Can you stop prisons abuse? On a whole – no. But can you help the person you support? I believe you can. I’m not going to sit by with crossed fingers hoping they won’t succeed in hurting or possibly killing him. They crossed a line.
I’m on a plane, headed home from a three week trip to Texas to see family and visit with Jamie. It was a hard trip but much was accomplished. I was able to go to Allred Prison three times for a total of 10 hours. It was good to see Jamie and the smile on his face told me he was looking forward to this visit, his only visit since my last trip in Sept ’16. One sad note – his son refused to go with me. More on that another time.
I have learned things. If someone you care about is locked up and you seriously want to help them, read this post through to the end. If you are writing to an inmate you met as a pen pal you probably aren’t invested enough to go to bat for him/her against the prison system, although taking the time to communicate with someone who needs the support of someone in the free world is no small thing.
I learned things about the prison system. How they get away with doing things that put inmates in danger. The prisons and staff should be held accountable and made to do the right thing but how is that possible? Who makes them? Does your call to the warden make them? If it doesn’t, can you just sit at home and worry while you wait for a letter or a call to know they are okay, if they even have phone privileges, which Jamie doesn’t?
Every politician, whose job is to create policies that are supposed to be for the good of the people, KNOWS how corrupt the system is. So why aren’t the prisons made to change and treat human beings kept inside the cages and cement closets as something other than a commodity they can beat and misuse any time they want?
Many people, due to lack of education about the prisons believe only the guilty are prosecuted and they deserve whatever torture they receive. The guilty inside lose the right to be human. There is abroad spectrum of guilt. Not everyone inside is a child abuser, murderer, rapist or the like. There are people inside because they couldn’t pay a court ordered fine or they were with someone who committed a crime and are guilty by association. Some are guilty but why are there different sentences for the same crime if you are white instead of black. Some are innocent left with no option but to take a plea deal because there is no one to fight for them. 17 years or 50-99. Would you plead guilty if you are innocent and risk never getting out?
New crimes are being decided this year to fill the gap left by less personal drug use arrests. They are prosecuting people who dare to protest. They are arresting kids as young as seven for fighting. They are handcuffing kids at school. Detention isn’t good enough anymore if money could be made for the prison system. Ruin them young, destroy their education and it later becomes a filled bed in an adult prison. Why do you think they want to lock up kids? Read Jamie’s story in the links at the to of the page and learn what they did to destroy him at 16 even though the only crime committed was by a cop who busted into his families home.
Many of the “guilty” inside are there because they couldn’t afford an attorney. It doesn’t matter how guilty someone is, they are treated the same. They lose the right to live as though their life matters. No one is going to make the prison system do the right thing, especially if you base it on the concept of actual right and wrong. Even the politicians who outright say the prison system needs changing don’t have the power to make that happen. There is too much money to be made. The corporations involved need to be fed. It doesn’t matter – at all – if thousands of people across the country die from abuse if it pads their bottom line. No family or friend on the outside who learns about the abuse of their loved one is going to change that.
We do the best we can to help our husband/wife/ son/daughter or other family/friend. We call the prison/medical unit/warden/mail room when things go wrong or we just need answers. An inmate files a grievance that gets lost. A guard can retaliate in many ways. The warden looks the other way. He lies to you and says, “My guards would never do that.” Medications are withheld that can cause death – heart/seizure /cholesterol/insulin/ depression and psych meds and others. Medical problems can easily be erased out of records. Wrong medications can be substituted. Dental problems not addressed. An abcess? Who cares? Pain? Too bad. The list of what they can do is long.
Let’s say your son has been sentenced to 10-20 years. Does he have a Medical issue? What if he is beat – by guards or inmates, how will you intervene? The prison staff is trained to lie to you. Do you know when they are lying? Do they sympathize with you while they lie? What can you do about it? Are we helpless to help?
The list of things done to Jamie over the years is long. Incomprehensible and cruel acts that are often life threatening. Judging by the comments guards and medical personnel say to him it seems as though they take pleasure in hurting people. Are they paid to be this way? Do they get satisfaction knowing their actions caused someone to possibly die? Many death certificates in prisons say, “Died of natural causes,” but it doesn’t say they withheld necessary medications that caused this natural death. Do you think an autopsy will be done to understand the cause of death? Absolutely nothing would be done that indicated the prison was responsible. You’d be lucky to even find out the whereabouts of the body.
If you have a loved one who is locked up you probably have been through some of what I am saying. There is no rule book. Where do you go to find out what to do? Who will help you? Who has the answers? Even if you talked to an attorney, does that person understand how the prison corporations operate? Probably not. That is field not practiced by the average attorney.
If anyone wants to know where hell is located, it is in the prison system and any entity associated with it. It mentally ruins anyone who works within it, including those who look the other way because they want to keep their job. At the end of the day they go home to the free world knowing what they witnessed and knowing they went along with being cruel to human beings way beyond what their sentence dictated. Inmates are sentenced to time, not abuse. All prison staff have to live with that. What goes around comes around.
At any given time there are millions of people in the system. Every year they lock up at least as many people as they let out. The prisons stay full – per the contracts the prison corporations have with the government. Since they can’t easily fill the prisons anymore with people caught with a personal stash of weed, they have had to make new crimes. Jeff Sessions has vowed to increase mandatory minimums. Why do you think he would want to do that? Because these people are too dangerous to be free? Or died he own prison stock? The major push of immigrant detention has made these corporations very happy and even more rich. Why else would you lock up women and children when they seek medical care or go to church? Are these the bad hombres? The prison corporations love Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions to pieces, they are so damn happy.
The next issue of ITFO NEWS will focus on this issue to help you understand how to fight for someone who is inside. No one knows what to do. You can subscribe below to make sure it is delivered to your inbox. I can’t stress how important this is if you have someone you care about inside, especially if you are already aware of wrongdoing. You will want to keep this issue as a resource. Share it with a friend you know who has someone inside.
If you have read my blog you know Jamie has epilepsy. I’ve been worried, even more so since they upped their game messing with his meds on a regular basic and giving him excuses why they wouldn’t give him his seizure meds. He had a seizure and they let him lay on his cell floor untreated. They lied to me when I called and said he didn’t have a seizure. I was also told I couldn’t call back to check on him because I was only “allowed” to call once a month. Is that true? How do I find out? This isn’t the first time they refused his meds but I didn’t know what I could do about it. I thought, “Why would they do that? Isn’t it wrong? How can I find out if he is okay?”
After my first visit his ID came up missing. Three days the following week he was again denied his meds because he had no ID, even though a new one was requested and they know they know him. A week later and he still had no ID. He knows his number and they can look it up. It was deliberate. They most likely took his ID. How else could it disappear into thin air? I am fighting this now.
You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” This is one of those times. We can’t force the system to change. That isn’t going to happen. But you can learn what to do to keep your loved one safe and fight back. You CAN force that horse to drink when you learn how to play their game. Knowledge is power.
If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie Life in Prison at Facebook . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world