This is Jamie’s most recent letter. It was difficult for him to write and difficult for me to transcribe. Criminals need to be locked up. There is no question about that. There are some pretty screwed up people out there, but I also know there is a business structure to the prison system to make sure, once they have you, they plan on keeping you. Because sentences are incredibly long, far beyond the point of being necessary, it makes it impossible for 71% of parolees to assimilate back into society. Look at that percentage. After five years only 29% don’t go back. Quite often it is for breaking a rule, not for committing a crime. These 8 years I’ve been writing to Jamie, I have come to know his was a life, was a life unnecessarily destroyed – by many factors. Being black is the greatest factor. No father, little structure because it’s a single parent home, a cop the family had trouble with, who barges into their house when he was sixteen and hurt his mother, being sent to juvy for 9 months for hitting the cop with a broom, and not let out for 4 years. There are so many kids who are product of the community they are raised in, and when you are black, the odds against you and the odds that you will be put through this system is much greater than it is for white kids. That is a fact. Not an opinion. It set him on a course it was meant to go – to lead to prison. Jamie is guilty of being born black – walking while black – who had the possibility of an education taken away. He never knew we was allowed to have a dream for his future. Without having an education, what is the likelihood of working, especially being born with epilepsy? Where was his father? He is a retired cop who wanted nothing to do with him as a child. If he had helped to raise him could this story have turned out different? His mother and father are now married. It happened about a year ago. Jamie didn’t even know it happened when it did. He has reached out to his father and getting nothing in return. So now at age 32, the man Jamie is will have to be strong. Beat the system that is set up for him to fail. he went in a boy and has to come out a man, without having the benefit of life’s experiences to guide him – when he is paroled, whenever that is. This is why I write this blog and why I write the book, ‘inside out’. Type that in search and pull up the chapters I have posted. It will give you insight to solitary confinement. Is Jamie a bad man? Does he have the mind of a criminal? You judge for yourself.

Please comment, rate or leave your email information to know when “InsideOut” will be published

This is my new improvisation recorded march 22, 2015.  Title – “I’m Sorry”  by Sonni Quick  copyright 2015

walking while black, police brutality,Jamie Cummings,school to prison pipeline, juvy to prison, juvy
Walking While Black
photo credit: galleryhip.com

Hello mom,

Everything happens for a reason. What the reason is for I don’t know. Even me. Look at my situation. Look at the roads I have been down these last nine years. It’s just life. You’re right, I’m not alone. I’m not lonely either because I have you on my side ((smile)) We have helped each other out.

I sit in my cell and think about many things. I think about it so much and so many different things confuse me. Crazy huh? I ask myself a lot of the questions you ask me. About my son. About my family and most of all about how come my dad has been with my mom for almost a year and he has not tried to contact me? Even when I took the first step and reached out to him. Not in so many words. But I did let him know I wanted to get to know him. His birthday was this month. I sent him a card. Nothing yet. Why? Why don’t he write to me? I have questions I’ve asked myself for years.

I’ll try to answer your questions the best I can. But it really hurts, growing up without a dad. Then I never really had much of a young life. I mean, I had one, but not one a kid would like. I love my mother. Always will, but growing up knowing everybody’s dad, but mine. All for of us. We each had our own dad. Being home while they went to stay at their dad’s and dad’s family – it hurt. I’m the only child who never knew his dad or his family. Why me? What did I do to deserve this?

Question for you. Why did I have to lose my life? When I was 16 going on 17 I was sent to TYC. Texas Youth Commission. I was told I had to do 9 months. However, I was a young black male and was lied to by the courts. I ended up doing 4 years. While locked up I lost an aunt. I only had one visit from my mom due to the distance and miles from home. At times I got so angry I used to give the people problems. I would fight. Make them chase after me, spray me with pepper spray and even place me on suicide watch because of my depression. I was placed on two (BMPs), Behavior Management Programs. The first, because of being in so much trouble. The second was because I broke an officers nose. He poked and poked at me and kept calling me nigger. I finally lost control and hit him. I know I had a problem with anger, and but I a teenager who was already angry at being here in the first place. I could only take so much of him trying to make me come back at him. He pushed me because he eventually knew I’d fight back. So who’s fault was it? Was it all mine? Was I supposed to be the better person and ignore this asshole? And since there was nobody else that witnessed it, of course his story was different from mine. I just hauled off and hit him for no reason? But no one believed me because their staff don’t treat the boys like that. The officer filed charges on me. He knew what he was doing. I was handcuffed and taken to the county jail in Brownwood, Tx.

I got there and lost it cause I knew what was ahead of me. They was trying to send me here to prison. They ended up having me see a doctor because I stopped eating and was real depressed. The doctor spoke to the judge I guess because of instead of sending me to prison I went to a state hospital for depression. This was in 2004. I was 21. I stayed there maybe a month at the most. I didn’t like it. I’d been away from home for so long it was killing me.Then to be placed in a state hospital near Oklahoma really hurt. There was no way anybody could come visit me even if the wanted to. It was too far away. My life had been upside down for so long.

When I got out I went home. My family was waiting for us with a party for me. However the drive was so long, when my mom and cousin came to pick me up, they both needed to rest. We stopped in Dallas. We finally made it to Nacogdoches, my hometown, about 10:00. Everybody had just about had left. There was a few cousins and an old friend I went to school with. So much for a party. Everything was gone. I really didn’t care. I was home.

But get this, I went to my cousin’s house that same night. I visited for awhile and and then started walking home. In the apartment complex my cousin lived, they had guards after 10:00. So, I’m on my way home and the officer stops me. I explained that I was visiting my cousin and was on my way home. They asked me to step into the office. I did, and the next thing I knew I was in the back seat of a police car for trespassing. I was ‘walking while black’. I wasn’t even home one day, but I spent the next two days in jail. For what? My mom came and got me out.

I went to court for the case and guess who I seen? I seen the lawyer that was my lawyer four years ago. Now he was a judge. He did not know who I was at first. He ask me my name and I told him. He asked me who my mama was. It hit him. He ask how I was doing. I told him that I had just now come back from TYC. He looked at me crazy, as if he didn’t know that the 9 months I was sentenced to lasted 4 years. I told him he lied to me. He looked shocked. He asked what I was doing in front of him. I told him about visiting my cousin and he dropped the case.

I was home for one year. I met a beautiful woman who I fell hard for. I enjoyed spending time with her as well as her kids. Then later in our little relationship I was told I had a child on the way. I was excited because I was having my first child, yet worried because I had no job to support this child. The money I was getting I was getting illegal. Life is full of choices. Sometimes we don’t learn to think ahead about our choices. I made a bad choice by leaving the house that night. She didn’t want me to leave home the night that situation happened. That was a bad choice I made that night, but I didn’t realize it was a bad choice. Now I have a son who is almost 9 years old, who I’ve only seen a handful of times. What makes this so difficult is that this places his mother in a difficult place, too. It makes me worry about her and the kids.

I’m going to to end this. I’ve been going and going. This has been hard to write. It hurts to bring it up and think about it all over again.

Love always, Son

I forgot a few things. I’m going to try and remember as much as I can. I don’t like the past. I got the box you sent me you ordered from commissary. You also asked what I meant when I said I get snacks. A snack is a peanut butter sandwich or some kind of meat sandwich. I get because at night I wake up with terrible headaches and I’m dizzy. One day , when I had a seizure because of my epilepsy I came to know my sugar is low. Since I’m in lockup I had to tell them I’m supposed to get these snacks. One of the officers here is young, maybe 22 at the most. He just started working here. They pick up bad habits quick. Anyway, I’m talking to him and another comes up with my snack. This young dude takes the sandwich and pulls it apart and spits in it. All I could see was red. He talked shit but another inmate called to him and told him a few things about me. Let’s just say he seen me in action a few times. I have to be able to defend myself in here when I need to.

Till next time, Love you.

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