Something positive is happening inside a Maryland prison
Facilitators of the Alternative Violence Project ( AVP at the maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown insites you to join us for our annual “AVP Recognition Night”
Tuesday July 21, 2015 at 7 PM
The program includes and opportunity to meet and hear from
inmate and community volunteers who are AVP volunteers
Founded and developed from the real life experiences of prisoners and others, encouraging every person’s innate
power to positively transform themselves and the world AVP is a non profit national and international program
which is run entirely by volunteers both in prisons and in the community
Why am I posting this? This is the next step for me in completing my journey. I have been writing this blog for almost a year and a half. Earlier this year I began writing the book Inside the Forbidden Outside. Many people have been following the story of Jamie Cummings. I have received many heartfelt responses and also many comments from people who had no idea what our prison system is about, and now they do. Nothing can change until people are aware there is something to change.
There have been a lot more articles in the media about these glaring problems, and it has already become part of the issues next years presidential candidates are choosing to talk about. Not because they believe in what they are saying, but because it has become a hot topic. Of course, each party blames the other party for being the country that has locked up the highest percentage of it’s citizens, especially the gap between black and white which is six to one. It’s almost as though they are noticing it for the first time.
What this tells me, the time to write this book is now. Over the year and a half it will be in the news more than it ever has been. Between the racism in our police force which leads to the racism in our prisons, which starts at the juvenile level, there is no better time than the present to step up my involvement.
I know a lot. I have researched every side of these issues. I have my experiences with Jamie Cummings and also Armando Macias on San Quentin’s death row, who also gets the bad end of the stick when it comes to racism. One important thing I am lacking, for this book to be successful, is the credibility of having hands on experience inside the prison system. Being able to work with people who are familiar with this system from the inside will be another piece of puzzle of that will help make this work.
Books aren’t written and then magically appear for sale. There has to be a funnel to send it out. The old days of sending a manuscript to a publisher and they take it over, give money up front and then promote your book and send you on book tours is over – unless you are an accomplished writer with a proven track record. That certainly isn’t me. But I do believe what I’m writing has value. Since I am self publishing I need to wear ten hats.
My main concern is when Jamie gets paroled – what then? Seriously, what then? Will they even parole him without having a GED, although it is the prison who has made sure he couldn’t study for it. 68% of all males in state and federal prisons do not have a GED. Does he move to his mother’s house, a house he has never lived in, with the man she recently married she claims is his real father, who never acknowledged him? That could be tense. How about moving in with family who showed him no support during his incarceration? No, “Hi Jamie, how are you? Remember, we love you!” How about finding a job in a small East Texas town that until twenty five years ago had unpaved streets in the black (ghetto) part of town? What would he do to earn money? It sounds pretty bleak to me.
This is what I see in my head: With book in hand, holding his head high, talking to communities, schools, boys and girls clubs, churches and other places, about the issues that lead kids through the juvy system and into the prisons right where the prison industrial complex wants them. The school to prison pipeline is very real and finally in the past year has been recognized as a real problem that needs to be addressed. The 6 to 1 odds come from the fact that the police raid these neighborhoods 6 times more than white neighborhoods. They are instructed to stay out of white neighborhoods because parents of these kids wouldn’t stand for it. Even in schools it is a fact that black kids are punished much harsher than white kids for doing the same things. These things need to change. Jamie’s experience can be used for positive change. His experience is not unique, but it takes someone with a desire to change, to use that experience to help people. If he needs me to lean on until he gets his bearings, then that is okay. During this time I will be writing the second book – his life on the outside.
How will I get the knowledge to do these things? Why would anyone listen to me if I approached them about setting up a community meeting? Who am I? I know that Texas has the same kind of volunteer services at their prisons as I am sure most all states, do. I live closest to the Maryland prisons and I was given the contact to call. It is my way in. Through the different services they provide along with different kinds of workshops with the inmates as well as training for people who want to learn how to facilitate a workshop is where I begin the process of credibility. They look for people with the ability to get up and speak to a room full of people, which I have no problem with.
The next step will learning how to translate that to Texas. Jamie needs to be able to tell the parole board why he should be released next Oct 2016. He needs to have a plan. Another inmate in a different prison told me if he could find a way to start a group inside the prison, perhaps fathers with children who are also separated from them it will show he is thinking about his future. How to accomplish that is a mystery, but maybe I can learn how that can happen, through the new experiences I will have.
I’m excited. When you want to do something bad enough, and you have no doubt you can do it, doors open up. I have unshakable belief I can do this.
writings. Help me build a larger readership base. I know this isn’t a fun topic. I’ve had two people in the last 24 hours who told me they couldn’t “like” my post – because they didn’t “like” what it was about. Feeling good about it is not the point. I want you to share it because you don’t like it, because it needs to change.