This was originally posted over a year ago and I decided to post it again. With so many posts to read to learn about Jamie, it is easy after all this time for his story to get lost. Why does this matter? How did he get caught up in the school to prison pipeline that led to prison, as it does for a very high percentage of youth. Not only is their education is taken away, their self esteem is lost. They are not expected to succeed, and many don’t have parents who care. It became just as easy for kids to be put in solitary confinement as adults. They are sexually exploited. They become angry and they give up. They become the next crop of adults who feed the prison industrial complex. A different kind of slavery, but slavery none the less. Juvenile detention has only one direction – Do not pas go. Go directly to prison. They belong to the system now. And who cares? Not many.
Why is police racism encouraged by their superiors? Why do they look in the other direction or do whatever they can so these legal criminals don’t have to pay the price for their actions? In the part few years especially, it has become so much worse. Police brutality is off the charts. Why has it been more difficult for black kids than white kids? Why do blacks kids get taken to jail for simply walking down a street after dark because a white man “thought” he looked suspicious even though he hadn’t done anything wrong? Why are kids handcuffed in school for reasons that not long ago only got detention? Why? Because it became profitable.
There are still so many misconceptions by the average American because he gets his “news”, and I use that term loosely, from the media who is paid to report things in a biased way, or he learns from TV shows that aren’t based on reality, yet it is taken as truth.
Before I met Megan I had only been home for 9 months. I had done just 4 years in Texas Youth Commission, better known as TYC. I was placed in there in 2000 when I was not yet seventeen. The charge was assaulting a police officer. This never should have happened. The cop was harassing our family. It was his fault. But when you’re black and the cop is white it’s always your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it. I always seemed to do something to get me in trouble. I’m beginning to understand that karma has a way of doing that to you. This is the story of what happened that day.
My older brother and I got into a fight in the front yard. He had an amp for music in his car. I took it to a friend’s house across the street. I went back to get it but it was gone. I don’t blame my brother for being mad at me. He thought I sold it. We weren’t little kids and we fighting pretty good. My mama yelled at us to come in the house. There were four of us kids. Raising us wasn’t easy. I have two brothers and a sister. My mom had to play the part of both parents and work all the time to take care of us.
As she was talking to us inside the house about what happened outside there was a knock on the door. When my mama answered it there was a police officer standing there. One of the neighbors must of called them. The officer wanted to speak to my brother and me but my mama said no, she had everything under control. The officer didn’t listen to her and called to us anyway. My mama told him again she had everything under control. She was the parent. It should have ended there. Then my mama tried to close the door and the officer stopped her by putting his foot in the door. He pushed the door open again. My brother and I stood up. We told him again that we had everything under control. He was determined that he was going to get inside the house. He pushed the door open so hard that my mama fell to the floor. She broke her wrist. I knew this was going to be bad. We had problems with this officer before. He was bad news. I helped my mama up off the floor and my brother went after the officer for hurting her. The officer maced him. When he did that my anger let loose and I hit him with a broom! His arm was all cut up from the straws. Then my little brother came into the room and it was just hell. My sister was pregnant but if she wasn’t she would have gone after him, too.
My mama was taken to the hospital and my sister went with her. My older brother was placed in the back of the cop car. He was so angry because the officer maced him that he kicked out the car window. Me and my little brother were put in a different car because we were minors. Let’s just say that I got the short end of the stick. After a while everyone got to go home except me. I was sent to do 9 months in the TYC.
When I got there I stayed in my room and didn’t talk to anyone. I said to myself that nine months in juvy isn’t that bad. I could do it. I did everything I was told to do. I went to school and attended groups. I waited and waited as time passed. Finally, the day came for me to leave. At least I thought it was supposed to be the day I was going to leave. I was packed and ready to go when they told me I couldn’t go home. I didn’t believe it. I got really upset and asked them why? I did everything I was supposed to do. They told me I didn’t have my level four to go home. I said I didn’t know nothing about needing a level four . My lawyer didn’t tell me and he didn’t tell my mom neither about any of this. They told me again I couldn’t go home so I went to my room and slammed the door. I sat in my room and cried. I just wanted to go home. Then I started kicking the door and walls. I really wasn’t trying to listen to anyone because I was lied to. There was so much anger inside. I started throwing the stuff I had packed to leave. An officer came and I was sent to 23 hour lock up in security.
disclaimer: This is not Jamie, but it is a locked up child
From then on everything with me was always on the negative side. I caused all kinds of problems with school. I got into fights in the dorms. I would take off running around the campus. I did everything I could to rebel. I got into it with the staff. It went from a nine month sentence to them keeping me there for four years. I was so angry. I shouldn’t be there in the first place. Things went up and down with me. But at some point I finally stopped and started thinking. I wanted to go home. I needed to do the right things that would get me home.
(Sonni’s note: It always sounded fishy to me seeing the reason he was locked up. What kid would not defend their family in their own home. Isn’t it the same with the gun issue? You are supposed to have the right to defend yourself in your home? But this was a cop. Why is it legal for a cop to literally push his way into your home without a warrant? With no crime committed. Was it a good enough reason, to physically hurt the mother and then not expect that her kids were going to get upset and defend her? You can’t defend yourself from a cop? Looking at the behavior of the police today, why am I so amazed at that?
It’s police brutality. But why put Jamie in juvy? And why not prosecute his brother? Because they knew they couldn’t. But kids are different. They’ll put kids in juvy, sometimes even because they are absent from school. It’s called the school to prison pipeline. They know it sets the stage to push them clear through to prison. These kids get out without an education, learning more about crime then they ever knew going in. That kind of atmosphere would be of no help to any young person. They don’t get the help they need and they never learn their life has value. When the kids get upset and lash out they put them in solitary confinement in juvy is just as bad as solitary confinement in adult prison.
But there is another reason. There’s a lot of crooked business going on between judges and juvenile detention centers among other reasons. There’s a lot of money to be made. For example there has been a case in the Pa courts about this very thing. This judge sentenced thousands of kids to juvy in exchange for money. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
From the beginning they had no intention of letting Jamie go home.)
In the four years I was in juvy I only got four letters. I know now that if my family couldn’t write to me then why should I expect them to write me now? I’ve written a lot of letters and it isn’t very often that anyone writes me back. I can count on one hand how many I got.
Anyway, I finally made it to level three. I was doing good and I got to do a lot of things. I went swimming. I got to play pool and watch movies. I loved it. I did good for a year and a half. Then I received a letter from home. One of my aunts died. My grandmother had ten kids. Six boys and four girls. I’m crazy about my aunts. I only had three. I lost it and went downhill. I was placed on BMP, Behavior Modification Program, for thirty days. I had to deal with 23 hr a day lockdown. They brought my schoolwork to me. I got an hour of rec. I was on three of these BMPs all total. I didn’t care anymore. The last time I was sent there was because I hit one of the staff and broke his nose so they filed charges on me. I did it because he used to just pick on me for no fucking reason. It really gets to me when I think about it. It brings it all back like it was yesterday. He used to call me nigger. It hurt me and it ate at my feelings. I know it sounds better to call it the N’word but lets just say it the way he did, and he didn’t call me ‘N’word. He called me nigger. I told his supervisor but she didn’t believe me because of all the other trouble I caused on her dorm. While I was finishing up on the third program a Broward County police officer came and told the staff about the charges that were filed on me and I was placed in the back of the patrol car and taken to Broward County Jail.
While I was in there I really started losing it because I knew what the outcome of my life was going to look like, with me ending up right where I am now. This would have probably happened to me no matter what I did. This is where my life was going. I look at all the things I did. How could it have turned out any different? I had chances to change things but I always screwed it up. I have no one to blame but myself.
During the time I was in county jail I wasn’t myself. I did try to stay out of people’s way. It wasn’t easy. I got into a fight over the TV, and once I got stabbed with a pen. I really lost it and went into a deep depression. I stopped eating. I couldn’t sleep. I thought of my aunt and cried. I was miserable and I couldn’t pull myself out of it. They placed me in a single cell and sent a doctor to come talk to me. Afterward, she talked to the judge and I was sent to a state hospital for more than three weeks so I could get some help with my depression. When it was over they sent me home. Finally.
This was back in 2004. I met Megan in 2005. I ended up back in here in 2006. Ain’t that crazy? I finally got home but I placed myself around the wrong group of so-called friends. I lost myself again. But I’ll say this much, it won’t happen again. I’m going to change the direction my life has taken. I’m going to be the kind of person I can be proud of, and my son can be proud of, too.
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