This has been a year of writing music - which can be found on either of my blogs, mynameisjamie.net and watchandwhirl.com. and at the website soundcloud.com/sonni-quick. This has also been a year of writing and learning how to write - the book I am writing "Inside The Forbidden Outside" , the story of Jamie Cummings and his life from juvenile detention to prison. I also publish a monthly newsletter - ITFO - on happenings inside the prison industry. There are ways to subscribe on the blog and at facebook at jamielifeinprison
This is my new album, a long time in the making. I have posted the music in posts since I started this blog, but now you can kick back and listen to it in it’s entirety. This is not the music for for Jamie’s book, Inside The Forbidden Outside, also a long time in the making. That music has special meaning for certain chapters. When everything is done I mean for that music to be listened to while you read so you can feel the emotions of what he has been through all these years in prison.
Someone who hasn’t been through juvenile detention or prison, or doesn’t know someone who has been inside, can’t understand, not really. I never knew; how could I, if all I had to go on were TV shows or movies that never really told the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God? We assume we know, but we don’t. All of my writings, including the blog posts here are what I have learned over the years.
This first album has selections that have been recorded over the past three years as I developed my ability to improvise. You can listen, but you can’t download it because I still need to copyright and license it. It will then be sold – hopefully. That is the plan. That is the mountain I am determined to move.
I believe my music has a different quality that is all my own because it is 100% improvised when I record, based on emotions I felt at the time. The second album will be a soundtrack for the book. I don’t believe anything like this has been done. A soundtrack for a book? Can I do it? This first album is a way of getting my feet wet and see if others enjoy listening to what I play. Will other people see the value in it? If you want to, leave comments at the different music websites so I know.
The music comes from a place in me I didn’t know was there. How can music be played with a beginning, middle and end with a recurring feel and theme without knowing what is going to be played – and plan of what is coming next? I feel it and let my hands play it. Most of the time I don’t listen back for days or even weeks. I want to listen to it as a stranger would.
If I do listen back right away it’s because it hit me hard and I had to hear what I played. It’s hard to explain. The piece “K’lee” did that to me. I sit on a stool when I play. Almost standing. When I finished playing I felt like I had been punched in the gut and all the air was pushed out of me. It swallowed me. Where did that music come from? I grabbed my husband, who was walking through the room and made him listen. “Close your eyes. What do you see? Put it into words.” At first he said he did listen while I was playing it. He said it was nice. I said, “No, listen to it – not passively.” He did. When it was over he thought for a minute, then described a sunrise, bursting in color as it broke the horizon. He did see it. It was really the first positive, real feedback I had gotten from him that told me he heard me.
How can I do that? I never used to write like this. I wrote songs. Although I do write poetry, where before I wrote lyrics, it is now the only way I play music. I could never do cover tunes again. I have no interest in redoing someone’s music. Maybe someday, but not now – not to just get gigs. My goal is to play gigs again, but it is me they get, not my ability to copy other songs.
People like to hear old songs because of the memories that come with it. Oldies take you back to a time and let you relive a memory. If I don’t do cover music will that make it harder to find work? Maybe. It will depend on how well I brand myself and how people respond to my music. At this point in my life I think I’ve earned the right to play my music not copy something someone else wrote
Music is my passion. I hear it in everything, even when no one else can. I hear it in the air as life unfolds. Life events evokes emotion. If music surrounds something in our life and when we hear music that was played then it takes us immediately to that time and we let it wash over us. In those few moments we are once again at that age or in that time no matter how long ago it was. We want to remember. Sometimes that memory is painful and sometimes it represents love. Music let’s us feel the emotion again however brief it is. At that moment it is real again.
After I record, the music is gone, out of my head. But I can play for hours going from one emotion to another. Sometimes I lose confidence and wonder if I can play ” on demand” for a couple hours so I go to the piano, and yes, I can do it. When I tap into this part of me that gives form to the emotions I feel, those feelings are real. I’m an overly emotional person. I rarely play happy music in a major key. I usually play in a minor key which is often melancholy, painful, aching and deep – yet peaceful and relaxing. Beautiful melodies. For me it is like meditating.
The best way to listen is in a dark room. Speakers on a device or laptop don’t play quality sounds. I tried ear buds. They were just as bad. The sounds were tinny, but maybe I used lousy earbuds. For me, head phones resonate with feeling – or if you have good computer speakers. To feel the story in my music, listen to the entire thing. The end pulls the beginning back together. To not hear the entire story is like not finishing a book. I know this from my own listening when I hear it as a stranger, like you.
I have been writing music since I was a child and it has grown and changed as I’ve aged. I could hear and feel music then but didn’t know how to express it. I didn’t have the technical skill to play what I heard in my head. I knew had had to figure out how to let go, trust that my hands knew what to play. When we speak we don’t think of every letter in every word before for speak a sentence so we can structure our thoughts. We just speak. We trust that the words coming out will mean what we want them to mean. Music is a language.
During my life I learned everything I could, like a person learning to speak another language. I have written songs most of my life but for decades I can’t honestly say it came from inside me. They were written because technically I knew how to put them together because I knew the theory. My arrangements were very classically oriented. I wrote charts and piano arrangements for others, long before computers spit them out. Anyone can “learn” music theory and can practice until they are competent but take away the music and they can’t play something new.
Knowing music theory knowledge you can always always make it come out right. But something will be missing. My improvisations don’t work right when I sit down at the keyboard without knowing the emotion of why I’m playing. I can’t force it. I might as well practice scales and finger exercises, which I often do.
There are different kinds of musicians. Those that practice until they can play a piece perfectly – like classical musicians. They are lost without the music. They learn the emotion of the music by reading the symbols on the music which tells them how to play the note; very softly (pp) or to linger a second (fermata) or gradually get louder (<).
Young musicians seek fame and fortune. They haven’t been players long enough. Musicians today often don’t take the time to learn their craft. So much is all electronic. Freddie the drum machine is used too much, not understanding drums is the heart beat. Drum machines are stale. They don’t breath. There is no split section human element where a drum may be hit with a slightly different touch. I’d like to hear hip hop use a real drummer. That’s why most people my age don’t like it. There is no life. Just fast talking and a drum machine.
I ruined my voice singing in clubs. I pushed it too hard. Clubs were smoky. I had to stop – for awhile, thought. I was arrogant. I could have continued and played keyboards. I had both a piano and a synth. But my ego didn’t want to be someone’s side man. I was used to fronting the band.
My life flew by while raising my kids. I began to get sick and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong for a long time. I had Hepatitis C. It wasn’t well known then because AIDS dominated medical news. I tried the only possible remedy. Interferon with ribavirin. It made me very sick and it didn’t work. I didn’t know what else to do.
I packed up my life, my kids were grown, pulled a U-haul behind my white Mustang and drove from California to Key West. To start making money right away I got a job as asst manager at a Ripley’s Believe it Not Museum. I bought a bicycle for transportation. I took care of my health the best I could and went into denial. I moved many times in my life. If I needed to call any place home it would be Key West. I was there for ten years. I knew deep down I knew my health was in trouble.
My last paying gigs were in Key West in 2002. My voice couldn’t hold up. Callouses on my vocal cords would swell and nothing came out. I was a good player but there was something missing. I retired. I didn’t know how to play without singing. I was lost. I felt like my legs were cut off. I lost my identity. I had no right to call myself a musician anymore and that was devastating.
Two things happened that changed my life. I met Jamie in 2005. He was my daughter’s boyfriend. The second thing is my Hep C fell of a cliff and took me with it. Every possible thing that could go wrong, did go wrong. It became end stage liver disease, I developed two cancerous tumors and I swelled with 60 lbs of fluid and looked 9 months pregnant.
My husband and I decided, unfortunately, to move closer to my family which was within driving distance of a good hospital known for their transplant team. I say unfortunately because my family really didn’t want me there and let me know not to expect any help from them, or any help for my husband my husband. I was bedridden for two years. Soon after surgery my back fractured so add a back brace to the mix. But I didn’t die and things began to change. After it seemed pretty certain I was going to make it the doctors explained how close I came to not making it.
Beginning in Key West Jamie and I had been writing letters. I was his support in prison. He was getting no support, emotionally or financially from his family, either. How was he supposed to buy hygiene products or stamps? Why won’t anyone answer his letters. How was he to handle his depression. A 17 year sentence is a long time if you have no one. We became reach other’s family. It will be 13 years in January. He’s in the home stretch.
I sat down at the piano one day, sad, thinking about what Jamie was going through. I wasn’t thinking about writing music in any particular key, I just played how I felt. It was amazing. My hands DID know what they were doing without my telling them what to play. I had no way to record it. I put a recording app on my Nook and put it close to the speaker. It would have to do. It sounded so tinny. This is the first piece I recorded in 2014.
I titled it “Jamie”
After that I got a better program and recorded it into my computer. Then I bought a better piano. I got better. My piano improv tells stories. You can’t tap a beat with your foot. I play with a lot of syncopation. Sometimes I hit a wrong note. It now belongs there. It took a long time to put this album together, choosing what to put in You won’t know why certain songs were played. I always record when I play. I don’t keep everything. Now I am learning what to do to license and copyright and sell it on any of the music sites like CDBaby or iTunes. I don’t know if anyone would want to buy it. But if I don’t try then I can know for sure that no one would buy it.
The benefit of getting sick and living through something brutally hard, was I now appreciated the value of living on a whole different level. Life isn’t to be wasted. There are no do-overs. We shouldn’t worry about what others think because they don’t live our lives, we do. It’s our life to live. Do what makes you happy. Don’t live with fear. We’re all going to die anyway. So here I am, 63 and I “unretired” my music career.
I recently had a photo shoot and there were several shots of just my hands on the keyboard. My husband said, “Don’t use them, your hands look old.” So what? They still work. I can’t pretend I’m in my 30’s, because I’m not – and I’m going to get older. I had to get over that thought real fast or it could make me cave in to it.
Last year I had my upper arm bone replaced with titanium as well as my elbow. I was told by my doctor, “Don’t be disappointed if you can’t use it,” He was trying to make me accept the fact that I was screwed. I wasn’t going to let it beat me. I am who I am and my music is what it is because of what I’ve been through during these years I lived. I’m not done yet. My age is a positive, not a negative. I’m going to play music until my fingers fall off.
Oh yes, I’m a bit crazy. I have plans. I’m alive. I don’t care if it is hard. Don’t tell me I can’t do something. It is up to me to decided that. If I didn’t believe in myself I’d stop trying. It took me this long to understand – you have to know where you are going or your life will just slap you around. It doesn’t matter if I’m not young. Youth is not the ball and end all of life, and life is over just because I’m getting older. Wisdom and life experience also has it’s place.
For whatever reason, Jamie and I met at a point in our lives that was the right time. We needed each other to survive. The road we need to travel is far from over. I’ve helped him keep it together. He gave me a purpose. Along the way I’ve been able to encourage many others going through this very same thing as their husband, children or boyfriend has gotten sucked into the system. There are millions of people who have been thrown away, many of them should not have been.
I don’t think Jamie would have been okay. Knowing there is someone on the outside who cares has given him the strength to keep trying. He has no idea any of the things I’ve done except what I have described it to him. He said, in his last letter, he would someday hear me play the piano. We have given each other something to live for.
ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.
SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London playing music composed for the book being written for Jamie. If you can, help support by sharing the music and leaving a comment or following. Thank you to those who have.
I saw this video today. It hurt to watch it. I know a woman who has a son who was turned into a poster boy and given 20 years in prison for touching the breasts of an underage girl at a party. Unfortunately, this girl didn’t look like a minor and it was with her okay. They were playing games at a party. It was not okay with her parents when they found out. He got 10 years for each breast. His parents were shocked. He was getting ready to go to college so he, too, was pretty young. It snow balled out of control. His life is ruined. His education is ruined. Growing up, having a family of his own is ruined. His parents can now only see him a couple hours at a time in a prison waiting room. They can no longer share birthdays and holidays. Being convicted of a sex crime, in prison with men who can only have sex by using or raping other men puts a big target on his back. Will he get through 20 years without being raped? A pretty young virgin boy? Not likely.
Was this the only option? Should he be ruined for being a sexually inexperienced boy who wanted to do what all straight makes crave – to touch a girl’s breasts. Is he a monster? Someone to be afraid of? Someone who can’t be allowed into a park or live near a school when he is released from prison – middle aged? Everyone convicted of a sex crime, no matter what it is, is lumped together in one basket that says “Sexual Predator For the Rest of Their Lives”
Yet so many real sexual predators, like our president, who admits he can get away with anything, even p*ssy grabbing women, has no repercussions. “I’m a star!” he says. Why can he do that and others, who aren’t using their money and “stardom” to assault people, end up in prison and/or branded for life as a pervert.
Men like Bill O’reilly are walking free. Roger Ailes had people looking the other way even though they knew what he was doing. Bill Cosby couldn’t get convicted even though he admitted he drugged women and then raped them when they were unconscious.
But the woman in this video, who was underage herself had sex with an underage boy, who wanted to have sex with her, has had her life ruined by his mother. What happened to him, I wonder? Was he charged with anything or was only she punished for the rest of her life?
Neither of them should have been punished with a felony. Maybe it was the parent’s fault for not teaching their children responsible behavior. This is a law that needs changing. The punishment does not fit the crime. There are real sexual predators, and their are people like this woman and my friend’s son. There is no fairness in our justice system.
Is this boy’s mother in the video proud of what she did? Teenagers are horny. Their hormones are kicking in. Did anyone get hurt? My 41 year old son told me he lost his virginity when he was 12 to a much older girl. Would I have pressed charges had I known? No. We would have had a serious talk about pregnancy and STDs. Kids will have sex whether we like it or not. I had sex with my 16 yr old boyfriend when I was 16. My parents found out. It was awhile before they let us be alone when he came over, but it didn’t stop us outside the house. She they have had him arrested? Or should I have been arrested? Why should any of these kids been arrested?
What part of society is served when this can’t get a good job or raise her children the best way for them? Who does it hurt if she can’t even take them to a park or take a trip and go out of state? Is she a danger to children? I’m surprised they let her be a mother and didn’t take her children away and adopt them out to more “suitable” parents. But CPS is a subject for another day.
Please share this video with your own contacts. When you can, take a stand.
ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.
SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London playing music composed for the book being written for Jamie. If you can, help support by sharing the music and leaving a comment or following. Thank you to those who have. It will all help Jamie in the end when he gets out of prison. I’m trying to create avenues of income because getting a job after prison without even a GED is nearly impossible. The more people know about these projects I’m working on the more people there will be to buy the book and the music – and in general be there for emotional support. Knowing people care makes a big difference.
I’m going to Texas in a couple days to hopefully have three visits with him, the first visit in a year. We will talk about the book and tie the chapters together with information that is hard for him to write in letters. Then I will finish pounding out this revision, send it to an editor and see what needs to be re written. The process of writing a book is more than I ever realized at first, but I want it done right. To do that – I work on getting to know people who care. Some have a loved one or friend in prison, too. This is why I constantly tell people about ITFO News and ask them to subscribe. They get to follow the progress and often share an issue. Reach issue focuses on a different prison issue. The last issue was seen by over 2500 people.
I had a book give-away my last issue, of ten signed copies titled “Waiting on the Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky. I will be contacting those people for their physical addresses very soon. You can also purchase the book at Amazon.
Who decides – and how is it decided if someone shows the “required” degree of horror in a crime that was committed decades ago? It can’t be undone – so shouldn’t the decision be based on the actions of that human being during the decades she paid in prison to become a better human being? What are the causes she made that would have an effect on society in a positive way? There have been light sentences given to white people of prominence that amounted to a slap on the wrist because a heavier, appropriate sentence might adversely affect their life, education or career. The man – a Rothschild I think, or another family of that economic status, that sexually molested his infant daughter and was caught by his wife. All he got was mandatory counseling. What degree of horror did he show? Michelle Jones is a remarkable woman and her acceptance at a university after release should be based on her accomplishments now – not judged on whether she showed an adequate degree of emotion over what happened. That sentence was carried out. End of story. Oh, that’s right. She’s black. And she wants to go to a white ivy league college. Of course, everything would be done to stop her until they ran out of options.
Please go to the original post to read, comment and share.
Go to Jamie’s facebook page to read other posts and article of injustice to educate yourself to what is really happening outside of the garbage opinions posted by sites like Fox News.
We have heard a lot about “fake news” sites since Trumps arrival in politics, mostly because he wants people to believe the things printed about himself aren’t true. I read all sites and compare what they say and follow up with it. I don’t believe anything just because I read it somewhere. The websites I have found I can trust are:
Start with these and compare what Fox News writes – if they write about these news stories at all. This admin is tearing America apart. Racism is worse. People being killed because of it has risen. We can’t afford to not understand all sides of the story and create a truth over just a piece, and twist it into a truth that doesn’t exist – like what Trump did to the truth over why the NFL players were kneeling. If you don’t take the time to learn then the fabric of what is left of our country will be completely ripped. The way black people are treated in society – in prison – and continually made to come in second is adding to our destruction as a country. This story – this very story – is evidence of that.
Michelle Jones, a Ph.D. candidate at N.Y.U., was released from prison in August after serving 20 years.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times
Michelle Jones was released last month after serving more than two decades in an Indiana prison for the murder of her 4-year-old son. The very next day, she arrived at New York University, a promising Ph.D. student in American studies.
In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Ms. Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars, and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that hewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that pored through reams of photocopied documents from the Indiana State Archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Ms. Jones also wrote several dance…
Black soldiers fought with the British for teir freedom. Wouldn’t you? The Promised they would not be forced to be returned to the owners – as if people owning people was ever okay. Even as late as last year, Republican politicians in the south were trying to change the school history books, rewriting history, promoting the fallacy that slaves really had it pretty good. Well fed and dressed. They forgot about the raped, beatings and selling family members and never seeing them again.
This weekend, my mother was visiting and was reading a book history book titled “Mirrors”. She was shocked to realize that slavery in America lasted over 400 years. She didn’t know.
Complete version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” showing spelling and punctuation
from Francis Scott Key’s manuscript in the Maryland Historical Society collection.
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream, ‘Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a Country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation! Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It is obvious, it is not in Trump’s best interest to tell the truth about why the NFL players are kneeling and what it stands for. In addition, Trump has often let words come out of his mouth about things he really knows nothing about. His ignorance is often astounding. He repeats lies so often his base thinks it’s the truth. All of the people who join him in bashing the NFL players and calling them names without ever actually attempting to understand why it was happening is just as ignorant as he is.
It easily showed who the real hidden racists are. Many of them call themselves Christians, but I sincerely doubt that this behavior is taught in Christians teachings. Even the simple teaching taught to children called, “The Golden Rule”, says to treat people the way you want to be treated. Why is that taught? Does it matter? What happens when we treat people badly? This Christian teaching gives you the answer: “You reap what you sow.”
Do you believe that? Do you think it applies to you? All of the time or some of the time? Do these rules – these teachings – apply to the way white people treat black people or do you think America should be white again, when it was never white in the first place? Do you think being white has privileges? You know it does. It shouldn’t, but as long as you are white you don’t care.
America still treats Indians as though they are worthless and white people are better. We destroyed them. We invaded and conquered them in true Christian fashion. People who insist America is a Christian nation yet does horrible things to people who aren’t white even though their religion teaches them there will be repercussions to the things they do, they do it anyway, as if their God will applaud their bad behavior against people who are also made in his image – so the teachings go.
I have listened to white Christians online the past few years, on up to this national anthem incident as they spit hateful names at black people, following the hateful comments by our hateful president who has bashed all races, and women, since his presidential campaign started. We sat shocked at the filth that spewed from his mouth. Surely this wouldn’t be allowed to continue. Everything that has followed from the beginning of the destruction of our public school system to wanted money from Medicare to build his dam wall, terrorizing Hispanics who’ve lived here most of their lives as well as the Muslims, taking away the chip program for low income and single mothers, destroying the EPA and allowing more toxins into our air and water – and the list goes on. – and there are people who approve?!
Those of us who know right from wrong were amazed that so many people hated America so much and held inside themselves the same views he held.
I sat one day with a feeling of dread and typed the words, “How will we be able to put the hate back in the bottle now that this despicable abuser has said it’s okay to hurt people.” In addition, he openly installed leaders of the KKK in his cabinet. Mass killings have escalated. He will do NOTHING except what the NRA wants.
My children are grown. When they were young I would not allow them to have play guns of any kind. The more guns there are, the more mentally unbalanced and drunk (mostly) men will use them. Ask my sister. Her husband, in one of his drunken stupers got his gun out and waved it around. He spent 11 days in jail before he could post bail. If he were black it would have been a lot longer, if bail would have even been offered. My sister bought a gun to carry in her purse because she was afraid of him. What part of the second amendment does that apply to? Why should you have to protect yourself from your husband? But everything is okay now. He decided to become a Christian, at least in front of people, and the story of what happened that night changed and a new truth was born.
What do I do with my good Christians friends who spew Trump’s hatred? I am not including all Christians here. Each person has the right to practice any faith they choose that they believe makes sense to them and helps their life. But that does not mean it is okay to hurt people who are not like you. And if you are going to be hateful – without investigating the things you say are true, and instead allow yourself to be lead around by the nose to support a president who clearly has some problems mentally, then you will be thought of in the same light as he is. He has the lowest rating of any president in a very long time. There is a reason for that.
Support him if you want – but research what you think you believe. The national anthem is not what you think and you need to find the truth. I stopped pledging the flag about 40 years ago when I found out it had been changed. Do you know that? Do you know why?
I am proud of the NFL players. Black people have been trying for along time to get the attention and be recognized as equal human beings and nothing worked. If you don’t support this – I mean, really support this, and not just lip service – then the line is drawn in the sand for me.
I have black grandchildren. Real people. I won’t tolerate anyone thinking they are better than they are in any way. You can’t straddle the middle of the fence. You can’t think you are superior to my family or anyone else who isn’t white.
I am ashamed of this man who is supposed to be “my” president, whose lack of real compassion prompts him to talk about people like the uncouth person he is.
You know you are getting old when you attend your 45th year high school class reunion. How did so much time go by? If I live another twenty years and become elderly, that time is going to whiz by faster than the rest. Knowing this I fill my life with as much as I can, never thinking I am too old. It’s easy think we are to old do things or it’s too risky. We wonder, “What will people think?” I have a motto I live by, (actually I have several of these) “If you don’t like what I’m doing, then don’t watch me do it.” I don’t care what people think about what I do. It’s my life and I’ll do what I want to do. If the fear is all in your head you’ll end up with regrets. Trying and failing isn’t nearly as bad as not trying at all.
It had been twenty five years since I went to a class reunion because I lived too far away. I moved closer to home in 2010 when I was sick and decided a few years ago I wasn’t going to miss this one. It wasn’t because I was such great friends with these classmates and we stayed in touch over the years – it was quite the opposite. I was a loner. I had a couple friends I hung around with and made no attempt to fit in. I suffered from low self esteem. If I didn’t make friends they couldn’t reject me.
As a very young child, music was the only thing important to me. It was the only music I listened to – the only albums I collected. A stack of classical piano albums was put on my record player at night and it played through the night. I was enthralled with Van Clyburn and Andre Previn. I knew current music because it was played on car radios when my boyfriend and I drove up and down the main street through town in the evenings, but I could rarely identify a song with the name of the band. I still can’t, even though I know all the songs.
In school I took every music class and sung in the chorus and yearly musicals but I never joined any other club. I think every school has their cliques and they are often divided by what part of town you live in and if your parents could buy you the latest fashions. I definitely wasn’t part of those groups of kids. I was part of the ARchie Bunker style streets. I always had what I needed, but what I wanted I didn’t ask for. My parents were young, struggling to raise three children.
We were not taught racism. Nothing negative was said, but neither was anything positive. We understood there was a clear line down the middle of town and black people lived on one side and whites on the other. Realtors wouldn’t sell a house to a black family on the white side of town because it brought down property values. That changed after I left home when homes were bought by realtors and broken up into apartments. Black people didn’t go to our church. I remember wanting to touch a black person and see if their skin felt different. The elementary schools weren’t mixed. Kids went to the school in their own neighborhood. It wasn’t until Jr High that classes mixed because there were only two jr high schools, and only one high school. But even though we all went to the same school, black and white students generally stayed with those they grew up with. But still there was no racism. No name calling because someone was a negro, because the word black wasn’t used. Kids weren’t taught to hate. Were there problems – yes, sometimes – but not like today. Still, white kids didn’t walk through black neighborhoods. I did that – once. Children threw stones at me. There was an underlying fear. That is a story for another day.
There was bullying and I was on the receiving end. I honestly don’t know why. I was cornered in the restrooms, stairwells and the auditorium. I was threatened. I ran out the back door in the music room because I was afraid. That is yet another story. But kids have it much worse today with bullying because of the use of social media.
In many homes, kids today are not taught respect. Why? What happened? Suicides by kids who feel threatened are common. Kids in the 70’s still had respect for teachers and staff. The thought of cussing at a teacher was unheard of. It is much different today, and it shows in the behavior of the kids. We also had no cops at our school ready to handcuff us on school property and take us in the back of a police car and lock us up. The principal was the law. Black kids weren’t filling up juvenile detention facilities the way they do now. Now there is a lot of profit for locking up kids and preparing them for prison by destroying their education. It is so wrong – and that is another story.
Today, in 2017, I was now more than twice as old as I was when I graduated. I knew I was not the same person I was in the early 1970’s and I knew the students weren’t, either. Starting a few years ago I began connecting with people in my class through facebook. There can be a lot of drama and other crap on fb but the positive aspect is being able to connect with people. Some of these students I graduated with I also went to Kindergarten with as well.
If I was going to the reunion I didn’t want to walk into a large room with a lot of people who were strangers, so I used my time getting to know many of them. We “talked” about the things that separated us. It taught me a valuable lesson. What we think about people – what we think is the truth – often isn’t. People put on faces of what we want others to believe. We hide things about ourselves we don’t want other people to know.
We continue to do that even as adults. When someone asks us how we are, we say “fine” even when we aren’t. We assume people really don’t want to know so we don’t tell them. We don’t show people what is really going on in our lives. We think they will judge us. We don’t get to know other people, either. Sometimes we also choose to not do things we want to do because, “What will people think?”
What I found over about three years is – all these kids grew up. I’m not the same kid and neither are they. They had their own mountains to climb, kids to raise, careers grew and some were destroyed. Spouses died, kids died, health problems destroyed dreams. People moved. Some had wonderful experiences and some didn’t. No one had a perfect life with no problems. Our experiences shaped us. I enjoyed getting to know these same kids, now all around 63 years old.
Our reunion was over two evenings. Our class president and other students who stayed local put a lot of time into preparations so we could enjoy our time together. I saw many people who looked familiar but I had to look at their name tags to remember who they were. I honestly thought I had been so insignificant in school I didn’t think anyone would remember who I was. But they did. Part of me was dumbfounded. We hadn’t been “friends” in school so why? That was my low self esteem surfacing. Growing up I had to put on a tough exterior. I put on a face of confidence that wasn’t real, until I made it real. One student I didn’t remember walked up to me and said, “You always did dance to the beat of a different drummer.” What did she know about me that i didn’t? I have no idea what made her say that – but it was true. I always bucked the system.
One of the tables at the reunion held the pictures of all the classmates who had died since we graduated. Today that number is 39. About a half dozen of us stood there looking at those pictures and reading about how they died. A few died very soon after graduation, and the most recent one was in March of 2017. Looking at these pictures of people knowing I was still alive was overwhelming. I had come very close to dying of liver disease and cancer in 2012 but a liver became available in the nick of time.
“The Pain That Unites Us All” a book being published right now, has twenty-seven authors contributing their story – in short story or poetry. My story about my liver transplant and the emotional pain of being ignored by my immediate family while going through something so traumatic is published in that book. I had come home thinking they would support me. I was dead wrong. That is also a story for another day. I’ll be posting a link to the book soon if you are interested.
We all have stories. Some people change for the good and some don’t. I have more new/old friends because I took the time to listen and not judge. We can have value in other lives and they can have value in ours, but if we think we know it all and don’t need to take the time to listen, we lose that person in our life. It has taken a long time for me to find a place in my head to put the knowledge, realizing that coming home was a mistake. Except for patching it up with my mother, I have no value in the lives of the family I grew up with. I can’t even try anymore. But I have children and seven grandchildren and I am the head of my own family. When I moved home, extremely sick, and was treated badly – I’m done with them and that is just the way it is. I had to teach myself to not care any more
I could have been in one of those photos of people who passed away. Anyone of us could have been up on that wall. At 63 we aren’t elderly, but more and more of us are reaching the end of our life. Many die due to illness. Some give up. My mother had her class reunion the week before mine. She graduated from the same high school. Her list of students who have died was a double column, front and back of two pages.
It is hard to look at your own mortality. When I didn’t die of liver failure I had to make a choice. Wallow in my illness and give up – or push past it. I could say I’m getting too old to begin again. I live in a senior community and I see it all around me – those that give up and those that force themselves to live their lives completely until the end. I chose to give my live everything I can. It wasn’t time to give up.
That is when I started the blog My Name is Jamie – and everything else that followed – the writing of the book “Inside The Forbidden Outside” which I am still rewriting. I am heading to Texas next week to go to the Allred prison where Jamie is, and to complete the stories that tie the chapters of the book together. I started writing the ITFO Newsletter which focuses on different issues concerning our prisons because many people really do not know the real reason for why we have more prisons than any other country. I also write about different people in prison with a story to tell. If you have one – contact me. My focus is to educate people and teach them there is no race that is better than another, no matter what mainstream media teaches you. We all need to work together to save our planet and our humanity.
This gives me the reason to write music as the soundtrack for the book. Helping others makes the cause to help my own life. I never sit around bored wondering what to do next. I spent most of my life creating music. Why stop when I am better at it now than I ever was in my life. Our senior years are when we have the most experience and wisdom to give the world. The youth has nice skin – but they lack life experience. We should strive to find a way to utilize it.
After I returned from my class reunion I sat at my piano and recorded a piece of music for all of the students who were no longer here – to honor them. When I play it I will think of them. They will not be forgotten. I’m hoping my friends – these past classmates will listen and remember and remember them, too.
I have a new album coming out that will soon be at CDBaby and Spotify named “Stories without Words”. This music will be part of that. I often give music as a gift. Writing music is a part of me I can give. It is all improvised. I feel, I play and record it. I can never play anything twice because I let it play me, not the other way around. I’ll be posting a link to the album soon.
Thanks for reading and thanks for listening. It is for everyone who graduated from Pottstown High in Pennsylvania in 1972. It is my gift to you.
ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.
SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London playing music composed for the book being written for Jamie. If you can, help support. It will all help Jamie in the end.
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Exonerations have reached a record high. That is good for prisoners but many should have never happenedI just published the 14th issue of ITFO News Titled Incarcerating the Innocent. Too many people think all prisoners are guilty or believe it’s okay to punish blacks and other minorities with stiffer, longer sentences. You can subscribe to ITFO here. This issue highlights the lives of two men who send decades in prison. One Jman Patrick Pursley is now out on bond waiting for another hearing.
The other man, Greg Fonseca is serving a life sentence for attempted murder even though the people there said he didn’t do it. Regardless, no one died. Why a did he get life plus 99? Because he was Hispanic? Because members of his family had been in trouble? People get punished more because they can’t afford an attorney. And public defenders carry hundreds in their work load. How can they possibly do a good job when they are so burnt out. They slam plea bargains just so they can get to the next person. Everyone loses except the prison corporations. They get a full prison to profit from. VToo many are in prison who are innocent. Often it is because they can’t afford to pay an attorney. The public defenders pressures them to plead guilty because if they don’t charges may be added along with many more years. Having so many men getting released, rising in numbers each year shows you how shoddy the justice system is.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Exonerations in the United States reached a record high last year, driven by mushrooming support from police and prosecutors to revisit closed cases, according to a new report.
The 125 people cleared in 27 states far surpassed the previous record – 91 the year before. The jump comes amid growing interest by law enforcers to review past cases for errors and to right wrongs. Last year, 67 exonerations were driven or supported by law enforcement.
“More prosecutors see this as an important part of their job,” said Sam Gross, professor at the University of Michigan Law School and editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, which released the report Tuesday. “They have also noticed it’s politically popular.”
In Baltimore, the State’s Attorney’s office helped vacate the conviction of a man 46 years after he was convicted of murder. In Cleveland, three men convicted of a 1975 murder they didn’t commit were cleared, setting a new record of time behind bars for an exoneree: 39 years, 3 months 9 days. In Tulsa, DNA testing showed a mother hadn’t killed her 15-month-old baby, leading prosecutors to dismiss charges after nearly 20 years. And in Detroit, a man was released after police got a tip that the wrong person had been convicted in a 2006 murder.
Houston prosecutors led the way, clearing 33 people of drug convictions after forensic tests showed the defendants hadn’t actually been carrying drugs. In Brooklyn, 10 were exonerated, with the majority of them originally investigated by one discredited detective.
A decade ago, the idea of a district attorney questioning his own office’s closed cases was considered radical and freighted with political risk. But early DNA testing proved people had been wrongly convicted, and helped reveal errors that frequently contributed: false confessions, inaccurate eyewitness identification and evidence that might have been helpful to the defense but was never disclosed.
In 2002, the nation’s first so-called Conviction Integrity Unit was opened by a Santa Clara, Calif., prosecutor who sought to revisit cases with potential errors. Today, 14 cities and the U.S. Attorney’s office for Washington, D.C., have such review units, and their work is increasingly focusing on non-DNA cases.
Gross notes that six of those review units were announced just last year, and he expects more cities to follow suit. The efforts are bearing fruit. The Houston exonerations followed a decision by its review unit to systematically reexamine drug convictions because of longstanding concerns that suspects were pleading guilty even though they carried no drugs. The lesson, says Gross, is that suspects will plead guilty to crimes they don’t commit, and that police agencies should insist on testing drugs even after a guilty plea verdict is obtained.
While exonerations are increasingly moving away from DNA testing, the forensic science is still integral to proving some cases.
Six of those exonerated last year had been sentenced to death, including three Cleveland men convicted of a brutal 1975 robbery and murder outside a grocery store. The case began to unravel with a 2011 magazine article highlighting flaws, and snowballed after the main witness recanted to his pastor two years later. The man who’d been wrongfully convicted as the gunman, Ricky Jackson, was released from prison in November after 39 years behind bars. Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman also were cleared, though they spent less time behind bars.
Prison is big business. There is lots of money to be made by prison slavery. If you think it is anything but that you are sadly mistaken or uneducated about our justice system. You believe the garbage put out by the news that black people are dangerous and Hispanics are rapists and murders. Who did we hear that from? And the attorney general wants to increase the prisons and make new crimes.
What does it matter if the person arrested is innocent or guilty? Incarcerating the innocent? Locking up the mentally ill? Sentencing young children as adults? All of that is worth big bucks to the corporations who run the prisons as well as the American companies who make the products consumers buy. They want the free labor, unless you think .10 – .22 is actually a wage. Do you? Seriously, do you? Does it bother you at all?
Do you want to know which of the products you buy was made by the free labor of a prison inmate? As a consumer how much did you pay for that piece of Victoria Secret’s Lingerie? Prisons make more items than you realize, as well as a lot of the gear used by the military, the police and even the servers at fast food chains. Dentures, computer parts and furniture. How much is it worth to a company to not have high labor costs, workman’s comp, sick leave, maternity leave, overtime or vacation pay? Companies bid for prison labor. Do you think these companies want prisons to close down or should America build more? Do you think they care if the people inside are guilty or innocent? Absolutely not. They think of their bottom line.
I have been writing about these issues for more than a few years, but I have reading, researching and learning about problems in prisons for a lot longer than that. It floors me that prisons are allowed to severely mistreat people inside and no one stops them. They are fed poorly. Only those inmates at the top level of minimum security – G2 – are allowed to take any educational classes. The lowest population of people are in G2. The rest are in G4, G5, adseg and solitary. They make sure people stay in those levels even if they have to file false cases to keep them there. If they do make it out of prison they don’t have anyway to get a job because they don’t have a GED. Some people put comments at My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prisonsaying these people deserve every bad thing that happens to them because they are criminals, without knowing if they are guilty or if they were incarcerated as innocent. Many were kept from a jury trial because they couldn’t pay an attorney. Do say they had a public defender because they work for the DA and there job is to scare them into taking a plea or more charges would be added. What would you do if the choice was fifteen years or fifty? Would you take the plea – even if you were innocent?
How can that be? Now we have a president and an attorney general who wants to make it worse for inmates plus create new crimes to lock up even more people, especially those who aren’t white. Why would they want to do that? There was only four reasons I could think of. Money Racism Money and Money. Or they have serious mental issues. People at the top who have always had the ability to do something about it must be profiting from it in some way. Obama was finally “beginning” to do something, but this new administration hates him so much they want to undo anything he did.
This has been going on for longer than Obama. Let’s go back to Nixon who began the war on drugs for the sole purpose of locking up black people. Politicians get campaign money from the Prison Industrial Complex to vote for laws to their benefit while entertainment licensed stations like Fox News convinced oppressors that black people are inferior, with a lower IQ and are born with a criminal gene – and white people actually believed it. Of course, white people were superior! I’m white, and I’d be embarrassed if I had to say I believed that.
Who are the people who have have money invested in the prison corporations?CoreCivic(prepare yourself for pure propaganda) – aka CCA- stock rose when Trump was elected because he was heavily promoting locking up more people and increasing mandatory minimums. Prison corporations probably had a party to celebrate. Or maybe we have too many KKK affiliates in our government. But today people are dumping their stock is dropping because of what is happening in this administration. Why do we have so many people in power who don’t care if innocent people are locked up? Those of us with loved ones inside – we understand what is happening. We know the truth. But the truth doesn’t matter. Only profit does.
I never thought much about prisons before I met Jamie in 2005 shortly before he was arrested. I was ignorant. I only knew what I saw in movies or TV series like Prison Break. I didn’t question anything. It didn’t affect my life before this. When I started researching I thought, could this be true? Was it really happening? Why didn’t I know about it?
How about the series, Orange is the New Black? A fifteen month sentence and it’s been on what – five or six seasons? Their guards are like comedians. The inmates talk about awful food, but I saw what they serve at there nice little buffet in their once room cafeteria. This is what people watch to find truth about the prison system? The information can be found if they stopped watching TV. But then they are watching it to be entertained, not to learn something.
It’s a joke. It looks like a joke. It’s no wonder people think what they do. Unless you know someone inside or do some serious searching, prison looks like a great place to be. Free education, except you have to be on the top level if you want to study for your GED or learn a trade, and trust me, if you are black or a minority they have no qualms filing false cases to make sure you stay on the lower levels. 12 years Jamie has been locked and never has there been a GED class in sight for him.
I’m not going to take the time today to go through everything I know to be true, just understand that I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t. I have a few trolls who like to leave comments calling me names and telling me how stupid I am. They say all people are in prison because they ARE GUILTY! They deserve to be abused. If you do the crime you have to do the time. Yes, there are many people in prison who are guilty, and some are guilty of very bad things, but I am talking about the ones who are not. Being guilty or not guilty is rarely the reason one goes to prison. It comes down to this – do you have the money to pay for an attorney? If you don’t, you usually have to accept a plea deal. Plead guilty and you’ll get less years. Plead innocent and they will tack on extra charges. Either way, you now have a felony record. When you get out it will be nearly impossible to rent an apartment and if you find a job it will likely pay less because they know you are a desperate for a job and will take anything In addition – you can’t vote.
Crime is down, so how can Trump and Sessions talk about there being a rise in crime when the courts have put so many innocent people in prison? In addition, the mandatory minimum sentencing is far to long to make any sense. How can I know this? Because I read about so many people, mostly black and Hispanic men who fight for decades to prove their innocence – and they get out. Even with proof the DA tries their damnedest to keep them locked up. Why? To save face? Because they can’t admit they were wrong? Or because when the prisons are full, our government doesn’t have to pay the Prison Industrial Complex for empty beds? The government is on the hook to keep the prisons full any way they can. They don’t care if people are innocent or guilty – only that they fill a prison bed. The system is corrupt. It is a slave system that imprisons citizens.
We need to support people who are tying hard to not get convicted for something they didn’t do, and to find an attorney who will take their case. Only 3% of those arrested get to see a judge to present evidence. They never make it court except to plead guilty and agree to go to prison. They don’t care when they make someone plead guilty when they aren’t?
I have talked to a fair amount of people who weren’t guilty. Some are out now, and some are still working on their cases. This must be stopped! The point of prison is to punish the guilty, not make corporations rich. A sentence should be equal to the crime and rehabilitation needs to be there to help them become productive citizens. The point of prison is not to destroy people so they can’t live. It also destroys the lives of the guards who have to live with the things they have done to these people.
Sometimes it is hard to find positive things to write about that happen inside prison walls, so this was worth passing along to you. I know two inmates in San Quentin. One has become a better man and one hasn’t. That one keeps going back to his old neighborhood and friends. He never learns. Their experiences are much different then the men in this video. How they have been treated inside has also made it difficult to be part of something like this. I believe if more prisons had constructive projects like this so people can learn how to be more than the neighborhoods they were raised in, those neighborhoods would gradually change. But the average prison doesn’t care if inmates learn a better way to live or to be better people. They aren’t that altruistic. But to see these men learn a better way to live while inside shows me it can be done. When they get out they will have the knowledge, experience and self worth to keep on going.
Register for ITFO News. Ten signed copies of “Waiting on The Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky will be shipped free, selected randomly by the author. Read the summary at Amazon. This is available to any new sign-ups until ten days after the next issue of ITFO News is published this weekend. Next month’s issue will have something free for everyone. ( but it’s a secret right now!)
ITFO News helps people learn about the issues inmates face. The information inside is usually not what is published on the blog, My Name is Jamie. Each issue focuses on a different topic each month, from children of inmates to the profit focused prison medical corporations. I do not inundate your email sending multiple posts a day like some do. Your privacy is always respected. You can also follow on Jamie’s twitter page.
The topic coming up is on “Incarcerating the Innocent.” In addition to general information I will be focusing on the lives of two different men with very different circumstances. One is recently got out on bond after 23 years, waiting now for a new trial. Despite having no evidence, the prosecution is fighting tooth and nail to make sure he is re-incarcerated. The second man is still in prison, seventeen years and counting, with no evidence proving his guilt. He is still searching for an attorney to take his case. There are many people inside who are searching for that same attorney. He hasn’t given up hope.
I recently had two replies to a post on Jamie’s Facebook page that showed me there are people who have no real idea what the underlying reason is for our prisons and think everyone inside is guilty. That is very far from the truth. Yes, there are serious criminals inside, and many with severe mental illness with nowhere else to be put, but there are also many who were forced to take a plea because they didn’t have an attorney to fight for them. Even if guilty, the sentences are absurdly long and serve no purpose except to make money for the investors who count on the full prisons our government has promised them. The courts don’t have enough time on their calendars to give everyone a chance to plead their case. They are forced to plead guilty through public defenders who work for the DA, or get threatened with increased charges. You might not want to think this would happen in a court of law, but it does. ITFO NEWS is my way to help educate people and give them information that might help. Every time you share this, it might help one more person who doesn’t know where to go for help.
I’m having a book give-away this month. Each new person who registers for ITFO NEWS can enter their name and email address to have a chance of winning a signed copy (or ebook if you prefer) of Waiting on the Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky If your name is randomly pulled by Sharron, you’ll receive one of ten free copies, shipped free.
ITFO NEWS covers many issues about what happens to the people – the human beings incarcerated inside prison walls many with family and children. Some are dangerous criminals often with serious mental illness, and many are not. Some were incarcerated simply because they are undesired as citizens because they are Black, Hispanic, or any country that isn’t of European white descent. Many are locked up because they practice the “wrong” religion in a country that wants to be known as a Christian nation. Sadly it makes some of these people think they have the right to hurt people not like themselves which goes against the teachings of Christianity.
“Incarcerating the Innocent” is the focus for the next issue of ITFO NEWS.
This book being given away is timely for the sad situation happening in America today, especially with so many young people jumping on the bandwagon proclaiming America needs to be white “again”. What happened to their education? Is it worse in the schools than I thought? Do these young people actually think America was EVER white? They don’t know the history of the country they were born in?
History can not be rewritten to suit some faction’s misguided agenda. European white settlers slaughtered many thousands of indigenous people in the attempt to make this country white – and failed. These young people today never learned this? They can’t change history, but they are doing a good job of ruining their lives by wanting to repeat the carnage.
What is truly scary is how easily young minds can be swayed to believe a fabricated history – and also come to think that a skin cold makes them a better person. Then they become parents and teach the same flawed theory to their children.
Yesterday I read about fourteen year old white teenagers, barely out of puberty, strung up an eight year black boy and hung him with a rope from a tree – and left him, not caring if they killed him. I was mortified that older children would do that to a young child. I sat stunned, tears running down my face. The damage done to all of them would affect the rest of their lives, and the lives of their families who have to endure the scrutiny of an unforgiving public who will likely blame the parents for the way their sons were raised, so cavalier about trying to take the life of a young black boy.
The fact that one human being could do that to another shows that these 14 year old minds were already so warped that taking a young boy’s life was meaningless to them. They didn’t learn this on their own. I don’t know their consequences legally, but I do know they will never forget it; nor will the young boy with severe rope burns on his neck, the scars which will always be there. The friends and family of this boy are, most likely very angry – deservedly so. All this does is escalate a bad problem that won’t go away. They have a right to this anger.
Young people, with no maturity, get swayed by the excitement of being part of a huge negative social issue. The man in the book “Waiting on the Outside” exhibited emotional problems since childhood. He, too, was swayed by others who took advantage of his immaturity.
He was adopted at a young age by a woman who sincerely loved him and did everything she could to create a positive life for him As he grew up he sabotaged every attempt. He got into drugs and pretty crime and fell under the influence of the local white supremacy gang. My impression from her story, it was the excitement of living life on the edge that attracted him, not the thought that he felt himself to be superior.
After being released from his first prison sentence he sincerely wanted to do better but was pulled back into it. His sense of right and wrong was distorted through drug use. Now he sits in prison again, with the look of being a white supremacist. Shaved head. Visible Aryan gang tattoos. But still inside is the young boy who loves his mother as she sits during visits with the broken heart a mother has for a child she could help change.
He now wants out of the Aryan Brotherhood, but the KKK retaliates against those who want out. Is he safest in a controlled environment? Can he make it on the outside? Can he control the mental impulses he hasn’t been able to control before? Can he be the man she envisioned when she adopted him? As a mother myself my heart breaks for her. This never affects one person. There may be 2.3 million people in prison, which is kept at that steady number. It affects many more millions of people on the outside.
This is devastating story was written by a mother who, for decades has lived with a fear for her son and for people in his life he was hurt – including his own children.
If you don’t want to see if you can win a free copy of this book you can go to Amazon and purchase it. The winners will be contacted at the close of the sweepstakes, ten days after the publication of the next issue.
This book was first published before Trump riled up racism in America. This book shows you that although white supremacy is making huge headlines today, it has always been lurking in the shadows waiting – as if it a pimple waiting for more infection to burst and leave a scar. All they needed was someone like Trump to give them the freedom to come out of hiding. America had ignored them until now not wanting to face the ugly truth of their existence. They aren’t hiding anymore and some of them are your neighbors. Will history repeat itself even more? Did this country not learn from the past?
These new recruits don’t hide beneath hoods anymore. They are showing their faces taunting us to do something about so they feel justified hurting people. This will negatively affect the rest of their lives and warp the minds of their children.
Jamie has been at the Allred unit in Texas for nearly three years. Before that, Wynne Unit. How much is an inmate supposed to tolerate from staff and guards? They can do anything they want to them and there is nothing an inmate can do. Why is that? Everyone knows it. Anyone with the power to stop it – doesn’t. They can file a grievance but the system is not set up where the inmate wins. When the medical unit and staff knowing screw around with someone’s health, aware of the consequences to the inmate, I wonder if they stand around and laugh about it in the break room? They push inmates to break them and so often succeed. Here is what is happening . . .
I received a letter from Jamie yesterday. He is close to getting out of adseg – administrative segregation – a fancy word for solitary. Locked up in a cell 23/7, except for Jamie it’s 24/7 because he’s trying to stay away from the guards by refusing showers and rec. He bathes using the sink. He knew they’d try to press his buttons to keep him down. He’s had no write ups in a long time.
He wrote to me that the nurse is refusing to give him his seizure medication for epilepsy. At his point of writing it had been three days. He keeps asking her for it and she refuses to bring it. Have you ever watched someone have a grand mal seizure? Theprison won’t give him the medication that works best for him. I already went rounds with the medical unit over that and they wouldn’t budge. So he still has more seizures than he should. But not taking anything, and as any protection leaves his body it will induce more. Add to that the terrible heart in a closed cell with no ventilation makes me angry.
Guards work three 12 hour shifts. One of the guards put his hands in his food just to try to make Jamie angry so he could retaliate and write him up. He won’t eat now if this guard is on shift. He only eats breakfast, which is pitiful, but not lunch or dinner when this guard works. He’s close to losing it. I could feel it. I wrote to him today to turn away. Don’t let them take away your chance of getting out of adseg. He can’t study for his GED until he is classified G2. First he has to get to G4. This process could easily take another 1-2 years. At G4 he can leave his cell for chow and limited time in TV rec room. He’s been this route before. They can, and do, take it away in a heart beat and it takes years to climb back out. He’s had 11 years of this. If seems deliberate. The guards get a perverse pleasure from abusing people with permission. Jamie has been in adseg this time for almost 3 years because he needed to move prisons because of physical abuse that included beatings by guards at the Wynne Unit. They moved him – and gave him 3 years of adseg to go with it.
I also bought him food today. It’s like gas station convenience food. Not even one can of vegetables on the list. Snacks. But also tuna, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, coffee, Raman noodles and such. They only allow someone on the outside to purchase $20 a month or $60 a quarter. But I wasn’t due to buy him more until Oct. I sent it to another man, probably next to him, who doesn’t have anyone helping him. He’ll probably pay him in food. They go on lockdown soon – for 30 days – every 90 days. They cut food rations so without extra food and that guard who’s messing with his food he’d get hungry. There are so many inmates with no one on the outside. It’s easy to see why so many don’t make it when they get out
Most of you who follow this blog know I put out a monthly newsletter called ITFO NEWS. Each month I focus on a different prison issue. The one being published at the end of the week is on Incarcerating The Innocent. It’s an important topic because many lives are ruined even when there is no solid evidence to convict them. I’m having a book give-away this month. Each new person who wants to try ITFO NEWS can enter their name and email address HERE and have a chance of winning a signed copy (or ebook if you prefer) of “Waiting on the Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky. If your name is randomly pulled by Sharron, you’ll receive one of ten free copies, shipped free.
This book is timely for what is happening today. It is a true story of a young man still in prison today who got involved in the KKK as a teenager, attracted to craziness, violence a drugs and couldn’t find away out. Young people are easily swayed. You need only to look at pictures in our media to see who the recruits are. Any mother who has lived with the fear of raising an out of control teenager will find this book hard to put down. Did it start when he was a child? This story shows you what unconditional love is. Will he make it now when he gets out? Will the KKK let him go?
She was raised as a Mormon, and he is a convict serving 43 years in prison. This blog offers a glimpse into two vastly different worlds that have united together. Join them on their journey through prison life & married life.