The hardest lesson to learn in life is the one you realize, no matter what you do, there is nothing you can do to make it better. You can’t make up for it. But you can learn to pay attention to the things you do now, because there are effects to every cause we make, good and bad. These causes send our life in directions we often later regret. We can’t go back and do things over, but we can do things in the future a better way.
Because Jamie sits in prison, does that make him a bad person? Should one of his consequences be that people will now look at him through the lens of “once a loser always a loser?” These people – these people who committed a crime – they will always be criminals. They may deserve a second chance, but not near me; not in my neighborhood. Many people think that way. Inmates are judged harshly by people who don’t think of the things they did but didn’t get caught. Haven’t we all done things we aren’t proud of? I often read comments like this people have left at the end of articles.
One: there are four kinds of incarcerated people. People who should never be allowed to roam free among people because their crimes have proven they have no idea what the difference is between right and wrong. Two: We have no place to house the mentally ill. They don’t get the treatment they should and are instead put in solitary confinement cells and neglected until their insanity is complete. These people often die in prison from neglect. Three: There are those that made a stupid mistake. They aren’t a danger to society and want another chance to prove it. Four: The innocent, and there are quite a few of those if you take the time to read the pleas of help from people who are supporting people who have been charged with crimes they didn’t commit.
Judging from the number of people who were set free from prison, often after being incarcerated for decades, because they were finally proven innocent show you how deliberate the judicial system has been to lock up as many blacks and minorities as possible. These incarcerated people are just as valauble to the the corporations who want them for free labor as plantations owners were in the past who needed slaves. No difference. The blacks and minorities are often forced to take pleas by public defenders who work for the District Attorney, not the people they are supposed to be defending. These people either take the plea deal or they are threatened with having more charges added. This is what happened to Jamie. He wanted to go to court. He wanted to explain his side of the story, but he would never get that chance. He was told he had to accept the seventeen year plea deal or he could get up to ninety-nine years if he insisted on going to court. He became one more person to help fill quota the Prison Industrial Complex has been promised by our government. The corporations were the prisons will be kept full or they would be paid for each empty bed. No one cared what happened to the people. He was no longer a human being. He was a number.
So year after year Jamie sits in his prison cell and tries to live through the grief of his ruined life. His life is in the letters he wrote to me. After years of writing, I learned for the first time, why our prisons are continuously being built. At the time, though, I never even knew they were being built. It never made it into the news. The only people who understood what was happening was the black community, but if anything at all was said, it was to instill in the minds of white people that black people were dangerous, less intelligent, and they were lazy and didn’t want to work. But that was no more or less true of the white population, either. It just wasn’t talked about because white people had to keep the privilege of being white and that meant they needed to at least appear to be superior.
I thought, like everyone else, that the purpose of our prisons was to lock up bad people so it would be safe for everyone else. That is true. There are some extremely bad people in prison. But when a closer look is taken, it seems that in the 1980’s and 90’s our country spawned a very large number of people we needed to be protected from because more and more new prisons e. How come we had so many more dangerous people who needed to be locked up for the rest of their lives? There were so many more people who were given LWOP – life without parole. But the average person didn’t know this. It wasn’t reported in the news. It has only been only in recent years that we have been able to look back and see what has happened every year since the “War of Drugs” began. It finally came to light that the United States, who has 5% of the world’s population now had 25% of the world’s prisoners. To make it worse, there were 6 times more black people locked up than white people, even though 77% of our population is white and 13% is black as of the census report in 2014. One of every three black men can expect to spend time in prison during their life time. The government, the media and the people who own the prison corporations has done a hatchet job on the black population in America by making people believe black people were to be feared; they had the tendency to be criminals in their genes. The black race was expendable simply because they weren’t good enough to be white. Authorities were picking people off the street and jailing them for no other reason than walking down the street in colored skin; any color other than white. Now people know the truth, but changing their hearts is next to impossible.
I have hundreds of letters sent me over the years explaining the heartfelt grief he lives with because he was separated from his familhy. He is ultimately responsible because of the causes he made that wounded both his life and Morgan’s. He is a parent who has never had the chance to hold his son, so no matter what, he as a right to his grief.
This first excerpt was sent to me when his son was two and a half. We had been writing for about a year. It wasn’t an easy trip for her to make because it was sixteen hours of driving alone, not taking into account the need to stop for food and bathroom breaks for five people. Jamie’s mother drove with them to help with the kids. Jamie had seen his son only one time before this when he was a baby, still in a carrier. This was the happiest letter he ever wrote to me. This visit, when he could see him on his feet and running around, carried him through many bleak days and extremely lonely nights. This was one of five times he has seen him in nine and a half years, as of 2015, and at each visit there had been a piece of plexiglass between them. He has never been able to hold him. Even so, this visit created a memory he has relived a thousand times. It was also the last time he saw him until 2013, four years later. This separation caused him to feel so much guilt because he felt he had let his son down. He wasn’t there when he should have been. He had countless hours of time alone with nothing to do but think about this. These thoughts went around in his head on an endless loop.
Frustration was high for Jamie because there was nothing he could do to change anything. Morgan made it more difficult for him because of her lack of communication. But there are two sides to every story. This was not about her deliberately making life hard for him. For her it was about survival and trying to make a life for her and her four children, working two jobs because there was only having one income to support them. She had another child, and taking all the children to the prison and paying the expenses along the way was hard. She was exhausted all the time because she rarely had a day off. Eventually it became a long time and she went on with her life. Jamie couldn’t go on with his and he became bitter. He only wanted to see his son. But it just wasn’t his son. No one in his family seemed to care enough to be there for him. Years went by between visits from his mother. He felt forgotten. I know what it feels like to think your family doesn’t care about you. It was hard for him to see it any other way than what it was.
Morgan had to prioritize what was important so she could take care of her children. She didn’t stop writing to Jamie because she stopped caring that he was the father of their son. She did it because of the emotional overload of dealing with it. She couldn’t be responsible for Jamie’s happiness while working seventy hours a week taking care of the needs of her children. Was it right or wrong? It is not for anyone else to judge. It is only unfortunate that sometimes our decisions end up hurting other people. It will be up to both of them at a later date, after he is released from prison, to see what puzzle pieces fit together so they can both be parents to their son.
AN INMATE ONLY HAS ONLY MEMORIES
June 1, 2009
How are you? Fine I hope. As for me I am as happy as can be. Thanks to you I was able to see my wife and kids. ( Sonni’s note: He and Morgan were not married, but they did fill out a common law marriage form that never got filed, so in his mind he considered her to be his wife and she identified herself to any prison official as being his wife so they would talk to her.)
Thank you. I love you so much for helping to make this happen. We had fun. We talked and laughed and shared our love with one another. Me and the kids talked a lot. They were just as happy to see me as Morgan, I think. We talked about how they were doing in school, and about the things they were going to do for the summer. I really enjoyed talking to them. It was like spending time with them at home. Me and Jamie had fun talking to each other, too. He’s a real good talker. Ha ha. That boy can run, too. He’s short, but fast. If there is one thing I know he loves, it’s money! Every few minutes he wanted to go to the machines. He also knows right from wrong. He kept running off but when he saw me get up and look at him he came right back every time.My little one, my son, he is the most cute boy. Me and him, we tried to talk. (smile)
Me and my mom talked a while and then Morgan and I spent the last hour talking, sharing our love for one another. I love her so much and my heart goes out to her. She is the best thing to ever happen to me. She is the most beautiful woman I ever met and she has the most beautiful voice! Without her and the kids there is no ‘me’. That is why I’m staying out of trouble and staying to myself so I can try to make my first parole (it didn’t happen). I want to be with my family so bad. Seeing them was so wonderful.
Two days later . . .
So how’s things in the Keys? Alyssa said she was ready to come visit. I told her to have fun. She said she couldn’t wait to help out at the store. Thank you again for all your help. I love you always.
I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Morgan’s daughter got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right they couldn’t have a contact visit.
She is a very smart young lady. She told me she wants to be a doctor. I told her to stay positive and do good in school and she can do anything she sets her mind on doing. Alex told me I look different. I told him it’s because I have on glasses. I didn’t wear them when I was at home. We talked about him going to visit his dad. I think it’s good Morgan is giving him a chance to spend time with him. I feel that every man or woman should be given a second chance unless they don’t want to live the right path. I think it’s good she’s giving his dad another chance to get to know him. Maybe they will build a better father-son relationship. I pray they will get along okay.
So, how are you mom, really? How is Mike doing? I can’t wait to come home so I can come and visit with you, mom. Maybe I could even help around the house or the store you have in Key West. Morgan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, neither. I’ve been on a plane, though. To tell the truth I’ve never been outside Texas. So that is something I want to do with my family. Explore different states and sights. It would be fun I think. It would be fun to be a truck driver but I doubt that could happen with my epilepsy. I would love to drive all over the country.
Well, mom, I’ve got to go.
I love you, your son-in-law.
IN PRISON STILL WAITING FOR MY FAMILY TO CARE
April 1, 2011
April fool’s day! Except I think it’s been me who has been the fool. But I pray that you’re okay, as well as Morgan and the kids. Things have been real scary the past few weeks. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been hard because I feel as though everyone has given up on me. No one writes to check on me, or even to say hi. I’ve lost faith in them and myself as well. I have been so down.
I’ve been getting into trouble. I feel there’s no reason to try anymore. I feel this way because I don’t even know how my little Jamie is doing. The way things are going I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see or hear from him again. It hurts me to sit and think like this, but as time passes and I don’t hear anything, the worst comes to mind.
I’ve sat in my cell and cried so many times because my heart is telling me I’m losing him. Also, because the thought of my family giving up on me is really hard to take. I guess it was just a matter of time, really, to tell the truth. I don’t plan on making it home. It’s hard to not look for the worst of things in here. Lord knows, I want to make it home to everyone, but why go back to a place where no one loves or cares about you. Then I just know little Jamie will hate me for not being there for him. I felt the same way about my dad. It’s really going to hurt me to have my only child hate me.
But how are you? Is everything okay? I thought I would give you some time before I wrote again. I know you must be tired and have other things you’d like to do. However, as long as you are blessed and okay, then I am okay as well. How is Morgan?. Tell her I miss her and I really would like to hear from her. Well, I’m out of time. I hope I hear from you real soon. Love you. Tell Morgan and the kids I love them. Would you ask her if she would call my brother and see if he can send some money for hygiene products please.
PRISON SENTENCES ARE JUST AS LONG FOR CHILDREN
I’m just lonely and it hurts. I miss everyone so much. It seems as if no one cares at all how I’m doing. And it bothers me that the woman I care so much for isn’t worried about my health or well being. No one stays in touch with me at all. It hurts that Morgan is treating me as if I’m not Jamie’s dad. What I mean is, she don’t tell me nothing about how he’s doing. Everything I know comes from you. I’m very thankful for that. I would love to hear from Morgan once or twice a month. What’s so hard about that? I get mad and try to write her to let her know I’m mad but I end up throwing the letter away. I tell myself it’s all my fault I’m here. Then again, it’s no reason for her to not stay in touch. If not for her then for the kids. I do love them and miss them so much.
It hurts so much not being there for Jamie. I’ve missed out on so much. I’m trying. I’m staying clear of trouble. I come up for parole on July 27, 2014. That’s one reason why I try to stay in touch with everyone. If these people decided to give me parole and they can’t get in touch with nobody I will have to wait for them to find me a half way house. I’m being treated like an unknown person by them.
So, if it stays like this, why should I try? My son is young and he has dyslexia. It’s hard for him to write. But still, Megan could give him some paper and let him color a picture for me. EVERY little thing touches my heart. I miss him so much. I sit here trying to read and my mind wanders thinking of everyone, from the night me and Morgan met, even to the day I met her dad, to the day I first met my son. That was the most wonderful moment in my life. Please talk to Morgan for me. Ask her what’s wrong. Why don’t she write to me? Tell her all she has to do is let me know. I can’t put up too much of an argument here. I just want the truth, that’s all. I’m going to close this letter. Take it easy, okay? Take one day at a time. The pain will be over soon and things will be just as beautiful as before. I love you mom.
I LOVE YOU ALWAYS, DADDY
August 4, 2014
(This is a letter Jamie wrote after his son’s eighth birthday. He included a letter he wanted me to send to his son.)
I sit and think a lot. I sit and think about how life will be when I get home, wherever that is. A lot of this has been frustrating. Father’s day was real hurtful for me. It was on a weekend. I didn’t hear from or see Morgan with Jamie, or from anyone else, either. I was hoping that since it was a weekend that she’d bring my son. Oh well, it wasn’t a surprise to me. And now Jamie just had his birthday. 8 years old. It hurts like hell that I didn’t get to see him on his birthday. I’m having something made for him. I spent everything I had left to get it done. It’s still not finished. Would you call him please and tell him I did not forget him? Tell him I love him and happy birthday. I wrote him a letter would you send it to him? I sold my food to get a stamp to send this letter to you.
(Jamie’s letter to his son) Guess who? Yes it’s me, Daddy. First I want to say I’m sorry this is so late. I have never forgotten about you. Not did I forget about your birthday. I’m getting something made for you. You will like it when you see it. I love you Jamie. I will always love you.
So happy birthday from a father to his son. I will always love you no matter what. Life is hard but we’re blessed to have it. We’re blessed to have each other. Strong faith will always keep us together. Even if I’m not home, believe, my love is so strong!! No one can break our chain of love we have for each other and that I have for you. I know it hurts, me not being home, but know that I think about you all the time. I didn’t forget your birthday and never will.
What did you do for your birthday? I hope you had lots of fun!! If I was there we would have lots of stuff to do together. Movies, swimming, basketball, football, fishing. Lots of stuff. I couldn’t be there with you because of a poor choice I made a long time ago and I’m sorry. Making a poor choice will hurt your life, son. So be sure to live life in a positive way. Stay away from trouble, drugs and stupidity. Nobody means you any good if they are trying to get you to do wrong. Stay in school and pay good attention. Work hard for what you want. I did not do that and that is why I’m in jail. Listen to me son, nothing is worse than having your freedom taken away. Please stay away from trouble. Pay close attention to your education.
I love you always, Daddy
A PRISON CELL IS THE LONELIEST PLACE TO BE
November 12, 2014
It’s ok. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else. And I will chant for you, too, I promise I will.
I ask myself over and over, why won’t Morgan come and bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Morgan, I guess, feels different. Maybe I should try to get moved to another unit. I would probably have to get in trouble, though, to do that. That wouldn’t be good. But if I was moved father away from home then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away” or “I can’t afford the gas”. Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. Maybe Morgan just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that but it’s hard not to.
If I knew people cared as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you I would know nothing. Megan has kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why would she want to hurt me like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. There are lots of people with lots on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.
I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. My (biological) mom came to visited me last year. First time in at least 5 years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple units that were far away. Clear across Texas. Too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. I was really glad to see her.
It would be good if I could get Morgan to take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along too good right now. The person who misses out the most is Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. It gets me depressed just thinking about.
PRISON VISIT – ONE YEAR UPDATE
May 4, 2015
It’s really cold. I think it maybe snowed but I can’t tell for sure because I can’t see out a window anymore. I never get any sun at all. In my last cell there was a window and I could see outside. I would pretend I was out there. If you’ve never been locked up you wouldn’t know how it feels to have no control over anything you do. You can’t make anything change. There is so much space in my head. I try hard to fill it up with things but sooner or later I give up and go to sleep.
Some years back, before you got sick , you wrote and told me to imagine we were outside riding bikes and we would ride to the top of a hill, meet there, and have a picnic. We could do that together at the same time. It would be a way for me to escape. It was really the first time I talked about how powerful the mind is and how important it is to have hope. You told me over and over how important my life is. I don’t understand what you saw in me, but I’m glad you did. It’s like my family washed their hands of me. It wasn’t important to let me know they still loved me. It was like I died or something. You kept me from disappearing or at the least become like so many people in here who have no hope. This place has a way of making you feel really small and you took hold of me and taught me how to keep it together.
I’ve been thinking about my son a lot. I was so happy to see him in October (2013) when Morgan came. I wanted to see him so bad. He’s all I have. He’s the only thing I have that makes life worth living. He’s the only real thing that proves I lived. I don’t think Morgan really understands how important he is to me. The thought of him keeps me trying. I didn’t want to feel sure she would really bring him to see me. I didn’t even know for sure if they were coming. You told me she was trying to make sure she would make it. Morgan kept saying she would but something always got in the way. Really, I about gave up because the disappointment was too hard to bear. She said she’d come before and then couldn’t. But this time, when the officer came to my cell and told me I had visitors, well all I can say is that this big feeling of happiness came over me and I smiled so big. I was finally going to see my son. She had her two other sons with her.
Before that day, it was hard knowing he was out there and I couldn’t see him. I wondered if he was going to be angry with me when he grew up for not being there. Maybe he would be ashamed for anyone to know his dad was in prison. I’m so sorry I can’t be there for him right now. I know I can’t expect Morgan to stay by herself till I get out. She’ll have another man in her life but it would rip me up if my son called some other man dad. Or if some man tried to come between me and my son.
I’m missing all of these years with him I can never get back. When I saw him he was really shy. It was hard to get him to talk to me. I can’t blame him for that. He was probably scared. He was hardly more than a baby the last time he saw me. I want so badly to be able to give him a hug and tell him how much I love him. More than anything he is the one thing in my life that gives me the reason to want to get out of here and have a good life. I want to be a good father. Having him is the only thing I have done right. He’s the only good thing I have.
Morgan doesn’t write to me very often. I’ve begged her to so many times. I think she would if she really wanted to. Instead of telling me the truth she gives me all of these excuses like she wrote a bunch of letters but her boyfriend or whoever found them and threw them away every single time she wrote one. It was one excuse after the other. I think if someone wanted to write a letter they would find a way to get it into the mailbox without getting caught. She shouldn’t need to sneak. Nothing anyone can do will make me not exist. I will always be his father. She should be able to write a letter and tell me about my boy without getting into trouble. So that doesn’t make sense.
Why doesn’t she hardly send me any pictures? Sometimes I get out all the pictures I have and I go over them one by one and think of all the memories I have. I just stare at them and make them part of my day and pretend I am in the picture instead of being here.
THERE IS NO WAY TO BE A DAD IN PRISON
July 17, 2015
Morgan is with another man. Jamie accepts that man because he is little. But it isn’t the same as having your own dad. When Morgan and I were together, her other kids, Alex and Alyssa accepted me, not just because I was with Morgan, but because I loved her, and them. When I was young my dad wasn’t there, but I didn’t accept anyone else even though there were other men in my mom’s life. Do you see where I’m going? Some dads have a chance, but not many. Some men try to be a dad and some don’t. Some don’t care about other men’s kids. They don’t feel any responsibility to them and they don’t love them. But I love all Morgan’s kids. I think of all of them as mine. I wish I knew more about how they are doing. I want Jamie to know that even though I can’t be there every day I love him so much. I care how he is doing in school. I wish I could know more about how his school day is and what he is learning. I hope his writing gets better so he can write to me, even if it is only a sentence or two. That would make me happy. But I can tell you, I could never accept my son bonding with another man. I am his father, his only father.
I should be able to see Jamie once or twice a month. What’s twice a month? Is that too much to ask? I have seen him so little. I want to be able to talk to him. I want him to see me. I want to tell him how important he is to me. I understand we have to get to know each other through letters, but the thing is, he’s only seven. You and I understand the rough road in life and we can explain things in letters. Jamie can’t do that. But he is important so I have to find a way to get through to him. I need to change things for him so he never goes through what I’m going through. I can start that by changing who I am. Change the karma. That will affect his life, too.
Chapter – Everyday Dreams
http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick original piano music recorded throughout 2015