Jamie’s Mountain

Inside The Forbidden Outside

Chapter Three

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Jamie sat still on the edge of his cell bunk, lazily dozing off and on with his head in his hands, not aware of time passing. Why think? Not seriously, anyway. Flashing thoughts and images passing through his mind quickly changed to something else. Concentrate? What’s the point? He couldn’t change anything about his life or affect it in any positive way. It was too hot to care. It is, what it is, what it is. He swung one hand back and forth while he was thinks.

The only difference between existing and not existing was if he paid attention to the drama in his head, and only then if he wanted to latch onto any piece of it to think about. It was easier to live in this non-reality space than the one his physical body lived in. It took too much effort to want to stand up and pee. There was nothing to bring relief. Nothing to break the monotony. . . nothing.

He hoped he’d hear his name later at mail call. Hoped there’d be a letter or book, maybe a magazine from a subscription Sonni had taken out for him. Anything to fill the time until this day was over and he could cross off it off.

He was hungry. They were on lockdown again. One month out of every three. Food rations were cut to the bone. Lots of peanut butter. The lockdown came early this time because there was a gang fight in some part of the prison. He was waiting on a food box from Sonni. She could spend $20 a month at the main commissary, or $60 at one time each quarter. They would deliver it to him. Now it won’t get through until lockdown was over. He had to laugh when she had a bookstore send him three sexy lingerie magazines full of beautiful women. Eye candy, she wrote – to make him smile. Said he must be awful horny after all this time with only his left hand to keep him company. Yeah, he thought smiling, they could write about these kinds of things after all the years they been writing letters.

Not all dudes were lucky enough to have someone like Sonni who cared. He didn’t know what he would have done without her. He’d be pretty damn lonely that’s for sure. And he would have forgotten what a stick of deodorant looked like. You do not want to be in this unit in the summer with a lot of stinking men, aside from it smelling like piss.

She calls him Chocolatte’. For the first half dozen years or so he called her mom and she called him her son, so he’d feel like he had family. His own family couldn’t care less. If they did care they sure didn’t show it. Sonni talks to him in her very long letters. She said it takes her days to write one. If he reads it slowly it can take up a big chunk of his day. When he writes back he takes the time to hand draw all the lines to write on.

In her last letter, and ones before it, she kept asking him to dig in his memories and tell her things about his life growing up. That was hard. He didn’t want to remember any of these things he stuffed way down so long ago he couldn’t remember them. Who wants to dig up things better left buried?

She’s writing a book about him. He would have never thought his life was worth writing about. The only thing he was good at was doing the wrong thing. She asked him if he had a happy childhood. Birthday parties, holidays, fun times? Thinking made his head hurt. No! He doesn’t know what happy means, then or now. Did he have happy memories as a kid? If he did, he should be able to think of them. They should pop right up. He couldn’t keep putting her off.

He got off the bed, turned on the faucet and soaked a cloth called a Cold Pack. They sell ’em at the prison convenience store. Convenient my ass. A guard cuffs and shackles him once a month and leads him down to the commissary like a pet. He doesn’t always have money in his account to buy anything if she isn’t able to transfer a few bucks into it. She has money struggles and helps as much as she can.

These cold packs, he thought, must have some kinda chemical in them that gets activated when they get wet. It’s better than wetting a towel, which is what he usually does. When you lay them on the fan and the air blows, it creates cool air for a little while. He uses it sparingly because they only last so long, and it’s not like he can go to the comm whenever he feels like it and buy more. But today he needs a little relief.

He put the fan in place to blow on his face and laid down. Maybe he could fall asleep for awhile. Think back and try to remember things he could write about to Sonni. What is she thinking? His life is important? It’s depressing and it gets him down. If not for her he wouldn’t be able to even hope he got something when mail call came in. So, was he a happy kid? He sighed . . . .

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

 

Everyone else had a dad, why didn’t he? His older brother and sister each had a dad. Even his younger brother, born a few years after him had a dad. They spent weekends and holidays with other family. Family who weren’t part of his life. Funny, not ha ha funny, but thinking back, he and his mom never talked about it. He never asked who his dad was and she never told him, at least not until he turned 32 a few years back. But he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself explaining anything. First things first.

Birthday parties? No. At least not the kind you think of when someone says it’s their birthday. No party invitations. No friends bringing presents. No balloons or party hats. No pictures of everyone yelling, ” Make a wish, Jamie. Blow out the candles!” with a camara flash going off in his face. What would he wish for? To be like everyone else? No. No parties like that. Nothing special. He remembered a few cakes, but if he ever had a party he sure forgot about it.

His mom had a rough time raising four kids by herself. The older they got the harder it got. She went to school to be a nursing assistant and after that she worked hard. Sometimes two jobs. When you’re a kid you don’t understand how much money it takes to raise kids. He did learn, you can’t work full time and stay home being a mom. Family was nearby but mostly they had to take care of themselves. The older kids took care of the younger kids.

He only had snatches of memory. Incomplete thoughts and pictures. He was a loner, even as a little kid. Because of his seizures he didn’t go outside and run around like other kids. He wasn’t sure if it was because they were afraid of him or if parents didn’t want their kids near him. Maybe they thought epilepsy could rub off. All he knew, he had very few friends and he always lost the ones he had

When he was six or seven his mom would take them to the park and have picnics and sometimes they went to the zoo in another town. We didn’t go many times but we made the best of it when we did. We also flew kites a few times. That was okay – more than okay. It was fun to run and watch the kites take off with the wind and dance around the sky. It would be fun to ride a kite and see the town from way up in the air and see the tiny people way down below. He’d feel so free without a care in the world. That was a good day.

He also loved fireworks, exploding into arcs of color, each one more beautiful than the next. One 4th of July they were ready to leave togo watch the fireworks. He was excited about going all day. He and his little brother were dressed in look-a-like outfits. At the last minute mama said they couldn’t go. He doesn’t remember why. All he remembers is hearing booms in the distance while wishing he could see them.

He didn’t have a bad childhood. He had ten aunts and uncles. He really loved his aunts. Two of them died, one when he was in juvenile detention. He flipped out with grief. He couldn’t handle knowing he’d never see her again.But was his childhood happy? No, he couldn’t call it that. He’s aware now he was mostly depressed. He felt invisible. The seizures were pretty bad. The kids were used to it happening. “Mama, Jamie’s having another seizure,” they’d yell.

When he was eight Jamie and his older brother ride to the store on their bikes. While in the store he stole a bag of skittles. Afterward, he showed his brother. He smiled and took it from him and tattled to his mother. He got sent to his room. His brother probably enjoyed getting him in trouble.

He had a friend, Brandon, who came over to play. When he found out he was grounded went to his window and asked what happened. He was upset he couldn’t play. A week later, playing together at Brandon’s uncle’s house, where he lived, Brandon’s mom came. He has never seen her before. His dad was there, too. The boys went outside to play basketball and left the grown ups inside. They found soon enough it would be the last time they’d ever see each other. They said goodbye and he watched them drive off. Jamie walked home mad and sad. In his mind the parents decided they couldn’t play together anymore because he stole a pack of skittles.That didn’t make sense. No one explained anything. Whatever, it was the last time he saw Brandon. He was the last real friend he ever had.

Jamie had to smile a bit at that memory. Kids understand so little. But at nine it was the end of his world.

Maybe his brother thought he got too much attention but he was only guessing. He doesn’t blame anyone for things they did as kids. Maybe it did look like he got too much attention. His brother kicked him into a ditch one time when he had a seizure and he didn’t help him get home. He let him lay there. A seizure knocked him out for hours. Muscles don’t work and his brain gets scrambled. He can’t get up and walk home like nothing happened. It was hard making it home that day.  He didn’t want to remember that, did he?

He doesn’t think his brother liked him much growing up. Still doesn’t. Maybe that’s why he ignored the letters he wrote. He could visit if he wanted, but he doesn’t. He lived close to this prison. He wasn’t always close. Sometimes he was in a prison far away.

Sonni called him once and asked him why he didn’t come. He said, in a so-what kind of voice, “It’s not my fault he’s in there.” Nobody said it was. Sonni sent him a video of the song ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother.’ Jamie wanted to see his brother. They aren’t kids anymore. Guess he doesn’t want to see him. He can’t change that, but it hurts. That’s life. He hadn’t seen his younger brother or sister, either. Every three or four years, one time five, his mom came, but she never answered any letters. He guessed she had her reasons. She’s still his mom. He loved her very much. He probably gave her too hard ‘a time growing up so she’s done spending time on him.
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When he was twelve he had brain surgery. It was scary being wheeled down the hallway on a stretcher. He was used to getting needles all the time having his blood tested. But it’s different when they’re going in and looking at his brain. What if they did something wrong? He knew his mom was there waiting for him. Having this thing wrong with him must’ve been really hard on her. They tried to stop as much of the brain bleeds as they could. It helped. It didn’t stop the seizures but it did slow them down.

His only friend growing up was Keithy. He was an older cousin, and he was sick, too. Sickle Cell anemia. They were the “sick ones” and were always together. One day when he was about fourteen he went over to his house. He had been away, visiting with his dad. When he came home he was sicker than usual. While they were playing a game he started to cry. His mom came in to help him and she called Jamie’s mom to come pick him up. While he waited Keithy’s pain got worse. He could hear his cries for help. It hurt so much to hear him in pain and there was nothing he could do. After that, he wasn’t allowed to see him very often.

Jamie became depressed and couldn’t pull out of it. He began disappearing in the middle of the night to go walking. He did it over and over. He couldn’t lay in his bed at night so he walked. He must’ve scared his mama. She checked him into a children’s hospital to get help. He hated it there and begged her over and over to please come take him home. One day she did, but she didn’t tell him why.

They talked on the way home, about everything except the most important thing. It was fairly long drive. When they pulled into town she drove to his cousin’s house. There were a lot of people there. He still didn’t know why she came for him. He realized a long time later, she knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it. She didn’t want him falling apart in the car. She took him by the hand and led him into the back room of the house. There he was. Keithy was laid out. He was dead.

This is the way Jamie found out his cousin had died. It was a crushing blow. His mother couldn’t find the words to tell him.  He reached out his hand that day and gently touched him. His skin was so cold. That is when it really hit him. He closed his eyes with tears swimming behind his eyelids. He tried to keep it together but he didn’t think he could. He was never going to see him again. His brother grabbed him by the shoulders and said, “Don’t cry!” Then they fell into each others arms, chests heaving with sobs. He cried for the loss of his friend’s life. Cried because his heart was broken for the boy he loved. Cried because his disease had killed him before he had a chance to live his life.

Then we buried him.

Jamie laid there, hands behind his head, staring at the gray ceiling of his cell. Tears were silently running down the sides of his face. He was glad Keithy never knew he ended up in prison. It would have broke his heart. He still thinks about him. Some pain never goes away.
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After Keithy died he began hanging out with the wrong kids. Even though he lived in a small town there were still dudes who thought of themselves as wanna-be gangsters. They weren’t like city gangs where kids were born into extreme violence and drive-by shootings, but there was buying and selling drugs and some carried guns and knives. They got in trouble doing stupid stuff. Jamie wanted to feel like he belonged somewhere. Excepted. Friends. He didn’t have that closeness anywhere else. He was more a follower than a leader. He starting getting into trouble and becoming defiant.

Sometimes for a few days he slept in other places instead of coming home,  He’d sneak home to eat, shower and take a nap when his mom was at work. She’d usually catch him. He never got too old for the belt.

He was found passed out in the middle of the street one day. A man who saw him thought he was on drugs and was going to call the cops. Before he could, another man who recognized Jamie realized he’d had a seizure and called an ambulance instead. He was lucky the cops weren’t called. There’s no telli what the cops would have done.

Because of trouble he got into, the court gave him one year probation. It was decided he’d live with an uncle near Dallas for one year and attend tenth grade there. He was strict with him. He was also a parole officer. It ended up being his last year of formal education. He kept Jamie on a short leash. When he wasn’t in school he couldn’t leave the house. The only time he could go anywhere was when he rode his bike to see his probation officer. He learned to enjoy the long ride.

He began community service at the local boys and girls club. One evening, riding his bike home, it started getting dark. He was being careful riding on the sidewalk. A man in a truck pulled out of an apartment complex driveway with his headlights off. He couldn’t see Jamie coming down the sidewalk. He hit the front side of the truck, flew over it, breaking his left leg when he landed. He was knocked unconscious and later woke up in the hospital.

When he completed probation his uncle asked him to stay and finish school. He was doing good, but Jamie was homesick. If he had stayed would he have finished high school? Would his life be different? It was only a few short months later his life changed for the worse when a cop forced his way into their house.

The choices we make matter. He grew up without anyone teaching him why certain things matter. He sees that now. His mom did the best she could. She took care of us, fed us, bought us clothes, had my medical problems to handle, and she did a great job. Her way of teaching was giving us rules to follow and if we didn’t we got the belt. She was fierce with that belt.

Most every kid he knew came from a broken home. A mother can’t do everything. It’s harder he thinks in black families because the goal is to keep their kid safe and at from the cops. We learn early as kids we are not supposed to reach as high as white kids. There is always that shadow hanging over you. Prison is the end for so many black men – women, too, especially in the South. If you can’t go to school and a good job how do you feed your kids? The doors that line this hallway? Behind almost all of them are black men.

In his family there were four broken relationships with four dads. He didn’t know his but he’s gotta be out there somewhere. He had no dad to teach him anything. He can’t go back and fix that. If he knew it before he might’ve made different choices. He let white society push him through the pipeline to prison because he didn’t really understand years before that it existed.

Now he’s given up seventeen years of his life to pay for it by going through hell. But he knows he can choose his future. This he knows after ten years. His story has to go through those years so you understand.

One important thing he learned is he can’t run away from his life. He has a mountain to climb, and that mountain will appear wherever he is, in some form or another. If there is something he needs to learn he can’t fool himself into thinking he can avoid it or walk around it. He is where he is because this is his mountain to climb. Win or lose.

But right now he’s gonna get up and re-wet his cold pact and maybe sit down and begin writing a letter . . .

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

( Sonni’s note: The chapters of this book I’m writing is at the first rewrite stage. When it goes through a professional edit I’m sure there will be other changes and revisions. I have found, writing a book is a process.  You don’t just write it, edit it and publish it.  It takes time to put out something worth reading.  If you want to give me feedback – please do.)

 

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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An Inside Out Oreo Cookie

Meet you on the hill , riding bikes
Meet you on the hill at 8 pm

“Mail call,” the female voice yelled as she came on the floor. Jamie had been asleep. Any time a woman came into the area they had to announce themselves. If they didn’t, no telling what they might catch someone doing, if you catch my drift.

As he sat up and stretched he wondered what the odds were he’d have mail today? He could use something new to read and think about. He needed some encouragement to keep going.  He gave up waiting for family to write years ago. There was a time he’d look at pictures of his family every day wishing he could see them. He missed his mama. He used to think it was his fault she never wrote him, because he caused her so much trouble when he was a kid. But now he couldn’t find any excuse good enough, no matter what anyone says. 

“I can’t write because it hurts me too much knowing you’re there.” What? Hurts who? Buy a card that says I love you. Wish you were here. Put a stamp on it and put it in a mail box. How much would that hurt? Better yet, how much would that help? Oh well, it’s long past.

He’s been ignored for so long he wasn’t able to care anymore. Oh, he knows he says that. He’d welcome her any day with big smiles but that wouldn’t erase the pain. Besides, she isn’t here anyway. No one in his family ever is. And it’s not like they lived far way. either. He doesn’t look at pictures anymore. It depresses him. They let him know how important he was to them a long time ago. 

But there might be a letter from Sonni. It had been more than a week since the last one so it might be possible.  He stood up to wait by the slot in the door just in case it opened.

She was all he had to hold on to. So many dudes in here had no one. Some of the things they had to do to survive he could never do. Prison law is different than on the outside. Some let themselves be used. Having someone on the outside was like gold. She was his only connection to this world to remember he was still part of it. She kept him sane and told him everything she knew about his boy. How he was doing in school and all that. 

They made an odd sort of family, Nana, grandson and dad in the middle like an inside out oreo cookie. She called him a Hershey Kiss ’cause he was sweet chocolate. Anything to make him smile. She did her level best to keep his head screwed on straight when he started to slip down. He needed her. She needed him. She knew things about him even he couldn’t understand, whispering in his head to not give up. Always making him think about why things are the way they are. 

At first he didn’t know why she was there. He thought he was a loser. What did she see in him? She laughed at him a little for saying this. Said she shook her head with a knowing smile. “You’re family”.  He wasn’t alone. He thought about her a lot. She was in his head. They talked. Not talk for real. He wasn’t allowed to make phone calls. They joked about imagining they were riding bikes out in the country and would go to the top of a hill and sit and talk about things. Have a picnic. They would both think about it at 8 PM so they could go together. Thinking about each other at the same time. Sometimes she’d write it at the bottom of her letters to make a date to meet outside the prison. 

Why did she care so much? Did she love him?  “Of course,”  She told him, “Love comes in many ways. Sometimes it comes and goes and you can’t remember who the feeling is attached to. But sometimes it is bigger than that. When you take it inside it becomes a part of you. No matter what, it is always there.

She called him Son. He called her Mom. At that time he needed a mother. Really she was a lot older than his mom, but she was beautyful to him. He was broken in a million tiny pieces and wanted to give up. He was going to die in here.  She came right into his cell, into his head and wrapped her arms around his being. She told him he was safe. He wasn’t alone. Don’t worry. He didn’t have anyone else to think about. She always knew when he was worrying too much. About his future. About his son. All the things he couldn’t figure out while he was in here. He didn’t know how to figure things out. He could do nothin’ about any of these things, but he worried anyway.

The biggest pain causing him the most heartache was not being able to see his son. His son, who has his name yet he is like a figment of his imagination. Born after he was sent away he has only seen him a few times in his ten years of living. His family hasn’t brought him. The mom won’t bring him. Only Sonni when she comes to visit but she is too far away to come often.

His boy, who he loves most in the world. He was afraid he would hate him for not being there. Knowing he is there, on the outside and he can’t touch him. He touched him once, when he was a toddler. It was the only time, the only time and he was lost, eyes closed reliving the memory.

“Cummings!” He heard his name and it startled him. “You got mail, really you got a box.” He had to move away to the back of the cell and stand there with his hands showing because they had to open the cell door. The guard brought in a box and a letter. Jamie thanked him. 

Only two things came in boxes. Food and books. Someone on the outside could go to the Texas prison website and order $60 in food four times a year. Not much but it was a few extras to supplement the garbage they served. Sonni got him some fun things. Cookies and Oatmeal Pies. Coffee. Something’s he could trade for stamps if he needed.

But this was a book box and he desperately needed books. They came from a used book store approved by the prison. All kinds. Mysteries, Sci fi, even romance and Westerns. 30 in all. That will keep him reading for awhile and get his mind off things and escape. But before he went through the books he settled down on the bed to read what Sonni had to say today.

He smiled. Sonni always had a lot say.

( This is not a book chapter. It is a submission for a writing class)

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Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years.  It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord.  She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. Call me, email me, msg me at fb. It’s that easy.   You can also contact me here:  Legal Shield

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Gary Johnson on Private Prisons

Interesting twists about the prisons.  I will admit I haven’t given a lot of thought about the public prisons even though I knew the prison corporations didn’t have contracts with ALL of them.  Learning the guards unions were lobbying to keep the prisons full because their job depends on it. But doesn’t it seem morally wrong to want to keep your job at the expense of needing to keep the prisons full with anyone you can get your hands on whether they deserve to be locked up for the length of mandatory minimums?

This video is only about 7 minutes long and good points are made on both sides of the fence.  It’s worth watching.

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itfo newsletter

SUBSCRIBE HERE

Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years.  It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord.  She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. Call me, email me, msg me at fb. It’s that easy.   You can also contact me here:  Legal Shield

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The Waking Hour

 

Marginalized Into Nothingness

light from sky

Marginalized into nothingness.

I’ll say ‘people are being enslaved
and no one seems to care or even see them.
More concerned with climate change
than your enslaved neighbor’s freedom.’
They’ll say can’t we do both in concordance?
Both are equally important.
 
Then on another day,
I’ll say ‘children are being subject
to a school to prison pipeline
and a lot of your lifetime
retirement wages
depend on how many of our babies
end up in cages.
That should be foremost in your mind.
But you’re caught up in the fallacy
of black on black crime.
Then someone will say
‘Hey, these heartless criminals
will kill someone’s mother.
I can be concerned about one
without ignoring the other.’
 
So, a while later in another statement,
I’ll mention week after week
slave catchers are hunting us
like wild game in the street.
But instead and as part of the criteria,
your head is stuck
on chemical attacks in Syria.
Then true to form
as is the new norm
someone will mention
both of these issues deserve our attention.
 
As the problem becomes diluted
in an Occupy potpourri goo,
smothered and covered
in a long list of things to one day do,
I’ll scream out “what is an effort
to gain economic freedom worth
when this nation has the largest prison population
ever seen on planet earth?
Then like a bad case of crabs (pardon me being crass)
some ass will attach what they think is a unique opinion
and say ‘what good is freedom
if we’re still poor and broke?
That’s not winning. We need to do both.’
 
So I grumble and mumble and swear a few oaths
about twisted priorities.
Then point out in every state in the union
incarceration is mainly aimed at the poor and minorities.
While you are defending the character
of pink unicorns and alleged good cops
there are communities being served
with so many warrants and arrests
they are called million dollar blocks
And of course the meanness of marginalization doesn’t ever cease.
Someone will tell me in all sincerity
to start raising our kids better and not blame the police.
 
I say, they say, in a never-ending dance.
Always adding another
“well that other
thing is important we should give it a chance.”
 
By the time I’m done
there are 10,000 issues being heaped on our plate
when there should only be one.
Marginalized into nothingness ©Max Parthas 6/17 Maximumimpactpoetry.com

New ITFO Newletter – It’s All About The Positives

 

Sonni Quick April 2017

First of all – and this is not in the newsletter, I want to say thank you to all the people who have supported my efforts these past few years. I don’t do this for the money – because there is none.  I do this because it is the right thing to do. It’s for my family and Jamie is my family, with a child/ grandchild in between us. 

Thank you to those who have stuck with me through the learning curve of learning (still learning) how to put this publication together.  All of this is for Jamie – to write his book and have a mailing list to shout “It’s been published!! when I’m satisfied it is the best I can do. Self publish it the right way,  and learn the things I don’t know, so he will have a chance to do something positive with his life, too, when he gets out someday.  He’s heading into the summer months when the heat in Texas prisons kills and makes epileptic seizures worse.  I have met some wonderful people through this blog and connected social media. Thank you to all.  Sonni

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itfo newsletter

It’s hard to stay positive sometimes with all the garbage that is happening to make it harder on people of color and immigrants, but I will. This issue will bring out some of the positive things inmates are doing to express their talents and people who have allowed their talents to flourish. There are also people on the outside who try to make their lives better. There are also inmates and ex-felons who have blogs and they use them to tell their story and give space to others to tell their stories – so there are lots of good things to read today. Any support you can give would be a good cause to make. Do you know an artist in the pen?

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First on my list is a magazine that gives artists inside a locked facility a place to show their artwork. It branched out to offering prints on a throw for your bed or couch, artwork on a pillow and clothing. You will have to go to their website for costs and shipping – and be sure to subscribe to their mailing list.

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There is so much more.  Artists and the music video of Idalee’s “Heal” and more. In fact there is so much more there was not enough room so the rest will be in next month’s newsletter   Click on this link to take you to the newsletter.  Subscribe and share.  Too many people only hear the negative the media wants to portray about inmates without telling you about all the others.

Do You Know Why Your Thoughts Are So Important?

……..This is not normally what I post on this blog, but what it teaches runs through why I write. So it is mentioned quite often. I thought maybe those who find me here might find this of interest because it is why this blog even exists. It is these teachings I share with Jamie to help him make sense of his life and not get discouraged over the uncertainty of not knowing what his future could hold. It is a scary place to be all alone – trying to have confidence in a future that only takes place in your mind – on a good day.

Watch and Whirl

Depositphotos_18546511_s-2015

Author: Margaret Blaine
We’re taught that our thoughts don‘t really matter unless we act on them. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

We are one with the creative life force in the core of our lives, so our minds have the same creative capacity as the life force itself. This means our minds are unlimited and can create the circumstances we desire.

In the Buddhist dictionary, we are told that the mind possesses the potential of 3000 realms in a moment of life and encompasses the simultaneity of cause and effect.


This means that every thought, we have, sets a seed in our lives that will manifest in the future when the time is right. Our outer life today is the “visible” manifestation of the “invisible” workings of our mind of yesterday. So, the thoughts, we dwell upon the most, create our life in the future. Until we learn…

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THE SHARP LEFT TURN

 

sad_man(Chapter – Inside the Forbidden Outside)

“You stole the stereo outa my car, didn’t ja? Jamie’s older brother Danton screamed, the veins in his neck popping out. “I know you did it.” He cornered him against the back of the car, fist raised, ready to beat the crap out of him. Jamie had never seen his brother so angry. He wasn’t trying to steal it. Honest. He was only showing it to a friend and left it there. When he went back to get it, it was gone. He took off with it. Why did he do stupid stuff like that? 

Danton tackled him to the ground. Next thing, mama was outside ordering them inside. Now. “What are you, stupid?” She swatted a book at them to get them inside. “Y’all want some know-it-all troublemaker neighbor to call the cops?” She was angry. Real angry. Belt swatting angry and she wasn’t afraid to use it. There was no ‘spare the rod’ in her house.

As she closed the door she peaked through the living room blinds and saw the flashing lights of two blue and white cop cars stopping in front of their house. 

“Damn,” she said under breath. “Damn fool kids carrying on like that outside for everyone t’see.”

She had a tough enough time without tongues waggin’ an  gossip flyin’. She closed her eyes and sighed. This was gonna to be trouble. Jamie had problems with this cop before. Always fixin’ to harass the kids in the neighborhood every chance he got. 

They stomped heavy on the porch and one officer knocked on the door. Mama opened it a few inches. “What do you want Officer?” she asked in her most respectful Texas drawl.

“Heard there was a fight outside.”

“You know how boys are.” she said, shaking her head in a knowing gesture. 

“Teenagers. Always fightin’ over somethin’. Everything’s under control officer.”

“I want to come inside and talk to them.” Through the opening in the door he could see them sitting on the couch.

“That won’t be necessary officer. As I said, I have everything under . . .”

Before she could finish speaking the cop kicked in the door. As he slammed his foot into the wood the force pushed her back a step. She half-turned, lost her balance and fell, breaking her wrist as she tried to break her fall.

Chaos broke out as her children rushed to her defense. As Danton jumped up from the couch and jumped toward the cop he was sprayed in the face with pepper spray by the other cop, who was waiting for the kids to try something. He backed away yelping in pain from burning eyes. Jamie ran to help his mother along with his older, quite pregnant sister. 

No one noticed when the youngest brother grabbed a broom by the handle that was propped up against the wall. In anger for hurtin’ his mama, he whacked that cop with all the might his young arms had. The straw end created angry scratches on his arm. He didn’t know assaulting a cop was a crime. He was just a kid defending his mama.  In this neighborhood you had to learn to defend the ones you loved.

The situation changed at break-neck speed from illegal entry and causing injury to a mother who did nothing wrong, to a chargeable offense of assaulting an officer – by a kid, which didn’t matter. Assault is assault, except when done illegally by an officer of the law. The charge should have been dropped. The cop shouldn’t have busted in the door.  When you have to say ‘should’ it’s too late. Hanging black kids out to dry is their job.

Danton was put in the back of one police car and promptly kicked out the back window. Jamie and his younger brother were put in the back of the other car and their mother and sister were whisked away in an ambulance.  

At the end of the day everyone went home but Jamie. Someone had to take the fall and be charged with something. The cop would never get charged no matter what he did. This was 1999. Cops got away with anything. Jamie’s life took a sharp left turn that day, forever changed.

A deal was made.  His younger brother could have been sent to juvenile detention for hitting the cop, but he’d get beaten up in there, or worse. Bad things happened to young boys.  A lawyer in the courthouse told Jamie to take the fall for him.  Jamie was sixteen, almost seventeen. He was better able to take care of himself if trouble found him.

Jamie was told, “If you plead guilty for hitting the cop with the broom you’ll only do nine months. No more. Nine months and you’re out and your juvenile record will be sealed.”  

That’s why it had to be him and not Danton. He was older. Not a juvenile any more. He’d miss a year of high school but he could take classes inside.  Would he do that for his little brother?  

Jamie thought about it. Could he do it? His brother wouldn’t last a day in there before he was ganged up on. It wasn’t fair. He only defended his mama. This was wrong. Asking him to take the punishment. What’s the point? Why punish him when he didn’t do nothin’? Wasn’t the person supposed to learn a lesson? What was this teaching him?  That there’s no justice? There should have been no sentence for anyone, but mama didn’t have no extra money to pay a lawyer who would be on their side. She already worked too hard  taking care of them.

He agreed. He did the time. He hated it. The staff kept trying to get in his face. Called him nigger this, nigger that, when no one was looking. But still, he did everything he was supposed to do. He went to school and attended Groups. He waited and waited until the time passed.  Finally, the day came for him to go home. He was packed and ready when they told him, “You can’t go home.”

“What?” He didn’t believe them. “Why? I did the nine months.” 

“You didn’t make level four. You can’t go home,” just as plain and matter of fact as you can get.

“I don’t know nothin’ about needing no level four.” There was something very wrong happening. 

“The lawyer didn’t tell me or my mom about any of this. You never intended to let me go did you?” Silent pause.

With satisfaction they told him again he wasn’t going anywhere.

He ran back to his room and slammed the door. He sat on his bed and cried. He was angry. He was so angry. He wanted to go home. He did what he agreed to. He started kicking the door and walls. He wasn’t going to listen to them ever again. He was lied to. Lied to. for no reason except to hurt him. He had so much anger inside. He started throwing his stuff around and destroying the room.

An officer came to his room, cuffed him, and took him to 23 hour lock up in security. It’s like they planned this. They were ready. Solitary confinement with the fancy name Behavior Modification Program. BMP. Just as bad as adult solitary except kids can’t handle it. Some commit suicide in those cells. Three months they kept him in there.

After that everything went down hill. He caused all kinds of problems any chance he got. He got into fights. He was sent to solitary three times for three months. They brought him school work every day as if that made it better.

Jamie suffered from depression as a young child because of epilepsy and it hit him hard. He curled up into a ball. Much later he was sent to a facility for kids with mental problems. He wouldn’t eat. He laid on the bed and slept all the time. He didn’t hear from any family. One day a woman came to see him and they talked about things. Just things.  She came back later that day and said, “You can go home now.” He had turned twenty-one.

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His mother picked him up the next day. It was a long drive. Not much of anything important was said while they drove through the state.  Their talk touched on different people in the family and what they were doing, to catch him up on things. Everyone had a life that went on living. Only his had stopped. He could count how many letters he had got in four years on one hand.

No one could ever understand what he’d been through. They wouldn’t even want to hear. It was too close to home for them. Each of them lived life not knowing if it was going to be their turn someday.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Sweep it under the rug and move on. It would be a downer if they realized they could have helped him make it through. Write a letter maybe? Asked how he was. Showed they cared. That didn’t matter. They would show him now with a party. It was quickly planned for his homecoming but they arrived home too late. Most had already gone home. 

A cousin asked, “Do you wanna walk over to my place? Show you where I live?” It was late but Jamie was keyed up from the day. 

“Sure, why not.” He stayed awhile then begged off that he was tired and started walking home, cutting through the parking lot and walking past a security guard standing outside his little office of importance. Rent-a-cop.  A puffed up ego in an official looking uniform.

Hey boy. What are you doing here?”

“Visiting my cousin. I’m on my way home.”

“Yeah, right. Come over here. I wanna to talk to you.”

Jamie had done nothing wrong so he walked over and went into the security office. He didn’t know the guard had called the cops after seeing a black man  suspiciously walking through the parking lot.  He thought later, what do you do to act suspicious? He was only walking, hands in his pockets.

The cops showed up. No one wanted to listen or believe he was only walking home. Surely he was looking for a crime to commit. Someone to rip off. someone to hurt. With a gun pointed at him he was cuffed, put in the back of the cop car and taken to the police station.

Welcome home Jamie, he thought to himself. It was unfortunate for him that it was Friday night. He had to sit in jail for three days before he could go in front of a judge. Charged with what? Breathing?

Monday afternoon Jamie was led into the courtroom. He looked at the judge, startled. It was the attorney who had convinced him he would only do nine months in juvenile detention. He promised him. How ironic, he sighed, emotions flooding through every nerve path. Of all people he could be brought in front of after getting out after doing four years, it had to be this man. Life has a funny way of slapping you upside your head when you least expect it.

“James Cummings,” his name was called. The judge had yet to notice him. He stood, straight and respectful, head held high. He looked his old attorney dead in the eye. The judge looked back. He leaned his head forward slightly as if to see better, eyebrows knitting together as he stared at him. There was long, silent pause. They stayed like that until the judge looked away.

Chin in the air, with an official white man’s superior gaze, he looked down his nose and said, “I know you.” 

“Yes. You do.” Jamie paused for a few seconds to let his words sink in.  “I was the teenager you promised would only do a nine month sentence in juvenile detention four years ago after you convinced me to take the fall for my younger brother.” Lets get it out in the open.

“Ah yes, I remember now.” the judge relaxed back in his chair. 

“I thought I recognized the name.How did that work out?”

He clearly didn’t know. Never checked up on his handiwork. Out of sight, out of mind. His life wasn’t important. He was on to screw the next black kid with no thought about what his actions might do. It was mostly black kids who were yanked through the system, as corrupt as it was.

“I just got out three days ago . . . sir. I was home only a couple hours, visiting with family I hadn’t seen in a long time, who grew up while I was away, paying – with strong emphasis – for my crime, when I was arrested simply for walking home, as if I had done ‘another crime‘ I needed to pay for.” Jamie’s words were slow and measured. Eyeball to eyeball his gaze never faltered from this man who had changed his life unfairly.

The judge broke eye contact and looked down at his hands. A long uncomfortable silence followed. Thoughts bombarded the judge’s mind, the least of which was what he had done to this young man. 

His face snapped up. Defending himself in his head he thought, “I was only doing my job.”

“It was the best option for the family,” he tried to make himself believe.  He now did the only thing he could do.

“Case dismissed.”

 

Core Civic – CCA – Their truth, My Truth

This is one of the major players in in the prison business. It doesn’t matter what they try to make the public believe, I know, and anyone who has been in one of their prisons or has a loved one inside knows the truth.  But here are a few things CCA has to say about themselves taken from there main website. I know this is long and I copied only a portion.  I think it is important for people to understand who these are and how these use people to make money.  Now adding new prisons for immigrants has them excited – literally.  He goes:

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fox2news

“We recognize the inherent dignity of the human person and the need to treat every individual with respect. As we have since our inception, we share the responsibility of our government partners when they entrust individuals to our care.”

CCA founded the private corrections management industry three decades ago, establishing industry standards for future-focused, forward-thinking correctional solutions. A commitment to innovation, efficiency, cost effectiveness and achievement has made the company the partnership corrections provider of choice for federal, state and local agencies since 1983. (This video was made in 2009 so when it is said they have 35 facilities is wrong. They have many more)

As a full-service corrections management provider, we specialize in the design, construction, expansion and management of prisons, jails and detention facilities, along with residential reentry services, as well as inmate transportation services through its subsidiary company TransCor America. We are the fifth-largest corrections system in the nation, behind only the federal government and three states. CCA houses nearly 70,000 inmates in more than 70 facilities, the majority of which are company-owned, with a total bed capacity of more than 80,000. CCA currently partners with all three federal corrections agencies (The Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement), many states and local municipalities.

Since our inception, CCA has maintained its market leadership position in private corrections, managing more than 40 percent of all adult-secure beds under contract with such providers in the United States. The company joined the New York Stock Exchange in 1994 and now trades under the ticker symbol CXW.

Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, CCA employs more than 13,000 professionals nationwide in security, academic and vocational education, health services, inmate programs, facility maintenance, human resources, management and administration. We are proud of the distinctions of having been named among “America’s Best Big Companies” by Forbes magazine and ranked number one in the publication’s “Business Services and Supplies” category and having been consistently named by G.I. Jobs magazine as a “Top Military-Friendly Employer.”  Being a part of the community also provides valuable economic benefits to our partners by paying property, sales and other taxes, and providing a stable employment base that focuses on building careers with unlimited growth and development opportunities. As a strong corporate citizen, recognized by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine, CCA contributes generously to host communities through volunteerism and charitable giving.

We offer offenders a variety of dynamic evidence-based reentry and rehabilitation programs, including education, addictions treatment, GED preparation and testing, post-secondary studies, life skills, employment training, recreational options, faith-based services and work opportunities. (For 11 years Jamie has not been able to study for his GED and I got him a fourth book and dictionary because somehow they disappeared)

As an enhanced focus on reentry, CCA’s community corrections facilities, specializing in providing work furlough, housing and rehabilitation in residential reentry centers. Our work is grounded in providing hope, direction and the best possible opportunity and environment for offenders within the communities we serve. We offer government agencies responsive, innovative and cost-effective solutions for offenders, including a variety of rehabilitation and education programs, including substance abuse treatment using the cognitive behavioral approach, a specialized women’s program, onsite Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings, life skills lessons, employment readiness, cultural diversity workshops, release planning and assistance in re-establishing family ties.

Protecting Those in Our Care

As stated in our Human Rights Policy statement, CCA recognizes the inherent dignity of the human person and the need to treat every individual with respect. Part of treating our inmates and detainees with respect is giving them a safe place to live. We believe in safeguarding their rights, including protecting them from being subjected to personal abuse/injury and harassment. (wow, that is a lie)

Zero Tolerance Policy

In compliance with Section 115.11 of the PREA regulation, CCA has established a Zero Tolerance Policy against all forms of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment. CCA has outlined an aggressive plan specifying the efforts we undertake to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to all allegations of conduct that falls into either category.

(If you have a prison of all men – and all women there is still going to be sex whether the other inmate likes it or not. Also, Jamie is a good looking black man and female guards proposition him for sex.  I say try, because he knows these women are having sex with other men who have had sex with men and the rate of AIDS and Hep C and other sexually transmitted diseases are high.)

Inmate Wellness

CCA Corrections provides inmates and detainees with the opportunity to pause and assess their lifestyles. For many, incarceration marks the first time in their adult lives when they will have seen a medical professional or received a regular and balanced diet. At CCA, we are proud to offer life-changing services that will enable men and women to find healthy paths toward wellness. We do this through a wide array of options, including:  (excuse me while I pause and go throw up)

Nutrition Services

Mealtime is very important in our everyday lives. Food is known as such an important aspect of correctional operations that it is often directly tied to inmate behavior and morale. Not only do breakfast, lunch and dinner help provide daily structure and routines, they also have an impact on overall health and wellness.

Nutrition service is a vital aspect of CCA operations. Guided by our individual government partners, CCA takes great care to offers meals that support specialized diets and cultural preferences, while conforming to rigorous nutritional guidelines. Our team of culinary experts relies on a library of nearly 700 recipes to meet the dietary needs of those in our care. All meals provided at CCA facilities are reviewed and approved by registered dietitians. On a daily basis, we provide meals that support religious diets and more than a dozen therapeutic diets. In fact, seven percent of those is our care receive specialized therapeutic diets that serve to support wellness for a wide array of medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnancy, and autoimmune diseases.

We take pride in our food service. In partnership with our partners, we maintain the highest standards, ensuring compliance with local health departments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the American Correctional Association. Additionally, all of our kitchen managers are trained and certified by ServSafe.

For many, incarceration serves as a much-needed opportunity to receive consistent access to quality nutrition services. When people have access to sufficient food, they are able to make better choices, increase learning abilities, and combat various health issues. Through something as fundamental as food, we are able to help guide inmates down a path toward health and wellness, both while in our care and after their release. 

Health Care

All too often, for many offenders, the first time they receive comprehensive health care is upon becoming incarcerated.

Upon intake at a CCA facility, inmates are screened so that our medical professionals may manage existing concerns and address any new diagnoses. A typical CCA facility has a medical unit where physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and medical assistants can provide routine check-ups, manage sick calls and address non-emergency needs. Our correctional health care facilities typically include a dental clinic, too.

For offenders who experience mental health problems, from emotional conflict to mental illness, we have a team of qualified mental health professionals to assist them with their needs. Offenders are screened upon arrival at each facility, and if needed, they’re referred to a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health specialist for follow-up evaluation and intervention.  We provide treatment in the form of medication, when needed, as well as group and individual counseling. All CCA staff receive training in the identification of mental health crises, and they refer offenders to the professional staff whenever they suspect someone is experiencing a problem. We constantly monitor the offender population for signs of declining mental health and suicide risk, working actively to assist a troubled offender in his or her time of need.

Our correctional health care teams are supported by a regional network of medical professionals across the country and are led by a talented team at the company’s headquarters. Additionally, CCA facilities leverage medical technology to securely automate medical records, scheduling, medication administration, pill call and pharmacy services.  (Fucking liars, pardon my French. They also erase files of illness they don’t want to treat and pretend it doesn’t exist.  They won’t give Jamie the seizure medication that works for him and give him something else.  it’s probably cheaper. I have talked to the drs and nurses and staff and everyone plays dumb – with a smile.)

Quality

CCA has a strong commitment to providing quality corrections services, working hard to live up to our own high standards as well as explicit guidelines, detailed requirements and rigorous oversight of government partners. The American Correctional Association, the independent gold standard for corrections management, has accredited more than 90 percent of CCA’s correctional facilities. These facilities have been rated on more than 500 standards in administrative and fiscal controls, staff training and development, physical plant, safety and emergency procedures, sanitation, food service, and rules and discipline. CCA also meets the standards of the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, the nation’s leading organization in ensuring quality health services inprisons, jails and detention facilities.

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(There is more but that is ALL I can stomach.  Seriously it makes me ill to know the things that have gone in the prisons Jamie has been in, the quality of the food; inmates cook it not big time professional chefs serving up delectable and nutritious meals. This is why I send him a $60 food box every 3 months.  That is the limit. He goes to the commissary once a month – if they aren’t on lockdown which is every three months and then they cut the food portions. If you made it to the end of this I heartily congratulate you. Now you know a little bit more of what they promote to stockholders in their profitable business venture. All of my notes are in this color.  Complete credit for the rest of the bullshit belongs wholeheartedly to CCA.)

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Make Ban the Box Better

This is so important – everywhere. When someone completes their time their sentence should be over – OVER! When you take into account that many are completing mandatory minimums the judge – who should be able to also determine the length of the sentence but can’t because his discretion has been taken away and all offenders must get the same sentence. So many prisoners were sentenced unfairly. Also, black community and poor neighborhoods have been unfairly targeted and can’t afford a private attorney and are forced into taking plea deals whether they are guilty or not. Because the prisons have an unfair percentage of black inmates to white inmates with a quickly rising Hispanic population anyone with half a brain can figure out the profit motivation being pushed by the prison corporations who are fighting to keep the mandatory minimum sentencing. It makes for a very profitable return on an investment for all shareholders. I would wager most shareholders are in the rich white category who want to keep the poor peons locked up because of the financial. Of course removing “ban the box” might allow more ex-felons get a job and get their lives together – instead of doing something illegal in order to eat.

This is but one thing that needs to happen to allow men and women re- entering society to have a chance to have a successful. It doesn’t really matter if they were guilty or not guilty, because we sure do have a lot of people in society who are guilty of something but never got caught, myself included. If they are free they shouldn’t need to keep telling people that in their past, 5-10-15-30 years ago they made a mistake and have to reiterate those facts of an earlier time in their lives. They already paid their dues.

RI Jobs with Justice

The rush to criminalize and punish has led to a draconian culture. There is an irrevocable nature to our penal system that has created a class of people that are marked, stigmatized, and isolated. We cannot propose on the one hand that all mistakes are permanent, and on the other hand we cannot live with the pretense that we live in society that believes in redemption. So rarely is being humane part of our criminal justice system, Ban the Box is an attempt to inject humanity into and often cruel system. When a debt to society is paid, it must be considered paid in full. When a sentence is over we must keep our promise not make a life sentence out of every conviction.

Ban the box.jpg

Rhode Island stepped up and provided a path for the formerly incarcerated to engage in the full economic life of RI. It is common sense, after…

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