I recently found letters from Jamie going back to early 2009. There are older ones, but I haven’t unpacked them yet from when I moved to Pa almost 5 years ago. Jamie had been inside for 3 1/2 years by now, staring at the inside of a concrete cell, the days slowly ticking by, reading and rereading the same books and letters, waiting every day for a letter to come from someone. Anyone. I was still living in Key West at the time waiting for my liver to totally crap out on me, a ticking time. I still had my retail store catering to tourists coming off the cruise ships. Looking out the store door I could beautiful turquoise water, palm trees and beautiful sunsets. I rode a bicycle for transportation because why drive anywhere for just a few blocks? I loved my life there.

Jamie cummings before prison
Jamie, the day I met him

Thanksgiving, 2006 I met my daughter’s boyfriend, Jamie, while visiting Texas. he was a very nice, shy young man. There was no way of knowing that in just a few months the world would come crashing in for him and my daughter’s since she was pregnant by him at this time, although she didn’t tell me. When Jamie got busted she moved to the Keys and stayed with me until the baby was a year old and then moved back to Texas. One day the thought crossed my mind to write to him and ask him how he was.

I didn’t know anything about prisons or prison life. Like anyone else, my knowledge came from TV and the movies. I didn’t actually know anyone inside. I’ve learned a great deal since then. This put my life into a direction I didn’t know it was going to go in. It was because he had no one else and his family wasn’t answering his letters nor giving him any help in any way. Help didn’t mean that it had to be money, although I’ve helped him enough to get hygiene products, some books, stamps and magazines. The real help was being his friend. Taking the time to let him know that someone cared. The longer the time passed the less and less he heard from anyone and no would send him even a nickle. I became “Mom”. He became “Son” I have never regretted one moment of it. I can honestly say I haven’t gotten much of any encouragement from my own family. he had been written off as a lost cause, or the term, “Once a loser, always a loser” was used. But I don’t buy that. I gotten to know him well enough to know there is a good person in there who with the right encouragement can have a life of value. So I refuse to give up. I want what I write to go wide and go deep. I know there is a way to turn a negative into a positive if that is what you want.

Since 2006 his life has changed little. Mine changed rapidly, because outside prison life doesn’t stop. He hasn’t even been allowed to see daylight for three months. So far he has spent well over 4 years in lockup with only his letters and books to keep his sanity. Many people in solitary lose their sanity . And if you have read any other chapters excerpts at Inside The Forbidden Outside then you have read about the effects of solitary confinement.

If you are in gen pop ( general population) with the rest of the inmates, it’s a very unsafe place to be. There are many who have nothing to lose and they have a law they abide that belongs to them. There are short times he made it up the levels – Ad seg, which is solitary or G5, then G4 then G2. He made it once to G2 for a short tyouime and could make phone calls for the first time, but that didn’t last long. He wanted to study for his GED and maybe learn a trade, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would find a way to knock him down again, and they did. When the prison owns you, they own you. You can trust no one. The guards can often as bad as the criminals only they get away with. They have their own kind of prison politics and I can promise you there is no justice in prison. Their special kind of crime is legal in there and torture is common. No, prison is not a place you want to be in.

What happens when he comes up for parole again in Oct of 2016? What happens when they ask him what he has done to “better” himself? He could say, “Gee whiz? What exactly could I do when you keep me locked in a 5’x 8′ cell, allowing guards to file false cases against me that i can’t fight and I can never win?”

Am I naive to think that I can write a book and somehow it will make a difference? That it will allow him to rise above the rest and they will see he should be let out? They will see he is a real person who only wants to go home and be a dad to a boy that no one will take to take him to visit with him? He is his reason for living. Can I make enough money from the book that it will help him be able to have a life? There is a prejudice against x-felons. it’s a life that society won’t want him to have because he will be someone people will be afraid of. His son is the only good thing he has to look forward to in his life, and that boy is my grandson, one of seven grandchildren. So I keep writing and I keep my determination high that I can do something for him that will make a difference.

Through these years of writing, in almost every single letter, he is waiting, constantly waiting to get the letters answered he wrote to all the people who were supposed to love him. Always waiting. Surely they will write back soon. Maybe they were working too hard or just busy. So after hundreds of letters he and I have written – he’s still waiting – and giving excuses because he wants to believe he matters.

I decided to give a little background history because I know many new readers don’t know his story and may not go back to the beginning. I hope you do take the time to read and I hope you go to the menu at the top and read the pages there as well as the posts. There is also a page of piano music links that has all the music I have written that are scattered on these posts. Music that expresses the emotions I feel when I write his story. I hope you take the time to listen.

Thanks for reading my rant. Sometimes I just have to get it off my chest. Follow the blog and keep up with his story and share it with people you know. The more readers I get, the more possible books I will sell. Help me help him. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “A Little Prison Life History . . . Why it Matters

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