Having eyes in the back of your head could save your life.
     Prison rules about how to show someone respect wasn’t the same in here as it was in the free world. Some of the dudes were lifers and had nothing to lose if they hurt you. He always had to be careful. Someone could be carrying a shank. There were lots of things that could be turned into a knife. Stabbings weren’t uncommon, especially among the gangs.
     He could go hang out in the day room if he wanted, but he was too tired to do that right now. Besides, he was really grungy and needed to clean up. It was hot and stuffy, but it was like that anywhere he went.
His cellmate wasn’t there and Jamie was glad. They pretty much ignored each other. It was easier that way. He didn’t want to get to know him or be friends. He was an asshole with a bad attitude most of the time. He did nothing but complain and Jamie was tired of hearing him blame everything that happened in his life on someone else.
     He stripped off his clothes and wet his towel in the sink. He did his best to wash down his body using a small piece of soap he had left. Not until after the first of the month would he be given the meager supplies the prison was obligated to give him.
     They gave him a small tube of toothpaste each month, and every three months they gave him a new cheap toothbrush with bristles that fell out. It only had a three inch handle so it would be hard to file down into a blade. Much too small for a man’s hand, too.
     He got three little soaps, smaller than the soap you got in a motel room. It was made here in the prison and had lard and lye in it. It could take your skin off if you left it on too long. These the bars had to take care of all his cleaning. His body, the clothing he handwashed or cleaning his cell. It didn’t last long. Right now he needed to clean up as best he could. His skin was sticky with sweat. He felt dirty.
     Jamie would sweat rivers down his chest when he was outside. In this heat and humidity he was always soaked. Working out in the fields was some of the worst heat he ever felt.
     It was back-breaking work even on a cool day. Constantly bending over and pulling up vegetables was hard as hell on his back. He was constantly bending backward and rubbing the muscles in the small of his back. He never got used to it.
      When he bent over and his head hung down, the sweat ran into his eyes, and it stung. He tied a piece of cloth around his forehead but once it was soaked the sweat dripped anyway. It was hot and humid in East Texas, but West Texas was a different kind of hot. It sure felt like the sun had to be closer to the earth. When it beat down on you, and you got fried crispy like piece of chicken.
     Jamie knew what the slaves must’ve gone through long ago when they were forced to work the fields. Prison guards, slave owners, they were probably the same.
   Funny, now that he thought about it. They had overseers that probably walked the fields with whips and dogs just like the guards, except the guards had guns. Slave owners wouldn’t shoot their slaves because they paid a lot of money for them, like cattle. They needed their money’s worth out of them.
     All of them here in this prison were owned, just like slaves were. There was little difference between now and then except the slaves had their women to go to at the end of the day for comfort and he didn’t, not that he’d want Morgan to be here. But he did wish he could see her and little Jamie once in a while.
      “Stop it,” he argued with himself under his breath. “Just stop it.” He tried not to think about her all the time because it made him depressed. He tried to push it out his head.
     Jamie rinsed out his towel and hung it to dry by putting it over the round metal stool bolted to floor near the toilet. He stretched out on the lower bunk with his feet hanging over the end.
      Because of his epilepsy he wasn’t supposed to work in the sun. There were side effects from the medicine that sometimes made him feel bad. When he was overheated it could bring on a seizure. He wanted to be able to go outside so he rarely talked about it. Outside he could pretend he wasn’t here. In his mind he was able to start walking and keep on going. For a short while he was free.
    Jamie had felt like he was about to keel over and needed to cool down. That was why he had taken off his shirt. And he wasn’t naked, neither, no matter what she thought. He still had on his tank which was completely soaked.
      Coming inside wasn’t much relief. There was no air conditioning. If it was 105° outside, it was going to be 95° inside. All he could do was sweat. Playing cards or watching TV made him sweat.
     He wrote to his mom to see if she would send some money so he could buy a fan, but he didn’t hear back. Maybe she’ll send a letter later, sometime next week. It was always next week. He gave her excuses why she didn’t write. He never gave up hope. He didn’t care if she sent any money or not, he just wanted to hear from her. Was she okay? He loved his mama whether she wrote or not. He wished she would write.
    The field he worked in was huge. They grew a lot of different vegetables. Guards rode around on horses holding rifles. It looked like a different time in history. They had attack dogs walking around with them, too, in case one of them tried to run, which would be really stupid. There was no place to run except across the field and no way could anyone outrun those dogs in this heat. They’d probably drop dead of heat stroke.
       Even though it was stifling hot he still liked to go outside. As long as he could see the sky he felt free. He knew Morgan was seeing the same sky he was. Maybe they were both looking up at the same time. That was a new thought. He’d have to ask her to look up at a certain time. It was one thing they could do together.
       He had been here now for close to two years. In a way it seemed the time had gone by fast, and other times it crawled in slow motion. He tried to stick to himself and stay out of trouble. All he had to break up the boredom were Morgan’s letters. He daydreamed a lot. He would picture walking out of the prison and walking up to her with open arms. She was his family, her and the kids. They were all he had. To be honest he felt unloved by his family. He felt they didn’t want anything to do with him and that made him depressed and stressed out.
    Now, maybe it was his imagination but it seemed Morgan wasn’t writing back as much, and was taking longer between letters. He knew she was busy and all, taking care of three kids wasn’t easy, but she used to always find time, even if it was just a few lines.
     Maybe he was reading too much into it. He was afraid of losing her. What if it was over between them and he was by himself. What if he had no one to go home to? Sometimes when he thought about the years ahead he wanted to give up, but he couldn’t. And he had to make it. No matter who leaves him he always had his son. He couldn’t give up on him.
     His head started to pound. It was rocking back and forth between his temples. With one hand on either side if his head, he pressed. Not knowing what was going on really screwed with his head. He curled over and put his head on his knees. The pounding blood only made his head hurt worse. This is why some dudes went batshit crazy when they were locked up.
     Was anybody out there? Did anyone think about him in here all alone with nobody? Did anybody care? If he screamed would anybody hear?
      Today was his son’s birthday. Jamie bit his lower lip to keep himself together. It was heartbreaking to not be there. He never got to hold him. He would never get this time back.
     Jamie managed a smile as he pictured his son in his head. But why hadn’t she written back yet? He was starting to get worried. He sent a birthday card and put a letter for her inside. This was probably the longest he had gone without hearing from her. Maybe she had something she wanted to tell him but didn’t want to say it. Maybe she was seeing someone.
     Even though it scared him to think he would lose her, he understand the reality of how many years he could be gone. He had a meeting with the parole board when he reached five years, but if he didn’t get it they would probably put him off for another five.
     Jamie couldn’t give up on the hope of being released. But if he wasn’t, he knew he would be locked up too long to expect anyone to wait for him. Why would anyone else commit to being alone if they didn’t need to? It was a long time to ask someone to wait. He told Morgan in a letter she could talk to him about anything. If she wanted to move forward with her life he would understand. They could still write to each other and she could tell him about Jamie. But to not at least write? He couldn’t stand that.
     He thought he was the type of man who would want the mother of his son to be happy, not depressed and stressing. He wanted her to leave the stressing to him. But if she did find someone else he wanted her to say goodbye, not just stop writing and make him worry.
     It was easy to let his mind go crazy with all the possibilities that could go wrong with him locked up. It was hard to stop thinking about it.
     He closed his eyes. He was all twisted up inside worrying about not knowing what was going on in the world outside. There was nothing he could do about it. Not even make a phone call to find out. He had no numbers to call. No one registered their phone because it was too expensive, he guessed. He just had to wait.
      He fell asleep. He let go of the worry. His brain stopped spinning and he relaxed.
   “Mail,” the sound bounced inside his head.  “Mail.” Jamie was suddenly wide awake, listening. He didn’t jump up, but he still hoped there was mail for him. His head felt better. The pressure was gone. He could hear the cart being wheeled down the hall and soon come to a stop at his cell door.
     “Cummings,” was called out. “James Cummings, here’s your mail.” The inmate who delivered the mail reached in and handed him a letter. Then he turned to continue walking down the hall.
     “Thanks,” Jamie called out after him and looked down at the letter. He had expected it to be from Morgan, but it wasn’t. It was from her mom. Her mom?
     He sat down on the bed and stared at it for a few seconds. Why did she write? She had never written to him before this. Was it bad news? It had to be bad news. Did Morgan get her mom to write and break up with him? It looked like a card, but it wasn’t a holiday or anything. Finally, he ran out of excuses and starting opening the envelope.
     At that moment, before he had a chance to finish opening it, his cellmate walked in, pissed off and cussing up a storm. Jamie didn’t know why and wasn’t interested in finding out. The sound of his voice was instantly bringing his headache back again. He had to get out of here.
     He got up and headed down to the day room, hoping to find an empty table. He wanted some privacy to read and think. There were two tvs tuned to separate sports stations. If it wasn’t sports it was soap operas. They loved the soaps. People got hurt if they tried to change the channel. It wasn’t worth it. The old timers always got first dibs.
       He found a table and set the envelope in front of him. He looked at it again, front and back. She sent it from Key West. It was a card. A generic one. Nothing special. Did she just sign her name or did she say anything? He opened the card to see she wrote up the whole inside. He settled back to read:

Dear Jamie,

I should have written before, but time flies so fast some days. I have been very busy at the store. I thought of you many times these last couple years. I should have written before now. Morgan fills me in with how you are when I ask her. I know it has been very rough for you and I’m sorry you were moved so far away from your family. It would be easier if you could see them.

I miss not have Morgan and the kids here. Little Jamie had only turned one year old when they left. One day they were here and the next day they were gone. I asked her for your address.

I know she wants to come see you but she can’t afford it. Traveling with the kids would be hard. I told her if she could find someone to go with her I would pay her expenses and also pay for a motel. She asked your mom to go with her and she said yes. I’m sure she will write and tell you the weekend they are coming. You will finally get to see your son.

Write back if you want and I’ll answer your letter.
Take care, Sonni

Jamie sat there not knowing what to think. He closed his eyes and one tear rolled down his cheek.

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Can Anybody Hear Me?

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CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

Can anybody hear me?
Is anybody there?
Can anybody tell me
How I’m supposed to bear
The never ending silence
of no one in my head
Yet chaos on the outside
makes me scream instead

Who am I to talk to?
Who can understand?
The pain of never knowing
The thoughts of another man
I wait beside my cell door
For mail to call my name
And hope I’m not forgotten
I’m lonely just the same

Did anybody listen?
To the cries they heard inside
Did anybody wonder?
If my hope for life had died
Did anybody hear me?
Did you wait outside my door?
Or did you leave and walk away
You’re not waiting anymore

by Sonni Quick. ©2018

http://sonniquick.net

Subscribe to artist mailing list ( separate from ITFO News mailing list) at above website

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How Much More Can I Take – ITFO Book Chapter

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How Much More Can I Take

Jamie lost track of time. He tried to mark the days by tearing threads out of his blanket, but he no longer knew what a day was. When did it begin and when did it end? It felt like he had been in the hole for a lot longer than he probably was. There was no way to know the time of day. That was intentional, adding to his disorientation by deliberately keeping him off balance. If the system could break him mentally it was an added bonus for them. People who work in a miserable setting enjoyed causing misery to others.
     The grunge on the tiny window high up on the wall only let greasy light through. It was worse than the times he spent in solitary when he was in juvenile detention, and that was hard to deal with. He didn’t know how to process what they did to him. If adults can’t wrap their head around that kind of deprivation, how could a kid?     

Those memories and the scars it created were carved images in his head he could never forget. This time he felt like there was no hope, like everything good in his life was gone and he was never getting out. He wanted to crawl inside himself. The feeling of despair was complete.
     The only thing that broke up his day was when they brought food. Most of it was the same, and too awful to eat. He didn’t eat. He didn’t know if he was being served breakfast or dinner and doubted it was being given to him at normal eating hours. No one answered his questions or told him what time it was. He gave up asking.
     Jamie laid there. He knew he lost weight and he also knew he stank pretty bad. Showers were out of the question. He wasn’t sure which smelled worse, him or the room itself.
     One day it was over. Just like that. He had no idea they were going to let him out. He heard the lock turn in the door and it opened. They said his time was done. The guard threw clean clothes at him and he was taken to the shower. Afterward he was taken to a dorm similar to the one he was in before, but smaller. A bunk was pointed out. He guessed he wouldn’t be beating up anyone else after this.

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A few months later, a guard came to the cell door and called out his name. His son has been born on July 7th, 2006, at 4:20 A.M. Finally, his son was here and he was okay. He was relieved.
     He knew it was going to be a boy and that his name would be James. Jamie might be in a bad place right now being locked up, but the day he found out his son was born felt like the happiest day he ever had in his entire life. He was beaming.  He was a father! That caused a smile to spread over his entire face. Jamie laughed. He couldn’t help himself. His cheeks hurt from grinning so big.
     Morgan had sent him one of those pictures they take at doctor appointments of the baby when it’s still inside. Jamie knew his son would be beautiful, because Morgan was beautiful. She also sent him a picture with her big tummy. Sometimes he took out the picture and stroked the growing mound with his finger, wishing he could feel the baby move and stretch. It made him realize how much he was missing.
     He might not be able to be the kind of father he wanted to be, but he would do his best. He tried not to think about that. Not today. He was going to be happy on this day.
Little Jamie was planned to be born on July 7th. Morgan and her mom drove to Miami the day before and got a hotel room because they had to be at the hospital early in the morning. After taking her to a room on the labor and delivery floor, one of the nurses gave her a medicine to start the labor. The medicine didn’t work. More than twelve hours later Jamie Jr. showed no sign of being born.
     The hospital where the doctor worked was a four hour drive from Key West. Morgan didn’t want to go into labor and not be able to make it to her doctor. If she had the baby in the Key West hospital she would get the doctor on call. Someone she didn’t know. She had problems with the delivery of her last baby. If there were more problems with this one they would fly her by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital, which wasn’t the right hospital, either.
     Jamie didn’t realize how tense he was about the upcoming birth until it was over and he was able to relax. Not knowing what was happening and being out of the loop was the hardest to deal with.
     A lot of the dudes in his dorm were grinning and quite a few congratulations were going around. Even a couple of the guards congratulated him. That surprised him. He guessed hearing about a new baby allowed them to act human for a change.
     Jamie told everyone. This day would never come again and he wanted to make the most of it. It was the first time in more than seven months he had something, anything, to be happy about. Good things didn’t happen very often when you were locked up. Any reason you had to smile was a big deal, even if that reason belonged to someone else.
     He thought about his family. He missed them. He couldn’t share this with them. He was gone for four years when he was in juvenile detention and he did those years alone. He hadn’t been free for long before this happened. They weren’t there for him then, either. He didn’t feel like he was a part of his family for a long, but he still missed them. He wanted them to miss him, too. He felt like an outsider. Nobody told him nothing about what was going on in their lives.
     He needed his family to help him get hygiene and stamps and other things because he was not able to get any kind of job to make money. They don’t have jobs at jails. Not ones that pay you. All you do is wait, sometimes for years. But maybe when he gets sent off and settled they’ll give him a job.
     Jamie didn’t care what the job was, he didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. Even if it only paid twenty- two cents as hour, like he heard many jobs in prison did, it would still add up to dollars he could spend.

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Some dudes had problems with their baby mamas and couldn’t see their kids. Jamie was glad it wasn’t like that with him and Morgan. She would never keep Jamie Jr. from him. He didn’t have to worry about that.
     Since he was let out of solitary and back in a dorm he was able to make a phone call to Morgan. She told him all about their baby. He stood there, still grinning, listening to all the details. He wasn’t happy, though, hearing how hard it was for her in the delivery room.
     “It wasn’t easy, Jamie.” Morgan told him quietly. “I had to have a c-section at the last minute. The doctor found the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times. They didn’t know that until they tried to take him out. That’s why he wouldn’t go down the birth canal. His vitals were dropping. The doctor had never seen a cord wrapped around a neck like that. Without surgery he would have died. He was lucky. We were all lucky”
     Morgan sounded tired. He wished he could’ve been there with her. She must have been scared. Healing from surgery, taking care of a newborn by herself, as well as the other kids, would wear her out. He was glad she was with her mom so she could help her. Now more than ever he realized how much he screwed up by going out that night.
     “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you,” he spoke quietly. Jamie’s regrets would become a pain that never healed.
     “More than anything,” he said, “I wish I could be there with you right now. Hold you in my arms with little Jamie between us. I want to protect both of you, and I can’t.” The anguish in his voice made his throat tighten.
     A fifteen minute jail call goes by too fast. There was never enough time to say all you wanted to say. The sadness in his heart after he hung up overshadowed the happiness he felt when he dialed her number.
     Reality hit hard. He didn’t want to think he wouldn’t be able to raise his son. He would miss every first – first laugh, first step, first tooth, first birthday, second birthday and more after that. He would miss it all. And little Jamie would miss having a daddy.

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He found out he was finally being moved. They couldn’t have sent him any farther away from home. Was it on purpose? There were a hundred prisons they could have sent him to. They had to choose one that was clear across the state where no one could visit if they wanted to? East Texas, where he was from, was had hills, pine trees and red dirt. West Texas was flat, a desert.
     There was no way now his family could come and see him. They had the perfect excuse. Making the drive in one day was impossible, especially with kids in the car. It looked like he was on his own for sure.
     Texas was a huge state to travel across. He had never been any farther west than Huntsville. Now he was being to sent to Smith Unit in Lamesa. By car it took about eighteen hours. By prison bus it would probably take four days. They wouldn’t take a direct route. They’d zigzagged to different prisons, picking up inmates and dropping others off. It would be a trip through hell.

It was summer and scorching hot. Even though there was air conditioning on the bus, it wasn’t strong enough to keep it cool from the heat of the sun scorching the metal of the bus. Having so many unwashed bodies inside that stank didn’t help, either.
     Through the entire trip across the state, Jamie wore the same white shirt and baggy elastic waist pants he put on the day they loaded up the men who were being transferred. He wouldn’t be able to take another shower until after he was processed when the bus arrived at the prison. No one cared if the inmates missed a shower, and no one cared how they felt about riding on the uncomfortable metal seats on the bus. Suffering was part of their sentence. They deserved it, right?
     After all the red tape was taken care of and he was assigned to a cell block, he should be able to make a phone call to Morgan and see how she and little Jamie were doing. He didn’t know then it would be weeks before he was allowed to make that call.
     Prison was going to be a lot different than jail. Jamie didn’t know how different, but he was going to do his best to do it right so maybe he could get out early. He also hoped maybe after awhile he could request to be moved closer to his family. If Morgan moved back to Texas he would do that for sure.
     Seated on the bus, the inmates were separated from the guard and driver up front. There was another guard and a dog in the back to keep them in line if needed. The guard had to deal with the stink right along with them.
     Guards and drivers changed a few times when they stopped at prisons along the way, exchanging some prisoners for others. The guards got to walk around and stretch their legs. The prisoners weren’t so lucky.
     The men had to sit silently and wait for the driver of the bus to start the engine again. He wasn’t allowed to let the engine idle if the guards weren’t onboard. They were standing outside having a smoke. The AC wouldn’t go on again until the engine kicked over. Jamie felt sweat drip down the side of his face. It was going to be a long, uncomfortable ride.
     The seats on the bus were hard like a city bus, not a Greyhound bus. There was no padding anywhere. The seats didn’t go back to make it possible to sleep or even relax. They were straight up and only came as high as his shoulder blades. There was no way he was getting comfortable. No way to sleep without dropping his chin to his chest. Because he was a big guy he couldn’t move his arms. either. The bus was made to make sure the men would be miserable.
     It was impossible for Jamie to stretch out his legs, so circulation was cut off at the knee. He couldn’t even cross a leg over his knee to get in a different position, and relieve one foot from hanging straight down. He knew his ankles and feet would swell. The heat made it worse.
     The guards were never amused by complaining. It was pointless, anyway. There was nothing they could do. He knew it was going to get worse the farther west they drove, when it became a drier heat. It sucked all the moisture out of his mouth and throat. He felt dehydrated and craved water. They weren’t given enough water. Less bathroom breaks that way, he guessed. But if anyone asked for water they just might make them wait even longer. Anything to make them feel worse.
     It was impossible to do more than doze off for a few minutes of light sleep. The whirring sound of the tires, as they turned on a road that was hot enough to melt rubber, was enough to lull the men into a stupor. Problem was, if they started falling to one side, the person next to them would give them a shove with their shoulder to tell them to straighten up.
     Jamie was cuffed to the man beside him. “I gotta piss.” The man nudged him. “We gotta get up,” he said almost in a whisper. This wasn’t their first trip to the toilet.
     “Guard, we need to go to the back of the bus,” he said loudly over his shoulder.
     If one man needed to use the john, they both had to go. Peeing was one thing, but it wasn’t much fun if you needed to sit and take a shit. No matter how hard they tried not to, sooner or later they all had to take a turn sitting on the seat.
     The guard came and unlocked them from the bus seat, but not from each other. It was hard for two connected people to do anything that took co-ordination.
     The guard returned to the back of the bus and stood near the door-less restroom. There was no privacy. Jamie and this other prisoner made their way to the back by walking sideways past the seats. When the other inmate stood inside the small closet-sized restroom, Jamie stood outside the doorway, and looked away, with his arm inside attached wrist to wrist down near this dudes privates. He was trying to give him a little privacy. He didn’t want to picture his wrist and hand participating with this stranger relieving himself.
     “Damn, it stinks in here.” Jamie muttered under his breath, trying not to cough as the dude finished up. Since they were all cuffed no one could easily clean up after themselves. There was pee on the floor, and anywhere else it splashed. The toilet seat was kept up out of respect for those who needed to sit, but it was still a mess. Forget washing your hands. How could you? After a couple days the smell was overwhelming. All they did was spray Lysol around the cubicle. Mixing with it was the heavy odor of a port-a-potty type toilet, along with body odor, making it hard to breathe. The men sitting in the back had it the roughest.
     Jamie desperately wanted to wash up. Splash water on his face and neck. Put on deodorant to mask his smell. He wished he had his property. That was supposed to arrive in a later bus, he was told, so no one else had any deodorant, either.

The only good thing about traveling on this bus was being able to see outside. There wasn’t much to look at but he could still see the horizon pass by. He supposed some people liked living in the West Texas desert but it sure looked boring to him.
     It was almost exciting to see a billboard and read the advertisement of some business trying to sell something. Insurance, an attorney office or a number to call if you feel suicidal. But there was also a high point knowing you were outside the walls and you could watch the day go from morning to night.
     Once he got to the Smith Unit he would be on the inside, and the outside became forbidden territory. The free world. A place he wouldn’t be able to live in again for a long time.
     “Hey, you got any family?” Jamie whispered to the dude next to him.
     “Shut up. No talking,” came from somewhere behind him.
     After a minute or so he heard a whisper, “Two girls. Three and five. You?”
     “Baby boy,” he whispered back. He glanced to the right and saw him nod. “Sorry, man.” He knew Jamie would miss the time of his baby being a baby.

     It felt to Jamie as though they were never going to get to the other side of Texas. It felt like an old Twilight Zone TV show where a scene was supposed to be real life, but you found out at the end it wasn’t. You never got to where you were going. The bus kept traveling down the highway. It didn’t get anymore unreal than that.

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Remembering My Life – New YouTube Video

This is the newest music video for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life and his experience in prison. I have been recording piano improv for each chapter as a soundtrack. Music in a movie enhances our experience while we watch. It helps create emotions. A movie with no music can be dry and have the feeling of a documentary. Having music to listen while you read, knowing it was written for the main character in the book, I hope will add to the experience. I haven’t seen this done before. I’d like your opinion. If you know of any examples please let me know.

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Below are the websites and blogs where you will find my writing or my music. I have been concentrating lately at Reverbnation which is a great place to find new music and artists) and my personal website (where you can subscribe to music and book info) and to ITFO News (which is largely prison and inmate news) You can subscribe to one or both.

In the next couple weeks I’ll be monetizing my music sites so you can purchase – or download music you like. I’m determined to give Jamie the opportunity he deserves to have a life. That takes money. I need to start now or he will have nowhere to go when he gets out and no way to survive while he figures out how to live. Many inmates end up in shelters or on the street when they don’t have a supportive family. He definitely doesn’t.

Please share this video so more people learn who Jamie Cummings is.

My Debt to Society By: Trevor Booth

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Those that work for the prison system and the politicians who do their bidding know the cost to house him exceeds any debt he owes, so “paying his debt to society” in this was is evidence that there are ulterior motives to his incarceration. There are other things he could do that would be a better help to him and others rather than putting him into a locked prison.

Strangely there are many people who don’t realize debtors prison had been revived some time ago, and honestly believe they can’t be incarcerated for debt. So people should take heed and read this carefully. There are many ways to land yourself inside cement walls. They are getting creative with assigned more and more ways to imprison people who are guilty of a crime that needs them separated from society to learn their lesson.

Inmate Blogger

Funny how that is worded huh? “My Debt to Society”… As tax payers lay to house me for my crime I am paying my debt to society with what is to be warehoused years of my life. There is absolutely no reason for my debt besides the seriousness of my crime, for I am not a threat to society, I am not a career criminal. I’d much rather pay my debt to society in a trail of redemption being a tax payer and being a part of life changing experiences for myself and others.

My debt to society will cost society approximately $500,080 to tax payers, and that’s if the parole board blesses me with release on what my judge set as my fixed. So to all of the tax payers out there I must apologize for making all of you victims of my crime. To think about such things…

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ITFO Newsletter – Issue #17

This issue is focused on the progress with my book, music and music videos that have been created since the last issue went out. I’ve had much enjoyment doing this and I hope you take the time to listen, watch and read. It will only be through your support that this will be successful when I am done. Go to the link at the bottom to pull up the actual newsletter and also pull up any back issues. Have a wonderful day!

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Reach For The Stars

 If You Land On The Moon Look How Far You’ve Gone!
Today’s issue of ITFO News is dedicated to what is happening behind the scenes of my writing – music and the book. 2018 started out with a bang. Everything that all needed to be done at the same time landed on my lap.  I enjoy being busy, but what I really need are three sets of hands (or someone who wants to work for free doing the many things that have to be done)

There is so much to be done between writing blog posts and keeping up social media. I begin spinning plates when I wake and keep going until I fall off my chair around 5 AM.

I’ve been writing and recording music for the book I’ve been writing for 3 years. It’s been rewritten, rearranged, chapters deleted and added to: Inside The

ITFO Newsletter Issue #16

Looking Into the Crystal Ball – Chapter

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This is a random chapter in the early part of book, when Jamie was forced to take a plea deal or have more charges added and never get out. No one should ever be put in that position and make a decision against their own best interest with no attorney willing to do the right thing.

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LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

One after another, thoughts kept racing through Jamie’s head. What was going to happen to him? Life would never be the same. His court date was today and he didn’t have a clue what was going on. Didn’t he need an attorney? He couldn’t represent himself. How many years could they give him? He had no idea but he had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a good day.
     A black man like him, born and raised in Texas would get as many years as they could possibly give him. Racism is alive and well and Texas ranked with some of the worst. They would lock him up whether he deserved it or not.
     Depending on your race, the same crime gets different sentencing. Looking around the room at the dozens of three tier bunks lined up across the floor it was easy to see there was more black skin than white. Maybe white men didn’t commit as many crimes in Harris county. That was a laugh.
     Jamie needed someone to talk to. Somebody on his side who would listen and help. He wanted to explain he did not go out that night with his friends so he could rob a club. He wasn’t the one who had a gun in his back pack. He didn’t even know the guy had a gun until he talked about it in the car. It sounded like he was joking. He didn’t think the dude was serious. If only he did something to stop him things would be different right now.
    Morgan wrote him a while back and said she tried to get him a lawyer but it didn’t come through. She sent money to his brother who had a friend who knew an attorney who would take a deposit. Payments could be made on the balance.
     It sounded kinda hokey to him but it was the only thing he had to hope for. Trust him or do nothing. They should have done nothing because the money disappeared. Morgan lost money she could have used herself for the kids.
     He knew his mom didn’t have any money to help him. Morgan sent money she made working at her mom’s store. He knew he was on his own. He would feel better if he could at least see her, but that wasn’t going to happen. She was too far away.
     Jamie’s life was falling apart. He had no control over what was happening. He was never going to see his son be born. He wanted go be a father but he could kiss that goodbye. He wouldn’t be able to hold him or be the kind of dad he never had. He couldn’t break the cycle of being raised without a father.
     Life wasn’t supposed to be fair all the time, but he felt his life had never been fair from the time he was born. He grew up being told to believe in God. Have a blessed day and all that. He had no reason not to believe, but he didn’t think God had done much to bless him. He prayed desperately since this happened but it didn’t do much good. Tears began to well up in his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks.
   “Choke it down, Jamie,” he told himself. “Don’t let it show.” If he started to cry he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop.
     “If anyone saw you they would think you weak,” he whispered under his breath. They would gang up on him to make him their whipping boy. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
     He was supposed to be in court today, but nobody talked to him about it. He was scared. He could hear his heart beating in his head and it echoed in his ears.
      Jamie leaned against the grate covering the window. He hooked his fingers into the metal and stared outside, watching the day as the seconds and minutes of his life passed by. Everything outside looked normal. He could see people coming and going.
     Clouds were creeping across the blue sky as if today were a normal day like all the rest. It wasn’t normal for him. He wanted so bad to leave the building and walk out into that day and be free. Could he change what was happening? Not likely. It took all his willpower not to scream.
     “Cummings, you have a visitor.”
    Jamie was lost in his thoughts. He didn’t hear what was said. The guard raised his voice. “Cummings, wake up.” He almost yelled when he repeated it.
     Startled, Jamie whirled around to face him. He had a visitor? His first thought was of Morgan. Was she here?
     “Your attorney is here. You have to come with me.”
     “What attorney? Jamie shot back. “I don’t have no attorney.”
     “You do now.”
    Jamie was apprehensive. His mind began to race. Nobody told him someone was coming. Shouldn’t he have been told? How would he have time to help him now? There wasn’t time. He had been in here waiting for months. Why was he only coming to see him at the last minute? He hesitated before he began walking toward the guard.
    “We don’t have all day.” The guard insisted. ” Get a move on it.” Jamie turned around and let the guard cuff his wrists. There was no going anywhere outside this cell without cuffs. There were some men who would try to hurt the guard or anyone else on staff just for the fun of it.
He half stumbled when the guard gave him a small shove to start him walking. Down the hallway past three closed doors, the door to a small windowless room was standing open. When they walked inside, a man in a suit was waiting bedside a metal table bolted to the floor. Jamie didn’t remember seeing him before.
     He was a skinny man with acne scars spread across his cheeks. He glared at Jamie with contempt in his eyes. His thinning hair combed over the top of his bald head was a poor attempt at pretending he had hair. Poor dude. Jamie was sure he the public defender assigned to him. Maybe this was the only lawyer job he could get. He didn’t seem too happy to be here.
     Jamie needed someone who could help him, but this man didn’t seem like he enjoyed his job very much. He swept his arm in a gesture over the table which told Jamie to sit down.
    The man continued to stand and glare at him with his arms crossed over his chest with a ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude. It was a power move to show he was the authority in the room.
    The guard removed his cuffs. Jamie sat and waited for the man to talk. He was uncomfortable but he wasn’t going to let it show. The attorney took his time, letting his gaze slowly wander from his head to his hands as if he expected Jamie to jump up real quick and attack him.
It wasn’t the first time a white man looked at him like that, assuming he would be violent if given the chance. Jamie wasn’t a little man, but that didn’t mean he went around attacking people.
     “You’re in deep trouble, son.” the attorney began his practiced spiel.         “You don’t have many options.” Son? He called him son? Was that his way of sounding superior?”
    How many times had this man repeated the same line, Jamie thought. Before he could continue, Jamie tried to talk. “I want to explain what happened. I didn’t . . .”
      That was all he managed to get out before this man, put both fists on the table, leaned over and looked him dead5th in the eyes.
      “I’m not interested in hearing your story. I don’t care what you did or didn’t do.
       “I need to . . .”
    “You don’t need to do anything. I said . . .” He hesitated for a few seconds, “I’m not interested. Tell your story to someone else. All you need to know is, the District Attorney has a case against you and your only option is to plead guilty.”
    He paused for a moment as he drilled that statement into Jamie’s head. He broke eye contact to take a few papers out of his brief case and lay them on the table.
     “You need to sign these papers admitting to guilt. I’m here on behalf of the DA who is offering you a plea deal of forty years. I advise you to take it.”
     Jamie stared him, stunned. What the hell? He was trying to scare him and it was working, Was he serious? Forty years? No way would he agree to that.
     “They have you dead to5th right, running out of a club after robbing it,” the attorney emphasized, rapping his knuckles on the table several times.
     “The money was found on your friend, in the car you were driving. There is nothing to defend.”
     Jamie stood. He could feel his anger rising. He was being railroaded. One case finished, on to the next sucker who couldn’t afford to pay for an attorney?
     “I’m not going to agree to that. I didn’t do it. I might have been there, but I didn’t have anything to do with what my friend did.” He knew it didn’t matter. Being there made him an accomplice. But he couldn’t go down without a fight. Forty years was beyond anything he thought could happen. “I want to go in front of the judge. No way am I pleasing guilty.”
     “Have it your way.” He put the unsigned papers back in his briefcase and closed it. Picking it up, he walked out.
     Jamie stared after him, speechless. “Now what?” he asked the guard who was leaning against the wall watching this while thing go down.
He shrugged. He didn’t make a move to take him back to the cell so Jamie sat down, waiting to see where this was going. There was no point in trying to talk to the guard. Twenty minutes later the attorney walked back in. 

     “I have another option for you and I advise you to take it,” the attorney instructed impatiently. He began tapping the toe of his shoe on the floor. “There won’t be another one.”
     It was obvious he wanted this signed and done. He didn’t want to waste any more of his day on Jamie.
     “You’re lucky.” He continued. “The DA must have a soft spot for you.”
Sarcasm dripped from his words. Jamie wondered what he did to make him dislike him so bad. He obviously didn’t want to defend him even thought it was his job. How many other people had he already said this to today?
     “Seventeen years,” the attorney paused to let it sink in. “If you don’t take it, and insist on going to court and wasting everyone’s time, they will slap on extra charges. You’ll end up doing fifty to ninety-nine.”
    “What charges?” Jamie demanded. He slammed his hands down o.k. the table. The attorney ignored him. “What about wasting years of my life?” he added.
     “I need time to think about this,” Jamie told him. How could he agree to give up the rest of his youth without a fight? He didn’t plan what his friend did at the club. Why should have to pay for it with so many years of his life? What would that prove?
      There were four of them that went out to the club that night. He had no idea what they were going through. Were they offered the same deal? He needed answers but there was no one who was going to give them to him.

     The dude who had the gun had been to prison before. He had a record so they probably went harder on him. Why did he go out that night? Why? If only he had stayed home.
     “You have five minutes.” the attorney told him. I’ll be back for your answer.”
<<< >>>
How was Jamie supposed to know what to do in five minutes? This was wrong. He didn’t know how to fight it. This man was the only attorney he had and it was obvious, defending him in court was something he had no interest in doing. Why? Isn’t he supposed to defend him? Wasn’t that his job? He guessed not when the DA wanted it to end another way.
     Right and wrong didn’t matter. There was no such thing as justice. Another body to fill a prison bed. The only thing that mattered was locking up as many people as they could. Not just any people – black people. They went after Hispanics and other minorities, too.
     The government wanted to fill the prisons with poor people who couldn’t afford to protect themselves or pay for a real attorney. Racism toward blacks keeps growing. Why? Because they think black people wanted to knock white people off their pedestal of superiority? But most blacks and minorities only wanted to survive and raise their families. They wanted equality. They weren’t going to get it.
     Jamie didn’t understand it? He didn’t know all the history. He did know what he witnessed, though, and he heard the stories people told about why they were in jail.
     There was no way for him to come out on top of this. He was screwed no matter what he did. If he fights he loses.
     Jamie started to stand up but the guard glared at him with a look that said, “Don’t even try.” He sat back down and waited for the attorney to return. His brain was going a hundred miles an hour. How long would seventeen years feel. It was almost as long as his whole life up till now. He was only twenty- one.
     Should he take a chance and go to court? Possibly give up his entire life? He didn’t know what other charges they could add. They could make up anything they wanted.
     He closed his eyes and put his head back. He had no choice. His unborn son had no choice, either. He wouldn’t have a father. He would be giving up ask thought of raising his son. If he did all seventeen years he would be almost out of high school. They wouldn’t know each other.
     Morgan would have to go on and find someone else. It killed him to think about that. The pain ripped him in two. He couldn’t expect her to wait. Maybe he could get out early. Maybe he could get parole.
     So many unanswered questions running through his head at the same time. His five minutes are over. He heard the door handle click when it unlocked. The attorney stepped back into the room.
     “What’s your answer?” Jamie looked down, reached out his hand and signaled with his fingers for the papers.

 

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