My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me – ITFO Chapter and Music

 

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“I would enjoy riding my bike with you on a beautiful day,” Jamie called out into the universe with a slightly raised voice. He wondered if his words would reach Sonni and make her show up in his cell. He was lonely and desperately wanted someone to talk to.

     If anyone had been passing by his cell door at that moment they would probably think he was losing it. Other dudes down the hall probably heard him call out but they were used to hearing strange things being said by men locked in isolation, away from others. Most of them talked to themselves, too.

    “You ride your bike to the hill on one side and I’ll ride my bike from the other direction,” Jamie said, gesturing his arms to the right and left like he was directing traffic.  It was such a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue with puffy clouds passing over the sky. He stood and watched them for awhile. The green grass was the color of new springtime grass with dandelions growing randomly all over the hill.

     A thought came into his head – a memory, but he didn’t think it was his memory. That was strange. Maybe Sonni was in his head because he was seeing little girls with dandelions playing in a backyard. He was remembering children picking dandelions and holding them under each others chin. If there was a yellow glow on the skin it meant they were made of butter. A young child’s memory.

     Jamie had stuffed so many of his own memories into the back of his brain he had trouble remembering anything good. Sonni asked him to write down what he remembered as a child because she was thinking about starting a blog about him. Why would anyone want to read a blog about him? He was nothing special and hadn’t done anything special so He was curious about what she saw in him.

     He wrote to her about a couple things he remembered. They went to the zoo and his mom wouldn’t go in the snake house. That was funny, and they went to a pond to feed ducks. They were also going to see fireworks one July and he and his little brother had matching clothes for the special day. At the last minute his mom said they couldn’t go. That upset him but he was only eight years old and didn’t understand grown up stuff. So he sat on the steps of a house and listened to the boom! boom! He saw a glow in the sky, but he couldn’t see the fireworks. He remembered how deeply disappointed he was that night. He had been so excited about seeing the bright colors exploding in the sky. To this day, going to see fireworks was one of his favorite things to do.

     Picturing the serenity in his mind as he rode his bicycle to the hill was a way of getting out of his stark gray cell and into the warmth and colors produced by the sun. A nice cool breeze rustled the grass. The tree at the top would be great if it had a tree house. The thick branches would make climbing easy. He pictured a treehouse with a rope ladder. Little Jamie was standing at the door waving to him below. He waved back. He could hear a train blowing it’s horn in the distance. It had been so long since he had seen a day like this.

     With that picture in his head he closed his eyes and smiled. He pretended Sonni was standing there with him in this beautiful place even though he was really standing in his cell.

     “We’ll meet at the hill and climb to the top.” He told her. Even though it was only in his imagination, it lifted his spirits when he thought about the day he was creating.
     “Let’s bring a picnic of our favorite food and talk about how the future will be.”      

     Whenever Jamie thought of the future, his son was there and they would be playing together, whatever little Jamie wanted to do. They would both be happy and laughing. He knew there was more to reality than that, but he only wanted to have happy thoughts.
It was hard to develop a relationship with someone you never got to see or talk to. Did his son think about him? He was still very young, only five years old. He bonded to his oldest brother who was ten years older than him. He didn’t understand what prison was or why his father was there. He wouldn’t understand until he was older. He didn’t want him to be hurt by this, but there was no way it wouldn’t leave scars that needed to heal.

     An occasional picture was all he received from Morgan. It was never enough to quiet the pain. He couldn’t join him for birthdays or Christmas. He wouldn’t be in his son’s memories at all when he grew up and thought about his childhood, except to remember his daddy was never there. All Jamie could do was imagine what it would be like and that always left a huge hole in his heart. When would he see his son again?
     “Things aren’t going so good for me,” he said, still talking to the universe.
     “I’m doing my best, but I’m not getting nowhere.” He got to his feet and slowly walked five feet toward the cell door, turned around and walked back. He repeated the pattern over and over.
     “I know you have been very sick and can’t write me all the time,” he said as he paced, pretending she was there, “but to tell you the truth it hurts me when I don’t hear from you.”
     “That’s because you’re the only one I’m used to hearing from,” his mouth turned into a downward smile. “So when I don’t hear from you it worries me and I think I won’t hear from you again.”
     “Sometimes I think you’re mad at me,” he said quietly to the empty air.
     He closed his eyes.” My mind is playing tricks on me.”

“I told you I wouldn’t give up on you,” her voice came from out of the blue. ” I’m not going to go away.”
     “I got your letter yesterday,” he heard her say. “I told Jamie happy birthday for you.”
The unexpected sound of her voice made him jump.
     “He is getting so big.” Sonni smiled, and held up her hand to show how tall he was getting.
     “Geez, give me a little forewarning,” he said with a startled look on his face which settled into a smile. He was sure she wouldn’t be coming today. He never knew when she was going to pop in.
     Jamie’s days were long and boring, Sonni knew that. When all you have to look forward to is the possibility of a letter, your happiness rides on getting that letter, looking to see who sent it and feeling connected to reality that lives in the outside world. Letters are like gold and so many receive none. They keep you sane. Prison screws up many heads. She would never stop writing to him.
     “Does it take awhile to get my messages, and leave to get here?” he asked, “or is it like the old TV show, I Dream of Jeannie, and you zap yourself here with your arms crossed in front of you and a nod of your head?” He knew he sounded a little crazy, but then maybe he was a little crazy by now. How DID she get here?
     “Okay Jamie,” he said quietly to himself, “remember, her physical body is not really in this room.”
     He laughed at himself.

Jamie was relieved. He needed to see her, real or not. She had a way of helping him make sense of his life so he could learn to let his anger go. Yeah, he still had problems controlling it and it got him in trouble. Sometimes he started yelling and kicking the door trying to get rid of his anger.
     Sometimes he got into it with the guards because he was tired of being disrespected over every little thing. They tried to press his buttons to set him off. Sometimes they succeeded and he got angry. They could be such dicks.
     The guards often did things that would be considered criminal on the outside. They also do things to the inmates. They get hurt or killed. Although he hasn’t mentioned it much there was sex going all around him. Sometimes it’s between the guards and the inmates and sometimes it’s abusive. The guards bring in drugs and cell phones and set themselves in business. You couldn’t stop what is going on, but when you get hurt you need a way fight back against the abuse.
     No matter how wrong they were you couldn’t win. If he filed a grievance against a guard, the guard would retaliate. As prisoners they were supposed to have certain rights and being able to file a grievance because of mistreatment was one of them. It was pointless. The system was set up so prisoners would fail. Nothing good came of it when the guards had ways of getting back at them if they filed against them.
     It was more than that when it came to grievances. It is what the system was set up to do if you filed that grievance and went through the process, like a rat’s maze, chasing after a piece of cheese and finding out it was really arsenic with no way to save you.
     Most dudes, if they have been here for awhile don’t file grievances. After trying a couple times and getting denied you figure, what’s the use? Those who think they legally have a good case because what the guard did needed to be reported, might try to finish the process.
     The grievance process is set up so only filing a lawsuit will settle the grievance. You can’t win by just filing a grievance and hoping the right person read it and thought you needed to have justice. That wasn’t going to happen. You can only win if you have solid evidence that the officer was in the wrong. There would have to be evidence from a camera that the officer did what you claim.
     No officer will go against another officer even if he saw the officer doing it. If he did, the officers would retaliate against him. So if he wants to keep his job he needs to keep his mouth shut.
     If an inmate filed step one he’d have to wait 30 – 45 days to get it back – denied. Then he’d have to file step 2 and wait another 4 to 6 weeks to get that one back – denied. That is 2-3 months total. Step 2 along with step 1 is then filed in Huntsville with the TDCJ, for Texas prisons. If Huntsville sends it back not doing anything to correct the problem they will send all the paperwork back to him. If he wanted to continue the process he’d have to fill out a 1983 form for a lawsuit. He would have to take the officer to court and if he lost, because he didn’t have proof, then he’d owe the state $350. And since phones are illegal in prison, having proof by means of a cellphone is getting someone in serious trouble.
     This is a way to get more money out of the inmates and their families and it gives the officers time to get their stories straight.
     What good was having rights if you couldn’t act on them? It looked right on paper and that is what the outside world learned if they looked it up. Some people thought they had it pretty good inside – free healthcare, free food, free education, a free roof over their heads. They thought everything was handed to them on a silver platter without working for it. They even said prisoners wanted to come back to prison because they had it so good in here. What a joke. You had to be here to understand the truth of this place.

The end of this partial chapter

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“I’m Not Racist, but . . .”

Enough stop racism

I grew up racist. I didn’t understand why. It took me well into adulthood to figure that out. My parents were good people. They raised their children with values. They never talked badly about the black people in our town. We also had some Italians and I heard other people call them Wops and Puerto Ricans were called Spics. There were no Hispanics. No Mexican food. Not even a taco. Looking back I can see that segregation and the lack of blacks and whites mixing socially caused my racism. I was scared to death of black people and there was no one who talked to anyone about this divide.

I grew up in Pa in the 50’s thru the early 70’s then left to go to school. My town had a clear line and white families lived on one side and black families on the other. I learned many years ago that black families couldn’t secure home loans on my side of the line. I remember hearing if a black family were to move into the neighborhood property values would go down because those people don’t take care of their homes and would trash them. “Just take a look at how they live.” But they didn’t own the homes they lived in. They rented from white landlords who felt little need to keep their properties in good shape. They had approval from the government.

I read an article on Moorbay’s Blog, about the fairly recent history of the last 100 years of housing segregation that forced black families to live in substandard housing. Read this article for yourself and learn. It caused me to respond with this post.

I came from a lower income family who didn’t live in the best part of town. My parents worked hard to provide a good home. There was an empty I’ve cream factory across the street and a big park a half block away. Often in the summer black children wanted to play at the park and had to walk through white neighborhoods to get there. They walked down my street. Not my side of the street but stayed close to the factory. They were as scared of us as we were of them. We didn’t call to each or attempt to make friends.  I had never touched a black person and wondered if their skin felt like mine. I wanted to feel their hair. There was no effort to bring the people together. When I say, no effort, I mean absolutely none, ever.

Today many white parents are raising their children to be racist. Maybe not overtly, but by comments inserted into conversations that put white people on a rung that black people don’t deserve, so white kids learn in subtle ways that they are better than others. These kids grow up saying things like, “I’m not a racist, but . . .” and go on to say something disparaging about that race, be it black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Guatamalen, Honduran and many more. White is superior in their minds.

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Today these kids are recruited on college campuses. Kids repeat what they hear and some become violent adults, like shooting at a teenager who knocked on your door for directions, and the man was a retired firefighter who saved people. A man who lied and said his gun went off accidentally. He couldn’t take responsibility for his actions.

After all this time how can this racism be continually perpetuated and not understood it is wrong. Everyone is human. No one is a superior human. Humanity comes from inside. It doesn’t come from skin color. We all know this so why do we continue to say, “I’m not racist, but . . .”

Since Trump, the rise of hate crimes has become staggering. People can openly hate now and the President of this country has called them ‘good people’ and mocks people of color. They use his show of support at their white nationalist rallies. Any race other than white is disgusting and inferior to this deeply flawed man. White people all over America are sucking it up like babies to a breast. It is nauseating to me.

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Last night my ten year old granddaughter needing a shower said, “At least I don’t smell like a Mexican.” That quickly got my attention. We had talked before about racism and racist comments but she had trouble understanding how she had slandered an entire race of people with her remark. Mexicans stink. “I didn’t mean that!” she said. I told her, “Maybe not, but that is what you said.”

My son works at a boat marina. Hot, sweaty, dirty, smelly work; a mixed race of workers. They joke among themselves calling each other names. They know they’re joking in good nature. My granddaughter overheard. She wasn’t trying to be disparaging but needed to learn if she used that among school friends how wrong it was to say that.

So many of today’s children are rude, undisciplined, smart mouthed and think they have a right to backtalk and argue and cuss at you. It is what they learn at home. Many parents are not teaching their children right from wrong. New racists of all ages are being raised thinking white people should be dominant – because their parents taught them that. I fear it will get much worse.

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Life in Adseg

 

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A letter from 2010. For years he called me Mom. He needed one. His bio mom doesn’t write to him.

I’d like to bring you up to date about Jamie’s life in adseg. I’ve written a lot that is going into my book but after 2016 it will be in the sequel. That will be about the last years and the process of getting out and re-entry into society with all its ups and downs. This post will have parts of a recent letter I received. He wrote quite a bit about how certain things got done inside. Things we take for granted.

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Dear Sonni,

I hope all is well for you. Thank you for everything you do and the encouragement you give me. Someday I will be able to hear the music you write. You write with such passion. I can tell by the way you write about it and all the work you have done to tell my story.

I had my meeting about getting out of adseg. I knew the minute I walked into the meeting that I was screwed,, I had met with this officer before. Even though I was told at the last meeting they’d let me out next time I knew it wasn’t happening. He told me I was a danger to general population, although I don’t know how they figure that. But you’d be proud of me. I didn’t react. I wouldn’t give him that. I won’t let them break me. That’s what they want. I want you to know I’m okay. I signed up for a program. I don’t know if they’ll except me. If they do they’ll move me to another prison.

I was lucky to be able to call you. I can make a call now every three months. I didn’t know it would cost so much, $20 for ten minutes. I have to call collect. When I get out of adseg you can put money in my account and I can buy minutes. That might be cheaper.

I’m glad to hear you’re still walking. I’m in such a small area it’s hard to move or workout. Trying to workout in the dayroom is crazy cause dudes will watch. Crazy thing about that – it is only two things they are looking at. I don’t have to tell you what it is. Keep walking okay.

You asked me how we play chess. Our chess boards are numbered 1 to 64. We call out numbers and the piece and move pieces on both sides of the board to keep up with each other’s moves.

When I’m in the dayroom I like to help passing stuff, like kites, which are little messages, or books and commissary. A lot of the stuff will go under the cell doors or the rat hole which is a hole about the size of an apple in the back of the door. We can push commissary out of it.

The day rooms are right next to each other so we can stick our arms out and hand each other stuff. When we’re in our cells we use what we call a fishing line. We pull threads out of sheets or waist bands of clothes, then put mashed up soap into a used meat pack or toothpaste tube to give it weight. We tie the line to the soap, and slide it out under the door across the floor, over another line. We attach a staple so when it crosses another line it catches it. Then you pull that line toward you with what they are sending across.

Sometimes the officers will help pass stuff like books and magazines, usually when they don’t feel like doing other work, so we have to make a deal like give up rec or a shower or both.

You asked about fires in a prison and if we had smoke detectors. There is nothing to tell us if a fire and no fire extinguishers. I’ve never seen one in any prison they sent more to. If there is a fire, often set by an inmate as a way to make a point an officer has to call it in over his radio.

Laundry – a lot of dudes don’t use the laundry. They buy new or wash their own. The laundry only has 3 big washers and they stuff them, really stuff them full and the clothes don’t get properly washed. They come out as dirty as they go in. Some dudes will wash your clothes in exchange for commissary. 

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If you don’t have anyone helping you with money or the ecomm box you can order every quarter you have to find some other way to get what you need. Commissary items are money in a prison. I send an eccom box every three months. I can send $60 of convenience store food and have it delivered, or I can split it between 3 months. The last quarter they raise it to $80 – the holiday box. There are some items that aren’t food. Select hygiene, paper, envelopes and pens. I buy him water, condiments, sardines, rice, ramen noodles, coffee, squeeze cheese, garlic sauce, things to doctor up the bland food, candy, cookies, chips. Nothing very healthy. They don’t have one can of vegetables on the list. 

I put money into his account to buy stamps ( also used as money) and buy other items he needs. I can’t send much so he uses it sparingly. This is why I have a post that comes up first if you log directly into the website that sells t – shirts with his face, a tote bag or you can send money to help me help him. I live on a disability check and help from my son. When my book is published hopefully that will change things. Until then I need your help.

Corporations that get a contract with the prison system that houses millions of people make a lot of money. The certainly don’t want prisons to close when people have no choice except to buy from them. But eating like this, if you have a long sentence, the lack of nutrition and diseases it causes ages them quickly, especially with a diet like this. When you add the poor medical care receive, that should be a crime in itself. 

People are punished and sentenced to prison. They don’t go to prison to BE punished. Everyone who has the capacity to make and change laws knows this. So why does this continue? That’s a good question.

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My Blog Map of The World

My blog map

I like to look at the map of the world I have on this site where the flag counter is located under each post, which tells me how many hits and how many countries have tapped into my blog on any given day, week, month or year. In the past week it was 26 countries, some from places I really didn’t know existed. Overall, at last count if was a total of 135+ countries. Today I see that it is only Greenland and interior Africa that are the only places that haven’t come to my blog. I don’t get hundreds of hits a day like some blogs do. Maybe if this blog was all I was doing and devoted every day to it, it would be more. Most people who come here are not other bloggers, it is from Google searches for information that they find me.

People all over the world are looking for information that connects to prisons – largely the US prisons. Why? Because what we do affects people everywhere. We set a standard for others to follow and unfortunately that standard is a bad one. Will we ever learn to do the right thing? It is doubtful. Greed is much more powerful than the desire to do the right thing.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t punish people when they do something wrong, but it is wrong to give a black man 20 years in prison for stealing food if his family is hungry, especially when a white man would probably get a year of probation, maybe. We over-punish and we do it based on race. Or look at it this way; what would twenty years in prison do that one year wouldn’t do, especially since now his entire family is being punished. Or was that the intention? Destroy the family. Make them all suffer and unable to rise up out of extreme poverty. Take away any chance of survival. Our criminal justice system is really screwed up.

I don’t know a lot about the prisons in these other countries. I’m sure some are better or worse, but they don’t use them for corporate profit the way we do, making prisoners a commodity for individual stock market growth.

“A sure bet,” they say. “Just keep the prisons full of people.” “No problem” our government says. Laws are abused to make sure 1 in 3 black males will do prison time.

“Let’s reinstate stop and frisk,” says Jeff Sessions, even though it never worked and locked up many more people who couldn’t afford to bond out, and they sit for years in jail never being charged. That will make the corporations lots of money. They could build more jails – provide more jobs. Who cares who it hurts.

For more than ten years I have researched this as I have struggled to understand not only what they have done to Jamie in the prisons they have sent him to, but to try to predict what the effect will be when he gets out. It takes so much more than wanting to have a good life, especially when he has been hogtied in the worst way to keep him from being able to learn how to survive when he gets out. Keeping him in a solitary cell, not allowing him to get any education at all, then setting him free with no life skills. There iss no education for an inmate in adseg or solitary, so they refuse to let him out. They say he is a danger to the rest of the general population inmates. That is the reason they give him. No one can survive that, especially when family isn’t there for you. He has me. Just me, and I am not in the best of health and 30 years his senior. I’m doing all I can.

When I think of the long journey I have been on – helping what used to be a young man who never had a future. It was taken away when he was still 16. He is 35 now. He has been in the prison system far too long to hang in there with promises of a better future that doesn’t begin until the brink of middle age. Taking on that 17 year sentence with him, promising to be there for him is almost the length of time it takes to raise a child until high school graduation, and trying to be responsible for the nurturing of that person almost completely through letters and a visit every year or two. I can’t even touch his hand during those visits.

I’d do it again – because it also taught me a lot about myself. We weren’t blood related between he and I, but we are connected through my grandson. I have been through so much during these years – marking it along the way with crisis we both have had. Life puts you exactly here you need to be to grow as a human being, hopefully affecting other lives in a positive way. I can’t imagine my life without this.

That is all I wanted to say. I appreciate, more than you know, the people who have supported me in this effort – reading, sharing, listening. The book and music have taken far longer than I had thought but if the effort is going to be made it has to be to the best of my abilities, and sometime that means I have to rewrite part of it as I learn. I am confident there is a reason for doing it. I keep the end result in my head. We are what we think. But without other people – you – it couldn’t happen. I’m excited about what the future could bring for Jamie, his son, and yes, my daughter as they are the parents of their young twelve year old boy. My grandson deserves to know both parents. His life has to heal, too.

Thank you

 

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Circles Inside Circles – music and ITFO

Listen to Circles Inside Circles by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

The partial chapter below was posted about 6 months ago. I included it again to give context to the music. When someone is trying to figure out up from down and what makes sense to them about why their life is the way it is, it is confusing and leaves you feeling out of control. You want to change but you don’t know what the truth is – so you search. You try things. You listen. There is more than one path to happiness, but some ways make more sense than others. Blind faith with no consistent proof is the hardest – at least it is for me.

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Jamie was trying. He couldn’t try any harder. He wanted to understand how he could turn his life around and make it through these years in one piece. If he didn’t, the years would be wasted and he’d be a mess when he got out of prison. He couldn’t afford that. He had to make up for a lot of lost time.
     This is what happened when you felt you had endless time on your hands. It was hard to fill the empty spaces. Jamie sat on his bed. He stared at the wall and lost track of time. It had no meaning. He spaced out thinking about his life and what he could have done different. Sometimes he got tired of trying and wanted to melt into the wall and disappear.
    How was anyone supposed to live in conditions like this, then get out and have an okay life? How could he get over it as though it never happened and be happy? It was hard to remember what that was.
     Jamie never had a real chance to find out what he was good at. He wasn’t blaming anyone, the right circumstances were never there. No one taught him how to make something of himself. He just followed along with whatever happened at the moment. He didn’t know how to have a dream. He needed to figure out how to do that.         All he knew for sure was the values he believed in didn’t seem to have the power to get him where he wanted to go.
     Maybe he needed to deepen his faith in God. Study more. Quite a few of the inmates also went to church. There were quite a few screwed up people who found religion after they were sentenced, and some went to church because it was something to do that got you out of your cell. Jamie really wanted to make it work but how were you supposed to know if it was making a difference in his life because nothing had changed for the better.
     He had the bible studies he sent for and was trying to study on his own. He hoped it would help. He had a lot of time to think about what he read. Still, it made no difference. He wasn’t giving up, but what could he do that would actually change things into a better direction instead of going in a circle that only went round and round? He wanted to learn something that would give him hope he was doing the right thing.

End partial chapter

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Music For “Watching The Inside World”

Barbed wire

This is the music for the post of the previous chapter. Later I will do the video. This music quickly became my fastest rising music at SounCloud. This is the player at reverbnation where I have my website. You can steam my music there and also subscribe to my music mailing list. I might send as email once a month with new info.

Promotion is extremely time consuming. It’s hard to write music and chapters at the same time but I gradually move it forward more every week.

Watching The Inside World – ITFO Chapter

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WATCHING THE INSIDE WORLD

 

Jamie was laying naked on the cement floor. Summer hit in full force. Sweat was dripping down every crease in his skin. He didn’t know how he was going to make it through another summer, and there were many more to go.
     After midnight when heat trapped inside the walls began to cool, the cement floor seemed appealing. He stripped off his whites and stretched out hoping it would bring relief.
     He had already passed out twice so far this summer from the intense heat, and had one seizure. The only good thing that happened was being taken to the medical unit which had air conditioning. It was a small reprieve but it only made it worse when he was returned to his cell.
     He needed more water, good water. He was dehydrated and was afraid to drink too much of the water that came out of the faucet. There was an odor to it and sometimes it wasn’t exactly clear. There was a brown tint to it, some days were worse than others. Would it make him sick? He sweat so much he knew he needed to replace the minerals, like the ones in sports drinks, but he didn’t have any. They sell it at commissary but it was sometimes a month or more before he was taken there.
     There was no energy in him to move, and no reason to move. His body felt so heavy. His blood pressure was pounding in his head. How could the warden do this to everyone? He had to know how much they were suffering. Was this his way of rehabilitating them? Yeah, they were learning things; how to hate the prison and everyone in it.

How much anyone suffered depended on what level they were on. There were three levels in adseg. There was no power and no AC on level three. They even covered the vents to cut off any possibility of air circulation. That was a good punishment wasn’t it? If you owned one of the little fans they sell in the commissary you were out of luck because it didn’t work on level three.
     Jamie thought they were trying to teach them a lesson about how screwed they were. Whoever created these punishments had be masochistic.
     If he was level two he would have power and it would be cooler than level three, but not by much. That was the level he was on before the knife was planted. He had to do thirty days now to get back to level two and sixty days to get to level one. Three more months total. During summer that was a lifetime. He heard it took 90 days at level one to get moved to G4 where he could go to chow, but he wasn’t sure about that.
     He knew the guards didn’t like him. Not for any real reason. They hated most everyone in here. They didn’t take this job because they were interested in doing guard duty. There wasn’t much else in town for a steady job.
     They found a way to put him in adseg, but it wasn’t because of anything he did, he was set up. He did react back and that was his fault. If the guards didn’t like you they found a way to mess you up. It didn’t matter that he was trying to play by the rules, not if he didn’t get along with one of them. This one guard, Rodrigues* was an asshole, always making sarcastic remarks trying to piss him off, and sometimes succeeding. Then they’d write up a case on him. He needed to learn to keep his mouth shut.
     The unit went on lockdown. The guards were going from pod to pod ripping up everything. They tore apart the cells looking for weapons, drugs and cellphones.
     While the guards had fun destroying their property, the inmates were locked in cages barely bigger than a phone booth. There was a ledge they could sit on to wait until they were done. Then they had to go back and clean up the mess. Most of it was unnecessary. The guards destroyed things because they could.
     The guard who had consistently harassed Jamie “found” a homemade knife sitting on the edge of his sink. He tried to make it look like Jamie was stupid enough to leave a three inch piece of sharpened metal laying out in the open, even though he knew they were coming to toss the cells. If the sergeant believed that, then he must have been in on it. It was his word against theirs and there was no way he could win that argument.
     He had been fixing to get his level one. The weapons charge knocked him back down to level three. The main office for Texas prisons, TDCJ, in Huntsville, was contacted and the knife was sent to them. This was one way they added extra years to someone’s sentence. He only needed one more major offense for that to happen. At the least it would now take longer to get out of adseg.
     He didn’t even own a knife. It made sense now what the guard said when he was sitting in the cage. He walked by, then stopped and smiled at him.
     “What are you smiling at?” Jamie asked.
     “You’ll see,” he said, and laughed as he walked away.
     Jamie knew then he was the one who planted the knife. It wasn’t right. He didn’t do anything, but then he got angry defending himself. He played into their hands. He needed to stop reacting and think before he spoke.
     They sprayed him with chemicals. It was the first time. It felt like his skin was burning off. Three days he lived with it before it started wearing off. When he tried washing it off it made it worse. Being burned in a fire had to feel like this, only you couldn’t see anything on his skin except a little redness. Was it legal to use that kind of chemicals on people? Probably not, but who was going to stop them?
     No one would do that to an animal. The guards plotted a way to lower his level in adseg and then punished him with cruelty that was beyond inhumane. It was the guards who needed to be sprayed so they could feel what they we’re doing. There was nothing he could do about it now but someday they will get it back.

Today was July 12, 2011. Jamie’s son was five years old. He sat on his bunk and sang Happy Birthday to him with a heavy heart. He wished he could see him right now. He wanted to put his arms around him and hold him.
     “Morgan said he seems happier now,” Sonni said said as she sat down next to him. Little Jamie had been acting out with tantrums.
     “We all been mad at the world a few times,” he nodded in agreement as he glanced at her and smiled a sad smile.
     Jamie was still convinced he was losing his mind each time she came to talk. Sometimes it was days or weeks before he saw her again and thought maybe those were times when she, too, was feeling bad.
     Sonni was on the liver transplant list and had moved to Pa to be close to a good hospital and her family, but her family didn’t care about her. It was hard on a person when they realized they didn’t mean much to people who they thought loved them. This is why she understood how much it hurt when no one answered his letters or came to visit. It hits you from out of the blue. A lot of dudes in here had to go it alone for many reasons. It wasn’t easy and it made it hard to survive when they got out.
     She recently sent him some money for commissary and ordered a magazine subscription. He had nothing to read and was really bored. Time dragged. Every bit of kindness meant something to him. Nothing was taken for granted.
     “Once a week the guards are supposed to give us one hour of dayroom time,” he told her, “but they are too lazy.”
     “It’s easier to provoke someone and make him mad so they have a reason to not take them and call it a punishment,” Jamie added.
     “They do the same thing when it’s time to take us to shower. It’s crazy back here and that’s just half of it.”
     When he had passed out from the heat and had the seizure they took him to medical. Then they took money out of his commissary and paid themselves for the effort.
     “They cause the problem then take what little money I have because it made me sick.” He knows he doesn’t have to tell her everything. She seems to know what he’s thinking.
     “They probably look forward to the hot months,” she said back, “because of the extra money.”
     If he didn’t have any money in his account they would wait until she sent some, and then take it out.
     “To tell you the truth there is not a day goes by I’m not worried,” he continued.
     “I never know what’s going to happen or when it will happen,” he said starting to get an upset edge to his voice.
     “That is why I cry when I think about the visits.”
     “No one in my life knows what happens to me.” Jamie stood up and turned his back to her so she wouldn’t see his face.
     “And I don’t know what’s happening with them,” he sighed. “I worry about my mom and nobody tells me nothing.”
     “Do they think I don’t want to know?”
     “Since I’m big I’m supposed to be tough and take no shit from anyone,” he said, lowering his voice.
     “My family is not seeing this inside world the way I do,” he tried to explain. “They don’t have to watch it happening, so they don’t have to worry.”
     “Yeah, I know they are going through some stuff, too, but not like this.” Jamie paced back and forth.
     “They don’t understand how bad this is. They have never been through it and I wouldn’t want them to.”
     Jamie stopped talking to think for a minute. “I don’t think they care enough to even try to understand,” he frowned.
     “Not that I can tell.” He turned to face her again.
     “If I’m not sleeping, I’m day dreaming,” he said.
     “Playing old moments in my thoughts are like movies in my head, imagining where those movies would have taken my life if I wasn’t here.”
     “I know for a fact me and Morgan would live closer to you. I don’t know if she ever told you, but she tried to get me to fly down to visit you. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but I’ve never been on a plane. Driving there was too far. I’ve never left Texas. I didn’t know the freeways. I wish now I would’ve come to see you.”
     Sonni stood there silently listening.
     “I’m sure you got upset with me when I told you I was fixing to get locked down again,” Jamie began again.
     “Stop right there,” she said, putting her hand up to quiet him.
     “I am not upset with you, about anything,” she said softly, putting her arm back down by her side.
     “You have not done anything,” she explained. “These people have been determined to punish you. Some people enjoy causing others to feel pain.”
     “You have not been trying to hurt people, and I know there are people here who do, who think this is their castle and they are going to rule it.” She moved closer and looked him in the eye.
     “That would be different,” she told him. “But that is not you. I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was.
     “And I’m not going anywhere,” she added sternly.
     “I’m not going away. I am not everybody else.” she wanted him to believe it.
     “Even when you don’t see me, I’m not far away.”
     Jamie could feel tears behind his eyes so he closed them. When he opened them she was gone.

*Rodrigues – not the real name of the guard

<<< >>>

Almost everything in this  chapter was taken word for word from letters Jamie wrote in 2011, broken down to create dialogue. Background Description is added to better understand his environment. Some incorrect English is kept in the dialogue because it gives a more accurate feel for his state of mind. As years go by and he reads more his use of words and phrases improves. None that has anything to do with intelligence, but rather the lack of basic education.

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What Are Prisoner’s Rights

I have read comments on my Facebook page from people who state prisoners deserve every bad thing that happens to them inside. No, they don’t. But the rights listed below are constantly ignored by the prisons because no one oversees whether they abide by them.

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What Are a Prisoner’s Rights?

Prisoner’s Rights Law deals with the rights of inmates while behind bars. Many of these laws relate to fundamental human rights and civil liberties.

Cruel and Unusual Punishments – Every inmate has the right to be free under the Eighth Amendment from inhumane treatment or anything that could be considered “cruel and unusual” punishment. Unfortunately, the Eighth Amendment did not clearly define what “cruel and unusual” punishment includes, meaning much of the definition has derived from case law. Generally speaking, any punishment that is considered inhumane treatment, like torture or abuse, or a violation of a person’s basic dignity may be considered cruel and unusual within the discretion of the court.

Sexual Harassment or Sex Crimes – Inmates have a right to be free from sexual harassment or sex crimes, like being raped or molested while in custody. This applies to crimes or harassment from both inmates and prison personnel.

Right to Complain About Prison Conditions and Access to the Courts – Inmates have the right both to complain about prison conditions and to voice their concerns to prison officials and the courts.

Disabled Prisoners – Inmates with disabilities are entitled to certain reasonable accommodations under the American with Disabilities Act to ensure they receive the same access to prison facilities as those who are not disabled.

Medical and Mental Health Care – Prisoners are entitled to receive medical care and mental health treatment. These treatments are only required to be “adequate,” not the best available or even the standard treatment for those outside of incarceration.

First Amendment Rights – Inmates retain basic First Amendment rights (i.e., free speech and religion), but only to the extent that the exercise of those rights do not interfere with their status as inmates.

Discrimination – Inmates have the right to be free from discrimination while imprisoned. This includes racial segregation, disparate treatment based on ethnicity or religion, or preferences based on age, among others.

If you have questions about what rights an inmate has (or will have) under specific circumstances, you can review the materials below and should also contact a local attorney familiar with criminal law. You can find a list of attorneys in your area on our Civil Rights Law Firms page.

Copyright HG.org.

 

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You Don’t have The Right To Bitch

“You don’t have the right to bitch about something unless you are willing to stand up and do something about it.”

This was said in a Ted Talk. It is very good and worth watching. I believe this. That’s the name of the game isn’t it? Lots of people have an opinion about what is the right thing to do. Some also pass judgement on others, but all they do is talk. When it comes time to do anything about it they go away because it is asking too much.

We have a problem in this country. When it comes down to helping to make the change that is needed they wait for someone else to do it. “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know what to do”. This is not everyone but if 25% more people did more than just read about it, maybe change in rotten systems, like the criminal justice system, could happen.

It’s been ten years since the concept of “prison” entered my life. I had never known anyone who was incarcerated. I knew nothing. The only time I ever thought about it was during an episode of Prison Break.

These years have taught me what it really means to have compassion for human beings regardless of who they are or what they have done that landed them in a prison cell. Some were forced in with plea deals. Some aren’t guilty at all. Some tried to get away with doing something and got caught. Some are mentally ill and were imprisoned instead of treated. Some should never be let out because they are too dangerous to be allowed in society – but that doesn’t mean they should be inhuman treated. That makes us just as bad.

I want to thank those who have supported my effects by sharing posts and commented, subscribed to my newsletter and steamed my music. Followed my YouTube and read chapters of the book I’m writing. Thank you. Thank you.

Without you I could do none of this.

 

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