Over the past year I’ve written about Alonza several times.  I’ve had the pleasure of skyping with him many times – a deep and thoughtful man trying to figure out how to begin his life again in a world that caused him pain.  We have read frequently the past year what effects are of solitary confinement. Because of what happened to Kalief Browder and his suicide caused by abuse and solitary confinement the law was changed and kids could no longer be held like that. Alonza had just turned 16 and California had just changed the law to try 16 year old kids as adults and he was the first one. He became their poster child/adult. He made it through 13 years but came out in a million tiny pieces he has been struggling to put back together. I’d like to say that today everything is great. I know he wishes it were. But the reality is the same as someone who has come back from war. On the outside everything seems to be okay, but the glue holding the pieces together never really dries. It is fragile and easily broken. He is safer inside his lonely room than facing the world outside.

I hope he someday heals. He’s a special person. He will always have a piece of my heart as I hold a piece of his.

Below the video is a link to other poetry. Below that is the piece Frontline did on him when he was released.

Link to Alonza’s poetry . . . .         Good Wouldn’t Exist Without Bad   

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards
Sonni’s Piano Music

11 thoughts on “Alonza Thomas – Heights – YouTube

  1. Do you have an update on Alonza Thomas? I am a sociology teacher and I use his story to illustrate the impact of Solitary Confinement on a person. His story really impacts my students, I can see it in their writing. I would love to give them some kind of news on Alonza. Thank you for the work you are doing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has been a year or so since we talked but I can try to reach out again. He had a very hard time when he got out. He was scared of men and pretty much locked himself in a room with his phone for the internet. When you lock a child up with men he is going to get abused. He couldn’t talk about it. Someone took him in because he was living under a bridge for awhile outside of Bakersfield. We talked (video chat) for several years and lost contact for awhile. He got too attached to me and in the video chats he became an exhibitionist. I had to break it off. But since then he had gotten married and had a son. He had just gotten a job as a welder. He had a smile on his face. He had gotten such a raw deal. He was going by an alias on Facebook and found me again on fb, but I don’t know if it is still active. His poetry is awesome. I think I have about a half dozen. I hoped he would continue. I think I might have some videos he posted on fb.


  2. Wow! You ma’am have a heart of gold. My heart goes out to Alonza. His family; lots of black families don’t understand mental illness. It’s sad they aren’t there for him. How could his mom especially…do that? I pray he finds peace and calm in his heart. SideNote: When 60 Minutes, etc. do stories on people like this; you would think they would be interested in using the networks they have to get folks like Alonza the help they need. It’s just sad all the way around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would probably want to know that I kept up with him, although it’s been about 6 months since we talked. He’s doing okay. He’s working and married and has a young son. He was in pretty bad shape when I met him. He kept himself secluded in a room and didn’t like to be in public or around men. We video chatted a lot. Then he disappeared for awhile. I don’t know how it’s relationship is with his mother and I doubt you ever get over what he went through.

      The man this page is written for – Jamie – just got paroled 2weeks ago after 13.5 years and 4 years in JD before that. He had no choice but to be sent to his brothers house who wouldn’t go visit or help with anything. None of his family did. I supported him all this time. Now they are trying to get me out of the picture. It won’t work with the book I’m writing. But the point of saying this, Jamie doesn’t know how to stand up for himself after being told what to do for so long. They released right out of adseg, which is solitary. He doesn’t even know how to use a cell phone or the internet. It’s like the prisons want them to fail.


  3. Hope it all works out for Alonza, much love from Quito, Ecuador. If you see him or talk with him tell him a complete stranger on another continent says at the end of the day we are all human and on this earth for a limited time. You either sink or swim, and you have stayed afloat for so long and through so much it would be a shame to lose your spirit in this world. Peace

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I’ve been in the hospital so forgive the late response. I well be sure to tell him. Sometimes, encouragement is the only thing that helps someone get through another day.


  4. I was watching Frontline and killing time at work today and watched his story. Frontline has done another docu on juvenile imprisonment called “When Kids Get Life” that I watched about a month ago, so the idea of his story intrigued me. It’s very interesting to hear the story of Alonza getting out and being an adult but not having the life experiences that everyone else his age has. I can’t even imagine the hurt/harm the justice system dealt him. I’m pulling for him and hoping with all of my heart that he doesn’t turn into a statistic, like so many other imprisoned. I’ve noticed that his website is no longer up/functioning. Any idea what happened?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He’s not doing very well. It was a friend of his who put up the website. Is been about a month since I talked to him. He’s afraid around people. especially men. He just wants to stay in his room at a friend. He has almost no contact with family. Even toward the last of him incarceration they stopped seeing him. He said his motheris a strong church goer -the kind who wants people to”see” her doing good. After the harrah of coming home the attitude was “your a man now, go get your life together”. He ended up sleeping in the park until he met someone who offered a spare room. There is always 2 sides to every story so there is no telling what happened but I know they weren’t helping him all. I contacted from somewhere on life and he called me with his number. We started video chatting almost every day. He wanted a girlfriend. It didn’t matter that I was 61 , married and lived 3000 miles away. He so desperately wanted to be loved. I told him I could only be his good friend and that I cared about very much. He said it made him depressed and it hurt too much to talk to me anymore. He sounded so sad. I sent him a text to call me 2 days ago but I didn’t here back.

      What I have found from all the male inmates I write to – not one cares how old you are. When you have a relationship that is built through letters especially, it’s easier to open up and you begin to love that person. Outside, relationships begin by how someone looks physically. People put on faces to attack the other person. They show their best side. Later their true nature comes out and one person says, “You’ve changed” But they didn’t. When you begin a relationship with an inmate, even if it is just friends, there is no face to put on. Nothing to hide. They are lonely, crave a human connection. And an inmate writes long letters baring their soul. And they live for your letters.
      With Jamie, we have written probably 500 letters. I know him better than his mother. I know he loves me, and honestly I love him, too. But I’m twice his age, married and his son’ s grandmother. But knowing some cares about him and he can tell me anything about anything helps him keep it together. My daughter, though, is angry at me about it because she said I’m not letting her let him go. I told her she can’t. They have a son and they need each other. Is a bit complicated to say the least. But what I said about inmates loving the people they write to is real – although I’m sure there are ones you should not write to. They might try conning money.

      mail usually has nothing but bills and junk in it. It’s rare for people to get letters. I love it. Last week I got 3 letters in one day. One is on death row, one will be getting out soon and one is barely old enough to vote and has a 50 yr sentence. He was 16 – like Alonza. He’ll be ruined. He’s only a half hour from me so ill be going to see him. Kinda a long reply to your comment! I’ll check out that other video you mentioned

      One last thing. I taped a segment on an internet radio show today that is going to air on April 4th on the prison system. I don’t know the time yet. I’ll be posting a link later when it gets closer. If you’d like to find out when and to hear about the book I’m writing of Jamie’s life in prison “Inside The Forbidden Outside” drop me a line at sonniq56@gmail.com Ill let you know.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am really very sorry to hear about Alonza:( From the video he appears to be very talented and it hurts to know his own family won’t help. Hope he has found the support he needs even if he decided to put some space between the two of you.


    1. No, I didn’t? Where did you leave it? Sometimes I get behind with Email, or I’ll have to see if your answer fell through the cracks here. What happened with Alonzo is that he got very attached to me – and since I couldn’t go to California to be with him he couldn’t handle it. He contacted me about Christmas time and then said he couldn’t talk to me anymore. I felt bad. He had lost so much already. He has a hard time being around people – especially men. I worry about him. I just sent him a text so I’ll see if he answers it. His family hasn’t been as good to him as he said. After this film he ended up sleeping in a park until someone let him stay in their spare room.

      Liked by 1 person

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