I like to look at the map of the world I have on this site where the flag counter is located under each post, which tells me how many hits and how many countries have tapped into my blog on any given day, week, month or year. In the past week it was 26 countries, some from places I really didn’t know existed. Overall, at last count if was a total of 135+ countries. Today I see that it is only Greenland and interior Africa that are the only places that haven’t come to my blog. I don’t get hundreds of hits a day like some blogs do. Maybe if this blog was all I was doing and devoted every day to it, it would be more. Most people who come here are not other bloggers, it is from Google searches for information that they find me.
People all over the world are looking for information that connects to prisons – largely the US prisons. Why? Because what we do affects people everywhere. We set a standard for others to follow and unfortunately that standard is a bad one. Will we ever learn to do the right thing? It is doubtful. Greed is much more powerful than the desire to do the right thing.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t punish people when they do something wrong, but it is wrong to give a black man 20 years in prison for stealing food if his family is hungry, especially when a white man would probably get a year of probation, maybe. We over-punish and we do it based on race. Or look at it this way; what would twenty years in prison do that one year wouldn’t do, especially since now his entire family is being punished. Or was that the intention? Destroy the family. Make them all suffer and unable to rise up out of extreme poverty. Take away any chance of survival. Our criminal justice system is really screwed up.
I don’t know a lot about the prisons in these other countries. I’m sure some are better or worse, but they don’t use them for corporate profit the way we do, making prisoners a commodity for individual stock market growth.
“A sure bet,” they say. “Just keep the prisons full of people.” “No problem” our government says. Laws are abused to make sure 1 in 3 black males will do prison time.
“Let’s reinstate stop and frisk,” says Jeff Sessions, even though it never worked and locked up many more people who couldn’t afford to bond out, and they sit for years in jail never being charged. That will make the corporations lots of money. They could build more jails – provide more jobs. Who cares who it hurts.
For more than ten years I have researched this as I have struggled to understand not only what they have done to Jamie in the prisons they have sent him to, but to try to predict what the effect will be when he gets out. It takes so much more than wanting to have a good life, especially when he has been hogtied in the worst way to keep him from being able to learn how to survive when he gets out. Keeping him in a solitary cell, not allowing him to get any education at all, then setting him free with no life skills. There iss no education for an inmate in adseg or solitary, so they refuse to let him out. They say he is a danger to the rest of the general population inmates. That is the reason they give him. No one can survive that, especially when family isn’t there for you. He has me. Just me, and I am not in the best of health and 30 years his senior. I’m doing all I can.
When I think of the long journey I have been on – helping what used to be a young man who never had a future. It was taken away when he was still 16. He is 35 now. He has been in the prison system far too long to hang in there with promises of a better future that doesn’t begin until the brink of middle age. Taking on that 17 year sentence with him, promising to be there for him is almost the length of time it takes to raise a child until high school graduation, and trying to be responsible for the nurturing of that person almost completely through letters and a visit every year or two. I can’t even touch his hand during those visits.
I’d do it again – because it also taught me a lot about myself. We weren’t blood related between he and I, but we are connected through my grandson. I have been through so much during these years – marking it along the way with crisis we both have had. Life puts you exactly here you need to be to grow as a human being, hopefully affecting other lives in a positive way. I can’t imagine my life without this.
That is all I wanted to say. I appreciate, more than you know, the people who have supported me in this effort – reading, sharing, listening. The book and music have taken far longer than I had thought but if the effort is going to be made it has to be to the best of my abilities, and sometime that means I have to rewrite part of it as I learn. I am confident there is a reason for doing it. I keep the end result in my head. We are what we think. But without other people – you – it couldn’t happen. I’m excited about what the future could bring for Jamie, his son, and yes, my daughter as they are the parents of their young twelve year old boy. My grandson deserves to know both parents. His life has to heal, too.
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