Juvy to Prison

cuffs and books

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.

young offender

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.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/4/kids_for_cash_inside_one_of

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.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Original Improvised Piano Music

The Prison to Poverty Pipeline

americancivilwar-com-f-douglas
source credit: american civilwar.com

Frederick Douglass, a slave in Maryland who became an abolitionist and journalist said, “It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.”

“To make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken the moral and mental vision and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.”

How often have you heard: Black people are stupid.  Genetically they don’t have the abilities of white people. Genetically they are predisposed to be criminals. If you hear anything enough you start regarding it as truth.  Many white people thoroughly believe they are a higher cut of human being.

In July, Bill O’Reilly making an extremely stupid remark on air at Fox News, commenting on Michele Obama’s comment that slaves built the Whitehouse said, “Those slaves werewell fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. 

women prison labor
photo credit: popularresistance.org

Most people do not realize how many of the products they purchase off the shelf and on online sites are products made by slaves in the prisons for as little as .29 an hour.  From Eddie Bauer’s jeans to Victoria Secret’s lingerie to military ammunition and supplies our police force needs to needlessly subdue anyone they choose to stop and harass. These products made by prison inmates are used against themselves. Inmates who are paid a ‘wage’, when released are presented with a bill for room and board which puts those released in high debt in a society where it is nearly impossible to rent an apartment or find a job.  It is important to keep the prisons full, and no politician shooting off his or her mouth about reducing prison populations will be able to accomplish more than a small amount to make it look as if something positive is happening.

How do they keep the prisons full? They start with the children and separate them from their family intent on ruining their chances of getting ahead.  Are their children who are uncontrollable.  Yes, but you have to go back to the beginning of their lives. How many of them have parents in prison?  How many of the men in their families have been to prison, because the odds for a black man is one in three.  The odds for Hispanics: one in six. A black man with a high school education has a 70% chance of going to prison.  So, logically, keep a black man out of school and there is a greater likelihood of filling the prisons because – no education means no job.

When Jamie gets out of prison when he is 40, and so far they have kept him at a level where he is allowed no phone, no job and no education. The property manager at the prison physically took his GED book and 18 other books from him – for no reason, when he was transferred .  I can only conclude that she didn’t want him to self-educate.  One of his greatest worries is wondering what will become of him when he gets out, because although he knows I am here, I will be pushing 70 when he gets out and my health is not the best.

Most people have heard of the ‘school to prison pipeline’, but it is more than that. It is also the ‘cradle to prison pipeline’, the ‘poverty to prison pipeline’ and the ‘prison to poverty pipeline’. Why is there a funnel that keeps a never ending supply of children being forced through it knowing it will irrevocably alter the course of their lives. Sadly, many, or perhaps most of these children won’t have a chance to build a positive life.  They can never play catch up because they are too far behind the eight ball. They will have to support themselves anyway they can find to do so. Legal or illegal because you have to eat.  The prisons bank on the revolving back doors of the prisons.  It is the least costly way of keeping the prisons full.

If these men and women had a support structure in the beginning, there is a good chance it isn’t there any more. Their life experiences and what they learn living in a biased justice system that doesn’t supply them with the experiences and subsequent wisdom they need, or the courage and confidence to have a life filled with love and hope. These are broken men – and women. The odds are completely stacked against them unless they are lucky enough to find an organization that guides them into the right direction.

I have read, if a prisoner is paroled they have a step down program that counsels them on re-entering society and helping them find at least a half-way house. Prisons do not have any programs for those that do their entire time. They are simply put out the door with 30 days of medications, a bus ticket, a few bucks and they are on their own if there is no one to pick them up. There are some programs if they can find them after they are released. If they had been in solitary confinement – they go from their cell to the street.  I can’t even imagine how horrifying that is.

What we learn as children sets the stage for how we make decisions in our lives when we become adults. If a person comes from a dysfunctional or broken family who had children without knowing themselves what it means to parent children, how are they able to learn what behavior and control is needed in society. They may end up in foster care bounced from home to home until they drop out.  What do they have the time to learn if their education has been totally disrupted and no one cares one iota if they succeed or fail?

Not every child who has been suspended from school came from a family such as this. Some just had the misfortune of having a teacher with the tendency to suspend more black children than white. Teachers often have more tolerance and leniency toward white children. They suspend 4x more black children than white. Without realizing it these teachers when they were children may have learned their bias from the adults around them. They may never say it aloud, but they can’t help but believe and expect their black students to be trouble makers.

When I was a child going through middle school in the 60’s not one child was handcuffed

kids in handcuff
photo course: bordc.org

by the police and put in the back of a police car. Not one. Not a single solitary one. But then, the first black classmate I had was in 5th grade and he was the only one. Through 6th grade black students were segregated simply because they lived in the black neighborhoods.  I never went into those neighborhoods.  I was too scared. Why? Why did I feel that way? What did I hear, and when, to make me afraid to go where they lived?  I couldn’t tell you. Not one school had a cop – a trained and sometimes brutally physical cop, who sometimes slammed kids to the ground, the way they do now. There were no cops on school premises every hour the school was open. What the hell happened? Children haven’t changed. Parents and parenting changed. Adults, coming from the baby boomer age wanted to be friends with their kids, gave them more freedom, didn’t teach them to respect the generation that raised them. Parents lost control.

At school it became  easier to suspend students than to work with them. Many schools no longer have on site guidance counselors or nurses. (This article should make you cry or get very angry) There have always been mischievous kids – pranksters – kids who picked on other kids and kids who would get into physical fights. They were sent to the principal’s office and he meted out punishment. Maybe the paddle, which I admit to getting, and it was never considered abuse. I deserved it, I’m sure. Or we got detention or a meeting with parents would happen, but never was a child handcuffed and taken away – until it became profitable. Then the child would have to see a judge and often, most often, if you were black you went to juvenile detention. Why? Why is there zero tolerance for young children doing what children do? Why did it become so necessary to ruin so many young lives?

This funnel was called the “school to prison pipeline” because so many children who were forced through it could never get their lives on track. Juvenile detention changed them. Many became angry. Many were sexually abused. Until just this year juvenile facilities used solitary confinement as punishment if they ‘broke a rule’. Now children cannot be put in solitary, but it took one boy committing suicide to make the change. If adult brains can be permanently scarred, what would it do to a child? It is heartbreaking. I’m not talking about children who have committed a serious crime, I’m talking about a child who had a teacher who couldn’t, wouldn’t take the time to help  because perhaps they had too many kids in their classroom, so it was easier to call the on-site cop who feeds him into the system.

It is quite odd and very disturbing that the majority of the children fed into this pipeline are black. Teachers who were interviewed admitted they are more likely to kick a black child out of class than a white child. Hispanics are in the middle. What does it say about us as nation, supposedly a Christian nation, some people think, yet our dislike and fear of black people even extends down to children, who are also supposedly children of God, if you believe in that sort of thing. Why are black children treated as though it is in their genes to be criminals, which is impossible. The state system, quite frankly, took away their realization that they, too, have just as much to offer as white children. Many have been set on the road for failure because the new definition of slavery lives in the prisons.

It is drilled into them that they don’t fit into a white man’s privileged society. I know we have many successful people color. I am talking about the ones the juvenile justice system got hold of and created a revolving door class of uneducated children who grew up and couldn’t get on their feet and landed in prison quite often convicted erroneously.

This blog is dedicated to Jamie Cummings who spent far more years in juvenile detention than what he was sentenced. He should not have been sentenced in the first place.  It is appalling what they did to him. No crime was committed. A cop who had harassed him earlier illegally kicked his way into his house with no probable cause and no warrant. His mother was badly hurt. Since Jamie was a minor they gave him 9 months in juvenile detention because he was the only one they could “punish”.  His brother was over eighteen and there was nothing they could charge him with.  His other brother was just a young boy and his sister was pregnant. So Jamie was it.  There needed to be some reason why the cop kicked the door in. But they didn’t let him out in nine months. He was in for more than four years, until he turned 21. By then he was seriously depressed in a juvenile facility for kids with mental issues. He did three stints in solitary confinement which they called Behavior Modification Programs or BMP. The day he got out, walking home from visiting a cousin he was arrested again for only walking and someone thought he looked suspicious. You can read this story in more detail. What do you think happened to his education?

Jamie didn’t need to be sacrificed for the Prison Industrial Complex as someone to increase the profit of their bottom line. The possibilities of his life was shattered. But would he have had a successful life coming from the poor section of small town in east Texas where job opportunities were slim? We’ll never know. He has grown up while being locked up, a total now of more than 14 1/2 years with 6 1/2 to go.

How many more children have suffered the sadness of having their lives stolen from them for profit. So many of these children end up getting in more trouble and ending up back inside. What else do they know?

***************

 

download
ITFO Newsletter

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni’s Pinterest
If you haven’t “liked” Jamie’s facebook page yet you can do so in the info under this post.

You can also follow the blog by email so you don’t miss any posts. That, too, is in the info beneath the post

My Two Day Visit At Allred Prison

Finally I got to a computer! Since I am traveling right now, and also visiting with family and grandchildren, having the time and space – and internet connection – so I can sit and write has been hard to come by. I’m in New Mexico right now and my son lives out in the boonies; great for peace and quiet and lots of land for the kids to run while raising chickens and rabbits – but has no phone reception in the house because of think adobe walls.  If I want to talk or even text I have to go outside and it’s over 100 degrees.  This is the first chance I’ve had to sit and write.  So let me tell you how the visit went:

images (1)
photo credit: Google images. Ironically, #6 was the booth we had with Jamie. At the bottom of the window you can barely see where he would have to squat to unlock  wrists. Two phones on the visitor side and one on his side.

Allred Unit is the largest prison in Texas with 3700 inmates. Visiting days are Sat and Sun.  They have 5 slots for “special visits”, which are two day visits with four hour visits each day. You have to call on the Monday at exactly 8 AM and hope you are one of the first 5 callers.  Otherwise we would have had one two hour visit.  Since it has been nearly three years since I’ve been to see Jamie that was also the last time I took his son to see him, I really wanted to get that special visit.

I stayed with my daughter and took a rental car to the prison which was another 120 miles away. We went to the entrance we were directed to.  There are two entrances.  They gave us a placard to put on our windshield and then told us to go back to our car and wait for someone to come around and signal it was time to go in.  They were full and said we might have to wait and hour or two for people to leave.  After waiting for about 1 1/2 hours they called us to the front and said, “Oh, I’m very sorry. We told you to wait in the wrong place so now you have to go around to the other entrance and give them your ID.  This caused us to only have a 2 1/2 hour visit the first day because they kick everyone out at 5:00.

When we finally got in and went through security we sat in our chairs on one side of the glass for at #6 and waited for them to get him. His cubicle had a door with a small window and I could when they walked him past it to unshackle his legs. They put him in the cubicle and locked the door.  He had to squat all the way to the floor and stick his hands out a slot to unlock his wrists.  Then he could sit down.  He had such a big grin on  his face. The last time little Jamie saw his father he was seven and very shy.  I think that time he was a little scared of meeting this man who was basically a stranger. It was hard to get him to look him in the eye and say more than yes and no answers.  In letters from Jamie he said, “What if he still won’t talk to me?” But Jamie wasn’t shy anymore and told his dad everything he was doing; how his reading had improved – he has dyslexia – and how good he is in sports, especially football and running.  I could tell his father was drinking up every word he was saying. Since we had another day of visiting there was no rush. Since there could be no contact all, the three of us put up our hands on either side of the glass.

Unfortunately there was no picture taking that day.  They only do it the first weekend of the month.  I was hoping since it was father’s day there might be an exception, but no dice.  So all I have are the old pictures. He had a little hair – he said because he couldn’t get a razor, but he’s definitely bald on top.  He had a small goatee and big square black glasses that only a prison would issue.

The next day we got in right away.  Since little Jamie is just a ten year old boy I knew he would get antsy so he was in charge of the quarters. When you go in you can only take your ID, car keys and a bag of $25 in quarters.  Since they don’t check we took in $32. The vending machines that had anything decent, like sandwiches you could heat up, were out of order so the only choices were the standard candy, chips and soda items.  I let little Jamie buy what he wanted because he had no lunch and he picked out whatever he thought his dad might want.  It kept him busy.  Sunday was father’s day so there were other kids there to talk to.

Father’s Day

When I planned this trip I didn’t realize it was father’s day and I knew this made it much more special for Jamie. Also, because he is in ad seg he is deprived of any human contact. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell and the other hour is either to a cage to exercise or the shower. It is hard having no AC but he says he’s okay. He’s been at Allred for 6 months with 6 months to go to get out of ad seg.

If you haven’t read earlier chapters, he intentionally had himself put in ad seg by threatening a guard and  because his last prison, Wynne Unit doesn’t have ad seg, they would be forced to move him.  He wasn’t safe there. The guards were abusive and also retaliated against him by filing false cases.  Inmates have the right to file grievances against abuse but those grievances were not filed.  They were thrown away. I talked to the warden about it and he said, “What grievances?  I don’t see where he filed any grievances.” I wasn’t going to get any help with him.

Jamie has an anger button.  How much can anyone take when they are being pushed and pushed and beat up and sprayed with chemicals.  After ten years of this, anyone would be angry.  It started a cycle of abuse and inmates can’t win that fight.  Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong.  When he got to Allred he had the determination to not let them get to him and also, show respect, even when they didn’t deserve it.  He’s staying quiet and doing good.  He did this before and it took 2 years to get moved to the level of G2 where he could have contact visits and make phone calls, but within a month, because of a false case filed against him his privileges were again taken away and things spiraled down hill. He’s back on track again.

He will be moved again when he’s done with ad seg and if he continues the rest of the year with no cases he will be moved to another prison and be able to apply to study for his GED and then other training.  After four years in juvy from almost 17 to 21, and back in prison at 22 and is now 33 he has a lot of education to catch up on. He’s not a boy anymore but he doesn’t have the life experiences of a man.  He’s a good man.  I believe he has the potential to do something worth while.  What he has learned these years he can use to help at-risk kids.  We talked about the possibility of going to school to become a counselor.  With schooling it would be a paid job. He will need help and guidance.  How can you know what to do when you have never done it?

How To Survive

He has heard nothing from his family at all.  I asked him, “When you get out, do you think they will come to you as though nothing is wrong and want to pick up like all you did was leave town and now you are back?” He said, “Yes.” But I don’t think that will work this time.  I know he loves his family – they ARE family – and I know he loves his mother.  But what they did was fail to show him that he mattered and they loved him, too.  I know what that feels like so I understand the pain. I think it will be hard for him to forget. None of them was there for him or even cared to find out how he was.  He has never seen his younger brother, and got only one letter from him.  He hasn’t seen his older brother in eight years.  Why? “It’s not my fault he’s in there,” he says.  Of course he must have a perfect life and makes no mistakes.

It will be time for Jamie to move on and create the life he wants to have. There was a reason I came into his life when I did.  His life gave my life a purpose.  He has helped me and I have helped him.  When I finish the book I am writing about him, “Inside The Forbidden Outside,”the last chapter will be this visit and the epilogue will be about what he would like to see for his future.  As I gather notes for the sequel, that book  won’t be out for some time – years – because it will be about his last years inside, the process of getting out and reintegrating into society and the obstacles he has to overcome.  In the meantime I will write another book.

I’m also working on the next issue of my newsletter.  Thank you so much to the people who have supported me, read it and shared it. This gives the book name recognition.  I hope to have it out in time for Christmas sales and there is still a lot of editing and rewrites to do.

So after this week of visiting with more grandchildren I’m off to pan for gold and go to the Grand Canyon and I don’t know where else.  I’ll be off in an RV with friends.  Wish me luck.  Maybe I can find enough gold to pay to finish my book!  Well, it’s always good to have a dream. LOL

download
http://eepurl.com/bZ8e71

tap this link to pull up the form to subscribe. If that doesn’t work, paste it into your browser -Thanks!

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni’s Pinterest

When I Get Out Of Prison

banner-873106__340

Dear mom,

How are you?  Fine, I hope and getting some rest. However, knowing you, you are work work working on everything. Do me a favor and take a break okay? Enjoy what time you have to yourself. Sit outside and enjoy the little things, like the flowers, the sky’s view, the air and everything in view.

(Sonni’s note: Jamie is thinking of me being able to enjoy all the things he is unable to see. He doesn’t even have a window in his cell or AC in this hot Tx summer, yet he worries about  me.)

I have been sitting here thinking hard about the questions you asked in your last letter but I have yet to come up with anything. You asked me what I thought I’d like to do when I get out prison. I have yet to come up with anything because I don’t know what will happen. However, I do know this. I want to be able to live my life and be able to take care of my family. What matters the most is my son. Most of my life I have lived in the system due to poor choices I made in my life. My future is my son. I don’t want his future being anything like this. It’s going to be hard, you and I both know this.

A lot of people knew me as Jamie, the boy. It’s been years since I just talked to anybody. In fact, I don’t talk to anyone about life but you. We are the only ones who conversates this way. No one else has tried to spark up a conversation about life. If it’s family, it’s just about what’s going on. I know most of the news I would get from my family is going to be bad. Maybe a little good news here and there. It’s the main reason I stopped writing. When I did write, no one wrote back. I have addresses to some people but I don’t write anymore. My mom moves so much I don’t know where she is. I don’t worry. I know how she is from a lifetime of experiences.

I have confidence in myself that when I get out of here I can take care of what I need to do. I intend to live a good life. Yes, there will be curves and hills. One step at a time. There will be lots to learn no master what. It’s for me to do my best and keep my son from this. My goal is to express my life to my son. I also need to express to my mother about how I felt as a young kid. To tell you the truth, I know it will hurt because it hurts me when I think about it. When I think about a lot of stuff that has to do with family, it hurts. There is not too much I can remember to be happy about. Just a very little. I try not to think about it. I try not to think of things from the past. But don’t worry. The truth is, everything will be okay.

caught-1013600__340 (1)

Some people can not take the pressure but I have been under pressure for ten years. Fourteen, counting juvy. I have had a few melt downs, but I have come to understand that I have to have self control. Without it I have to constantly start over and never get anywhere in life. I have learned to accept some things and move on. Yes, I still get angry, but I just speak my mind. I don’t act on things like I used to. I don’t give these people a reason to get back at me.

Give your mother my love and tell her I’m chanting for her ( she had a stroke).

With love, Jamie

p.s. Is 2:44 am – very early in the morning. I better get this ready to go.

(Sonni’s note:  Looking back over all these years of letter writing, this blog, and the book being written, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”, I see a different Jamie as he matures. At times I have been very worried, trying to break through when I thought he was giving up because the anger was so strong. But he has learned much through his study of Nichiren Buddhism about the power of the Law of Cause and Effect – or, you reap what you sow – if you are Christian – it is the same thing. For every action there is a reaction and WE determine what that is. I sense a maturity now in Jamie, and I can’t wait until he has the opportunity to  have a life he doesn’t even know how to dream about yet.)

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni’s Pinterest 

download
http://eepurl.com/bZ8e71 

tap this link into the browser to pull up the form to subscribe -Thanks!

 

 

 

Changes On Death Row at San Quentin Prison

Solitary confinement

Dear Sonni,

Hello there.  It’s good to receive your letters. I apologize for not responding right away to your last letter and I received another one today. It’s labor day weekend so I’m gonna write you all weekend. I was out of stamps and paper plus I was not feeling well. I’m trying to figure out what is going on around here. Now I do which I’ll get to later 🙂

The AVP program you are involved in is something to be proud of. It seems very progressive. I see volunteers enter the church here and inmates pour in for various programs. I imagine many people in prison are helped through these programs. I’m proud of you.

(Sonni’s note: I’ve written several posts about AVP – Alternative To Violence project – workshops in the prisons in 36 states to help inmates deal with anger issues)

Here’s the news with me. There is a lawsuit here in the California courts over solitary confinement. You already know this. Us men on death row filed to join in. It came out in the news. The lawyers came to interview me so I could join. On September 1st they reached a settlement. CCR justice (in prison court). I don’t know the details but maybe you could look it up. On the news it said there was to be an end to unlimited isolation and there would be programs for the men. No more being locked up like this for decades simply because they consider you to be “associated” to a gang member. So I’m going to be cut loose from isolation. I’ll get to go to the program building. They have one year to implement these changes. 🙂 All I wanted was to be judged by my own behavior inside these walls, not by my race. I would not denounce those of my race simply because they, and myself, are Hispanic.

This means I’ll get to hug my family and I’ll get better food! 🙂 I’ll be able to use a phone and have fun! 🙂

For awhile I was unsure what would happen. I had filed another complaint because at first they told me it would take 4 more years. That morning the Lt denied my complaint but in the afternoon I heard they reached a settlement. I was happy. We all were 🙂

A Phillipine Buddhist visited me. She was good. We mediated together which is a first for me. She told me to try various meditations – all of which I’ve read about but is so different when you do it with someone else. She could tell if I was having difficulty with a certain mediation because a look in her eyes told me she could tell. She teaches yoga, mediation and travels the world learning from spiritual teachers. I don’t know if she’ll be able to come back again, though.

There is a Legionaires disease outbreak going on here right now. 6 confirmed cases. 95 more possibilities. It started here in my unit and then spread out into the prison. It must be in the water in the trays? The CDC is testing everything. No showers for us in this building. The news says we are getting showers, but not here. Only the main building. We get a gallon of bottled water every 24 hours, one hot meal (a small TV dinner) and 2 lunches. One is for breakfast. Needless to say it is not enough food. I am hungry.

You brought up a good topic about heaven. Heaven is backed by Christian biblical scripture. PBS did a documentary on the surroundings of the writers of early Jewish writings. The argument is: the story of the garden of Eden is about a garden where they believed gods lived. Not understanding anything, people automatically attribute it to there being a god that does things they think are beyond the ability of humans.

( Sonni’s note: considering what we now know about early man; skeletons unearthed that are many tens of thousands of years old – Adam and Eve, portrayed as Christians would want them to look just like us isn’t possible. Our supposed first man and woman would look more like apes than the beautiful man and woman with carefully placed fig leaves for modesty. But people can’t handle that picture just like they have to believe Jesus is a WHITE man with long flowing brown hair because they can’t worship a black man with nappy hair (per the Bible) because too many white people still feel they are better than black people. They want people to believe in their version of Jesus when it is built on lies and misconceptions? One white artist’s version of Jesus that has now become truth??)

This belief of heaven? There have been many human cultures. They all believed in an afterlife of some type. People are afraid of what happens after death.

Sonni, you asked me about my education. I started high school – 9th grade – but was arrested the first day of school. I went to another high school but was kicked out. I ended up going to school one day a week in my probation officer’s office. I picked up my first attempted murder charge at age 13 and other similar cases all of which I did just enough juvy time to beat it. A week after my 17th birthday I was back in juvy for 2 assaults with a deadly weapon. Later that night the detectives came to talk to me about the murders and I ended up with only one murder and 4 attempted murders. I came from a violent home where I was beat every day and lived in a violent neighborhood. There was no other way for my life to go. It is easy to say we all have choices but we don’t. You have to know what those choices are to choose them.

That was half my life ago. I don’t know how life is on the outside. So it’s not realistic to talk about a reality I know nothing about. All I know is I have a lot of patience now. I could live a normal life now. If they let me out I’d be okay. Is there a chance of that happening? I won’t allow myself to hope when that hope is not realistic. I will wait on the new settlement to see what improvements are made to my life inside here and think about what happiness that could bring.

Well Sonni, I hope all is well with you. It was good to have received your letters.

(Sonni’s note: It is easy to judge people for what they have done and hold it against them for the rest of their lives. I have been judged. I know what that feels like when people are determined to only look at half of a truth and deem it to be the entire truth. Many people have also given up the art of letter writing and many have even given up knowing how to write at all. The correct use of the English language, spelling and punctuation is slowly being forgotten. Young people have no knowledge of how to write cursive because it isn’t taught. It is the men and women in prison who continue to write our language. When was the last time YOU wrote a letter?

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni Quick piano music complete list

Prison, We Must Do Better for At-Risk Teens

Jamie started in the school to prison pipeline at the age of sixteen because a cop had a vendetta against his family. He literally pushed his way into their home, knocked his mother down and broke her wrist. Jamie defended his mother. Was that enough reason to put him in juvenile detention until he was 21, unable to get even a GED? What kind of job was he supposed to get. He might have legally been an adult, but he had no experience to draw on. He had also spent extended time in solitary confinement. In Juvy it was called “Behavior Modification Program” or BMP.

teens a risk, school to prison pipelineI recently started reading a book that was published in 1997. The title is, “No Matter How Loud I Shout -A Year In The Life Of Juvenile Court” – by Edward Humes. It takes place in juvenile courts in LA. The courts then, and now have no idea how to handle children criminals. Some are hardened criminals while still in their early teens and some get mixed up in something and learn their lesson. Some come from the streets and some come from the middle and upper middle income families where they have every opportunity a child could want. The conflict is when to prosecute them as adults. There can’t be one rule that covers everything that changes at an exact moment yet this is what they try to do. Are kids responsible for their actions and at one age. Some get their lives ruined and some get let go until the next crime they commit. It’s a tough call.

During this time this book was written I lived in LA until my children were teens. I went through rough times with my kids. When my son and daughter were 15 and 18 we moved away. I had to get them away. Educating them in public schools was impossible. I pulled them out of bad schools and put them in other bad schools hoping they would be better. But the writing was on the wall if we stayed. We loved north to a small town. My son got his act together and started working hard. My daughter got pregnant and had her first baby at 16.

When I read today about the juvenile courts in LA in the 90’s, knowing how easily it could have been my children I was reading about, it is scary. Today they are 35 and 38 and they have their own teenagers to worry about. It is much worse it today than it was in the 90’s. Kids have less and less respect for teachers or anyone in a position of authority. So many have less respect for themselves as well. They were never taught respect in their homes. Many parents wanted to be “friends” with their children instead of parents. These teenagers I am reading about in this book are in their 30’s now. Are they alive? Are they in prison?

As parents we want to say it won’t happen to our children. It does, and when they grab hold of your child, or your grandchildren, the system doesn’t plan on letting go until they have sucked every possible way of making money from them.  Look at Jamie. He is now 32. He STILL doesn’t have a GED. Without that, how can he take other educational courses? How can he learn about something he is interested in when he doesn’t even know what that is?

Are there bad kids out there? Absolutely. Bad parents in bad neighborhoods, and bad parents in good neighborhoods. Some parents don’t want to believe their child would do these things, but they do. There is a saying, “If you continue to do what you always done you’ll continue to get what you’ve always got.” Parents need to have a better perception of the life outside their children are exposed to. There is no one protecting them. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you are from or how much money you make. Some of the things my children tell me now they did 20 years ago had my jaw on the floor, similar to the things I told my parents long after the fact. We were lucky. Really lucky. Not everyone is.

In the past few years “The Law” has upped the ante. Now, instead of handling disciplinary issues that previously called for detention, being sent to the principle’s office or parents were called – now it is the police who called, who come and handcuff the children in the classroom and escort them out. Quite often the police are already located on school grounds replacing guidance counselors. They are also often taken into a courtroom in handcuffs, too. Why? Do the officers fear for their safety or is it for effect? Often the reason is not justified and does untold damage to the child’s self-esteem. Sadly, this affects black children more than it does white children and even Hispanic children. White children learn early in life that black is not as good as white and they carry that attitude into their adult lives and a new generation of racist attitudes is born.

An already bad situation with juvenile courts has been made worse. More adult criminals are cultivated. Black children learn their lives don’t have as much value. The juvenile courts are so overcrowded. There is no time for anyone to care. We need to do more to help in some way. Too many people are short in help and long in opinions and the children are thrown under the bus.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

 

CHILDREN IN SHADOW ::: CHILDREN IN WAR

Prison, We Must Do Better for At-Risk Teens

Guest Commentary

Published August 16, 2015

Since the late 1980s, at-risk teens have been subjugated to terrible injustices. Being socially labeled super-delinquents by politicians and media, legally tried as adults under get-tough legislation, and psychologically stunted by zero tolerance in schools and abuse in correctional facilities.

Today, you would imagine that America has found a better way to deal with juvenile delinquency and youth-gang crimes, but unfortunately, many states still implement outdated, misguided policies that continue to funnel teens into the juvenile justice system. This populates our prison systems. And to make matters worse, recidivism keeps increasing this rate—that is, teens become damaged goods after cycling through “the system” and often return to prison as adults.

According the Annie E. Casey Foundation, despite the good intentions and regulations in our system, teens do learn how to become better criminals from inmates, and…

View original post 710 more words

In Prison – Streaming Tears Like Blood From A Wound

December 3, 2009

Hello mom,

blood tearsI’m sorry it took so long for me to write back.  Things are not so good on my end right now.  I haven’t heard from Megan in like a month.  I’ve beat myself up about that and went downhill at the same time.  I don’t know what’s going on.  However, it’s not like her, mom.  The last time she went without writing, something was wrong.  I don’t know what it is but I feel like she’s losing her love for me.  In a way I kinda understand it.  Then again I don’t.  I guess because I don’t want to let go of her.  Mom, I promise you, your daughter is the only woman I have ever loved.  Not just because she and I treasure a son together.  We have that bond I feel that loves and respects each other.  To me that bond is so strong, taking it away would be like taking away half of me.  Why?  Because she is the other half of me, mom.

“Tears Like Blood From a Wound” – by Sonni Quick    copyright 2015


Sonni Quick piano music complete list

My eyes are always streaming tears, like blood from a wound that can never heal, just thinking about life without her and the kids.  I’m really hurting right now, because like I said mom, I’m downhill right now.  I’ve been in a fight.  This happened almost a month ago.  I’m on a 24 hour lockdown now for a year.  However it’s good because there really is nothing to do that can get me in trouble.  They don’t let us out the cell for any reason.  Everything comes to us unless we really need to go to medical.  If they take us we’re in cuffs.

Anyway, this is how I got into the fight.  Me and some of the officers have had our run ins.  Some of them have grudges and continue to hold it against me.  It just so happened there was an officer at the pill window the night this happened.  There was this dude in front of me calling out the officer’s name.  The officer came over to write me up.  I told him it wasn’t me.  He said he didn’t believe me so we went back and forth about it.  I didn’t tell him it was the dude in front of me.  People have been known for getting beat up bad for telling.  I’m trying to stay out of trouble. So I go to the dude and try to talk to him about it.  I end up getting punched in the mouth.  I was shocked for a minute because all I wanted to do was talk to him.  Anyway, I let my anger get the best of me and fought back.  The real reason I did that is because in here, if you don’t fight when it comes your way everyone looks at it.  Then it’s hell from then on if you know what I’m saying.  After they run court on us the the dude apologized and said he tried to take the case.  The rage in me wanted to jump on him. I felt he took a lot from me, mom.  I only had five months left to be able to get contact visits so I could hold my family.  He took that away from me.  Now I have to wait another eighteen months. No matter what I do there is always something there to take it away from me.

(Sonni’s note: This letter was written more than 5 1/2 years ago. If every woman could have a man love her as much as he loved Megan she would be very lucky. Lost love in prison. Time stood still for him. If put this in the past tense because he has had to find a way to continue on without her. When he says that she is the only woman he has loved he is right. She is the only woman who was in his life, and she was good to him. She loved him and she wrote for a long time, but life had to go on for her. He doesn’t blame her for that but it still hurts his heart. But from her point of view, being responsible for his happiness knowing she had to move on ended up making her resentful and angry. Promises to wait for 17 years were made without understanding it won’t be possible to keep the promise. So life went on for her and it stopped for him. All he has is memories of her and the life he they could have had. Was that life even possible? He spent four years in juvy, had no education and no real life experience. How could he possibly take care of a family of five with her two other kids? Love alone isn’t enough. She now resents my relationship with him. She thinks its weird. She doesn’t want me to ever mention his name again.

The fact remains that it isn’t just the two of them. There is a nine year old boy I know needs to have his father in his life as much as possible. When Jamie thinks of his future, it involves being able to be a father to his son. His son needs to understand there are consequences to actions. Being black means those consequences can be very severe. 1 out of 27 adults in Texas are locked up. And of those, there are six times more blacks than whites. The odds for a black man are not good. What this means is that ONE out of every THREE black men see the inside of a prison cell. Most of all, my grandsons need to understand how much racism there is in our police and our justice system and know that fairness doesn’t apply to them. Unfortunately they live in one of the most racist states. I have three grandchildren who are half black and two of them are boys. The youngest one is a couple years younger than Jamie. I also know that getting out of prison is only one battle. Reintegrating into society again and being able to survive is probably tougher than being inside. The term, being “institutionalized” is very real. Being free is not always a good feeling. This is why I work so hard to be there for him. He deserves another chance to be happy.

I have told this to many people, many times: “The only legacy you ever really leave behind when you die is the affect you have had on other people.” You live on through them.

If you would like to be on the email list for info about the book or to read any chapters I post please fill out the contact form below.

Follow Jamie’s Facebook page for more posts and articles about current events regarding the law – progress and abuses

Some Dude Asked Me If I Wanted To Beat Up A Prison Guard

(Sonni’s note: This letter was written almost exactly 2 years ago on July 7, 2013. Jamie was going to have a chance to see his son.  There are very few letters were I have been able to read joy in his words.  His son was now almost seven years old.  The last time his saw him he was just learning to walk. For a along time he was moved around to prisons that were too far away so visiting was hard.  Now he was in a closer prison.  He hoped that would enable his family to come see him now but contact was very rare.  he was able to see him again a couple months later when I came to visit. That was the LAST time he saw him.  I am going to Texas again in September and I’m hoping my daughter will let me take their son to see his father again.

Jamie Cummings
Jamie and his son July 7, 2013

This picture was taken during that last visit, with his son in front of the glass and his father behind the glass.  That, in itself, is heartbreaking.  Jamie’s son is all he has to live for.  It also represents the one good thing that came from his brief time between juvy and prison.  Because his contact with other people is rare I have been like the peanut butter between two pieces of bread holding the two of them together.  No matter what, when his son matures, even though he doesn’t understand it now, he will know how much his father loves him through the hundreds of letters he has sent to me.  There is a reason why I came into his life.  Without this connection, when he gets out, it would be a different person emerging with different chances of success living in society.)

***********************************************************************

Megan is bringing Jamie! Thank you so much for making the phone calls. I just can’t wait to see them. I’ve waited so long for this. What I feel has gone beyond many things. I’m going to see my family!! The only person I’ll be missing is you. It’s okay ’cause you send your love to me. It’s just like seeing you.

You’re right, about a lot of things. I do my best, just as always, but it’s always going to be someone or something trying to bring me down. Just as soon as I got moved over here some dude asked me if I wanted to beat up a prison guard. As much as I would have liked to, I said no. I’m looking to move forward, not back. I’m fixing to try my best not to fight these folks in here. I can’t do it without getting caught.

Punk stole my radio. He’s saying he didn’t but I just know he did. I’ve seen him take stuff from other people’s cells. A lot of these folks do it. There is a lot of theft from other inmates. They wait people go to chow and then go in. No, the officers don’t open the door. The way the locks are made they can stick in anything flat to jimmy it open. I know I could get back at this guy but (fuck it) it’s not right!

I have a new celly. He’s young, from Dallas. He loves Texas! I can’t stand Texas. I want to get away. We get along good. No problems yet, hopefully none in the future.

It’s hot like crazy. No rain in a while. It’s killing me. Little cell. Four walls. I’m boxed in. I’m cooking like Ms Susie Homemaker. Well done lol. It’s really really hot, We have no air in G4. The only time it cools off is for 3 or 4 minutes in the morning. I sleep on the steel to try and keep cool. It helps a little but not much. The steel hurts to sleep on so I toss and turn all night. Once I do get to sleep it’s only for an hour or two. I lay on my bunk looking outside as the sun begins to rise. There are some trees and the sun peaks over. I lay there and just think sometimes. My mind is blank. I just watch. Sometimes I think I would like to make a poem about what I’m feeling and seeing. It feels good to do it.

Heat in Texas prisons, no AC in prison in the summer
Wynne Unit, the prison Jamie is in. These fans are the only cooling system even when it is over 100 degrees. There are no open windows. All it does is blow hot air around.
cooking like Ms Susie Homemaker. Well done lol. It’s really really hot, We have no air in G4. This is only one of the inhumane conditions in prison. The only time it cools off is for 3 or 4 minutes in the morning. I sleep on the steel to try and keep cool. It helps a little but not much. The steel hurts to sleep on so I toss and turn all night.  Once I do get to sleep it’s only for an hour or two. I lay on my bunk looking outside as the sun begins to rise. There are some trees and the sun peaks over. I lay there and just think sometimes. My mind is blank. I just watch. Sometimes I think I would like to make a poem about what I’m feeling and seeing. It feels good to do it.

Credit source: beaumontenterprises.com

I saw my cousin. He’s here at the prison. I talked to him a few times. He works in the chow hall. He’s my uncle’s son. I’m waiting to get some addresses from him. I don’t know why my mom isn’t writing. But like I said before, I put her through a lot. However, I can’t explain why she won’t write to me. And Megan won’t write. Yes it hurts bad but there’s nothing I can do about it. I try to stop thinking about it. I only look forward to mail from you. Really that’s it. No one else. Megan made it clear she’s not writing. I’m through begging her.

This is my last letter for now. I only have one more stamp. I got the tablets and the envelopes, and the book.

Till next time. I love you and always will, Son

*******************************************************************************************************

(Sonni’s note: Please help me get Jamie’s story out there by sharing it on your own social media and if you want to be on the email list for news about the book I’m writing, “Inside The Forbidden Outside” please fill out the contact form below.

Prison is More Like Death Than Life

Moon from a prison window,solitary confinement, inmate mental health
Moon From a prison Window

(Sonni’s note: This is a re post. I wanted to bring it back into the picture. It was originally written early last year. It will help those who don’t know the story of Jamie and what happened in the year between being finally let out of juvy and ending up in prison. It was during this year he met my daughter and they had a baby who was born 7 months later. My daughter tried to be there for him but she was young and in her 20’s and knowing it would be a long time before he got out, she eventually went on to live her life. It left Jamie with no one. Because there was no one else to love, that last image of her he has carried with him as if it were yesterday. His own family has contacted him very infrequently and for a very long time it was just he and I, trying to get through his years of solitary confinement, also called ad seg or G5, as he was helping me get through years of extreme illness.

I found him to be a gentle soul, that due to circumstances, never had a chance to find out who he was. This is why I started the blog and why I started writing the book InsideOut, to validate his existence and try to turn these years from something negative to something positive. You can find two of the chapters of the book at the end of the paragraph. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you’d like to leave, and if you want to be on the mailing list for the book fill out the contact page at the bottom and state that it is for the book, as other contact forms are out there for other reasons.. https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/01/27/insideout/ and https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/02/26/insideout-chapter-nightmares/

photo credit: ynigogus.keep.pl
photo credit: ynigogus.keep.pl

Ahhh. . . The moon. It was a beautiful sight. However, I’ve been moved to another cell. I can no longer see outside. But I can still see the moon in my mind. Such a beautiful sight to see, it is. Sometimes my memories are the only thing standing in the way to insanity. Today it is my memory of the moon. It makes me want to write a poem.

Being alone so much there isn’t anything else to do but just sit and think. It makes me think a lot about my past. You told me it is foolish to get upset when I think about my past, but I think otherwise. When I sit back and read over old things I’ve done or remember things I really don’t want to, it hurts. I don’t need anymore pain. I realize now that I’ve been locked up most my life.

I loved the year I was home. I really enjoyed it. The mistake I made is that I passed up an opportunity. It hurts. When I got out of juvy I went to stay with my uncle, and I know for a fact if I had stayed with him I would not be here now. But I wanted to go back to Nacogdoches. My home. I think so much about that chance I passed up and it hurts me. I know I had a chance for a better life. Foolish, yes, indeed. But would something else have happened in Dallas? Was it my karma to be locked up?

If a cause had been made for that to happen sometime in my life, even if I don’t remember what it was, wouldn’t the effect happen no matter where I was? A person can’t run away from the the causes they make. It follows them. There is always cause and effect for everything. Things don’t happen for no reason. There can’t be an effect without a cause, and we can’t go somewhere else and expect things to be different. There is something inside of us we have to change first. I have to understand what that is. But still, I think of my life and it makes me sad. Almost like I wasted it. I have to find a way to do better.

Life inside these walls are more like death than life. No one was ever meant to live like this. I know I did something wrong but this kind of punishment far exceeds the crime. What people don’t know is there is so much that goes on in here that the world doesn’t know about. I really don’t see how the guards can go about their life knowing what goes on in here and the things that happen and then go on about their day pretending that what they do is okay. I think a lot of them like having control over other people. It brings out the worst in them. Who knows, maybe they get off on it.

(Sonni’s note: In Nichiren Buddhism there are different life conditions that a person has and one is called “the world of animality”. It’s also called “kick the dog syndrome” That means that someone who is crapped on by their boss goes home and takes it out on his wife and kid who goes over and kicks the dog. Each person wants to get over on the person beneath him so that he can feel in control. But how can these guards go home to their families and pretend their life is okay? What do they tell their kids about what they did at work that day? Do they want anyone to know how they mistreat people? I don’t see how they would. I think in the beginning that many of people who work here start out okay. They applied for a job that pays good and has benefits. They were probably never inside a prison before. It changes them. They lose the ability to have compassion. They don’t see inmates as human beings who have value. I can’t imagine what they say to each other. They get mean. They start to enjoy causing misery. It may not happen to everyone who works here, but I think it happens to many.)

There is nothing I can do about it. I can’t get any help. If I try to say anything it just comes back on me so I stay quiet most of the time. There is no place I can complain where anyone would listen, that’s for sure, and if I could it would just get me in trouble. I can’t win in here.

In Prison, Who Do You Have to Care About Your Day?

alone(Sonni’s note:) If you’ve had the opportunity to read other posts that have music links, or have gone to the page at the top that says https://mynameisjamie.net/music-links/ then you know I compose music and play the piano. But what I do is all improvisation. I create what I feel, and record as I play.  My music is the tangible result of my emotions. Yesterday I recorded another piece called ‘Blindfolded Pain’ because I played only by feel, not sight. This piece is very painful to me. I was in pain in my heart. I’ve sat and closed my eyes and just listened to the dissonance of the notes that sometimes grate together, and cried, listening to the intervals between the notes, and when you think it is over, it quietly starts again, and again, and again until the light is gone.

September 9, 2010 Written from the Smith Unit in La Mesa, Tx, a long way from any family
Four and a half years before today

(Sonni’s Note: I will be posting each older later the day I transcribe and leave it at this date for 6 months. I will then transfer it to the correct date. Since Many people Don’t start at the beginning, it needs to initially be published as a new post.)

Hello Mom,

How are you doing. Fine, I pray. As for me, well, before I begin my letter I want to apologize about my last letter. It’s just that things are getting so stressful as time passes. To tell the truth, it doesn’t help any when I don’t hear back from the ones I love. I’m facing and looking at some bad things. I’ve had a fight, I’ve been threatened by 3 people. I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I haven’t told the officers. Well, if I do that, they’re going to write up a statement, mom. If I give them a statement they are going to write up the person I’m having problems with. They will also place a copy of my statement on his write up. Then I would not only have to worry about him, but others as well. I would also to worry about the officers telling other inmates. So no matter what, I’m in a no win situation. I don’t feel safe on this unit, but I have to deal with it until they move me.

I know if I tell the officers it won’t help me none. Officers have some inmates they tell things to. I’ve seen people get jumped on because of an officer telling him to. I’ve also seen officers and heard them do some backstabbing things, mom. There’s no help in here. I want to come home, but it’s going be hard when when I hear inmates and officers against me with no help. I don’t know what to do. I’m ready to give up, but something tells me to keep trying and don’t give up. To me, I feel that’s hard to do. I’m not ready to give up. I feel this way because the feeling of me being given up on keeps coming back. I’m strong in so many ways, however, so I will keep trying, family, or not.

However, I could uses some advice, mom. Please, I need it. Things are so stressful on me right now, mom. I love Megan and the kids and I also love my family. I will do anything I have to do, so if I have to fight, you must understand. Understand that these people are going to try to hurt me. I want to see my family again, both of them, so I’m going to do what I have to do, mom. I can take care of myself. I’ve been thinking a lot about Megan ever since she wrote me. I can sit and write about how much it hurts when she don’t write, however it’s not going to help nothing. One day I’ll get over the spaces of her not writing. Not just her, but everyone else as well. I just feel so left out.

However, now that I think about it, I’ve had someone by my side all along. Someone who’s helped me, given me support, given me good advice when I needed it and been there for me. Thank you mom, without you being there for me and letting me know how Megan and the kids are from time to time, I would have lost it. Thanks again, mom.

Again, I’m sorry about the last letter. I was upset at myself and the world. It’s my fault I’m in this situation. Things will change one day I’m sure. It seems seems to get harder every day. But I guess it’s just me worrying too much. Well, I must say that I’m thankful for the money and the books you’ve sent me, mom. However, I can’t keep asking you to help me. That’s why I asked you not to send me anything. I know you say you’re doing okay with it. But my family won’t help me. That’s why I haven’t asked you for anything in several months. Also because I know you are having problems of your own. I know things might be tight, so I’m okay.

I haven’t heard from you in awhile so I assume you’ve moved due to the fact of me not hearing from you. (Sonni’s note: Two weeks before he wrote this letter I had to pack up my home and my store to make a move from Key West to Pa to see a good liver transplant specialist. The transition was hard.)

I sure hope things are okay,mom. How’s the weather up there? It’s starting to get chilly. I don’t like the cold. What’s the weather like in Pa? (sonni’s note: I hate the cold. Anything below 60 degrees lol. But today I’d even settle for 50!) I just know things are still beautiful there. Tell your mom I said hello okay? How’s things going with your sister? She still have a chip on her shoulder? I wonder why some people hate others when they don’t know nothing about them. I really don’t understand that. Maybe it’s because you and Mike are happy together. Some people hate to see others happy. Don’t worry mom, I’m sure she’ll get over whatever it is she has a problem with.

Well, I have to go for now, mom. Love always,Son
Love you Mom (in fancy script)

(Sonni’s note: So much sadness and loneliness in this letter. Since he had been inside now just over 9 years, this was written about the halfway mark. I always felt him to be a gentle person with a good heart. It’s hard when you are frightened into to taking a plea by being scared by your public defender telling you the judge could give you 99 years, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. When he left the house that night to go out partying with his cousin, as 22 year old young men do, and if you had been kept in juvy for 4 years when it was supposed to be 9 months because a cop barged unto their home when it was clear there was no need,he had no chance at having a life. The cop knocked his mother down and broke her wrist. Jamie hit him with a broom in defense of his mother. But we all know that cops are always right. There isn’t a black heart in any cop, right? They always serve and protect. Jamie isn’t a criminal, but he has played the price of one. So I try to keep his heart going.

It was soon after this letter that he was moved closer to home. At least the same side of Texas, but still far away. Due to lies from guards and planting a weapon in his cell, he started what ended up being 4 years on solitary, or adseg, and also G5. That is when you are really alone. It was also 4 1/2 more years before he was every allowed to make a phone call. Two weeks later they found away to take that away from him, too, while trying to live with impossible rules that no one on the outside could ever live with. A world where a guard is always right and you are always wrong, no matter what the situation is.)