The Death Trap – ITFO Chapter

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Many people have read some or all of the chapters I’ve published for my book “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” This chapter is a game changer. If you don’t read to the end the next chapter will confuse the heck out of you because you won’t know what happened.

I’ve been waiting to get to this part of the rewrite. Did you watch the music video “Ghost in My Head”? You can find it at sonniquick.net. That is title of the next chapter.

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THE DEATH TRAP

“What’s it like here?” Jamie asked his new cell mate, Ollie.      “Are the guards jerks?”

Taking his small bag over to the locker assigned to him, he squatted down and opened it. There wasn’t much to put inside. They’ll send the bulk of his property later on, maybe in a month or so. Meanwhile, he had no books, pictures or old letters to keep him company.
     “The guards are jerks no matter what prison they send you to,” Ollie finally answered with a pissed off look on his face.”    
     He paused for a few seconds. “They’re worse than some of the men,” he said shaking his head back and forth. “Real lowlifes.”
     “They aggravate the men so they can set up fights to bet on. “They push and push until you get angry and push back.” Ollie looked away, thinking – remembering. “Then they have you.”
     “Watching men beat the crap out of each other is their way of having fun,” he sighed. “Why else would they work in this hellhole?”
     “This place has more deaths from inmates killing each other than any other prison,” he added.
     “They do that to you?” Jamie asked quickly, not sure if he wanted to know the answer. Ollie didn’t say one way or the other.
     He did say, “If someone don’t wanna fight, the other men will make their life miserable . . . for a long time. So you’re better off gettin’ up and takin’ your licks. Your gonna end up fightin’ anyway, whether you want to or not.”
     Ollie stopped and looked over at Jamie. “I hope you know how to fight.” He waited to hear Jamie’s answer.
     “I can take care of myself.” 

TO BE CONTINUED!

 

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The Second Time Around – The Visit

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The Visit

It was July 2009. Jamie knew if he didn’t make parole he’d be staying until 2023, and he wouldn’t make it that long. He couldn’t wrap his head around being stuck in here for that many years. He needed to be home where he could take care of his family and raise his son. He had to stay focused on that. Morgan needed him home. She had to do everything for the family and it was too much. He was no help in here.
     His first parole hearing wouldn’t happen until he was here for eight years. He had five to go which wasn’t even halfway. Doing the entire seventeen years would be impossible. He couldn’t do it. It was too depressing to think about.
     Learning to keep his mouth shut and staying out of trouble wasn’t easy. It was his own fault. He wasn’t used to letting people get away with constantly disrespecting him. These guards were always mouthing off at him, trying to get him angry and pressing his buttons. He wondered if they were trained in how to be a jerk. Even when he was minding his own business they liked to throw their weight around like some kind of underpaid ass.
     They would go on and on until he couldn’t take anymore and got sarcastic back. It didn’t matter if they started it. If he let himself get into it with them they had enough reason to write up a case on him. That was the reason why they did it. They weren’t the ones who were going to get in trouble. Right or wrong he was always in the wrong. Even if he tried to explain what happened, no one would listen to him.
     He got mad at himself every time he let them get to him. The best thing to do was ignore them. Look away, but it wasn’t easy. They knew what to say to be insulting.
     Ignoring other inmates who wanted to mess with him was hard, too. If he dissed the wrong dude it could get him hurt real bad. Jamie could take care of himself but he’d be written up if he got into it with anyone. So far he had only been written up twice this year and he wanted to keep it that way. He had to make it another seven months. Then he’d be raised back up to population and could work on getting a skill and study for his GED. He felt he’d come a long way. Now, if he could only keep it up.
     Tempers were high for everyone. The heat brought out the worst in people. There was no AC and no let up on the heat, even at night. There was no way to get away from it as long as he was in Texas, so he better get used to it. Everyone here was in the same boat, even the guards.
    He got regular letters from Sonni. He didn’t understand why she cared, but he was glad she did. He didn’t know her well enough yet to realize this was just how she was. If someone needed help she would do it.
     Jamie was glad to have someone to write to. He knew his writing and spelling wasn’t too good, but who knew, back when he was going to school that he would need to write so many letters?
     It was hard to keep all this stuff inside his head and not go crazy. He needed someone to write to about what was going on. Most of all, he needed to know he mattered to someone. Would she keep answering his letters? If he told her everything about him would it put her off? She told him she would always be there for him. It was hard at first to have that trust because he had been let down before. Did she know if she know about his past or what he had done? Maybe then she wouldn’t like him or want him around her family.
     Jamie wasn’t the one who did the robbery at the club that got him arrested, but knew his friend had a gun in his backpack. He showed it to him. He thought he was joking about robbing the club. He was guilty of being there and that was all that mattered to the court. He couldn’t blame nobody else for what happened. He could’ve run when he saw what was going down, but friends don’t leave friends behind, do they? Maybe he would have if he had known what was going to happen. 

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When Sonni wrote to him about Key West she made him feel like he was part of her family. She wrote about her employees and what it was like working in her store and dealing with the people coming off the cruiseships. Morgan worked there with her until the baby was a year old and decided to move back to Texas.
     Key West sounded like beautiful place, with palm trees and blue water. Lots of music. And fishing. He’d love to do some fishing in the ocean. It was different from any place he’d been, but then he really hadn’t been anywhere other than East Texas. He wished he could see it some day. When he was growing up he dreamed of being a truck driver so he could go all across the United States and see everything. That was probably out of the question now.
     What helped him most of all when writing a letter, is having someone to talk to about how much he loved his family. He liked to see the words. Sonni wrote back with every detail she knew about their lives. Any little thing Jamie could picture in his head was priceless to him. He felt close to them even though there were many miles between them. It helped him get through the rough days.
      Even though his family knew where he was, there was no way they could fully understand what he was going through. The conditions were horrible, but it was the effect it had on him mentally that was worse. Having one person who took the time to try and see things through his eyes was often the only difference between making it and giving up. Sometimes he pulled himself together because he didn’t want to disappoint her.
     The visit, that one visit he had with his family gave him something to think about and remember every day. The memory of everyone laughing and talking to him over the phone in the booth helped him get through many nights.
     Could they tell how close he was to losing it? Could they see on his face how much he wanted to give up? He tried to hide it. Behind his smile he was crying.
     Their time together that day was too short. It was gone in a blink. It was a small bandaid on a big wound. Morgan said she still loved him and told him not to give up hope. No matter what, they would always have a son together. Time could never take that away no matter what happened.
     Morgan promised she would write as soon as they got back home, so he would know they were okay. Next thing he knew they were waving goodbye and blowing kisses.
     He closed his eyes and lived that day again from beginning to end, pausing at his favorite places, rewinding and playing it over again. He had every moment engraved in his head. With so much time on his hands with nothing to do, reliving that day was his favorite thing to do. It helped him forget reality.

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When his family walked into the visiting room and Jamie laid eyes on his son emotion grabbed him in the chest. He was overwhelmed with love. He couldn’t stop thinking, “This is my son. This is my son.”
His son was growing up without him. No one could understand what it was like to be in a place like this, thinking everyday about a little boy he couldn’t see. They would never be able to get back the time they missed.
Would his son grow to love a man who was never there? His son, this smiling whirlwind of energy was what gave him hope, knowing he was waiting for him to get out. Jamie wanted to pick him up and swing him around. Hear him scream with laughter. Tickle him and laugh with him. He was dying inside. Not having his family was breaking him.
It had been hard for him when he had to grow up without a father. He watched his siblings go off to spend weekends with their fathers while he stayed home. He pretended it didn’t matter, but it did.
He and his mama didn’t talk about it, but that didn’t mean he didn’t wonder who he was. He had nothing to go on. There were no pictures to look at. His father was cut away from him completely. Was that good or bad? Did his father wonder what he was like?
Was it better for him to not know what his father looked like or where he was? He couldn’t miss someone who didn’t exist. But what did exist was knowing he didn’t have a father. Maybe he was being selfish, but he wanted his boy to know he was there. He wanted him to know he was loved. Nothing could ever change that. Jamie didn’t want to be this empty space in his son’s head where the thought of him was supposed to be.
To have so much love and not be able to show it because he could only look at them through glass was so cruel. The craving to wrap his arms around them was almost more than he could bear, but he didn’t want them to see that. He covered up the tears in his eyes with a smile. He wanted to touch him but couldn’t, so he wrapped his arms around his chest and held on to himself.
Little Jamie ran across the floor. He stumbled and fell, laughed and picked himself up. He ran back to the counter in front of the glass and laughed again. He knew he had an audience and ran off again. 

     Jamie watched him run. It grabbed his heart in a vise. He had screwed up so bad. It ripped him up not being able to watch him grow. Here he was, so close, but he still couldn’t reach far enough to touch him. He wanted to hold him, smell him, and kiss his skin to make sure he was real.
     He could tell Little Jamie knew he was his father just by the way he looked him in the eye. When he took off running he stopped, turned around and looked back at him to ee if he was still watching. All Jamie had to do was give him a frown and point at the chairnin front of him and he went right over and sat down.
     He didn’t know then that it would be another five years before he saw his son again, and when he did, he son wouldn’t know him. Not really. He shied away. He stared at his hands and would only answer a question with yes or no.
     It felt so good to see and talk to his mom. He was too far away for her to come visit on her own. He missed her. She asked if he needed anything. He asked if she could help him get a fan. She told him when she got home she would send him the money. It cost twenty-two dollars and he had no other way of getting money.
     Some states paid inmates a small amount of money to work, anywhere from ten cents an hour to maybe a dollar an hour for skilled labor. Texas won’t pay any amount of money for work no matter what the job was. They said they would give good time off your sentence, but they usually found a reason to take it away, even if they had make it up. The prison wasn’t above seeing up an inmate with false charges.
     The afternoon sped by. Toward the end everyone but Morgan went off for one last trip to the vending machines. The kids sure did like to feed it quarters. The older kids had grown so much. In his heart he was acutely aware of the time he was losing with his family. Would he ever be able to make it up to them? Would he get home before they were grown?
     Morgan sat in front of him silently as they looked each other in the eye. He didn’t know what to say to make it better.
     “Every day I miss you so much,” Jamie began.”This isn’t the way I wanted it to be for us.”
     “I know. I miss you, too.” He could see tears in her eyes. They put the palms of one hand on the glass and matched it.
     “I don’t expect you to wait if you find someone else.”
     She shook her head. “There isn’t anyone else,” she assured him with a little laugh. “When would I have time? Besides, who would want a woman with three kids?” She laughed again, trying to make light of it.
     “I would,” he answered back. “I plan on making parole and coming home in five years, but that is still a long time. You can talk to me if you do meet someone.”
     He paused and searched her eyes. “Please don’t hide anything from me because you think I’d be upset.”
     “Promise me you’ll write,” he added. “I don’t think I could stand it if I didn’t at least have your letters. No matter what happens I’ll always love you.”
     “I promise,” she lowered her eyes when she answered.
     “Will you write when you get home so I know you got there safely?”         She nodded her head.
     “If you’re still there and waiting for me when I get out, I promise,” Jamie paused to let it sink in, “the second time around I will make it up to you.
     A guard came over and told Morgan, “Five minutes. Wrap it up,” and walked back to where he was standing and folded his arms over his chest.
     This was the hardest part, saying goodbye. When would he see them again? How many times could he say the words, I love you? They were going to walk out of the room and a guard would take him back to his cell. Now all he had left were the memories of the day to think about.
      Jamie was more than glad they had come. It was better than he had hoped for. He had hope again. Everything was going to be okay.

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Over time Sonni became like a mom to him. She signed her letters, Love, mom. Jamie needed family. He needed encouragement that he could make it, and he needed to understand who he was. Sonni helped him make sense of what was happening to him. She said he brought this into his life. There were lessons to learn. He didn’t quite understand what she meant by that. But he knew if he didn’t have plan he wouldn’t make it. In the Fall, after the visit, he wrote her this letter:

wh jamie2

Dear Mom,
How are you? As for me I’m okay. I’ve been kinda upset. It’s been three months and I’ve only gotten one letter from Morgan. I’m trying to not let it get to me. I think she found someone else. I’m trying to control my emotions. I’m learning to have self control over my temper. So my days are going a lot better now.

I stay out of trouble by staying to myself. I have time every morning and evening in the day room for two hours. The rest of the time I’m in my cell. That’s because my custody level is G4 line 5. I am almost to where I’ll be in 24 hour lock up, if I get one more major case. If I make it seven months I’ll be put back in population. Then I can go to school and learn a trade and go to the library.

Thank you for caring about me. Yes, you can send books but you have to send them from someplace online. You can’t send them. We can also get magazines and puzzle books.

I have to go now. I forgot to say happy birthday. Write back soon, love,

your son

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The Smith Unit – Prison #1 – ITFO

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Inside The Forbidden Outside

The Smith Unit – Prison #1

Jamie could see the Smith Unit long before they reached it. After the bus drove through the small town of Lamesa he saw it sitting way back off the road on flat, treeless, desert land. Ugly and boring. The prison was a series of large, connected concrete structures sprawled out in different directions. He was definitely a long way from the piney woods of East Texas.
     Guards were in the towers at the corners, watching everything below. He could see big guns sticking out. Jamie wondered if they had ever used them to shoot someone trying to escape.
     High metal fences inside even higher metal fences were topped with multiple rolls of razor wire. No, he decided. He doubted anyone could escape if they tried. The only set of buildings in sight, this monstrosity, was now his new home so he better get used to it.
     Jamie could feel his stomach churning. He was scared and didn’t want to show it. Trying to calm his nerves, he took deep breaths and slowly blew them out. He had never been inside a prison, but he knew it would not be good it he appeared nervous or scared. The men inside would be looking for any weakness they could take advantage of. He was told not to look them in the eye or draw attention to himself. If he looked confrontational he might become a target before he had a chance to figure out what was up from down.
     He saw two huge buildings with two floors of tiny windows. That must be where the prisoner cells were. He could see fields in the distance with people dressed in white, working in the rows of whatever they were growing.
     Men on horseback with dogs walked next to the horses. Jamie frowned. Is this what his life was going to be now? It was hot as blazes outside. Maybe it was better than being kept inside, but he knew when he got overheated it could bring on a seizure. He didn’t think they’d care much about that.
     He had a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. This was a different world, inside a world that most people would never see, or even think of. He was now going to be part of a part of a society that would always be considered outcasts, even when they get out.
There were millions of people locked up in America; more than anywhere in the world.

It was a way of life for people like him, much more than whites, but it was still hard to believe there were so many, of either race who were locked up. They were being hid in plain sight if anyone bothered to look. They were able to provide jobs for people because someone had to look after them.
     This was his new address. He had traded his name for a number. Towns with prisons were only to happy to have it there. Of course, they were far enough away so no one had to look at it. They could pretend it wasn’t there, unless it was putting food on their table.
     Pains were taken to keep people from knowing what really went on inside, no matter how brutal it was. He didn’t really know himself yet how bad it could get. All he heard were stories. He learned a lot from talking to other dudes at the jail who had been locked up before. Would his time be any better?
     Why would anyone care about people who were locked up? They were criminals. They were bad people. It didn’t matter what kind of criminal. Murderer, drug addict or bad check writer, they were all treated the same. He was about to find that out for himself.
     Jamie told himself he didn’t care. He could make it, as long as he had Morgan and the kids, he didn’t need anything else. Just thinking about it made his heart hurt. All he knew, if he had been inside before, he wouldn’t do anything that would send him back here again.
     He was headed into this prison and there was nothing he could do about it. He no longer had any control over his life, or anything in it. He better get used to it because it would be a long time before he got it back.
     Do what you’re told, when you’d told to do it. Eat what you’re given you to eat, no matter how bad it is. Sleep when you’re told. Wake when you’re told, even if it is breakfast in the middle of the night. Shower when you’re told. Crap at the right time, before the toilets automatically flush. Wear the same prison uniform every day. There was no decision he could make on his own for the next seventeen years.
     Jamie knew he had to worry about other inmates as much as he needed to worth about what the guards could do to him. There were different laws inside, enforced with a different set of rules. His rights as a human being were taken way. There was supposed to be prisoner’s rights, that maybe looked good on paper, but enforcing them was another matter. This would be a hard transition.
     He wanted to scream at the driver, “Pull over. Let me off. This is a terrible mistake. I’m not supposed to be here,” but he didn’t. He kept his mouth shut. It would be a bad way to start day one.
     None of the dudes he started with on this ride were still on the bus. One by one they had been dropped at other prisons and new faces came onboard. Five men got off with him at Smith Unit.
     It was hot as hell when Jamie stepped down to the pavement. They were lined up in front of the bus. In spite of the heat, it felt good to stand and stretch his legs. Sitting so long made his knees swell.
     The heat coming through the bottom of his slip-on tennis shoes would probably fry up some bacon and eggs. When Jamie was hungry he tortured himself thinking about the different food he knew he couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have again for a very long time. He really was hungry, though.
     There were no clouds in the sky and the sun beating down was brutal. He wanted to shield his eyes but didn’t want to raise his hand to his face. It might look like an aggressive move. Three guards had walked up to the bus and two of them had a mean looking German Shepard at their side. He was not about to test them.
     The third guard stood in front of them and carried a clip board. The first name called out was “James Cummings?”
     “That’s me,” he answered back.
     “When I speak, you say, yes Sir.” The guard instructed.
     “Yes Sir,” Jamie repeated back.
     He called off the rest names and said, “Follow the yellow line into the building. Stop at the desk on the right for instructions.” The guard backed away and they filed into the building.
     The guard standing at the desk handed each of them a clean set of whites along with a worn, white towel wrapped around a tiny bar of soap. Jamie looked down at it. This was all he had. Everything else was gone. He didn’t know when, or if his property from the jail would be sent to him. He wasn’t counting on it. Others told him sometimes things had a way of getting lost when you were sent someplace.
     They were taken into a room and told to get naked for a strip search. No privacy, of course. If anyone was embarrassed, too bad.
     “Open your mouth,” he was told. “Stick your tongue out, then lift it up and down so I can see under your tongue and the roof of your mouth.”
     “Put your hands behind your head,” while they patted him down and checked behind his ears and arm pits.
     “Lift your balls,” was the next order, and Jamie listened. The guard then turned him around while he put on latex gloves to do a cavity search from behind. It wasn’t his first strip search. He knew there would be many more so he better get used to it.
     The men were then taken to the shower, which was good because he he knew how much he stunk from the bus trip. They were naked as they followed orders to walk down the hall. He felt eyes sizing him up as they walked toward the showers. They entered one big room with a shower nozzle every three feet.
     The mold on the floor and walls made him want to back out of the room before he touched anything. There were a few men already in there, standing under the water, going to town on themselves as if they were in a room by themselves. They didn’t seem to mind an audience.
     He had five minutes to wash. As filthy as he was, it was barely enough time. He would have enjoyed standing there for awhile letting the water pour over his body, but he was no longer allowed to decide how long his shower would be. They shut the water off whether you were done or not.
     When he tried to put on the clothes he was given, he realized they gave him a white shirt and pants that were way too small. Maybe it was done on purpose to see if he would complain. The pants had an elastic waist and drawstring but he could barely stretch the elastic enough to pull them up. He was going to split the seams for sure.
     He was led to the first tier of a cell block in medium security. The cells lined the interior wall. There was a walkway around the second tier with men standing outside their cells, leaning over the railing looking to see who the new guy was. Cat calls and rude comments were shouted down at him. He ignored them. He was put in a cell with another person sitting on the bottom bunk. They didn’t say anything to each other. There was plenty of time for that later.

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After a couple weeks he wondered if he was ever going to get his stuff from the jail. He didn’t know what they did with the clothes and shoes he had on when he was arrested. That stuff didn’t matter so much, but there was also papers he didn’t want to lose.
     Maybe Morgan had them. There was also her letters to him and his pictures. She sent him pictures of herself and the kids and little Jamie’s pictures this first year. She also sent him pictures of his family. Now he had nothing.
     So many times Jamie had laid the pictures out on his bunk and stared at each one, trying to memorize it. His mom and brother came to see him in the beginning and then they stopped. He didn’t understand why.      All he had were their pictures and now they were most likely gone. 
He missed them. He figured it was his fault his mom wouldn’t answer his letters. He gave her a hard time growing up. And the letters?          Morgan’s letters were his lifeline. He reread them so many times. It was like she was talking to him. He didn’t feel lonely when he read them. Now he did. Now he had nothing. A little more of him was chipped away every day.

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Jamie never knew who his dad was, at least not for sure. There was never a man who was active in his life. His mama didn’t talk to him about it. The other kids in the family each had fathers and he was jealous sometimes when they went off to spend the weekend with their other family and he had to stay home.
     He got one letter at the prison from a man who said he was his father. Just one and then he never heard from him again. If he was his father, how come this was the first time he was hearing about it? Did this man write to his mom but never ask about him? Or he did ask about him but his mom never told him. What was the truth?
He told Jamie he just got out of prison. For what? Was he in since he was born? How come his mama didn’t write to tell him now that she gave his address to this man?
     In this letter he asked Jamie to give him a chance to be a dad. He was twenty- five so it was a little late to be a dad. Still, Jamie told him it was okay and asked one thing from him; to give the love to his grandson that he never gave to him.
     Jamie never heard from him again. He gained and lost a father in one letter. That was fast. Was this man really his father? Did it matter at this point? He was over not having a dad. He knew the most important thing now was that his son knew he had a dad.
     His son would grow up knowing his father was in prison. He didn’t like it that and hurt real bad. Jamie knew he wouldn’t be there for all the growing up years. He wouldn’t be able to teach him anything. He couldn’t watch him play sports. He couldn’t help him with school or share holidays. So in a way he was absent just like whoever his own father was.
     Maybe his dad loved him but couldn’t find a way to tell him because he was ashamed to tell him. Not knowing was worse because he thought his dad didn’t love him. But since he will never know the truth, it was too late to wonder what it would be.
     Jamie did know one thing for sure. He loved his son. He wanted the best for him. He wanted him to grow up to be a good man. He had to trust that Morgan would raise him right and keep him safe. When he got out, Jamie would make it up to him as best he could.

 

wh jamie2

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There Are No Judges Here – And Some Things You Can’t Let Fly!

Medical treatment behind bars

Hello mom, October 7, 2015

I received your last two letters. It’s been a bumpy road for me and I’m doing what I can to control myself. However to tell you the truth I have developed a bad temper in this place. I try to control it but it gets the best of me. I win over it at times at keeping it under control, but I’m being provoked a lot – because of my temper. I’ve been trying hard to stay in control of myself. I’m going to stop going to chow just so I won’t have to interact in any way with the officers. I will eat in my cell. I’ve been in a few situations with officers to where I have written them up. It’s the route I’m taking so these people will see I am trying to handle things differently.

Thank you for the photos you sent of the boys. It put a smile on my face to know they were both doing something for a good cause. What is my son eating? He has gotten so big!

Jamie and his little brother Ben
Jamie with his little half brother Benjamin

I’m sure you’re wanting to know about my trip to the hospital again. I spoke to the doctor. I do have around my heart. They never did do the MRI. They did an EKG and an ultra sound. They took pictures of my heart. The doctor told me he was going to give me something for the inflammation, however I was told it wasn’t in the paperwork so I haven’t been getting anything. I spoke with the doctor here on the unit and he said I have another appointment at the hospital in two months. So sometime next month I’ll be going back. I’m okay so don’t worry. I just have these off and on chest pains. I’ll be fine so don’t worry yourself.

Prison food
Source:brokenchains.us
I got into a fight with a dude, an inmate. He works in the kitchen with food. My cell is right in front of the kitchen. I can watch them do everything. Well one day I watched him put his bare hands on all the cornbread. We had a verbal conflict. Then I said, “Man have to eat that. Don’t nobody want to eat nothing you’re putting your nasty hands on.” I called a Stg. She gets on him about it. Well this dude goes around telling everyone I snitched on him. But he didn’t tell everybody that he put his hands all over everybody’s food. He just said I was snitching. So I told him he’s playing a dirty game and I was ginning to beat his ass when I caught up with him. It just so happened we bumped into each other when I was coming back from the hospital. It’s nothin so don’t worry about it. I was just locked down for a few days. Sorry, but things like that you can’t let fly. If I did, I’d have more than a lot of problems come my way. (There are no judges here)

I have to get this in the mail now. They will pick up soon. Could you send me some books? Thank you.

Love you, Son

(Sonni’s note: One of the best reasons to deny parole are the cases that are filed against inmates for disciplinary reasons, even though it is the Guards who push and provoke the inmates into reacting – and they know it. It is a rare human being who can continually turn away and ignore someone who mistreats and humiliates you. Keeping an inmate in the lower levels of restriction also keeps him from education – another reason to deny parole. Institutionalizing a man severely lessons his chances from making it on the outside after he finishes his extremely long and abusive sentence. I’m not talking about the seriously sick criminal. I’m talking about the man who pushed through the system and sentenced beyond common sense and used as slave labor.

What do you do when necessary medication is kept from these inmates, when life sustaining medication is withheld for a higher profit margin. The prison system gets away with mistreatment. Even if an inmate or x-inmate manages to file suit against the prison staff, the court will do everything it can to keep the prison from having to take responsibility. At the most, maybe they will buy off the inmate. But it is rare that the abusers have to take responsibility. 

Inmates are in prison because it was deemed that their crime demanded that they be locked up, often for decades. Why? Because they are supposed to be a danger to society. Many are – but not all. We all know the reasons now for our over full racist prisons and how it came about. Only someone fairly ignorant would actually believe anymore that black men are more dangerous. That is the white man’s propaganda. So where is the punishment for the legal criminals? Do you think these guards, who abuse prisoners, and get a kick out of it, change into different, respectful, compassionate people who go home and play with their kids and have loving relationships with their wives and friends? Can they forget their abuse of another human being who often does not deserve what was done to him. Can they just go on as if they did nothing? Does it matter if they use the excuse that the officer above him condones what he did? No. It doesn’t. Ultimately he doesn’t get away with it. The law of cause and effect or you reap what you sow – whatever you call it – is strict. These guards are damaged goods. They are criminals and they think their actions are okay. They are a danger to society. They. Are. Sick. And they get no help because they aren’t held accountable for their actions. This is not every guard,  just like not every inmate is guilty or innocent. But there has been enough reported incidents of prison guard abuse and brutality to know it is a serious problem. It is not a guard’s job to abuse whenever they feel like it. When an inmate dies because of abuse it is to late to change it for him. These murders don’t seem to count. Inmates don’t seem to have viable lives. When they die from lack of medical care it is still murder. I have heard the public sarcastically proclaim that inmates get 3 squares a day and free medical, because they believe the propaganda the media puts out. We could stop that guard from sadistically abusing another man, and we could stop the prison from allowing it to happen – but we don’t.

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

Sonni Quick piano music complete list

What Has Happened Now? The Prison Cut Off My Emails.

I’m concerned. Two nights ago I started writing an email to Jamie. I have used http://Jpay.com to write to him for about 7 years. I can send him emails, money and pictures, which is easier than handwriting mail, and getting money orders, although I do send him other things – articles and cards. But when I logged into Jpay yesterday morning, the option to send mail had disappeared. I could only send money. That had never happened before in all the years I’ve been writing.

I called Jpay. The rep I talked to had not heard of this happening, either, and called her supervisor. She told me the prison must have stopped it as a way of disciplining him. To me that says they are out of things to take away from him. There isn’t much more they can take away from you when you are in ad seg. So his books must be gone as well as all belongings, probably his mattress as well. His little fan? In this godawful heat. His food -still on food loaf, which I think they make from garbage. They feed it to them three times a day.

food loaf

So what the hell happened that they would resort to stopping my emails. They would know I am the only one writing to him. Will a snail mail letter get through? Is it also directed at me for some reason because they didn’t like what they read?  I’m grasping at straws.  I just double checked again and it’s still blocked.  My concern is mostly for Jamie because most likely it is a punishment for something.

Melvin, the man in Texas who goes to the prison to visit with him every 4 to 6 weeks was recently there.  He said he was in good spirits.  The cut on his foot was still hurting but it was starting to heal.  They chanted together for awhile.  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  Jamie has been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for several years, a practice that is difficult to do on your own.  It’s easy to begin, like deciding to go to the gym, but it is hard to maintain with encouragement, because since it is a practice it is something you do every day.  He has been learning that we are the cause for own problems.  We make the causes.  We get the effects.  Learning how to respond to life a different way takes more than just thinking about it.  If you have an issue with anger there are things that are going to press your buttons and you are going to respond the same way no matter how many times you tell yourself not to.  Actually changing something inside yourself that reflects in your environment takes time.  You make baby steps.  The first step is understanding how you could have reacted in a different way.  We chant – deeply – to change that part of ourselves that causes us the most grief.  It is a life long process.  Most people understand there are benefits to meditation and chanting has the same benefits of that.  Deep breathing calms you and enables you to think.  Chanting is deeper that that.

The universe runs on a rhythm.  We see it easily in the tides.  All life is a cycle.  Birth, aging, sickness and death.  All of nature and all living beings. When you are able to join with that rhythm it brings into your life those things that help you and also those things you need to learn so you can change the things that cause you unhappiness.  When you try to change the things that hold you down the only way to do that is to confront the very things that cause you unhappiness. We never get rid of problems.  What we want is to deal with our problems in a different way that gets us a better result. This is not about asking something “out there” to change your life but instead looking inside yourself to change negative into positive.  Accepting responsibility that there is no one but yourself to blame for the plan you have for your life.  The plan wasn’t decided by something outside yourself.  We make the causes that affect us.  If we don’t change these things – especially an inmate – when he gets out he has little chance of doing things different and gravitates back to the life he had.

So I have to think – What has happened?  Most of these guards have such low life conditions.  We read about prison guard brutality more and more in the media. They have no problem hurting inmates just for the pleasure of being able to do it and get away with it. Did he react to something they did and that gave them the reason to want to hurt him?

All I can do is wait while I send him a snail mail.  Today is Saturday.  I tried to call the prison and no one is picking up the phone. Are they closed on Weekends?  That doesn’t make sense.  They have visiting hours today.  I’ll keep trying. On Monday I’ll try again . . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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In The Beginning I thought He was Safe in The Hole – Part 2

prison guard brutality
source credit:
a.w.i.p.com

PART TWO

by Sonni Quick

Still, in the beginning at least, I thought he was safe there. But he wasn’t, and the treatment this time in G5 is a lot worse than it was before. Either that or he just didn’t tell me everything so I wouldn’t worry. This is torture. This violent abuse. You get treated in ways no human being should ever treat another human being. When your captors get away with grinding your face into the floor, jamming you headfirst into a wall and split your head open, jump on you and beat you while your hands are cuffed behind your back, you know you have no place where it is safe. These are prison guard brutality is real yet there is no punishment. Why this kind of behavior is not only allowed, but also condoned, makes me very angry. It makes me feel helpless because I know there is nothing I can do to help him. Why is this allowed!?

Some of the guards exhibit worse, insanely criminal minds than many of the inmates, yet they are allowed to leave the building at the end of their shifts and go home. To their wives? To their girlfriends? Do they tell them the brutal things they did to other human beings while they work? Can they go home and say, “Hi, honey I’m home”, and then go outside and play with their kids? Or are their own heads so screwed up by the violence they perpetrate that they instead end up in a bar trying to drink their memories away? Because I know, from some of things I’ve read, only someone who is psychotic would enjoy the things they do to inmates, when the inmates can’t do anything about it.They say they are breaking prison rules. They will get ganged up on by five guys at a time, in armor, who’s sole purpose is to spray them with gas, rip them apart and make sure they are way beyond hurt. Prison politics have their own set of rules that have nothing to do with what is considered breaking the law in the land of the free.

Jamie has worked his way up the levels to reach certain benefits more than once. It never lasts for long. Jamie has a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. He expects if someone makes him a promise to do something they should be accountable to that promise. When that doesn’t happen he gets angry and lets them they are wrong. The more he insists on trying to right that wrong the harder he gets punished. What does that teach him? How is he to learn to trust someone when they use the words, “I promise” yet that promise means nothing? He is constantly judged to be right or wrong so expects other people to behave accordingly, especially when the words, “I promise” are being used. Even through these situations he is expected to remain calm and not get angry? Because if he does get angry it is the excuse to make him feel  more pain and suffering.

Next up the ladder is level G4. On this level you get to leave your cell to go to chow and you get a little time in rec to watch TV. It isn’t much, but it is better than having your food put through a slot in the door. You don’t have to eat so many meals of biscuits and peanut butter, or two pancakes and peanut butter. When you can go to chow the food is at least a little better. Not by much, most of it still look like slop, but you can get a hot meal and there is more food.

I don’t think there is G3, at least not that I’ve heard of. When you make it to G2 you are allowed to make phone calls and you can have contact visits sitting at a table

prison jobs, prison janitor
photo source:
photgraphersdirect.com

instead of sitting behind glass talking on a phone. You can also get a job, perhaps in the laundry or as a janitor to clean the showers. Prison labor is very important to the profit margin of the corporations that own the prison. There is no pay in Texas, but at least you get out of your cell and do something productive, something physical that makes you tired enough to go to sleep at night. Jamie has only made it to G2 once in the years we’ve been writing, and that lasted only a few weeks. He could call me for twenty very short minutes. I was the only person to register my phone. Being able to make phone calls in prison is their lifeline.  Taking that away breaks their ties with their family and they may not get that back.  No one else. No family. I honestly don’t understand how family can just pretend you don’t exist, but it seems to happen frequently to inmates.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I think they will throw him a party when he gets out and then go back to their separate corners and let him figure out what to do next with no help from them.  There is no help now so why would that change later?

It doesn’t take much to get knocked back down to G5 again, A guard can file a case on you for anything they want, real or imagined. Another guard will always verify it is true. It snowballs from there. Inmates aren’t always allowed in the prison courtroom (UCC) when their fate is decided. The guard who filed the case doesn’t even have to be there. Another guard can stand in for him and swear it is true. Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong. It doesn’t matter what the issue is.

When Jamie reached G2 he applied to take a course to study for his GED and also to learn a trade. He wasn’t at that level long enough for it to take place. He has been in prison for nearly ten years and he has never been at a level to complete one program that would show the parole board in October of 2016, they should let him out. Without that they will most likely turn him down because without even a GED, and with at least that he has no chance of getting any kind of job anywhere. I understand that, but if they don’t allow him take any classes doesn’t that seem pretty deliberate? He’s not a hardened criminal. He wasn’t a gang member. He had no other convictions on his record. He was guilty of being black more than anything – and not being able to afford a real attorney. Is he guiltless? No. Does he deserve what they have done to him? Again, no.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news of injustice around the world

Lockdown. Voice From Inside

lockdown,voice from inside

July 23, 2013 – nearly two years ago

I try my best to stay away from trouble. But I guess it’s my karma. I’m here in lockdown again and I don’t know why. All I know is my celly threatened me in front of an officer. They locked him up and came and got me the next day. My celly was trying to get away from another dude. He sold the dude his fan for 6 pictures of women and toothpaste!! However, he later tried to back out of the deal and the dude told him he was going to beat him up. So my celly did what we call ‘catch out’ cause he didn’t want to fight. But these people are now saying that I’m under investigation. I think my celly done lied on me about something. I don’t know what’s going on. The Security Threat Group Officer come and ask me if I was ok. However he said I have to be placed in tranzed (?) til I see UCC. ( Sonni’s note:UCC is the inprison court which is usually run by the warden. He hears so many claims about the same thing that not much attention is paid to what the inmate is saying most of the time.)

I seen my celly. He said the officer wrote him a case for a shank. He got G5 today. Could you call and see what’s going on please? I haven’t been given a case yet. There’s no telling what my celly done lied about. I tried to help him by talking to the dude but the dude didn’t want to hear it. So I left it alone and told my celly the dude didn’t want to hear it. So I left it alone and told my celly the dude said to sit the fan out. Like I said, it’s my karma for trouble. If you call just ask them, why am I being locked up? They won’t tell me nothing. Don’t say nothing bout my celly. Well, you know what? Just don’t say anything bout him getting G5. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. I don’t think I’m in any trouble. Then again I’m looking at where I’m at. In lockdown. I think this time they’re trying to make sure I’m safe. I hope that’s what it is. Cause I ain’t did nothing. But if they try anything I’ll be going back to ad seg. I’d rather be by myself. Then I don’t have to worry about no inmates. Who am I kidding? Trouble is everywhere.

I don’t know why I’m worried. I’m fixing to get up and dance and sing! For awhile, and then chant. That’s what’s wrong with me. I worry too much. But you know what? I don’t forget anything! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Cause I would like to see just how good at dancing you are! ( drew a smiley face) I don’t know you just might win. Naw, I’m just playing. We’ll see one day.

Love Always, Son

(Sonni’s note: For those of you who are tuning in for the first time, I’m not his real mom, but I guess you could tell that by the pictures. If you’d like to continue reading and find out who Jamie is, which I hope you do, go to; My Name is Jamie, and then to Jamie’s Prison, and The Meaning of It All. This are pages at the top. It will give you his story. Then start at the beginning of the posts, the oldest ones, as there is a story that unfolds through the years. Follow me as I continue to write and reshare on your social media. I am sorting through older letters until I reach all the way back to 2006. I have a lot of letters to go through! They are sometimes funny, but mostly sad because he missed the birth of his only child, now 8 1/2. He’s never touched him or talked to him on the phone, but hopefully he will be able to do that real soon!

It’s All About The Free Labor in Texas Prisons

June 1, 2015

Hi mom, I’m doing better today. I got my World Tribune. ( Nichiren Buddhist weekly newspaper) for May 15th. I read the whole paper. There was a lot of good messages and words of encouragement inside.

SGI World Tribune ,Nichiren Buddhist
Nichiren Buddhist weekly newspaper. This is what has helped him stay sane and have hope.

You asked in your letter what I will do to stay busy. Well for starters I’m going to work hard on my temper. I have a lot to think about. I was thinking about what you asked me. You know, about talking to kids when I get out. I would love to do that. I could get on YouTube or Facebook and make videos using a web can and explain to the world what the prison system is like. Because if the families only knew how their family and other people were being treated inside they would understand why so many never make it home. If they make it home they are often in pretty bad shape if they have been abused. How is someone supposed to have a better life if they are scared to be around people?

Families should open their eyes and understand the pain, suffering and all the shit we have to put up with. All because these people have control of our lives more than they should. They have the power to abuse and humiliate us, starve and beat us, which is not part of our sentence. We should not have to live like this. There have been people in here for many years who have never had a case brought against them, but yet when they come up for parole they are still denied their freedom. Why? That’s a damn good question.

free labor at tdcj
photo credit:
tci.tdcj.state.tx.us Inmates can make no money in Texas prisons

But we all know it’s about free labor Texas gets from us. Texas don’t pay anyone no matter what job they do. Why would they want to lose that? They rest of us who can’t work they get paid just for us being here. The Texas prison system says they pay us with good time. However, anyone who comes into the system with aggravated time like me, don’t receive good time. Ain’t that something? For those that do receive it, it can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

Every officer is required to write up a certain amount of cases on inmates. the prison might say that isn’t true, but it is. If they don’t they will be written up by their supervisor. So they have to make stuff up to blame us for. The system is set up so that us inmates can’t win. And this is why so many men of color lose their lives or never make it home. We do have a way to write up officers. We can write a grievance. But get this. There is step one and a step two. There is no doubt that what we write up on step one will be looked over and denied. Every single time. For some odd reason it takes these people 40 days just to deny step one. The warden is the one who does this, of course. Step two goes to the main office in Huntsville. You’d think these people would look into this given that it is part two of a grievance and it has been filed for a reason. Yeah, right. Step two takes 45 days to be investigated. If you add the days together it is almost three months. 85 days which is the same amount of time you get for having a  case written up against you. So they will tell us to write up an appeal against the wrong punishment we were given, taking away our commissary, recreation or our property. No matter what, we will be on punishment that equals the same amount of days it takes to appeal it.

So why appeal it or write it up at all? Because even if we win the appeal we will still would have done the punishment already anyway. All they do is erase the case from our file, maybe. Anyway, I promise you that not too many people win their appeal. One last thing before I end. This is crazy. There is a black lady here who is a captain, and when I say she is dirty that is what  I mean. She’s crazy. She was born in the system. Yes, her mama was locked up when she had her. She told us this. She also has a brother locked up. You’d think she would understand. She said she didn’t give a damn. I wanted to give you something deep about this place. Ill write more later. I’m tired. I’ve been up all day. Also, on top of everything we’re on lockdown again, so I won’t be getting much food to eat.

Till next time, love, your son Jamie

(Sonni’s note: My advice to him is: go through the process any way. If there is a possibility that the case would be taken off his file when he comes up for parole, it might help. I realize that he said that most of the appeals aren’t won, but if you filed enough of them, and they were against the same person you would have your own paper trail that might be useful when it comes time for parole. Food for thought.)

(added later note:  The officer he gave the grievance form to, to file, must have just thrown them away.  He never got the denial so he could file the appeal.  I called the warden and there were no grievances on file from him – but he’ll check on it, he says.  “I can’t have my officers doing that sort of thing.”  He was supposed to get back with me about it, but of course he didn’t.)

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

Breaking Prison Rules

jamie Cummings age eight, Jamie Cummings and his son.
Father and son at the same age, with the same name.

Jamie’s bio mom sent me this picture of a much younger Jamie.  Seeing these pictures of him and his son Jamie, side by side, there is so much resemblance.  Both of them are about the same age of eight. I have also received recent letters from Jamie and I am getting the information sorted out.  He is having a very rough time.

Prison guards get away with making his life hell as they do for many inmates, often undeserved. It seems to be the agenda of most of the guards with the approval of the people in charge of them.  It brings out the worst side of many men who enjoy causing people to suffer.  We also read, more and more in the news about the atrocities cops get away with, from beating people to outright murder, and the people in charge of them not only look the other way,  they do everything they can to make it look as though they people they hurt were asking for it.  They do their best to make sure these officers don’t have to take responsibility for harm they cause people.  I hesitate to even use the word offer for these mean because that word denotes respect, and there is no respect for people like this.  Unfortunately it also also brings shame and respect to those officers who are not like this because how is anyone supposed to tell the difference.  Every officer is looked at with distrust and they have brought it unto themselves.

Each time that happens the fuse gets shorter and shorter. People no longer trust the police because they have proven time and again they can’t be trusted. These people who outright lie about hurting people will have to stop because the people are demanding it.  Police – prison guards – those that think they have a license to indiscriminately hurt and kill are people cut from the same cloth.  They are the legal criminals. Whatever it is inside them them tells them it is okay to choke and kill people or shoot them in the back, or in the prison to torture them to death or to deny them medical care and they die, aren’t going to get away with it.  They will [pay with their own lives in one way or another. These people have extremely flawed human natures and need to be feared.  If I were a black man being pulled over by a cop knowing there was a very good chance that I would be, at the very least, beat up or killed for some trumped up charge that they thought I was reaching into my waist band for a gun I wasn’t carrying, I, too, would take the initiative and run.  Why would he even have to think these thoughts?  Because he has known of it happening time after time.  They know that a black man can be put in a police van alive andf when it arrives at the station he is unexpectedly dead and they don’t know why.

What Jamie is going through now, at the hands of the guards, which I will write about soon, needs to stop. Any human being can only take so much being locked up 24 hr a day, being denied the ability to breath fresh air, taken to the shower once in awhile, maybe.  It’s inhumane.  It’s cruel.  It’s unnecessary.  It’s wrong.  Rec, if they give it to him is being taken to a small indoor cage not bigger than his cell to walk around in, and is now being threatened with being taken to another prison far away – and for what??? They said they had no OPEN BEDS to give him.  Huntsville Prison is a big prison and they have no open beds??  This is a set up. They took away his hard earned privileges of being able to use the phone, walk to chow, go outside for rec, get a janitorial job, because he argued back to a guard  because what the guard was saying was wrong.  Jamie broke a rule.  In other words, he defended himself.  They took everything away he had worked hard to get for the past few years and stomped on him for it.

Bill Seeks to End Solitary Confinement for Youths in California

Youth in solitary confinement
Photo credit :
socialworkblog.org

Treating children by putting them in solitary confinement inside a juvenile detention institution, even if they have committed a crime, makes it nearly impossible for them to end up well adjusted, functioning adults when what they learned as children is how to treat the world with the same anger and lack of compassion that was shown them. Any hope of it being a positive experience that could lead to a life of promise is rarely possible. They will never be able to wipe away the childhood years spent doing time in an environment that thinks nothing of treating them inhumanely and with abuse, physical and sexual.

The school to prison pipeline, with the intent of keeping the prisons full starts in juvenile detention and it often only takes truancy, an afternoon fight or a childish prank for a child to get sucked into the system. There is little recourse for a parent to keep them out of it, unless of course, you are a parent who has the money to buy their way out. Of course, the children the system goes after are going to be Blacks and minorities, and it is evident by the percentage of different races who find themselves locked up, the majority are going to be Black, then Hispanic and in much, much smaller quantities are White youth.

The media, or rather the corporations who own the media, has done a good job of convincing the public that Black men – and women – commit more crimes than White people. They are also led to also Blacks do more drugs. So naturally, it is the children of Blacks and minorities who find themselves locked up in greater percentages than White children in the juvy system as well. Are they less intelligent? Then Why? Because predominately they don’t have white privilege, they don’t get a white education and they have a higher likelihood of having two parents making enough money for a good lawyer. Lastly, police officers don’t patrol white neighborhoods with the same determined focus, pulling over, harassing, searching and arresting the youth from the white neighborhoods. They also don’t pull out their guns and accidentally shoot white youth because they are afraid for their lives

Minnesota has just experienced three consecutive years of double digit prison (investment) growth. Hennepin county arrested 44% of its black adult male population in 2001. Nationally, 13% of Black men can’t vote because they are felons. The racial disparity is clear to some of us. California now has a perfect prison feeder system. Nationwide, about 25% of America’s youth are being tried in adult courts today. Once these youth are treated as adults in our court systems, they rarely leave the system. Juveniles are more likely to be raped and brutalized, and suicidal, than adults within the system (they are just more vulnerable). See more at: Failed third grade reading scores

Test scores of 3rd graders are used to determine how many adult beds in prison will be needed, because they determine if a child is not being educated, in schools lacking the money to buy books and hire good teachers, they will turn to crime to make money. Although the very idea of that is sick, it probably isn’t to far off from the truth. There is always money in the state coffers to build brand new prisons and never enough money to provide good schools, since so many of them have been closed or have deteriorated. Enrichment classes like music and art have been eliminated. There are few school nurses or psychologist to help children who need the help. They are written off, they drop out and they are lost.

So kids, of all races, are prime targets when they are a little older, for keeping the prisons well stocked with inmates to satisfy the American corporation’s need for cheap prison labor. Plantation slavery never died, it just changed it’s face a little. Inmates, like slaves, are provided with the same substandard housing, clothing, food and medical care. The are brutalized and murdered and the people doing it get away with it. The injustice system is also a pro at splitting up families and shipping them far away making it difficult, and expensive to see them or talk to them on the phone. And it all starts with the kids.

Once they end up in juvenile detention, “breaking any rule” can have them put into solitary confinement. Racism from the staff is just as prevalent there as it is in adult prison. Kids they get angry. They fight back. Many are already broken by the life they have had up until that point. If you are a black child, the chance that one of your parents is, or has been in prison is about 50%. There are so many black boys with no father. That was the case for Jamie and his siblings, and now Jamie’s son doesn’t have his father, either. They had a mother who worked two jobs to be able to care for her children. His son’s mother has often worked two jobs to support her children, too. Jamie also had a hard time as a child due to epilepsy which made it hard for him to do things like boys his own age. Many children fight for survival any way they can.

Jamie Cummings is the man this blog is about, a man who’s life started in juvy at the age of 16, not because of a crime, but because he defended his mother because a cop, who had previously harassed his family, literally forced his way into their home, after Jamie and his brother had a fight outside the house. Even though the fight was over and they were in the house, and it involved no one else but them, the cop insisted on coming into their home even when his mother said it wasn’t necessary because everything was under control, he pushed his way in, knocked her down and breaking her wrist. In anger, both sons went toward the cop to defend their mother. He maced the older brother, over 18, and Jamie hit the cop with a broom. Is that an offense to go to juvy for? I guess it’s against the law to protect your mother from the man who hurt her because he’s a cop? An ambulance was called for her and she later filed charges and went to court because of his assault on her. I don’t know the outcome of that court appearance. It still didn’t stop the cop from filing assault charges on Jamie and sending this 16 year old to juvenile detention – because they can. They let the older brother go because he didn’t do anything where charges could stick, but a juvenile doesn’t have to commit a crime. There doesn’t have to be a valid reason.

That incident started him on the path that led to him not only being able to get a GED in all this time, because you can’t take classes when you are kept in the lowest levels of prison; solitary confinement, ad seg and G5 – all the same thing with different names. Only when you reach the level of G2 can you apply to study for you GED and he only made it to that level for a few weeks until they found a way to send him back to lock up. Guards have a vengance and they can do no wrong. How can you work with no GED and no training? This is what being sent to Juvy 16 years ago has done to him and many, many other youths. They system counts on you coming back to prison through the back door – parole violation. Well, they can’t have him.

In juvy it also made him an angry youth, not only sent far away from his family, so no one could visit, but also because he was kept there until he turned 21, not the nine months he was sentenced to. He spent extended stays in solitary confinement that added to the bitterness that led to severe depression. His last institution was in another state and he was sent there because he had given up hope and had sunk into depression. Missing his family was unbearable. He had no support. He gave up.

The very day he made it home he visited a friend and while leaving the apartment complex he was stopped by security guards. The police were called and he was taken to jail and they tried to charge him with trespassing. He had really only committed the crime of walking while black. It took 2 days to get him out. He had to go to court. The judge he was in front of was the very person who was his attorney when they locked him up when he was 16. He was let go, but the writing was on the wall. Living in a very prejudiced state, not being able to afford a good attorney, the options are few for young black boys and men. There are plenty of facts to support that. Having no life skills it wasn’t long before he decided to hang with a cousin who had a record and who wanted to hold up a club. He got scared and ran, but people in the club recognized him as being with the man who pulled out a gun and tried to rob the place. Guilty for being there. Black men also get much longer sentences than white men and he ended up in adult prison because of being with the wrong people at the wrong time. He had also met my daughter during this time and they had a baby he has never been able to spend time with. The few times she visited he was behind glass. That boy, who will be 9 in July is his reason for living. His goal to be the father he never had. And he has me, and I’m writing a book that hopefully will provide enough proceeds for him to live on while he decides what to do with his life to create value. Multiply Jamie’s life thousands and thousands of times. Not everyone has someone to help insure his success back into a world that is much changed and very unwelcome.

This is the effect of juvenile detention. It needs to be changed. Jamie still sits in prison today. Hopefully it will soon and he will make bail the end of next year. This is why I passionately write this book about his life. “Inside the Forbidden Outside”. Four of the chapters are posted on this site. Fill out the contact form on the bottom to be on the mailing list for more information as it get closer to completion.

Juvy destroys our young people. They can’t cope with the things they do to them inside. Yes, there are many youth who have committed serious crimes, usually coming from very dysfunctional families and violent communities. The way they are treated once they get into these institutions makes it unlikely they will go on to to have “normal” lives. Most end up in prison. Many of the crimes committed by youth is because they have no other way of dealing with life as it slaps them across the face. There is little guidance from the adults around them. But the youth are our leaders of tomorrow and we need to handle them with care and nurture them.

Thank you.

On the right side of the blog there are many links that will tell you much more about the lives of youth who are locked up and who are in solitary confinement. Until we find a better way of teaching kids how to live their lives, and instill in the value they have as a human being, they will continue to lash out. The adults in their lives disappoint them and don’t teach them the value of respect, for themselves or for others.

The link below is a small step in the right direction, and it is only one state. We have to fight for the the children. They are our only hope for the future. They are the leaders of tomorrow whether it is for the right things or the wrong things.

BILL SEEKS TO END SOLITARY CONFINEMENT OF YOUTHS IN CALIFORNIA.