Prisoners With Disabilities Are Neglected in America

(Sonni’s note: This article has special importance to me because of what I know Jamie has been through suffering with epilepsy. In addition, every inmate suffers when dealing with any medical illness, even when critical. No one would ever allow their own family member be treated with the lack of care inmates deal with. You wouldn’t let your brother layon the floor after a seizure not caring if they were okay. Epileptics often injure themselves. The level of anti seizure medicine in their blood is important. They should be housed on a first floor because they need to be carried to medical. The warden lied to me and told me they had too many prisoners with seizure disorders or needing walkers so he had to be on the second floor. I later found out this was fabricated. After a seizure they cuffed his legs and wrists and picked him up and carried him face down a flight of stairs. They had failed to get the board he should have been strapped onto, lying on his side. If he had had another seizure while being carried like that they would not have been able to hold him, and dropped him on his face.

What I don’t understand is why they get away with this, and every other rotten thing they I do. There are regulations for everything else the govt has their fingers in yet they can’t make sure prisons follow the rules and make sure the people they are responsible for are cared for, kept safe, feed edible food, educated so they can work, and sentenced to reasonable time – instead of being abused in a slave system for profit)

Prisoners With Physical Disabilities Are Forgotten And Neglected in America

By Jamelia Morgan, Arthur Liman Fellow , the ACLU National Prison Project

JANUARY 12, 2017 | 9:30 AM

Dean Westwood arrived at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon in a wheelchair. Prison officials required him to surrender his property, submit to a search, and agree to administrative procedures like finger printing. This is standard practice. But unlike other detainees, Dean is paralyzed below the waist and has limited use of his arms and hands.

Staff at the Oregon jail didn’t know how to handle someone with his disability. They rough-handled his limbs and pulled his fingers apart to get his fingerprints. They stripped him down for a search, rough-handling his genitals. They forced his body into a set of jail clothing that was a couple of sizes too small, which caused Dean severe irritation below the waist.

They then placed him alone in an isolated medical cell for approximately seven days. Without the means he needed for assistance in moving around, Dean lay flat on his back in an isolation cell. He endured painful convulsions because the jail failed to provide him with his medically necessary anti-seizure medication.

The way Coffee Creek jail officials treated Dean Westwood is a travesty, and his story is one of many. Prisoners with physical disabilities constitute one of the most vulnerable populations in detention, yet across the nation, they are needlessly subjected to neglect, denied services, and placed in solitary confinement.

These prisoners rely on corrections staff for support and services every day, be it assistance in taking showers, getting dressed, receiving medication, utilizing law libraries, or visiting prison commissaries. Although comprehensive data on the number of prisoners with physical disabilities in jails, prisons, and detention centers across the nation are currently unavailable, as many as 26 percent of state prisoners report possessing a mobility, hearing, or visual disability, according to one 2003 estimate. When cognitive disabilities and disabilities that limit a prisoner’s ability for self-care are included, the proportion of prisoners with physical disabilities in prisons and jails increase to 32 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Moreover, as the prison population ages, reports indicate the number of prisoners living with physical disabilities in American prisons will increase significantly.

Despite these known facts, prisoners with physical disabilities are often denied the services they are entitled to under the law. Over 25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits public entities from discriminating against people with disabilities, discrimination against people with disabilities persists in prisons and jails nationwide.

END PRIVATE PRISONS

Recent court cases have brought to light the serious violations of the rights of prisoners with physical disabilities. In March 2015, the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department settled a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Southern California, agreeing to provide mobility devices and physical therapy for prisoners with mobility disabilities after horrifying incidents of neglect and abuse. In an ongoing class action lawsuit, prisoners held in Illinois state prisons challenged the denial of, among other things, alert systems that would provide warnings to deaf prisoners during fires and other emergencies in the state prison facilities. Another recent case against the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola alleges that corrections staff refused to provide a blind prisoner with a cane for 16 years. The problems, however, didn’t stop there. The prison also declined to place him in a facility with accommodations for the blind. As a result, he was forced to rely on other prisoners rather than prison staff to carry out his daily activities.

Neglect is only part of the story. Prisoners with physical disabilities are at constant risk for placement in solitary confinement and its attendant harms. Though few studies exist examining the physical harms to prisoners placed in solitary, research suggests that placement in solitary can exacerbate existing disabilities or chronic conditions, particularly in cases where adequate care and treatment is not available for prisoners held in solitary. There is also extensive research that shows that placing individuals into solitary confinement causes devastating psychological harms.

Worse still, prisoners are often placed in solitary not as punishment but for logistical reasons. For example, when there are no available and accessible beds in the general prison population, prison officials may place prisoners with physical disabilities in solitary confinement as a solution to overcrowding.

In Maryland, Abdul Muhammad, a blind prisoner, sued the Maryland Department of Corrections (DOC) for placing him in solitary confinement and denying him access to showers, phone calls, religious services, visitation and library privileges as well as educational and vocational programming. The complaint alleges that prison officials informed Muhammad they were placing him in solitary until they figured out where to place him long term. Muhammad remained in solitary confinement for almost six weeks. The Maryland DOC’s actions flout federal regulations prohibiting the use of solitary in this way.

All prisoners in solitary risk being denied access to prison rehabilitative programs and services, but the harms of this denial are particularly acute for prisoners with physical disabilities. And it is a harm that perpetuates further harms. Prisoners are often required to complete “step-down” programs to progress out of solitary confinement. When institutions fail to provide, for example, a manual for prison rules or disciplinary procedures in Braille for blind prisoners or sign language interpreters during disciplinary hearings for deaf prisoners, they are creating significant obstacles to prisoners with physical disabilities being able to progress out of isolation. Rather than ignore or harm these prisoners, states must address and accommodate their physical disabilities.

There is much that is wrong that needs to be righted in our prisons and jails. To ensure that prisoners with disabilities are guaranteed their rights under the ADA, criminal justice advocates and disability rights advocates must come together to address discrimination against people with disabilities and work to make the promise of the ADA a reality in prisons and jails across America.

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LIFE BEYOND BARS-The Beast Must Be Fed

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Isn’t it ironic that these men were pretending to join in on being aghast at Hillary’s supposed lies, but now that Wall St is getting front row seats in the White House to manipulate the country’s finances, they want to make sure their shady dealings are glossed over during their confirmation hearings. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Unless you know someone in prison,  the way people think about prison issues is very narrow, if it is thought about at all. Take for example, the chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” concerning Clinton. It didn’t matter if she did anything to be locked up for.  People were caught up in the emotional release of endorphins and the pleasure it gave them to anticipate her being hurt or possibly even dying. But they have forgotten about 2009 when the banks and mortgages began causing the ruination of many people’s lives, including my own.  Where is the outrage over them running the country from those who supported this ticket? Should we “Lock them up?”

A majority of people don’t follow world events close enough to truly understand what happens in the world around them, or they center what they believe on an infotainment station like Fox News and think they are getting all the truthful news they need to stay informed. But yelling  “lock her up” gave them something physical to get back at to relieve the failure of being able to do anything about it before.

They were looking for anything they could find to blame for unhappy lives. It must be someone’s fault and they would have had Clinton hanged on TV if they could, and even cheered, even though the issues they wanted her imprisoned for weren’t issues that would have affected the success or failure of their lives Would it matter if she was innocent? Again, no, and they wouldn’t have believed it anyway.

Sadly, there is something so exquisitely intoxicating being part of a large group of people who are all yelling at the top of their lungs, at the same time, to hurt someone. They even allowed their children to witness it, creating the next generation of haters. Who better to emulate than mommy and daddy. Why do you think we still have racism? It would have died out long ago if parents didn’t teach their children bad ways of thinking.

When a parent is the one to teach a child an important part of reasoning, the child naturally assumes it is the truth. Why wouldn’t they? Why would their parent lie? The same goes for religion. If you hear something enough it becomes the truth. It takes a strong person to examine those truths because it can affect those important relationships. Why else would a child grow up thinking they were a privileged part of society because of the color of their skin if it wasn’t something they were taught? Some children eventually become smart enough to think for themselves.

Some people must like it when it becomes legal to kill someone and get away with it.  It serves a purpose, like a hit of heroin. It’s a release. They enjoy it. It feels good. Why else have people gathered for centuries to watch people being put to death. It’s entertaining. For some it’s even sexual.  For some it’s revenge.  For some, curiosity. This mind set was used when people gathered to hang black men from trees like low hanging fruit. They needed only the smallest of reasons, a lie being spread that a black man had the audacity to touch a white woman – or maybe he only looked at her and that was enough to call for his death – with no remorse. Many still feel the same way today.

If you read history going back to the time of “The Games” in Rome, people absolutely loved watching well trained men kill each other. They cheered. The entire city emptied out to go to the arena to watch the games. People got angry if the politicians took their fun and enjoyment away. Moving ahead, they loved the burning of witches and hearing their screams. They even took their children to watch. Public hangings. Electrocution. Death by injection. What is is it about people who get off on the killing people and loving to watch?

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Emmet Till (This video should make you cry that ANYONE could do to another human what they did to this boy! If it doesn’t, shame on you. ) Emmet was a 14 year old boy in 1955 who was kidnapped from the home of relatives, beaten mercilessly, killed and found in a river for flirting with a white woman. How anyone could condone this act is sickening. Emmet was just a boy! But even today there are plenty of examples of this happening by people who think being white is superior to being black and it’s okay to kill black people.  Look at how many cops have come under scrutiny for killing them for no reason. They say, “I was afraid for my life.” Can’t they come up with more than one thing to say? That excuse is used way too much. But they get away with it! It must be in the cop’s handbook of how to get away with killing people you don’t like.  This way they don’t get prosecuted because then the courts would have to admit it was wrong. It will continue as long as there is no price to pay for taking the life of another human being. Any human being. How long will that take?

The question has been raised many times; is murdering someone because they raped or murdered someone okay? What difference is that murder? Is it because we decided certain murders are okay because we legalized it? What does it matter if it is still the brutal slaying of human life? States go back and forth on the legality. But in the end they still have to bear the brunt and live with the consequences of making the cause of making it legal to kill another human life.

The US is a country that wants the people to think it is a Christian nation, yet allows this barbaric practice never thinking it through to the end. If they truly think an all-knowing, all-seeing entity in the heavens is watching what they do, what do they think this intelligence “up there” is thinking about when it sees, down here on earth, the people committing hate crimes and sees people who think their skin color makes them special when supposedly “He” created all people of all races to be equal?  Did he think, white people are special and they can use black people, Muslims, American Indians or Hispanics like dogs? I think God would be pretty disgusted with people who think they are the chosen few – if you believe that sort of thing.

But I guess we’ll never know because people separate their religion from their actions. They pray when someone is sick or when they die. They pray for unborn babies. Some even think a person can pray away being gay. But do white people pray for God to forgive them for all the black people who get killed just for being black. Do they pray for the children who lose their parents because of bogus charges or unreasonable sentences they themselves don’t suffer? Do they pray for the youth who get killed by people like George Zimmermann who thinks if they look suspicious he should be able to kill them, yet when a jury can’t convict him because he is white and so are they, it happens over and over and over again. Someone, explain it to me please – why is this okay? Is it okay with you, and if it isn’t, what are you doing about it?

This isn’t a fun subject to write about. I doubt we will ever completely understand why we let it happen.  Many people inside prisons were never guilty of their charges. Our justice system is corrupt. We have finally begun to let innocent people out after they spent decades inside paying for something they didn’t do. How many innocents have we killed? No one likes to think of that. It’s not supposed to be part of our lives. That’s we they are kept separate, so we don’t have to think about them.

Most people, if they have no one inside, don’t want to believe all prisoners aren’t guilty. We want them to deserve every atrocity that happens to them in prison. We don’t want to think we got it wrong and locked up innocent people. The courts will fight tooth and nail to keep convicted people guilty or they look bad.

race graph in prison

If we separated the guilty from the innocent and then sentenced the guilty appropriately, our prison numbers would be the same as other countries. How can we – just one country – imprison 25% of the WORLD’S population without imprisoning a lot of innocent people to satisfy the thirst of the prison industrial complex? Doesn’t that bother you? It bothers me a lot, especially because America thinks they live in a country of Christians. That is so hypocritical!

Our entire prison system needs a total make over, beginning with the ever-changing reasons why we decide certain segments of society should be locked up.  Because of the prison corporation’s increasing thirst for profit, the need to incarcerate more segments of society has to expand. If we are decreasing the penalty for drugs, then those people need to be replaced with others in order to keep the prisons full. So who gets locked up, and who doesn’t get let out?

Why do you think they fight to keep the elderly imprisoned? Exactly how dangerous is an old, sick prisoner who can barely get out of bed who wants to spend the last of his life with family? “But he pulled an armed robbery 40 years ago!”  What exactly is he going to do? He did enough time. But corporations get paid by the govt if his bed is empty. Family pays in so many other ways so it hurts the bottom line to let him go. Enough is enough.

Now we have increased sentencing of children, even as young as 5-10 years of age. “I don’t believe it! That will never happen!” Believe it. It’s real. Michigan made it law on January 1. kids will get slapped with a felony charge for fighting – at any age for any reason. Half of all schools now have a cop on the premises. Don’t kid yourself it is to protect the school. It’s for easy access to the children. The wrong kids of course.  The black and Hispanic ones. The beast must be fed.

I’m going to leave you with one last thing to read and I hope you take the time to do so. Open your eyes. See what is happening. Do what you can to help change things.

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Jamie Cummings and his son Jamie 2013 – The last picture taken

Chapter – Inside The Forbidden Outside

Jamie Cummings Incarceration 2006

Being here is hard. Prison is hell. Jamie supposed if he were in a minimum or even a medium security prison it wouldn’t be so bad. There is a big difference between that and high security. No prison is fun but where his cell is, is more like hell. Not being able to change anything about your life is more than frustrating. Being treated like you have no worth is even worse.

He knows this is partly his fault. He was so angry when he got here. He had no control over it. He was angry because he knew there was no way he could change the way they treated him. They made sure to push all his buttons till he exploded. They treated him like he wasn’t worth dirt. No one would let themselves pretend it didn’t matter, and to them his life didn’t matter. He couldn’t do anything or say anything to defend himself. Being black, he was used to this kind of treatment from anyone in authority.

So yes, maybe it’s his own fault, but he reacted the only way he knew how. He got angry. He was just so tired of it all. How on earth was he going to do seventeen years. They planned on ruining him, using him all up. After all those years was he supposed to get out and go on with his life as though nothing happened? How does he work and take care of his family? Will they even be there? He can’t even think about that.

People on the outside have no idea how demeaning it is to be locked up like a rat and eat food not fit for a dog. When Jamie agreed to take the plea of seventeen years he did it out of fear. His mind was going around a million miles an hour. He was so scared. He didn’t have time to think about what it meant, and he didn’t have anyone on his side he could talk to. He didn’t know what to do. He was alone more now than he had ever been. But he had been alone most of his life anyway, so what was he expecting?

He never had an experience like this before, so how was he supposed to know if taking a plea was the right thing to do or not? He had his experiences with the juvenile system but it was nothing like this. Besides, they lied to him right in the courtroom. They said he only had to stay nine months. That was a joke on him because it ended up being an awfully long nine months. And for what? It was the cop who should have gotten charged. He’s the one who pushed his way into their house and hurt his mama. He wasn’t following a crime. He had no legal paper that said he could come into their home. He screwed up and someone had to pay. He couldn’t charge anyone with anything but they didn’t a real reason to put him in juvy. Who is the court going to side with, a black kid or an officer of the law?

Attorneys are supposed to know the right thing to do, but what do you do when your attorney has no interest or time to help you because he has to hurry on to his next case? He won’t make more money if he does his job right. He doesn’t care if he ends up screwing a man’s life. He’s just another black man. From the time he was young and saw the way cops looked at him, daring him to make one wrong move so they could justify slamming you on the ground. Doesn’t he have a right to be angry about that?

He saw his dreams fading right before his eyes and he wanted to cry because the pain was so bad. He didn’t want to cry in front of anyone so he clenched his fingernails into the palm of his hand trying to draw blood.

The only thing he would have to keep him company on this seventeen year journey was the small amount of time this past year that held pieces of the only happiness he had, and these pieces would have to last him a long time.

Jamie wouldn’t be able to see the face of his son when he was born. He was the only good thing that had come from his life and that hurt him the most. He would probably be sent to a prison as far from his family as possible. That’s what they do. He finally had something good that was his, but they had other intentions for him and took it away. He sometimes thought they did it on purpose as punishment. They made it impossible for family to come visit and make it a little easier to go through your time. No, they like to see you suffer. It’s such a crappy job so maybe it makes them feel better.

These prisons get built in low income, sad little towns in the middle of nowhere. It brings jobs to people who don’t have the intelligence to leave town or learn to do anything better. The pay is lousy and most of the people are uneducated.  Put a uniform on them and they feel important. It goes to their head and they now have the right to be abusive and push people around. He supposed there might be some good people there but most of them get twisted around because they are allowed to do things that on the outside would get them sent to a prison. But no one is looking. They bring in drugs and cell phones and physically hurt inmates who can’t fight back. Some of those inmates die when they are done with them.

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      Jamie wasn’t a bad person. He knew in his heart there was good inside him, but he didn’t think anyone looked at him long enough to see it. Morgan did. He was pretty sure of that. He had never been happy before her. He only existed. All he had to hold on to were her promises she would always love him and would wait for him to get out. He had to believe that or it would tear him apart.

The public defender assigned to him when he was arrested was no real attorney. Jamie never even meet him until right before they were to go in to see the judge. It added a lot of stress. He wanted him to take a plea of forty years and didn’t want to give him time to think. Forty years? He didn’t have a record. He had never been charged with anything or even been arrested and the district attorney sent  this pd to offer 40 years and plead guilty to something he didn’t do. Sure he had been there. They had gone out to party. His cousin even joked about robbing the place but he didn’t think he was serious. That was enough to make him guilty, too, and they wanted forty years out of him? He was supposed to agree with that?

Then the pd came back and offered 17 years. That was supposed to sound good now? If he didn’t take it he was told they’d pile on charges and he’d never get out. It’s easier to ruin a man and think it made you look good rather than finding out the truth and saving him and his family. That is so crooked.

This attorney was a puppet for the District Attorney, dressed in his cheap suit trying to look important. Jamie was just another person on his list that day to add a couple hundred dollars to his paycheck. He didn’t care a whit about what happened to him. He probably didn’t even know his name without looking down at the paper in his hand. His job is to make sure he scares him enough to take a plea. The truth has little to do with anything.  This is what they do to people like him. They decide his life for him and send him off somewhere to be forgotten. He will make money now for the corporations who own him for as long as they can suck it out of him.

Jamie tried to be strong. He stood up for himself and said he didn’t want to take a plea. He wanted a chance to tell his side about what happened. He didn’t know then, they don’t let people like him get into a courtroom except to plead guilty. Only about 3% of arrests go to court. The dockets would be too full and it would cost too much money. If someone couldn’t pay for an attorney they were going to be forced to take a guilty plea whether they were guilty or not. Even if you were dead to rights innocent it’s a pretty big risk to take. A public defender isn’t going to work to prove your innocence. Maybe there are good ones out there who care, but to them it’s just another day on the job. The more clients they see, the more money they make. Jamie thought he had a right to an attorney. That is what the law said. It also said he had a right to a jury of his peers. They thought otherwise. To them he had no rights. Laws didn’t apply to him.

When Jamie went out that night with a friend he didn’t think he was going to pull out a gun and try to rob the club.  He knew he had a gun in his backpack but he didn’t think he would use it. It was nuts to do that.  Maybe he was just being naive. He had already been to prison twice and it was a three strikes state. Why would you gamble with your life that way? He hadn’t been out very long since his last arrest. This arrest would out him away for the rest of his life. No parole. Did be like it that better?

He had been in trouble most of his life but he was fun to go party with. Kinda crazy. Jamie wanted to go out and have a good time. Shoot some pool. He thought he had learned his lesson. But no judge would care that Jamie had no intention of robbing that place with him. His skin color doesn’t win that battle. All black men are criminals. Not with a public defender who doesn’t want to defend you anyway.

His mama didn’t have the kind of money it took to hire a real attorney. Jamie knew that. If she did, then what they did to him at juvenile court never would have happened. But the thing is, and he knew it then, too, cops don’t have to take responsibility for the things they do. They are protected.  The court looks the other way. Cops can get away with just about anything. Just like it didn’t matter that the cop busted into their home and pushed his mama down. It only mattered that he reacted to it. What son wouldn’t try to protect his mother? Someone had to pay for the cop’s mistake. The cop needed them to look at someone else to be at fault for what he did. Since he was a juvenile and the cop couldn’t charge anyone in his family with a crime, they settled on taking his life and locking him up in juvenile detention for nine months. Except they wouldn’t let him out, not for more than four years. They thought his life had no value so why not ruin it while they collected money for him being there.

Jamie’s story isn’t special and he isn’t alone. Black people have gotten the bad end of the stick for a long time. Slavery never ended, it just changed. The people were convinced there was something bad inside them that made them criminals. A criminal gene. When movies and newspapers told white people over and over that people like him were dangerous, they believed it. It’s not even their fault. How are they supposed to know the truth? They heard it their whole lives. They were told having white skin made you privileged. It gave them the right to look down on other people. They listened to the news at night and this is what they were told. Isn’t the news supposed to tell the truth? What does it matter. There is no law that says they have to.

White courts lock up every black person they can. They need to fill the prisons with somebody. Contracts with the prison corporations said so. It was just a matter of time. Black people are easier to lock up. Most can’t afford a good attorney so it is easy to push them into taking a plea deal. lHe was twenty-two with no education or work experience, plus he had epilepsy, so who would want to hire him? He didn’t know how to do anything. Men disappear and the women left behind have so much hardship taking care of their families on their own with low paying jobs. Most need some kind of government help and it makes them look lazy, like they don’t want to get a job. His mama worked hard to take care of them. But there wasn’t a parent at home to help raise them. There are lots of women white and black raising kids alone but there are more black women who raise kids alone because their man is in prison.

Jamie didn’t have time to understand any of this before he met Morgan and she got pregnant. He had been locked up in juvy. He didn’t have a family in a long time. She was older than him by a few years and had two children already. She seemed so smart to him. She had gone to school and studied things. She encouraged him to want to go to school because she was going back to school at Angelina Jr College. He’d have to get a GED first because he didn’t make through tenth grade. But how did she think he would be able to provide for this ready made family of almost five people when he had no experience doing anything? But there was no sense thinking about any of that now. He had to figure out a way.

He wanted this so badly. A family of his own. Someone to love. He would do things different than what he had growing up. Jamie wanted to be a good father, even though he had no idea what that was.  He didn’t even know who his father was, not even his name. He was kept in the dark so deep about how a family was supposed to act he didn’t once think to ask his mama who his father was. She never told him and he didn’t know to ask.

His two brothers and sister all had dads. They all had different dads and that was okay, he thought. He watched them leave on the weekends to visit their other  families. He envied them because they had other people to love he didn’t have. Brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Even grandparents who loved them. But he wasn’ t included. He wasn’t part of anyone else. He had lots of relatives with his mom, mostly aunts, and he loved them so much. But still, without a dad there was a hole and he couldn’t fill it up with more people. That was what he wanted, what he needed, and now there was nobody there.

Jamie pictured his son growing up and playing ball with him and taking him fishing. He’d spend a lot time with him. He’d help him with homework. His son would always know how much he was loved. In his head he had this perfect picture of the family he wanted. Now he would have no way of doing that and it pained him. Maybe his son would hate him now. He really screwed things up.

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       Jamie had nothing to do but think and he had a lot of years to do it. He laid down on his bunk and turned his face to the wall. He studied the scratches on the wall other men had made. Everything had been painted white at some point but now it was more gray than white. He could see where names had been scratched in, and dates. Other men who had been just as bored as he was. He wished he could shut it out and make his mind blank, but the more he tried, the more his thoughts pushed their way back in. These thoughts kept banging around in his head. He wished he could make his brain shut up. He could see why so many went crazy in here. Maybe it was easier to let go. For him it was easier to let depression sneak in and bring him down. That happened in juvy and they sent him to a different place with kids with problems where they could watch him all the time. He couldn’t deal with it anymore. How was he going to make it through all this time and stay sane.

How does he change things to have a better future? How can you know something you have no way of knowing? He knows he has to make his life go in a different way but he needs help. He doesn’t know anything. He knows he needs to educate himself but where he is they won’t let him. Education is a privilege but without it he won’t stand a chance on the outside.  He has to rely on Morgan for any kind of happiness but happiness alone doesn’t teach him what he needs. No one else he knows would care so that doesn’t help. Friends don’t last. They’re the first ones to drop you. It’s stupid to even think about it because he would be middle aged before he was released, if he didn’t make parole, and that was real iffy.

He knew from experience his family wouldn’t be there for him. They weren’t there for him when he was in juvy, either.  It was rare for his mom to answer a letter. He supposed she loved him, and maybe she thought that was enough. He felt forgotten like no one cared. They were too busy living their own lives to spend five minutes seeing if he was okay.  He was on his own. Should he give up and let his life take him wherever it goes and hope for best? Should he want a life he knows he can never have? Is it dumb to want something when you don’t know what that something is?

Jamie got up and started pacing. Three steps in one direction, turn around and three steps back. Back and forth. Over and over. Then he started to run in place trying to get his heart rate up. He even did some pushups to try to keep his body going. He was overweight when he got here. Not bad,! but still too much padding. It didn’t take long for that to come off with the crappy food they gave you. Some of it he really had to choke down and that was only because he was so hungry.

People get hard in prison. There is so much anger. They want to hurt the world that hurt them and lash out at anyone who gets too close. They also think they have to show how everyone how tough they are to survive. Jamie didn’t want to be that kind of person but sometimes his anger took control and he couldn’t stop it. He could take care of himself if he had to.

Sometimes he stood up for other inmates. Mostly new ones who didn’t know the ropes. Guards didn’t like it when he did that and it got him in trouble.  Life should be fair, but in his world that rarely happens.

Most dudes don’t know what to do with their anger and the pent up energy that comes with it. Sometimes it just explodes because it needs to get out. Jamie tried hard to control it but sometimes someone just pushed and pushed and wouldn’t shut up. He knew his  anger was one of the biggest things he needed to overcome.  His mouth got him in trouble. Because he is alone he thinks so much about life and getting out, and that by itself can make a person angry.

Truthfully, it hurts so much when he gets in that type of mood it’s hard to keep the pain down. It rips him apart from his insides. He feels left out of life like he doesn’t exist and no one cares. He hopes he never treats anyone the way he’s been treated in here, like he doesn’t matter. But he can’t depend on someone else making him feel his life has value, he has to do that himself. Trouble is he doesn’t know where to begin.

Was it because he didn’t have a dad to teach him things when he was growing up? Who was supposed to teach him? There was no one. He doesn’t want to be that kind of dad to his son. But even if he knew who his dad was, maybe he would not have been a good dad. Maybe he was better off not knowing him. Was he alive? Maybe he’s in prison, just like him. Jamie had no idea who his family was. Surely there is family out  there he doesn’t know. Does he have an grandma or maybe another brother or sister who doesn’t know about him, either? Was it fair that his mama cut him off from knowing?. Or maybe there was no one. That’s the point. He doesn’t know because it never was his decision.

He’s not a kid anymore. He wondered if his dad tried to see him and his mom wouldn’t let him. When he was a kid he didn’t know any better.  As he got older he tried to make himself believe it didn’t matter. He can’t pretend anymore. He was going to be a dad, too. Somehow. Would he want his son to never know who he was? What if Morgan never told his son about him because he was in prison. He would be as dead to his son as his father was to him. How could his son not resent him for not being there? His own mama left him with all these unanswered questions. Was that fair? Half of him was his dad. He couldn’t be that bad if she had enough feeling for him to sleep with him. Does he look like him? Does he have the same mannerisms?  Would he know him if he saw him? Does he know or care that he’s going to be a grandfather?

He had pushed this questions out of his head for a long time but now that he is going to be a father it made a difference. Who am I?  Down the road would Morgan resent him and keep his son from him because she thought he wouldn’t be a good dad? He hoped she’d never do that. Nothing would keep him from his son.  The older he got the more important it became. This is what happens when you have nothing to do but think.

There was another side to this. Why did his dad never try to see him? Did he agree to stay away? Did he think he would be bad for him? Did no one ever think he would grow up and want answers to these questions?

It was an awful feeling for Jamie to have his future at such odd ends, not being able to make any plans until he was almost middle age, with all of his twenties and thirties gone and then starting a brand new life like a teenager leaving home. That’s scary. Would he have gray in his hair? What kind of teenager would Jamie jr be?

What if the world continued to get more screwed up than it is and being black would be more dangerous than it is now? So many questions. His son might be half white but he doesn’t look it and to white people it wouldn’t matter. He’d still be black. But he didn’t want his son to be thinking being white was better. Skin color doesn’t make the man. It is who you are that matters.


After my injury I am trying to get back to finishing my book. Maybe letting it sit for a few months was be good so I can now look at it with a different perspective to make sure it says what I mean it to say. After this it will go to real editor who can see the areas that need work and help me put it together in the best way possible. You can’t properly edit your own writing because you’re too close to it. I’ve spent a long time working on this publication and I want it to be good – a realistic portal of life in prison and everything that is wrong with it. I’ll gladly consider any suggestions or ideas. I will be keeping up with the progress in the newsletter. Please subscribe below.

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Dreaming For Tomorrow

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DREAMING FOR TOMORROW

Where are you going?

I see you walking in the distance

In the open air, no walls around you

What are you thinking?

You move your feet in a tiny dance

A smile appears. There is no one to stop you

Stretch your arms, there is nothing to feel

but the wind through your fingers

and the sun on your skin

It’s been a long time since life felt so real

Where are you running?

so fast and so free 

You fall to the ground and look to sky

Watch the birds and the clouds moving lazily

You understand now what it feels like to fly

The piano music is titled “Inside The Forbidden Outsidecopyright 2015 by Sonni Quick.

If you want to hear any of the other music go to http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick. As with anything online, stats are important. Share, like or leave a comment for others to see. It would be a benefit for me. When my arm heals I’m coming out of retirement from music 14 years ago and play again.

For those not familiar with my music, it is all improvised. If there is an error it becomes part of the piece. I can’t play it again the same exact way. I recorded this as I was writing Jamie’s book. As my damaged arm becomes functional I can continue recording and editing the book.

When I woke this morning I had a vision of Jamie in the distance and these words came to mind. I thought how  it must be to never be able to stretch out your arms and not touch something. His world is so small. No ability to run with abandon. We crave what we can’t have

ITFO Newsletter #7 – Raping Female Inmates

Source: Michael Korchia on Flickr

ITFO Newsletter # 7  

For The Women and Their Struggles in Prison

Please Click on the above link to bring up current issue of the ITFO newsletter. Below is just a few snippets. Each issue follows different subjects that need changing and updates. I try to educate people on things they might not know.

It has been a learning experience putting a newsletter together. I hope you click on the subscribe button on the bottom and help me share it through social media. I have lots of plans and projects for this coming hear and it will take people everywhere to help make the changes we need in our prisons and all of the family and friends who are connected to them.

The prisons and our govt is finding new ways to fill our prisons and it starts with the children by making it a felony in some places for boys to even have an after school fight. A young girl was arrested for just baffling up her first at a cop. Cops aren’t there to help you anymore, they are to be feared. Of course fighting isn’t good behavior but boys have been doing it since the bidding of human beings and they weren’t imprisoned for it. It will cause years of prison time no matter how young while it destroys education. There is absolutely no reason for destroying a child’s life for something that should be between a principle and a parent. It will also be used to predominantly lock up kids who are white more than anyone. Kids expelled or suspended today are mostly black, which has been admitted by teachers.

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ITFO NEWSLETTER #7

The rape of men and women have no help from prison staff – and often it is done by them, goes on and is not reported. Women are at the mercy of men who use them at will. In addition, some women locked up are pregnant and don’t receive the medical care they need. Lack of prenatal care and vitamins during pregnancies. Often there are no check ups to make sure the baby is okay. Was this part of their sentencing? Shackling a woman to the bed during labor, and general lack of medical care for all female issues can lead to life long problems. In addition, Women often lose any other children to adoption because they are forced to give up their parental rights. When a judge reads a sentence, where does it state losing their children is included?If a woman is not capable of raising children that is one thing,but we know it isn’t always the case and each situation needs to be judged on it’s own merit. The problem is, CPS makes tens of thousands of dollars for each child it takes away and more if the child is adopted out. Did you know this?

In the rest of the newsletter I will give you stories and links to follow about incarcerated women in the hope of creating better understanding and empathy for women who don’t have the means to keep the children they gave birth to, or to stop being sexually assaulted by their jailers. Don’t judge them, help them. Our prison system is a racket which uses and misuses the people caught in it’s snare. Most of them do not deserve what happens to them inside but it will   continue as long as we allow it to happen. Cont . . .

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http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

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If you haven’t “liked” Jamie’s facebook page yet you can do so in the info under this post.

You can also follow the blog by email so you don’t miss any posts. That, too, is in the info beneath the post

How Solid is Your Rock?

This year we had an example of what happens when we fight against wrong, and win. The people who have been marginalized for centuries after we took their land from them and then pushed them onto tiny patches of land and continued to strangle them as though their lives were worth nothing. They stood up and showed us what the word courage meant. Their intention was not meant to teach us that, they had decided they were not going to let the bullies in this country tell them once again it didn’t matter what they thought; they couldn’t have a say so about the land given to them in treaty if it went against what the bully wanted.

What a proud, strong name – Standing Rock. How appropriate. How unmovable. It was sheer will against sheer will.

“We are going to make you move,” the bully said. “We don’t care if we ruin your lives. We are going to put that pipeline under your water. We are bigger and more powerful and you can’t stop us!”

“This rock stands. It is solid,” The Americans, the true Americans said. “We will not fight you. We bring no weapons. We come in peace but you will not dig up our land to increase your profit. You have raped this land for too long.” The bully isn’t used to not getting it’s way. Other bullies, including our new president have invested much money in this pipeline, in the destruction of our earth and by God they were going to get their way – except they didn’t.

I’m sure the bullies are dreaming up other ways to force the Indians to do their bidding. Who are they, after all, to stop them? They have always won, until now.

The bullies in the land, the wealthy corporations, who can never have enough money and power, disguised their motive in the beginning as being for the good of the people. There is no need to pretend any more. They intend to take what they want and destroy the lives of anyone who gets in their way!

I wanted so much to see the American Indians win but deep in my heart I didn’t see how they could – but they did!

My heart swelled with joy and admiration. All they did was stand there, immovable, and thousands of people came and cheered for them, joining in solidarity. They faced off the bullies. One side with weapons and the Indians with peace. This was important enough to lay their lives down if they had to.

The call came in. The bullies were backing down. Today, while reading I learned something new. Originally, the pipeline was to be put in close to the town of Bismark. They said no! You can’t put it here. You might destroy our water! After thinking a about it they decided instead to put it through the protected land of American Indians, the only true Americans in this country. Bismark won, too, but they suffered no casualties. You see, Bismark is 92% white. The bullies would never have attacked them with guns and other means of hurting people. Bismark was filled with the chosen race, the pure race, the white race. The Indians were expendable.

(update 12/29: I found out with further research that the info I read on Bismark was misleading and was never viable as an option. My apologies for not double checking my resource)

This gave me so much hope and encouragement. It showed me what having faith in one’s convictions really was. For years I have been trying to help change what the bullies do to millions of people who are often innocent of crimes yet get caught in the money making teeth of the Prison Industrial Complex. Guilty or not guilty doesn’t matter. They just need people to make them money. They are forced to work for pennies if they pay them at all. Companies bid on slave labor to make their products. They twist the minds of people through PR until they say, “Let the notion of slavery rest. Why do you always call it slavery?” But if they were forced to work in often very poor conditions, ignoring medical issues, fed slop only fit for pigs and then use their pennies to buy hygiene and cannot use it to help their families, then slavery is exactly what it is. Many are sexually assaulted. Men and women and often by guards.

They twist the minds of people through PR until they say, “Let the notion of slavery rest. Why do you always call it slavery?” But if they were forced to work in often very poor conditions, ignoring medical issues, fed slop only fit for pigs and then use their pennies to buy hygiene and cannot use it to help their families, then slavery is exactly what it is. Many are sexually assaulted. Men and women and often by guards.There are many groups of people across the country and around the world who are fighting to help the men, women and children who are caught in this hell. We fight for sentences to be reasonable and for the non guilty to be freed.  We do not want anyone to be forced in a plea deal out of fear because they are told if the choose to go to court they will add charges so they will never get out. 

White people, black and brown people who commit the same crime should get the same sentence. Parole should fair, and people granted more than a few minutes on a video screen to plea their case while the parole board looks at the next case.

Prison corporations need to go. Education and rehabilitation need to be there so when they are introduced back to society they have a chance of survival instead of being forced to do something illegal so they have enough money to buy food.

prison labor

There are millions of people inside prisons working hard so you can buy the products made for the companies that bid on prison labor. You have no idea if it is made by an inmate who had no choice but to work for for pennies an hour. There are three times that many people affected on the outside as well, and many on probation and parole who can’t find places to life or get a job. Slowly it is changing because people like me,  are working to educate people that prison is nothing like what they watch on TV.

There will be a stand-off coming where people are going to have to choose whether they want their lives ruled by corporate profits. Starting in 2017, for the first time, we will have a government run by the very corporations we railed against. I don’t have to list these corporations. Read the news at Common Dreams, Alternet, Truth Out and others that actually print the truth and not what they are paid to print. Verify at more than one site before you believe anything, the mistake I made earlier in this article. Open your mind and learn the truth. I have no time to fill my mind with the things they want us to believe. Some people are gullible and believe something because they want to and it has no bearing in truth.

The wrong people are changing our country in the wrong way. It’s time we stand up and fight for each other and with each other instead of fighting against each other for our destruction. Make your life count for something. That is the legacy you leave behind.

Four Months As a Prison Guard

cca. prison corporations, prison industrial complex
 photo source: correctionsproject.com

(When a chapter is over, wait and a new one will begin)

CCA is only one of the prison corporations that convinced state governments to sign 20 year contracts with them under the premise they could run prisons cheaper. They convinced quite a few state government they would have more money for schools and roads. Since governments couldn’t balance their budgets it was a relief. But the deal also included the states had to keep the prisons full or they would have to be paid for empty beds. So anytime you hear a politician say they will reduce the prison population they are pulling a fast one on you. They know they can’t.

CCA runs the prison Jamie is in. Prisons are big business and trade on Wall St. Major American companies bid on the slave labour inside to make their products. In addition the inmates work call centers. Peoplecalling customer service have no idea they are calling a prison.

These prison corporations make money for their investors by denying services. The more they deny the more money they make. Who cares, they are just inmates, right? Yes, there are bad ones along with your husband or wife, your children and grandchildren and your friends. Sometimes guilty, sometimes not. Their medical needs aren’t meet. They are fed slop. Education is sparse and and only for upper levels. Something as small as trading books can have you put in isolation. As long as corporations run institutions for profit the worse it is. Add universities and hospitals to that. And now that corporation CEOs are running the country in Trump’s cabinet along with his children prepare yourself for me.

The rest of this article will be tjaken from the print from Mother Jones. Follow this link for the entire article.

CCA RUNS 61 FACILITIES ACROSS THE UNITED STATES:

  • These include 34 state prisons,14 federal prisons, 9immigration detention centers, and 4 jails.
  • It owns 50 of these sites.
  • 38 hold men, 2 hold women,20 hold both sexes, and 1holds women and children.**
  • 17 are in Texas, 7 are in Tennessee, and 6 are in Arizona.

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Chapter 1: “Inmates Run This Bitch”

Have you ever had a riot?” I ask a recruiter from a prison run by theCorrections Corporation of America(CCA).
“The last riot we had was two years ago,” he says over the phone.
“Yeah, but that was with the Puerto Ricans!” says a woman’s voice, cutting in. “We got rid of them.”
“When can you start?” the man asks.
I tell him I need to think it over.

I take a breath. Am I really going to become a prison guard? Now that it might actually happen, it feels scary and a bit extreme.

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison?   (Go to the link above for the full article)

THE NEXT MONTHLY ISSUE OF THE ITFO NEWSLETTER WILL BE GOING OUT SOON. TAP THE LINK TO GET IT DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX. EACH ISSUE NOW WILL FOCUS ON A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF PRISON ISSUES EACH MONTH. THERE HAS BEEN NO TALK OF PRISON REFORM SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHEN EVERYONE JUMPED ON THE BANDWAGON SAYING THEY WOULD BE THE ONE TO FIX IT. NOW NOTHING IS BEING SAID. IT WILL BE THE PEOPLE DEMANDING CHANGE THAT HAS THE ONLY CHANCE OF CHANGING THIS. PLEASE POST THIS ON YOUR OWN SM AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SHARE IT, TOO. WE’VE SEEN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AS THE AMERICAN INDIANS HAVE DONE. WE NEED TO MAKE PRISON REFORM IMPORTANT, NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT. CAN WE DO THAT?

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http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

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If you haven’t “liked” Jamie’s facebook page yet you can do so in the info under this post.

You can also follow the blog by email so you don’t miss any posts. That, too, is in the info beneath the post

Americans For Prison Reform

This is Going To Be a Year of Change For Inmates – If We Try

There are quite a few people who have Facebook pages and groups who feel that prison reform is very important and it’s time for those changes to begin happening. We read a lot. We post articles we find that talk about the problem. Some of us have loved ones who are locked away so we have first hand knowledge of the cruelty they endure yet we don’t know how to change things. We stand a better chance of changing things if we come together and fight together.  The powers that be – the government, prison industrial complex and the people who run the prisons don’t care how we feel because they are so sure there is nothing we can do. They think their profit is safe.

There are millions of us on the outside who can be a force to reckon with -if we organize. We don’t have to continue to let this happen. The blacks, the poor, the minorities, the juveniles are being used to make some people wealthy. The lying politicians at the beginning of this election cycle all said they were going to fix this. Half way through they stopped talking about at all.  All politicians lie. No one is going to help. They all have a finger in the profit pie.

There are many groups of people in many states who are doing all they can. Some have attorneys who have a better grasp of the legalities but one major problem is – we are all separate. We may recognize the name of a group but we don’t know what their plan is. There is absolutely no cohesiveness. How can we support each other when we don’t communicate? This election showed us the power of the internet. We need to use it more effectively

There is so much that needs to be fixed but people feel helpless about what to do because the problem is so huge and has so many parts. Aside from the many people locked up there are millions of people on the outside who get hurt. Some of my friends and I are beginning to come together and talk, to see what we can do. No one group is going to fix the prison issues. The people need to help themselves. Watching what the American Indians did showed us we aren’t helpless.  But did we really believe they would push them back? Really? It was an eye opener for me. So why are we letting them do this to us? It will take time to sort this out.

We need people with skills, fundraiser skills down the line. Social media skills, etc. who are willing to take on the corporations and their profit making machines and change the laws that are against the health of the people inside. Am I biting off more than I can chew? Probably, but I know if you reach for the stars and land on the moon you’re a hell of a lot closer next time you reach. You accomplish nothing if you don’t try.

I have been fighting for Jamie for almost a decade. I work on my projects that have to do with our prisons like a full time job – because it is. I spend most of my day researching, writing and connecting with people. I understand not everyone can do that because of commitments in their lives and families to care for.  Some only have time to read and share it, but even that is so important.

There are many people who have no idea what the prisons have been built for and why we have more than anywhere else in the world. Many people believe everyone who is inside deserves to be there. They believe they are all bad guys, except we know that isn’t true  because they are our husbands and wives, our children and our friends. We know what happened to put them in prison. Being guilty isn’t important.  The truth isn’t important. Only money is important. Keeping prison beds full at all costs is important. Their only purpose is to fill a bed and they need someone to exploit to do that – and yes, there are bad people in there, too, as well as those who are mentally ill with no place to put them.

mentally ill inmates
photo credit: photos.pds.org

With 5% of the population and 25% of all the prisoners in the world, if that were true then America has a pretty lousy life philosophy if we truly produced that many hard core criminals who need our lengthy mandatory minimums. Everyone knows our prisons are a racket. Why is it being allowed? Why haven’t they been changed? Why is it allowed?

Judges sentence someone using the mandatory minimums because they have no choice. I am sure most people have never read what those minimums are. They use use the phrase “mandatory minimums” because they know it is something that should be changed because they heard it somewhere else. But what does it mean? When did it start? How does one go about changing any one of them because they all have different years they began, some as early as 250 years ago.

Regardless of when it started, the sentence is how many years they were to be incarcerated. The judge did NOT say they were to be abused in prison. THAT is criminal. They don’t have the right to starve them with rotten food. The law states they are to be cared for medically – and that means mental health, too. Women are to be cared for with women issues. Men and women who are raped should have the right to press charges – against the guards our other inmates. Some inmates have to contend with near daily rape. Just because they are incarcerated does that mean the staff has the right to abuse another human being with no consequences?

Everyone know this so why does it continue! Right to lifers say every life is precious and fight for that. When does  a life lose the right to be precious? How many rapes does it take? How many beatings? How many ignored sick calls? For Jamie, how many epileptic seizures until he gets the right treatment?

seizure webmdcom

The list of abuses goes on and on with the higher staff allowing it by looking the other way. In many cases the guards and staff are more criminal than those locked up. So often, if an inmate files a case against a guard, not only is it not filed, they retaliate against the inmate, and write up more cases against him, throw him in ad seg and take ALL of his belongings away, including even his mattress, his flimsy, thin, 3″ piece of foam. At Jamie’s last prison he had 13 sexual harassment cases filed against him in one month. He had to force them to move him by threatening a guard so they would classify him as ad seg (solitary) because then they would move him. He is safer now – but he is still in ad seg. He had to deal with having his belongings taken away. 19 books including his GED book. He recently got his radio back after a year. His fan was replaced with a broken one. They gave him 2 more years of ad seg because that is what they do. He’s endured this to get away from a prison where the guards beat him up more than once, split his head open with a wall and sprayed him with chemicals.

Often we read an article and move on, shaking our head, wondering who will fix this. I tend to get very angry when I write about these things but anger keeps me going. You can find me easily at:

http://facebook.com/JamieLifeInPrison and http://mynameisjamie.net  A group of us are starting an alliance of people who want to do something. We have to start somewhere. Many have someone inside. If you want to help, come and talk with us.  Prison reform isn’t an easy thing to change but we’ll give it all we have. We need the input of people with experience. We need people who have the ability to stick with something or at least to know what your level of commitment could be. Even if all you can do is pass info, or reach out to people you know, that would be a help.  Let me know if you want to find out more. Send me an email at squick@mynameisjamie.net and I’ll get back in touch with you. This isn’t a commitment on your part. It’s a beginning. If you see this after it’s posted on facebook you can leave me a message there as well.

=========================

There being different stages we will go through. We have to start at the bottom before we tackle issues. At the bottom is simply getting organized. And although many of us have people inside this is not about getting people out, it is about reforming the system, about fairness, about the prisons abiding by the law even as it stands now. We have to do that before changing bad laws. It took a long time to get here and it will take time and a lot of effort to change things.

Personally, I would like to see for each inmate:

  1. Proper medical care – instead of using Tylenol for every condition. An outside system needs to be used to treat inmates that doesn’t say, for example, “You have water on the knee and it needs to be drained but the prison will never approve the cost. Here, take a Tylenol. Or, ” You have an abcessed tooth but it will be at least a month before we can get you to a dentist even if your face is swollen so bad you can’t eat. Here, take a Tylenol. Or, you had an epileptic seizure and you woke from it with your hands and feet cuffed, and not taken to medical because a guard didn’t want to do the paperwork. The prison medical corporations do not want to pay medical expenses. It is cheaper to let them die.

2. Decent, edible food they don’t have to be afraid to eat. The food corporations want to feed them on the cheap even if it kills them. We should make then feed their own families what they feed our families.

 3. A cell that isn’t too hot or too cold. I’m tired of hearing about deaths from the heat. That is murder.

 4. Ability to trace complaints against the guards by us on the outside so we know they are taken care of. They can’t be trusted and right now the fix is guarding the hen house. We get lip service by the warden. We need to know their complaints don’t end up in the trash and repercussions don’t blow back on the inmates. The prison has ways of stalling complaints so they become invalid. They do it on purpose so every single complaint is pointless. The law says they have the right to file for mistreatment but they is no law that says they have to do anything about it.

 5. People on the outside need the ability to file against a guard or staff if inmates are abused, and bring legal charges if their behavior warrants it. We don’t all have money to hire attorneys, in fact most of us probably don’t but we need a way to make sure they are safe. 

I’m going to stop there so the rest of you can add your concerns in the comments. If anyone has any idea of how to do this or has an idea of what to do first to get started, I’m listening. The tenetive name on facebook for this group is “Americans for Prison Reform.” Our prison system affects all of us.

I sure do hope to hear from you!  Sonni

THE NEXT MONTHLY ISSUE OF THE ITFO NEWSLETTER WILL BE GOING OUT SOON. TAP THE LINK TO GET IT DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX. EACH ISSUE NOW WILL FOCUS ON A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF PRISON ISSUES EACH MONTH. THERE HAS BEEN NO TALK OF PRISON REFORM SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHEN EVERYONE JUMPED ON THE BANDWAGON SAYING THEY WOULD BE THE ONE TO FIX IT. NOW NOTHING IS BEING SAID. IT WILL BE THE PEOPLE DEMANDING CHANGE THAT HAS THE ONLY CHANCE OF CHANGING THIS. PLEASE POST THIS ON YOUR OWN SM AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SHARE IT, TOO. WE’VE SEEN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AS THE AMERICAN INDIANS HAVE DONE. WE NEED TO MAKE PRISON REFORM IMPORTANT, NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT. CAN WE DO THAT?

download
ITFO Newsletter

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni’s Pinterest
If you haven’t “liked” Jamie’s facebook page yet you can do so in the info under this post.

You can also follow the blog by email so you don’t miss any posts. That, too, is in the info beneath the post

BFM 2. — Ricardo Sexton

(Black FATHERS Matter) [Part Two] More, the spirit of war fights without A knowledge of what it’s fighting for Confined in its flaws & its frustration Blind to sure laws & pure defamation Again, obviously isn’t really obvious As a plain remain lacking an explain Telling: Don’t fall for the bate in play Yelling: Don’t […]

via BFM 2. — Ricardo Sexton

Looking at this picture reminds me of Jamie and little Jamie and all the things he mourns never having with his son. There is no blame. It is what his life has caused. But aside from that, because there are probably a million or more children currently and countless more in the past who grew up without the benefit of a father. How are these children to learn what a father can teach, as well as those who didn’t have a mother.

So many children end up with foster parents who aren’t good parents. Not all, but a lot who only want that check. Abusive, drugs etc. America’s war on drugs was a war on society because of over sentencing and mandatory minimums and not caring if the person is guilty. Many children paid the price of corporate greed needing to fill prison beds. It.Needs.To.Stop!

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Please go to Ricardo Sexton’s blog to read the poetry for this and his many others. He has an unusual flow of words. Leave comments at his blog

Child Safe Zones -Marlon Peterson

“PAs As I I meandered around the internet this ev

think-highly-of-yourself (1)
Source credit: cqinsulting.co.za

eneople like me,

who come from where I come from, should be setting new paradigms for what justice looks like. 

Meandering around the internet this evening, looking for ideas that expressed the thoughts in my head, I found a young man by the name of Marlon Peterson. I was impressed by what I saw. In the letters I write to Jamie I like to find examples of people who used their experience of prison in a positive way and became people to be proud. There is a positive inside every negative if you look for it, and if you want to find it.

Let’s face it – it takes a strong determined person to not let prison affect them negatively. It’s hard to not leave prison angry at what was done to them inside; being used, abused, fed worse than neglected dogs with medical conditions untreated, sometimes causing permanent problems and even death. There is anger at our justice system over sentences that are ungodly long and often given to innocent people. We know the problems but have felt powerless to change the system. To make it worse, adults are teaching their young the same negativity. More and more people feel they need to carry a gun to protect themselves so neighborhoods, schools, places of business and the streets have become frightful places to be, and it’s escalating. Are these places more dangerous, or are WE more dangerous?

During Marlon Peterson’s stay in prison he made a determination to make changes and he is following through with that. If people only talk about what needs to change but never does anything about it we continue to see a growing mess. I talked with several people last night on this subject. If we wait for someone else to make changes to the slavery behind bars nothing will happen. The government won’t make changes – they caused it to be the way it is in the first place. Politicians are often corrupt and corporations want to make money not carrying who they hurt to get it.

The people who will change it will be the people who are affected by it. The success of the American Indians, because their cause was important to them fired up the passion in other people. There are millions of people in prison. Three times that on parole and probation. A hell of a lot of money is made by fines and other charges that need to be paid that eat up measly paychecks before they can eat.

And there are the children – the future hunted down juveniles detainees who are the future prisoners, hunted down by police who are rarely prosecuted for outright, obvious murder, and we let them get away with it because we feel powerless

We need to envision a different world and work to make it safe for our children and people on the street. So many people carry a gun because they are afraid. I will NEVER carry a gun. There are many things I have the right to do but that doesn’t mean I have to do them.

It is almost the start of a new year as I decide what is important to do and the part I want to play in it. Some people are do things, some people watch and some people stick their head in the sand. Who are you?

I’m going to end this with an except from Marlon Peterson’s website. I encourage you to go there and read more. Pass this on to your friends. I sent it to Jamie. He is fired up to start studying and take control of where his life is going after he gets in only six more short years.

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Marlon is the founder and chief re-imaginator of

The Precedential Group, a social justice consulting firm, and a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Soros Justice. Ebony Magazine has named him one of America’s 100 most influential and inspiring leaders in the Black community.  He is also an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar.

Marlon spent his entire 20’s inside of New York State prisons for his involvement in a crime as a teenager. During that time he earned an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice with Honors. He spent the last five years of his incarceration as the head of the Transistional Services Center where he created programming and curricula for men nearing release from incarceration. He also spearheaded and designed an experiential workshop for incarcerated men and college students from Vassar College called, “Vassar & Otisville–Two Communities Bridging the Gap.”

During his incarceration he collaborated with friend, author, and founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, Dr. Nadia Lopez, to create a letter correspondence mentorship program with middle school students.  This program set the foundation for the creation of H.O.L.L.A. (How Our Lives Link Altogether). Serving as the founding executive director, HOLLA is a 2016 recepient of an Echoing Green Fellowship under the leadership of the current executive director, Andrew Cory Green.

Since his release in prison in December 2009, Marlon has held several nonprofit positions. He is the former Director of Community Relations at The Fortune Society,and previously served as the Associate Director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, founding coordinator of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, and co-founder of How Our Lives Link Altogether (H.O.L.L.A!). Marlon also serves as board chair of Families For Freedom and board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

Marlon graduated from New York University with a Bachelors of Science with a concentration on Organizational Behavior.

Marlon’s writings have appeared in Ebony, Gawker, The Nation, The Crime Report, Black Press USA, Huff Post, and other online publications.  He has contributed to Kiese Laymon’s award winning novel, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Love Lives Here, Too by former New York Times columnist, Sheila Rule. 

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 THE NEXT MONTHLY ISSUE OF THE ITFO NEWSLETTER WILL BE GOING OUT SOON. TAP THE LINK TO GET IT DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX. EACH ISSUE NOW WILL FOCUS ON A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF PRISON ISSUES EACH MONTH. THERE HAS BEEN NO TALK OF PRISON REFORM SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHEN EVERYONE JUMPED ON THE BANDWAGON SAYING THEY WOULD BE THE ONE TO FIX IT. NOW NOTHING IS BEING SAID. IT WILL BE THE PEOPLE DEMANDING CHANGE THAT HAS THE ONLY CHANCE OF CHANGING THIS. PLEASE POST THIS ON YOUR OWN SM AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SHARE IT, TOO. WE’VE SEEN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AS THE AMERICAN INDIANS HAVE DONE. WE NEED TO MAKE PRISON REFORM IMPORTANT, NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT. CAN WE DO THAT?

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