Sonni, how are you? Fine I hope. As for me I’ve been down and depressed lately. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about everything. Me, my future, how I’m going to take care of Jamie, my uncle who you say died in which no one told me about, only what you told me. Anyway that’s just part of it. There is still us and the problems we are having with our families. Then to make things worse there is the problem of not being able to see my son.
I’m allowed to buy books and magazines now if I have money in my account. It’s a long process though because I have to sign papers and they have to take thumb prints. Why thumb prints? Anyway in your letter you spoke about the summer heat. Yes it is heading this way again. (Hot) Hell yeah. There have been days I would pour water on the floor and lay down in it because it be so hot. There are also times when I don’t turn on the fan only because the heat would be too much for me. Yeah the good ole summer. I have passed out at least three times from the heat. The last time was when I was put in the hospital for a few days at the Wynne unit.
So my brother Antie has married yet again. Wife number three. I haven’t been to any of these weddings but I did meet the first two wifes. I thank you for wanting to send photos, but please don’t worry about it. I don’t even look at the ones I have. I don’t think about family. Why should I? They don’t think of me. They could never get together and come see me. Not ever. No one will have to worry about seeing me when I come home. (Hell) If I make it home.
I’ve been here so long I think crazy things. Look I just want to live my life. Family and friends yes I want. But I would rather just enjoy life with my son. I’ve always wanted to tell my son’s mother that I hoped she was happy who she was with. I never once tried to bring her down. I only wanted to be a good friend and father to her and my son. I was young, unemployed with a child on the way. I was scared, but not as scared as I am now. I know my relationship with my son hasn’t been good or easy. I know because I know how it feels.
Only difference between him and I is he knows me, only a little piece of me. It’s all my fault. I have not held my son in almost nine years. I was hoping to hold him in 2015 on my birthday when my mom came with my nieces when I had my one contact visit. I only get to see him when you come down to visit.
Anyway we are on lockdown. We should be off by the time you get this. I’m trying to get help by talking to these people. It’s not helping though. They have another unit I can go to, to talk to a doctor. The only thing is I would have to sit naked in a room for a day or two first. Why? It’s just the way they do things. Speaking of being in a room I wish we was sitting next to each other talking. Not in here but somewhere peaceful and quiet. I would like to talk about my life. The only thing is I try to erase as much as I can. Why? Because my life has not really been a life.
It’s been painful since 2000. I don’t think I ever told you I was sent to juvy for nothing. The real reason. My life ruined as a boy, for nothing. Back then when the police busted into my house and hurt my mom I never assaulted that cop. It was my little brother who hit him with that broom. I was the one charged for it. He was really young. Too young for juvenile detention. He was only defending our mom. I went to court and the lawyer told me and my mom I’d only have to do nine months, nothing more. So I took the sentence think that was all I was doing was nine months. I did it for my little brother. Then they wouldn’t let me go for four years and put me in solitary confinement because I got angry. My life has been down ever since. I have been so lonely and left out of so much. My life has been a waste. Every one I loved rejected me. How am I supposed to deal with that? I know I need to get the hell out of Texas, but where would I go? How do I do that with my son? So many unanswered questions.
It is hard having so much time to think. I miss seeing you. I wish you could visit. My time is 2/3 done if they don’t let me out. This is going to be the hardest time to do. It’s hard not letting it get to me.
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What happens to kids when they are raised without love? Craving to have someone who thinks they matter and rarely finding what they seek. Some were babies separated from parents at birth. Parents might have died. Some were raised in the hell of abuse and drug addicted parents and never felt safe loving arms rocking them asleep at night. What did they learn about raising a child?
Children of all ages get pushed from foster home to foster home. Many miss their parents, even the bad ones, the drinkers and the addicts, because no matter what, they have a bond and love them, unless of course they beat them. They want their parents to be okay and come take them home, wherever that is because without love a little bit of who they could have become dies every day. Callouses grow over their feelings, because to care means painful messages are sent to their minds every day telling them they are no good. They are unlovable. There isn’t a soul in the world that genuinely cares about their lives.
Are they hungry? Do they need help with homework? Would they like to have something to wear that doesn’t look like it came from a sale rack at the back of a thrift store no one else wanted? Do many foster parents see them as free money for themselves so they never provide the child with decent necessities? They look like a child no one wanted. They could cram all they owned into a beat up back pack. I cry for these children. Do you?
If they wanted to learn who would encourage them? Who would notice if they did a good job at anything? Who would ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up or do they only hear words that remind them they are no one and completely unloved.
They are often sexually abused as children and many teens are raped by their “parents” at will. Why not, it’s not incest and a young nubile body in the next room is a powerful aphrodisiac to a lazy drunk in a recliner cashing a check for “raising” a child no one wants. They know when their caseworker is coming to inspect their home so they make it presentable and fool them once again, of course they love being foster parents. The kids are great. The workers know that all is not as it seems, but if they remove the child, or children, they have to find them another home probably just as bad. They were so jammed. So many children and not enough case workers or homes to put them in. It would take more hours out of a day when they had no more time to give. So they say, “Have a nice,” and hope for the best. The child sneaks out his window with his backpack of clothes and money he stole from his guardian. After all, the money was supposed to be spent on his care. Does this describe all foster care parents? No, but it describes enough of them that it creates a huge problem for the lives of these children.
From home to home these kids had been pushed. There was no “parenting.” The children became uncontrollable because they were tired of being abused and trusted no one. Because cops are being used in schools with no counsellors so they are pulled in to juvenile court. “Are you going to behave?” Too many kids and not enough resources to help them means they are put back into the hands of unworthy foster parents or back to the streets until something bad enough happens to send them away juvenile prison. Don’t kid yourself. Prison is prison no matter how old you are.
Most of these children are ruined for life. Is this what the right to lifers had in mind when they said every fetus or clump of cells had a right to life? Or did they honestly think these unwanted babies would grow up happy, go to college, get married and prosper? Really? Get a life.
I ask you, how was this child supposed to survive? Work a job? How, he was never in a school long enough to get an education so the drop out rate from school is high. He’s surly and cocky, His barrier to protect the part of him that wants to cry begins to crumble. He can’t do that, he has to stay tough. He’s angry at the world for dealing him this deck of cards. Where are all the people who demanded his drug addict mother HAD to give him the right to life. She didn’t care. He was born addicted and never had a day like the ones he saw on TV commercials when parents lovingly cared for their fake children. What a joke.
“I was born!” he screamed.”Now what am I supposed to do? Where are you now? Is this what you were thinking when you protested I had the right to life!” Okay, he’s alive but the path he’s on isn’t a choice he made. He had to eat. He had to steal. He needed to survive the only way he could. He hung with other kids like him. Getting high was his only relief from this ugly world.
He aged out of the juvy system. He tried to get a job. Only one place hired him because he had no GED. But he didn’t understand how to push himself to make it to work on time to do something he hated. He was fired. He met a girl who had lived a life like his and they clung to each other in a life raft built for one. She became pregnant and for a short while he felt happiness, not thinking, how will I care for someone when I don’t know how to take care of myself? does love conquer all? Not in the real world.
To provide for his family, buy diapers and food, a minimum wage job would not have paid the rent. He didn’t understand why his life became what it did so he can’t get off the path created for him. You can’t know what you’ve never been taught. His life of small crimes of theft and dealing drugs eventually pulled him into adult court. Mandatory minimum sentencing gave him a sentence that took him into middle age. CPA took away his child because they determined the mother couldn’t raise him. Love was not enough and they gave her no help. Within 6 months they forced her to permanently give up her parental rights to the child she gave birth to and under no circumstances could she get him back. Nor could she ever see him or know where he was. It was like he died. She grieved. She had done the best she could.
What are we doing wrong? Who will take responsibility for the lives of these children? I understand the rational of both sides of abortion. But one law is not in the best welfare of every case. If you fought for the birth of a group of fertilized cells and you knew ahead of time the person would have a horrible life and end up in prison because as a child he want loved the way you imagined he would be, would you fight just as hard for that life? If he grew angry enough to hurt lives would you yell, “The death sentence!” just as vehemently as you protested against abortion? “He could have made other choices!” Could he? You can’t have it both ways. If you fight for him to be born then fight for him to have a life. Don’t look the other way when he is kicked to the curb over and over. If you demand there be no abortions then DO SOMETHING actively to help these unaborted babies have a life worth living.
Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. It would be a tremendous help as I build my mailing list for the book I’m editing, Inside The Forbidden Outside. Those who receive the newsletter will have the opportunity to download it for free when it is ready to publish.
Unless you know someone in prison, the way people think about prison issues is very narrow, if it is thought about at all. Take for example, the chanting, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” concerning Clinton. It didn’t matter if she did anything to be locked up for. People were caught up in the emotional release of endorphins and the pleasure it gave them to anticipate her being hurt or possibly even dying. But they have forgotten about 2009 when the banks and mortgages began causing the ruination of many people’s lives, including my own. Where is the outrage over them running the country from those who supported this ticket? Should we “Lock them up?”
A majority of people don’t follow world events close enough to truly understand what happens in the world around them, or they center what they believe on an infotainment station like Fox News and think they are getting all the truthful news they need to stay informed. But yelling “lock her up” gave them something physical to get back at to relieve the failure of being able to do anything about it before.
They were looking for anything they could find to blame for unhappy lives. It must be someone’s fault and they would have had Clinton hanged on TV if they could, and even cheered, even though the issues they wanted her imprisoned for weren’t issues that would have affected the success or failure of their lives Would it matter if she was innocent? Again, no, and they wouldn’t have believed it anyway.
Sadly, there is something so exquisitely intoxicating being part of a large group of people who are all yelling at the top of their lungs, at the same time, to hurt someone. They even allowed their children to witness it, creating the next generation of haters. Who better to emulate than mommy and daddy. Why do you think we still have racism? It would have died out long ago if parents didn’t teach their children bad ways of thinking.
When a parent is the one to teach a child an important part of reasoning, the child naturally assumes it is the truth. Why wouldn’t they? Why would their parent lie? The same goes for religion. If you hear something enough it becomes the truth. It takes a strong person to examine those truths because it can affect those important relationships. Why else would a child grow up thinking they were a privileged part of society because of the color of their skin if it wasn’t something they were taught? Some children eventually become smart enough to think for themselves.
Some people must like it when it becomes legal to kill someone and get away with it. It serves a purpose, like a hit of heroin. It’s a release. They enjoy it. It feels good. Why else have people gathered for centuries to watch people being put to death. It’s entertaining. For some it’s even sexual. For some it’s revenge. For some, curiosity. This mind set was used when people gathered to hang black men from trees like low hanging fruit. They needed only the smallest of reasons, a lie being spread that a black man had the audacity to touch a white woman – or maybe he only looked at her and that was enough to call for his death – with no remorse. Many still feel the same way today.
If you read history going back to the time of “The Games” in Rome, people absolutely loved watching well trained men kill each other. They cheered. The entire city emptied out to go to the arena to watch the games. People got angry if the politicians took their fun and enjoyment away. Moving ahead, they loved the burning of witches and hearing their screams. They even took their children to watch. Public hangings. Electrocution. Death by injection. What is is it about people who get off on the killing people and loving to watch?
Emmet Till (This video should make you cry that ANYONE could do to another human what they did to this boy! If it doesn’t, shame on you. ) Emmet was a 14 year old boy in 1955 who was kidnapped from the home of relatives, beaten mercilessly, killed and found in a river for flirting with a white woman. How anyone could condone this act is sickening. Emmet was just a boy! But even today there are plenty of examples of this happening by people who think being white is superior to being black and it’s okay to kill black people. Look at how many cops have come under scrutiny for killing them for no reason. They say, “I was afraid for my life.” Can’t they come up with more than one thing to say? That excuse is used way too much. But they get away with it! It must be in the cop’s handbook of how to get away with killing people you don’t like. This way they don’t get prosecuted because then the courts would have to admit it was wrong. It will continue as long as there is no price to pay for taking the life of another human being. Any human being. How long will that take?
The question has been raised many times; is murdering someone because they raped or murdered someone okay? What difference is that murder? Is it because we decided certain murders are okay because we legalized it? What does it matter if it is still the brutal slaying of human life? States go back and forth on the legality. But in the end they still have to bear the brunt and live with the consequences of making the cause of making it legal to kill another human life.
The US is a country that wants the people to think it is a Christian nation, yet allows this barbaric practice never thinking it through to the end. If they truly think an all-knowing, all-seeing entity in the heavens is watching what they do, what do they think this intelligence “up there” is thinking about when it sees, down here on earth, the people committing hate crimes and sees people who think their skin color makes them special when supposedly “He” created all people of all races to be equal? Did he think, white people are special and they can use black people, Muslims, American Indians or Hispanics like dogs? I think God would be pretty disgusted with people who think they are the chosen few – if you believe that sort of thing.
But I guess we’ll never know because people separate their religion from their actions. They pray when someone is sick or when they die. They pray for unborn babies. Some even think a person can pray away being gay. But do white people pray for God to forgive them for all the black people who get killed just for being black. Do they pray for the children who lose their parents because of bogus charges or unreasonable sentences they themselves don’t suffer? Do they pray for the youth who get killed by people like George Zimmermann who thinks if they look suspicious he should be able to kill them, yet when a jury can’t convict him because he is white and so are they, it happens over and over and over again. Someone, explain it to me please – why is this okay? Is it okay with you, and if it isn’t, what are you doing about it?
This isn’t a fun subject to write about. I doubt we will ever completely understand why we let it happen. Many people inside prisons were never guilty of their charges. Our justice system is corrupt. We have finally begun to let innocent people out after they spent decades inside paying for something they didn’t do. How many innocents have we killed? No one likes to think of that. It’s not supposed to be part of our lives. That’s we they are kept separate, so we don’t have to think about them.
Most people, if they have no one inside, don’t want to believe all prisoners aren’t guilty. We want them to deserve every atrocity that happens to them in prison. We don’t want to think we got it wrong and locked up innocent people. The courts will fight tooth and nail to keep convicted people guilty or they look bad.
If we separated the guilty from the innocent and then sentenced the guilty appropriately, our prison numbers would be the same as other countries. How can we – just one country – imprison 25% of the WORLD’S population without imprisoning a lot of innocent people to satisfy the thirst of the prison industrial complex? Doesn’t that bother you? It bothers me a lot, especially because America thinks they live in a country of Christians. That is so hypocritical!
Our entire prison system needs a total make over, beginning with the ever-changing reasons why we decide certain segments of society should be locked up. Because of the prison corporation’s increasing thirst for profit, the need to incarcerate more segments of society has to expand. If we are decreasing the penalty for drugs, then those people need to be replaced with others in order to keep the prisons full. So who gets locked up, and who doesn’t get let out?
Why do you think they fight tokeep the elderly imprisoned? Exactly how dangerous is an old, sick prisoner who can barely get out of bed who wants to spend the last of his life with family? “But he pulled an armed robbery 40 years ago!” What exactly is he going to do? He did enough time. Butcorporations get paid by the govt if his bed is empty. Family pays in so many other ways so it hurts the bottom line to let him go. Enough is enough.
Now we have increased sentencing of children, even as young as 5-10 years of age. “I don’t believe it! That will never happen!” Believe it. It’s real. Michigan made it law on January 1. kids will get slapped with a felony charge for fighting – at any age for any reason. Half of all schools now have a cop on the premises. Don’t kid yourself it is to protect the school. It’s for easy access to the children. The wrong kids of course. The black and Hispanic ones. The beast must be fed.
I’m going to leave you withone last thing to readand I hope you take the time to do so. Open your eyes. See what is happening. Do what you can to help change things.
Being here is hard. Prison is hell. Jamie supposed if he were in a minimum or even a medium security prison it wouldn’t be so bad. There is a big difference between that and high security. No prison is fun but where his cell is, is more like hell. Not being able to change anything about your life is more than frustrating. Being treated like you have no worth is even worse.
He knows this is partly his fault. He was so angry when he got here. He had no control over it. He was angry because he knew there was no way he could change the way they treated him. They made sure to push all his buttons till he exploded. They treated him like he wasn’t worth dirt. No one would let themselves pretend it didn’t matter, and to them his life didn’t matter. He couldn’t do anything or say anything to defend himself. Being black, he was used to this kind of treatment from anyone in authority.
So yes, maybe it’s his own fault, but he reacted the only way he knew how. He got angry. He was just so tired of it all. How on earth was he going to do seventeen years. They planned on ruining him, using him all up. After all those years was he supposed to get out and go on with his life as though nothing happened? How does he work and take care of his family? Will they even be there? He can’t even think about that.
People on the outside have no idea how demeaning it is to be locked up like a rat and eat food not fit for a dog. When Jamie agreed to take the plea of seventeen years he did it out of fear. His mind was going around a million miles an hour. He was so scared. He didn’t have time to think about what it meant, and he didn’t have anyone on his side he could talk to. He didn’t know what to do. He was alone more now than he had ever been. But he had been alone most of his life anyway, so what was he expecting?
He never had an experience like this before, so how was he supposed to know if taking a plea was the right thing to do or not? He had his experiences with the juvenile system but it was nothing like this. Besides, they lied to him right in the courtroom. They said he only had to stay nine months. That was a joke on him because it ended up being an awfully long nine months. And for what? It was the cop who should have gotten charged. He’s the one who pushed his way into their house and hurt his mama. He wasn’t following a crime. He had no legal paper that said he could come into their home. He screwed up and someone had to pay. He couldn’t charge anyone with anything but they didn’t a real reason to put him in juvy. Who is the court going to side with, a black kid or an officer of the law?
Attorneys are supposed to know the right thing to do, but what do you do when your attorney has no interest or time to help you because he has to hurry on to his next case? He won’t make more money if he does his job right. He doesn’t care if he ends up screwing a man’s life. He’s just another black man. From the time he was young and saw the way cops looked at him, daring him to make one wrong move so they could justify slamming you on the ground. Doesn’t he have a right to be angry about that?
He saw his dreams fading right before his eyes and he wanted to cry because the pain was so bad. He didn’t want to cry in front of anyone so he clenched his fingernails into the palm of his hand trying to draw blood.
The only thing he would have to keep him company on this seventeen year journey was the small amount of time this past year that held pieces of the only happiness he had, and these pieces would have to last him a long time.
Jamie wouldn’t be able to see the face of his son when he was born. He was the only good thing that had come from his life and that hurt him the most. He would probably be sent to a prison as far from his family as possible. That’s what they do. He finally had something good that was his, but they had other intentions for him and took it away. He sometimes thought they did it on purpose as punishment. They made it impossible for family to come visit and make it a little easier to go through your time. No, they like to see you suffer. It’s such a crappy job so maybe it makes them feel better.
These prisons get built in low income, sad little towns in the middle of nowhere. It brings jobs to people who don’t have the intelligence to leave town or learn to do anything better. The pay is lousy and most of the people are uneducated. Put a uniform on them and they feel important. It goes to their head and they now have the right to be abusive and push people around. He supposed there might be some good people there but most of them get twisted around because they are allowed to do things that on the outside would get them sent to a prison. But no one is looking. They bring in drugs and cell phones and physically hurt inmates who can’t fight back. Some of those inmates die when they are done with them.
Jamie wasn’t a bad person. He knew in his heart there was good inside him, but he didn’t think anyone looked at him long enough to see it. Morgan did. He was pretty sure of that. He had never been happy before her. He only existed. All he had to hold on to were her promises she would always love him and would wait for him to get out. He had to believe that or it would tear him apart.
The public defender assigned to him when he was arrested was no real attorney. Jamie never even meet him until right before they were to go in to see the judge. It added a lot of stress. He wanted him to take a plea of forty years and didn’t want to give him time to think. Forty years? He didn’t have a record. He had never been charged with anything or even been arrested and the district attorney sent this pd to offer 40 years and plead guilty to something he didn’t do. Sure he had been there. They had gone out to party. His cousin even joked about robbing the place but he didn’t think he was serious. That was enough to make him guilty, too, and they wanted forty years out of him? He was supposed to agree with that?
Then the pd came back and offered 17 years. That was supposed to sound good now? If he didn’t take it he was told they’d pile on charges and he’d never get out. It’s easier to ruin a man and think it made you look good rather than finding out the truth and saving him and his family. That is so crooked.
This attorney was a puppet for the District Attorney, dressed in his cheap suit trying to look important. Jamie was just another person on his list that day to add a couple hundred dollars to his paycheck. He didn’t care a whit about what happened to him. He probably didn’t even know his name without looking down at the paper in his hand. His job is to make sure he scares him enough to take a plea. The truth has little to do with anything. This is what they do to people like him. They decide his life for him and send him off somewhere to be forgotten. He will make money now for the corporations who own him for as long as they can suck it out of him.
Jamie tried to be strong. He stood up for himself and said he didn’t want to take a plea. He wanted a chance to tell his side about what happened. He didn’t know then, they don’t let people like him get into a courtroom except to plead guilty. Only about 3% of arrests go to court. The dockets would be too full and it would cost too much money. If someone couldn’t pay for an attorney they were going to be forced to take a guilty plea whether they were guilty or not. Even if you were dead to rights innocent it’s a pretty big risk to take. A public defender isn’t going to work to prove your innocence. Maybe there are good ones out there who care, but to them it’s just another day on the job. The more clients they see, the more money they make. Jamie thought he had a right to an attorney. That is what the law said. It also said he had a right to a jury of his peers. They thought otherwise. To them he had no rights. Laws didn’t apply to him.
When Jamie went out that night with a friend he didn’t think he was going to pull out a gun and try to rob the club. He knew he had a gun in his backpack but he didn’t think he would use it. It was nuts to do that. Maybe he was just being naive. He had already been to prison twice and it was a three strikes state. Why would you gamble with your life that way? He hadn’t been out very long since his last arrest. This arrest would out him away for the rest of his life. No parole. Did be like it that better?
He had been in trouble most of his life but he was fun to go party with. Kinda crazy. Jamie wanted to go out and have a good time. Shoot some pool. He thought he had learned his lesson. But no judge would care that Jamie had no intention of robbing that place with him. His skin color doesn’t win that battle. All black men are criminals. Not with a public defender who doesn’t want to defend you anyway.
His mama didn’t have the kind of money it took to hire a real attorney. Jamie knew that. If she did, then what they did to him at juvenile court never would have happened. But the thing is, and he knew it then, too, cops don’t have to take responsibility for the things they do. They are protected. The court looks the other way. Cops can get away with just about anything. Just like it didn’t matter that the cop busted into their home and pushed his mama down. It only mattered that he reacted to it. What son wouldn’t try to protect his mother? Someone had to pay for the cop’s mistake. The cop needed them to look at someone else to be at fault for what he did. Since he was a juvenile and the cop couldn’t charge anyone in his family with a crime, they settled on taking his life and locking him up in juvenile detention for nine months. Except they wouldn’t let him out, not for more than four years. They thought his life had no value so why not ruin it while they collected money for him being there.
Jamie’s story isn’t special and he isn’t alone. Black people have gotten the bad end of the stick for a long time. Slavery never ended, it just changed. The people were convinced there was something bad inside them that made them criminals. A criminal gene. When movies and newspapers told white people over and over that people like him were dangerous, they believed it. It’s not even their fault. How are they supposed to know the truth? They heard it their whole lives. They were told having white skin made you privileged. It gave them the right to look down on other people. They listened to the news at night and this is what they were told. Isn’t the news supposed to tell the truth? What does it matter. There is no law that says they have to.
White courts lock up every black person they can. They need to fill the prisons with somebody. Contracts with the prison corporations said so. It was just a matter of time. Black people are easier to lock up. Most can’t afford a good attorney so it is easy to push them into taking a plea deal. lHe was twenty-two with no education or work experience, plus he had epilepsy, so who would want to hire him? He didn’t know how to do anything. Men disappear and the women left behind have so much hardship taking care of their families on their own with low paying jobs. Most need some kind of government help and it makes them look lazy, like they don’t want to get a job. His mama worked hard to take care of them. But there wasn’t a parent at home to help raise them. There are lots of women white and black raising kids alone but there are more black women who raise kids alone because their man is in prison.
Jamie didn’t have time to understand any of this before he met Morgan and she got pregnant. He had been locked up in juvy. He didn’t have a family in a long time. She was older than him by a few years and had two children already. She seemed so smart to him. She had gone to school and studied things. She encouraged him to want to go to school because she was going back to school at Angelina Jr College. He’d have to get a GED first because he didn’t make through tenth grade. But how did she think he would be able to provide for this ready made family of almost five people when he had no experience doing anything? But there was no sense thinking about any of that now. He had to figure out a way.
He wanted this so badly. A family of his own. Someone to love. He would do things different than what he had growing up. Jamie wanted to be a good father, even though he had no idea what that was. He didn’t even know who his father was, not even his name. He was kept in the dark so deep about how a family was supposed to act he didn’t once think to ask his mama who his father was. She never told him and he didn’t know to ask.
His two brothers and sister all had dads. They all had different dads and that was okay, he thought. He watched them leave on the weekends to visit their other families. He envied them because they had other people to love he didn’t have. Brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Even grandparents who loved them. But he wasn’ t included. He wasn’t part of anyone else. He had lots of relatives with his mom, mostly aunts, and he loved them so much. But still, without a dad there was a hole and he couldn’t fill it up with more people. That was what he wanted, what he needed, and now there was nobody there.
Jamie pictured his son growing up and playing ball with him and taking him fishing. He’d spend a lot time with him. He’d help him with homework. His son would always know how much he was loved. In his head he had this perfect picture of the family he wanted. Now he would have no way of doing that and it pained him. Maybe his son would hate him now. He really screwed things up.
Jamie had nothing to do but think and he had a lot of years to do it. He laid down on his bunk and turned his face to the wall. He studied the scratches on the wall other men had made. Everything had been painted white at some point but now it was more gray than white. He could see where names had been scratched in, and dates. Other men who had been just as bored as he was. He wished he could shut it out and make his mind blank, but the more he tried, the more his thoughts pushed their way back in. These thoughts kept banging around in his head. He wished he could make his brain shut up. He could see why so many went crazy in here. Maybe it was easier to let go. For him it was easier to let depression sneak in and bring him down. That happened in juvy and they sent him to a different place with kids with problems where they could watch him all the time. He couldn’t deal with it anymore. How was he going to make it through all this time and stay sane.
How does he change things to have a better future? How can you know something you have no way of knowing? He knows he has to make his life go in a different way but he needs help. He doesn’t know anything. He knows he needs to educate himself but where he is they won’t let him. Education is a privilege but without it he won’t stand a chance on the outside. He has to rely on Morgan for any kind of happiness but happiness alone doesn’t teach him what he needs. No one else he knows would care so that doesn’t help. Friends don’t last. They’re the first ones to drop you. It’s stupid to even think about it because he would be middle aged before he was released, if he didn’t make parole, and that was real iffy.
He knew from experience his family wouldn’t be there for him. They weren’t there for him when he was in juvy, either. It was rare for his mom to answer a letter. He supposed she loved him, and maybe she thought that was enough. He felt forgotten like no one cared. They were too busy living their own lives to spend five minutes seeing if he was okay. He was on his own. Should he give up and let his life take him wherever it goes and hope for best? Should he want a life he knows he can never have? Is it dumb to want something when you don’t know what that something is?
Jamie got up and started pacing. Three steps in one direction, turn around and three steps back. Back and forth. Over and over. Then he started to run in place trying to get his heart rate up. He even did some pushups to try to keep his body going. He was overweight when he got here. Not bad,! but still too much padding. It didn’t take long for that to come off with the crappy food they gave you. Some of it he really had to choke down and that was only because he was so hungry.
People get hard in prison. There is so much anger. They want to hurt the world that hurt them and lash out at anyone who gets too close. They also think they have to show how everyone how tough they are to survive. Jamie didn’t want to be that kind of person but sometimes his anger took control and he couldn’t stop it. He could take care of himself if he had to.
Sometimes he stood up for other inmates. Mostly new ones who didn’t know the ropes. Guards didn’t like it when he did that and it got him in trouble. Life should be fair, but in his world that rarely happens.
Most dudes don’t know what to do with their anger and the pent up energy that comes with it. Sometimes it just explodes because it needs to get out. Jamie tried hard to control it but sometimes someone just pushed and pushed and wouldn’t shut up. He knew his anger was one of the biggest things he needed to overcome. His mouth got him in trouble. Because he is alone he thinks so much about life and getting out, and that by itself can make a person angry.
Truthfully, it hurts so much when he gets in that type of mood it’s hard to keep the pain down. It rips him apart from his insides. He feels left out of life like he doesn’t exist and no one cares. He hopes he never treats anyone the way he’s been treated in here, like he doesn’t matter. But he can’t depend on someone else making him feel his life has value, he has to do that himself. Trouble is he doesn’t know where to begin.
Was it because he didn’t have a dad to teach him things when he was growing up? Who was supposed to teach him? There was no one. He doesn’t want to be that kind of dad to his son. But even if he knew who his dad was, maybe he would not have been a good dad. Maybe he was better off not knowing him. Was he alive? Maybe he’s in prison, just like him. Jamie had no idea who his family was. Surely there is family out there he doesn’t know. Does he have an grandma or maybe another brother or sister who doesn’t know about him, either? Was it fair that his mama cut him off from knowing?. Or maybe there was no one. That’s the point. He doesn’t know because it never was his decision.
He’s not a kid anymore. He wondered if his dad tried to see him and his mom wouldn’t let him. When he was a kid he didn’t know any better. As he got older he tried to make himself believe it didn’t matter. He can’t pretend anymore. He was going to be a dad, too. Somehow. Would he want his son to never know who he was? What if Morgan never told his son about him because he was in prison. He would be as dead to his son as his father was to him. How could his son not resent him for not being there? His own mama left him with all these unanswered questions. Was that fair? Half of him was his dad. He couldn’t be that bad if she had enough feeling for him to sleep with him. Does he look like him? Does he have the same mannerisms? Would he know him if he saw him? Does he know or care that he’s going to be a grandfather?
He had pushed this questions out of his head for a long time but now that he is going to be a father it made a difference. Who am I? Down the road would Morgan resent him and keep his son from him because she thought he wouldn’t be a good dad? He hoped she’d never do that. Nothing would keep him from his son. The older he got the more important it became. This is what happens when you have nothing to do but think.
There was another side to this. Why did his dad never try to see him? Did he agree to stay away? Did he think he would be bad for him? Did no one ever think he would grow up and want answers to these questions?
It was an awful feeling for Jamie to have his future at such odd ends, not being able to make any plans until he was almost middle age, with all of his twenties and thirties gone and then starting a brand new life like a teenager leaving home. That’s scary. Would he have gray in his hair? What kind of teenager would Jamie jr be?
What if the world continued to get more screwed up than it is and being black would be more dangerous than it is now? So many questions. His son might be half white but he doesn’t look it and to white people it wouldn’t matter. He’d still be black. But he didn’t want his son to be thinking being white was better. Skin color doesn’t make the man. It is who you are that matters.
After my injury I am trying to get back to finishing my book. Maybe letting it sit for a few months was be good so I can now look at it with a different perspective to make sure it says what I mean it to say. After this it will go to real editor who can see the areas that need work and help me put it together in the best way possible. You can’t properly edit your own writing because you’re too close to it. I’ve spent a long time working on this publication and I want it to be good – a realistic portal of life in prison and everything that is wrong with it. I’ll gladly consider any suggestions or ideas. I will be keeping up with the progress in the newsletter. Please subscribe below.
Please Click on the above link to bring up current issue of the ITFO newsletter. Below is just a few snippets. Each issue follows different subjects that need changing and updates. I try to educate people on things they might not know.
It has been a learning experience putting a newsletter together. I hope you click on the subscribe button on the bottom and help me share it through social media. I have lots of plans and projects for this coming hear and it will take people everywhere to help make the changes we need in our prisons and all of the family and friends who are connected to them.
The prisons and our govt is finding new ways to fill our prisons and it starts with the children by making it a felony in some places for boys to even have an after school fight. A young girl was arrested for just baffling up her first at a cop. Cops aren’t there to help you anymore, they are to be feared. Of course fighting isn’t good behavior but boys have been doing it since the bidding of human beings and they weren’t imprisoned for it. It will cause years of prison time no matter how young while it destroys education. There is absolutely no reason for destroying a child’s life for something that should be between a principle and a parent. It will also be used to predominantly lock up kids who are white more than anyone. Kids expelled or suspended today are mostly black, which has been admitted by teachers.
ITFO NEWSLETTER #7
The rape of men and women have no help from prison staff – and often it is done by them, goes on and is not reported. Women are at the mercy of men who use them at will. In addition, some women locked up are pregnant and don’t receive the medical care they need. Lack of prenatal care and vitamins during pregnancies. Often there are no check ups to make sure the baby is okay. Was this part of their sentencing? Shackling a woman to the bed during labor, and general lack of medical care for all female issues can lead to life long problems. In addition, Women often lose any other children to adoption because they are forced to give up their parental rights. When a judge reads a sentence, where does it state losing their children is included?If a woman is not capable of raising children that is one thing,but we know it isn’t always the case and each situation needs to be judged on it’s own merit. The problem is, CPS makes tens of thousands of dollars for each child it takes away and more if the child is adopted out. Did you know this?
In the rest of the newsletter I will give you stories and links to follow about incarcerated women in the hope of creating better understanding and empathy for women who don’t have the means to keep the children they gave birth to, or to stop being sexually assaulted by their jailers. Don’t judge them, help them. Our prison system is a racket which uses and misuses the people caught in it’s snare. Most of them do not deserve what happens to them inside but it will continue as long as we allow it to happen. Cont . . .
The lives of children are severely affected when one or both parents are locked up. What happens to these lives as they grow up to be young adults? Do they follow in the same path because they see it as normal, thinking it will also be their future? Black children have been confronted with more of their relatives going to prison than the average white child. Do they accept it as inevitable because no one taught them there was another path they could take – before it became too late?
I want to tell you a story about my own childhood which explains how a child could think the course of their life followed a plan. Looking back on it my mother and I had a good laugh, but at the time it wasn’t so funny. When I was quite young, I learned my mother was raised by her grandmother, not her mother. She was only four years old. Both of her parents remarried. Neither new step parent wanted her to live with them because admitting there was a child from a previous marriage meant their spouse had been married before. Being divorced was shameful, so she was raised by her grandmother. When she was 11 years old it went to court for a custody battle and her grandmother was given full custody. Having to go to court was a horrible experience for her, sitting alone in a back room. and it remains a bad memory. At some point she told me about it when I asked her why she wasn’t raised by her parents. I must not have understood it because afterward I was convinced everyone had to go to court when they turned eleven. I had several years of being afraid because the closer I got to eleven the more was scared I became of having to go to court. By the time I reached eleven I matured enough to know I wouldn’t have to go, but not once did I confront my mother about how I felt because I thought I already knew the truth. It may sound silly, but at the time I thought I had no choice. This is the way a young child thinks.
How do children deal with life knowing their father mother, or both, is locked up? How many children grow up and the only visits they remember are in a prison visiting room, often behind a panel of glass with a telephone to speak into? Do we assume they know how to mentally process that? Are they more apt to think what happened to their parent will be part of their life if they see it all around them? Why would they think their life would be different? Even the act of “stop and frisk”, which was condemned in New York City as racial profiling, are acts children learned by watching what happened by cops who crossed the line by stalking black people for no other reason than because they were black and hoping they would find something on them that warranted an arrest. Is this all black children? Of course not, but it affects far too many.
In addition these children need to get a worthwhile education in schools that are often underfunded or perhaps closed because they are in disrepair or don’t have books and even qualified teachers. Going to a school far away is not easily accessible. Low income families often don’t have enough food and kids only have school lunches too rely on for food. I could go on. Many of these kids do not graduate. They fall in line with what others kids do and the cycle continues on. Many youth end up in juvenile detention and even truancy from school is one of the reasons they are put there. They become part of the school to prison pipeline. That becomes the prison to poverty pipeline. No education means no job. They have no life to go back to when they get out. They have to eat. If they want to be “rehabilitated” there has to be an open path to do that. There are few options. We need to stop this cycle and concentrate on raising capable people. But who cares? “They are just black kids and they get what they deserve,” is the thought of too many people. This is why there are more black kids than white who are locked up, and more black men than white in prison.
Blacks have long been sought after to fill the prisons starting with juvenile detention. Teachers have admitted they suspend black children much more often than white children. Is it too late to re-educate teachers about this treatment? Is it too late to re-educate cops? How many teachers would not be able to say out loud that they have been unfair? Their own education probably began with how they were raised and how their own family felt about blacks. But even today many people still believe black people are are less able than white people. They think blacks do more crimes, consume more drugs and the reason there are more blacks than whites in our prisons is because they were born with a gene that makes them want to commit crimes. This has been proven to be a fallacy, but it was what the media has reported and some people believe anything they read if that is what to believe.
But the real reason is so many children were raised themselves with one one parent or relative – if they were lucky – and the foster care system if they weren’t. Mothers can’t be fathers and young boys need the guidance of a man. So many didn’t have the experience of having a family who provided stability. That isn’t a guarantee, but sure helps. Kids look around them and follow the course they have been exposed to and that often leads to prison. At the same time that very system is doing everything they can to lock them up whether they are guilty or not. If this were not true, how could most of the people given pardons be able to prove they are innocent, even after they have 20 plus years imprisoned – and most of them are black people. This is the race that has been blamed for crimes and imprisoned even if they were out of town when the crime was committed. It didn’t matter. The police only needed someone – anyone – they could pin the crime on not caring they were ruining not only that person’s life, but the lives of their children.
Can these children now go out into the world as adults and lead a life they have never lived that makes them acceptable in society? Many don’t even have a GED or work experience and have to look for manual labor jobs. Many test with low IQs – not that they are retarded but because they don’t have enough education to pass simple tests. Children grow up to be adults and they have to live their lives still shackled. Finding a landlord to rent them an apartment is harder than getting a job. So it all goes back to their childhood and not having many of the advantages other children have. The children of inmates become the next generation of parents whose children are on the other side of the fence.
Frederick Douglass, a slave in Maryland who became an abolitionist and journalist said, “It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.”
“To make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken the moral and mental vision and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.”
How often have you heard: Black people are stupid. Genetically they don’t have the abilities of white people. Genetically they are predisposed to be criminals. If you hear anything enough you start regarding it as truth. Many white people thoroughly believe they are a higher cut of human being.
In July, Bill O’Reilly making an extremely stupid remark on air at Fox News, commenting on Michele Obama’s comment that slaves built the Whitehouse said, “Those slaves were “well fed and had decent lodgingsprovided by the government.” However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor.
Most people do not realize how many of the products they purchase off the shelf and on online sites areproducts made by slavesin the prisons for as little as .29 an hour. From Eddie Bauer’s jeans to Victoria Secret’s lingerie to military ammunition and supplies our police force needs to needlessly subdue anyone they choose to stop and harass. These products made by prison inmates are used against themselves. Inmates who are paid a ‘wage’, when released are presented with a bill for room and board which puts those released in high debt in a society where it is nearly impossible to rent an apartment or find a job. It is important to keep the prisons full, and no politician shooting off his or her mouth about reducing prison populations will be able to accomplish more than a small amount to make it look as if something positive is happening.
How do they keep the prisons full? They start with the children and separate them from their family intent on ruining their chances of getting ahead. Are their children who are uncontrollable. Yes, but you have to go back to the beginning of their lives. How many of them have parents in prison? How many of the men in their families have been to prison, because the odds for a black man is one in three. The odds for Hispanics: one in six. A black man with a high school education has a 70% chance of going to prison. So, logically, keep a black man out of school and there is a greater likelihood of filling the prisons because – no education means no job.
When Jamie gets out of prison when he is 40, and so far they have kept him at a level where he is allowed no phone, no job and no education. The property manager at the prison physically took his GED book and 18 other books from him – for no reason, when he was transferred . I can only conclude that she didn’t want him to self-educate. One of his greatest worries is wondering what will become of him when he gets out, because although he knows I am here, I will be pushing 70 when he gets out and my health is not the best.
Most people have heard of the ‘school to prison pipeline’, but it is more than that. It is also the ‘cradle to prison pipeline’, the ‘poverty to prison pipeline’ and the ‘prison to poverty pipeline’. Why is there a funnel that keeps a never ending supply of children being forced through it knowing it will irrevocably alter the course of their lives. Sadly, many, or perhaps most of these children won’t have a chance to build a positive life. They can never play catch up because they are too far behind the eight ball. They will have to support themselves anyway they can find to do so. Legal or illegal because you have to eat. The prisons bank on the revolving back doors of the prisons. It is the least costly way of keeping the prisons full.
If these men and women had a support structure in the beginning, there is a good chance it isn’t there any more. Their life experiences and what they learn living in a biased justice system that doesn’t supply them with the experiences and subsequent wisdom they need, or the courage and confidence to have a life filled with love and hope. These are broken men – and women. The odds are completely stacked against them unless they are lucky enough to find an organization that guides them into the right direction.
I have read, if a prisoner is paroled they have a step down program that counsels them on re-entering society and helping them find at least a half-way house. Prisons do not have any programs for those that do their entire time. They are simply put out the door with 30 days of medications, a bus ticket, a few bucks and they are on their own if there is no one to pick them up. There are some programs if they can find them after they are released. If they had been in solitary confinement – they go from their cell to the street. I can’t even imagine how horrifying that is.
What we learn as children sets the stage for how we make decisions in our lives when we become adults. If a person comes from a dysfunctional or broken family who had children without knowing themselves what it means to parent children, how are they able to learn what behavior and control is needed in society. They may end up in foster care bounced from home to home until they drop out. What do they have the time to learn if their education has been totally disrupted and no one cares one iota if they succeed or fail?
Not every child who has been suspended from school came from a family such as this. Some just had the misfortune of having a teacher with the tendency to suspend more black children than white. Teachers often have more tolerance and leniency toward white children. Theysuspend 4x more black children than white. Without realizing it these teachers when they were children may have learned their bias from the adults around them. They may never say it aloud, but they can’t help but believe and expect their black students to be trouble makers.
When I was a child going through middle school in the 60’s not one child was handcuffed
by the police and put in the back of a police car. Not one. Not a single solitary one. But then, the first black classmate I had was in 5th grade and he was the only one. Through 6th grade black students were segregated simply because they lived in the black neighborhoods. I never went into those neighborhoods. I was too scared. Why? Why did I feel that way? What did I hear, and when, to make me afraid to go where they lived? I couldn’t tell you. Not one school had a cop – a trained and sometimes brutally physical cop, who sometimes slammed kids to the ground, the way they do now. There were no cops on school premises every hour the school was open. What the hell happened? Children haven’t changed. Parents and parenting changed. Adults, coming from the baby boomer age wanted to be friends with their kids, gave them more freedom, didn’t teach them to respect the generation that raised them. Parents lost control.
At school it became easier to suspend students than to work with them. Many schools nolonger haveon site guidance counselors or nurses. (This article should make you cry or get very angry) There have always been mischievous kids – pranksters – kids who picked on other kids and kids who would get into physical fights. They were sent to the principal’s office and he meted out punishment. Maybe the paddle, which I admit to getting, and it was never considered abuse. I deserved it, I’m sure. Or we got detention or a meeting with parents would happen, but never was a child handcuffed and taken away – until it became profitable. Then the child would have to see a judge and often, most often, if you were black you went to juvenile detention. Why? Why is there zero tolerance for young children doing what children do? Why did it become so necessary to ruin so many young lives?
This funnel was called the “school to prison pipeline” because so many children who were forced through it could never get their lives on track. Juvenile detention changed them. Many became angry. Many were sexually abused. Until just this year juvenile facilities used solitary confinement as punishment if they ‘broke a rule’. Now children cannot be put in solitary, but it took one boy committing suicide to make the change. If adult brains can be permanently scarred, what would it do to a child? It is heartbreaking. I’m not talking about children who have committed a serious crime, I’m talking about a child who had a teacher who couldn’t, wouldn’t take the time to help because perhaps they had too many kids in their classroom, so it was easier to call the on-site cop who feeds him into the system.
It is quite odd and very disturbing that the majority of the children fed into this pipeline are black. Teachers who were interviewed admitted they are more likely to kick a black child out of class than a white child. Hispanics are in the middle. What does it say about us as nation, supposedly a Christian nation, some people think, yet our dislike and fear of black people even extends down to children, who are also supposedly children of God, if you believe in that sort of thing. Why are black children treated as though it is in their genes to be criminals, which is impossible. The state system, quite frankly, took away their realization that they, too, have just as much to offer as white children. Many have been set on the road for failure because the new definition of slavery lives in the prisons.
It is drilled into them that they don’t fit into a white man’s privileged society. I know we have many successful people color. I am talking about the ones the juvenile justice system got hold of and created a revolving door class of uneducated children who grew up and couldn’t get on their feet and landed in prison quite often convicted erroneously.
This blog is dedicated to Jamie Cummings who spent far more years in juvenile detention than what he was sentenced. He should not have been sentenced in the first place. It is appalling what they did to him. No crime was committed. A cop who had harassed him earlier illegally kicked his way into his house with no probable cause and no warrant. His mother was badly hurt. Since Jamie was a minor they gave him 9 months in juvenile detention because he was the only one they could “punish”. His brother was over eighteen and there was nothing they could charge him with. His other brother was just a young boy and his sister was pregnant. So Jamie was it. There needed to be some reason why the cop kicked the door in. But they didn’t let him out in nine months. He was in for more than four years, until he turned 21. By then he was seriously depressed in a juvenile facility for kids with mental issues. He did three stints in solitary confinement which they called Behavior Modification Programs or BMP. The day he got out, walking home from visiting a cousin he was arrested again for only walking and someone thought he looked suspicious. You canread this storyin more detail. What do you think happened to his education?
Jamie didn’t need to be sacrificed for the Prison Industrial Complex as someone to increase the profit of their bottom line. The possibilities of his life was shattered. But would he have had a successful life coming from the poor section of small town in east Texas where job opportunities were slim? We’ll never know. He has grown up while being locked up, a total now of more than 14 1/2 years with 6 1/2 to go.
How many more children have suffered the sadness of having their lives stolen from them for profit. So many of these children end up getting in more trouble and ending up back inside. What else do they know?
The youth are our greatest commodity. We have left them a crappy world to live in because of the greed of certain corporations. It will be up to them to fix the problems we created. But all children are not created equally. Not all children have the good fortune to be born in good neighborhoods or go to good school in districts that have effective teachers. Which of these teachers are willing to teach kids who are raised in poverty with all the effects that come with it? The NRA has an agenda that insists everyone has a right to carry a gun. Teachers should carry. Students at universities should carry. They want everyone to carry a gun. Everyone means everyone. In some neighborhoods that means kids won’t survive very long because they all carry guns. More guns does not fix a gun problem. Where does it stop? How does it stop?
Most of these youths don’t come from stable homes with two parents, or even one parent. Many are in foster homes. Kids don’t ask to be born into violence, and they have no one to teach them a better way of life. They certainly don’t see a better way of life around them. The easiest way to deal with these children is for us to lock them up and throw away the key. They become the next batch of adult inmates the corporations use as money makers. The justice system doesn’t have enough help to deal with these kids. One probation officer may have up to 200 kids to monitor. How is that possible? It isn’t, so the kids become fodder. They slip through the cracks. There is no easy answer. But the bottom line is – these kids are people. They weren’t “born bad”. They were born without someone to give a shit. My question to you is: What are You going to do to help? I read what people say on facebook, when they shoot off their mouths about how fetus is a baby, even if it is only a 24 hour old clump of cells and that “baby” has a right to be born! That baby has the right to have a life, too, don’t you think? Or do you think, BFD, it’s not my problem. If you are going to take the time to adamantly, and even violently, vocalize your opinion that this baby has to be born, because that is what God wants, then you should also be prepared to do something to make sure this baby has a decent chance at a good life. You shouldn’t want one without the other. Not your problem? Did these kids deserve a chance the moment they were born? How does the overcrowding of prisons – paid for with your taxes – ever change if we don’t do something.
We hear, “Let’s Make America Great Again!” Fancy words that have absolutely no meaning if everyone waits around for someone else to do something. What’s the plan? All I hear are words and campaign hype. What are you going to do to help this country? Many people are all talk and no action. If we don’t raise the youth to be better, then nothing changes and we continue to implode.
Those who declare every baby has the “Right to Life”, should be saying, “Every baby has the right to have a good life.” We can’t insist people have to be born just for the sake of being born. There needs to be an agenda going with it which enables unwanted children to at least have a chance to be something other than profit for prison corporations. But there are no programs to enable children to have that. Most of the budget for this country goes into the military, instead of going into quality of life for the people. We all complain about the things our government doesn’t do for us. Us – means everyone. If all people do is complain, it never fixes anything.
I’ve heard people say, “No one made these kids commit a crime. They had a choice. But they have no wisdom, and no one to teach them right from wrong. Neither did you, when you were a kid. For many, there is no one to teach them. No one checks their homework or even knows if they went to school that day. The school to prison pipeline is a very real thing. There is no one at home to feed them, or buy them clothing. Many steal or sell drugs for these things. No one encourages them. If you are someone who believes that every clump of impregnated cells deserves to live, yet you do NOTHING to actually help one of these children have a life, then your negativity about abortions is meaningless, because you don’t do anything to help . If all life is precious – it includes these kids, too, whether they come from your home town, or from the ghetto.
Once these kids go through juvenile detention, experiencing the same physical abuse, sexual abuse, lack of mental illness help, and little chance of an education, they will never have a life most of us would consider “Normal”. Isn’t that a shame? You fought so hard for them to be born. If you care about the welfare of children, yet do nothing to help even one of them, then your opinion also means nothing. If you think they deserve to get life sentences because they had a life where no one showed them how life had value – “Get this broken child off the streets!”, then your opinion has no value. If you believe you are a compassionate person, yet have no compassion, what does that make you?
I know there are people who care. Maybe you want to do something, but don’t know what. If you are reading this online, then you can research options. You can write letters to organizations, or letters to editors. You can express yourself among your friends. You can befriend kids. You can stop assuming all black kids are thugs. You can volunteer at a school. You can help with homework. There is so much you can do. If you have a positive effect on the life of even one child, the ripple effect can spread to many others. Stop complaining about crime and start doing something to help change it.
When they were taken to juvenile court no one cared. Many were moved from one abusive foster parent to another. When they started doing petty crimes no one cared. When they ended back in juvenile court, the courts were too swamped and probation officers never checked on them to see if they were in school. They were sent to home probation. No one cared.
The saddest casualties of this rush to throw as many people in prison as possible, are the children. Yes, children often do serious crimes. Many of these kids were thrown away. They had abusive, neglectful, or addicted parents. Many were raised by the state and the only mentoring they got was from other, often young, people in the same shoes. These are ” at risk kids” with no wisdom, and no understanding of what they were doing to their lives and it doesn’t have to be that way. It is so sad. It rips my heart out.
Only their friends cared. Their barrio, their homies protected each other. They survived. The courts often did nothing. There was no time or resources to get these kids the help they needed. There are too many of them. The crime rate by children soared. Then one day the child finally did something really bad and this time they noticed. Now the court said,
“You are a horrible child, you’ve been in trouble for years. We told you to stay in school and you didn’t. You can’t be helped. We’re going to send you over to adult court, and they can deal with you.” What a relief they felt.
22 States certify children as young as 7 to be tried in adult court. By now their lives are lost. They become habitual offenders. They know no other life. They have no idea what it feels like to being loved, cared for, and raised to be the best they can be. 70% of all foster children end up in prison, and female foster children are 600x more likely to have a baby they struggle to raise on their own, but now they have someone who loves them unconditionally.
Sign up on the email list for the book “Inside The Forbidden Outside” currently being written about the troubled youth of Jamie Cummings that led to 17 years in prison of which he currently has 7 to go. Learn how he turned his life around. When he gets out, he wants to work with kids to teach them how not to do what he did. It is so hard to reintegrate into society and have a good life. Prejudice against ex-felons makes it hard to live. Proceeds from this book will help him get started again.
This puts an amusing twist on a very real subject that affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. You might look at x-inmates as dangerous criminals – and some of them are. But a majority of those people being released aren’t dangerous criminals. are like you and me and are no more apt to be a danger to you – than yourself. Unless of course you are a danger to the people around you.
I get so tired of people professing that the United States is a Christian nation. There are prisoners in every corner of the world but none come close to the amount this country has locked up and the number in solitary confinement that we have. Do we breed more criminals? I don’t think so. Why is it that this country is the ONLY country that is so adamant when insisting we are a Christian nation, especially when there are so many faiths practiced here? How disrespectful to the many millions of non Christians.
No country uses people for profit as much as we do. We imprison so many people unjustly. We lock up more children. Cops think is okay to throw a student across a classroom, while she is still sitting at a desk, because she stood up for herself and the girl defending her gets arrested, too. How can this be? Is this what it means to be a Christian nation? We lock up people who don’t have the money to fight back or hire an attorney. We do this for money! For profit! So many of our citizens are led around with a rope through their nose believing the garbage put out in the media about how the color of one’s skin can make them dangerous so they can justify ruining their lives and destroying their families. They are deemed worthless.
Yet we are a Christian nation? Really?
I am sick of hearing politicians saying they are Christians and even Ted Cruz says a president should start every day on his knees, as if this type of Christianity makes them right in the things they do. It is scary if this is the way these Christian politicians think America should be. If this is how people think, if people are supposed to study the Bible so they can feel the loving arms of God around them (I was told), then why is it that the line is drawn in the sand when people leave prison and their life is judged so negatively that help is not extended because people think they are not worthy enough to live near you or work with you because they think they are so much better than they are.
This is the holiday season when we spend money to send out cards that say “Merry Christmas”, and “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” ALL MEN, These phrases that make us feel good for a minute but change nothing. Now, I know there are people who care. You know who you are. But I don’t tell you the other things people say, “You should take this site down and shut the fuck up.” ( an actual comment)
If you care about people – if you really do want this world to be a better place – stand up for everyone’s right to live and be happy – even those who don’t think like you, who have families to feed, just like you. Who need a job to survive, just like you. Who need a place to live, just like you. and even those who may have a different faith than yours.
The presidential contender Donald Trump has a slogan. “Make America Great Again”, although he thinks he can do it through racism, insults and selfishness and war. I think we can do better – don’t you?
Original Improvised Piano Music –
The music I have written for this blog has been moved to Soundcloud to make it easily accessible for those not on WordPress. It would help me tremendously if you went there and “liked” it, commented and shared. people tend to listen to music that others have listened to and it would give me a push to get started to have better stats. All bloggers understand that.
This was originally posted over a year ago and I decided to post it again. With so many posts to read to learn about Jamie, it is easy after all this time for his story to get lost. Why does this matter? How did he get caught up in the school to prison pipeline that led to prison, as it does for a very high percentage of youth. Not only is their education is taken away, their self esteem is lost. They are not expected to succeed, and many don’t have parents who care. It became just as easy for kids to be put in solitary confinement as adults. They are sexually exploited. They become angry and they give up. They become the next crop of adults who feed the prison industrial complex. A different kind of slavery, but slavery none the less. Juvenile detention has only one direction – Do not pas go. Go directly to prison. They belong to the system now. And who cares? Not many.
Why is police racism encouraged by their superiors? Why do they look in the other direction or do whatever they can so these legal criminals don’t have to pay the price for their actions? In the part few years especially, it has become so much worse. Police brutality is off the charts. Why has it been more difficult for black kids than white kids? Why do blacks kids get taken to jail for simply walking down a street after dark because a white man “thought” he looked suspicious even though he hadn’t done anything wrong? Why are kids handcuffed in school for reasons that not long ago only got detention? Why? Because it became profitable.
There are still so many misconceptions by the average American because he gets his “news”, and I use that term loosely, from the media who is paid to report things in a biased way, or he learns from TV shows that aren’t based on reality, yet it is taken as truth.
Before I met Megan I had only been home for 9 months. I had done just 4 years in Texas Youth Commission, better known as TYC. I was placed in there in 2000 when I was not yet seventeen. The charge was assaulting a police officer. This never should have happened. The cop was harassing our family. It was his fault. But when you’re black and the cop is white it’s always your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it. I always seemed to do something to get me in trouble. I’m beginning to understand that karma has a way of doing that to you. This is the story of what happened that day.
My older brother and I got into a fight in the front yard. He had an amp for music in his car. I took it to a friend’s house across the street. I went back to get it but it was gone. I don’t blame my brother for being mad at me. He thought I sold it. We weren’t little kids and we fighting pretty good. My mama yelled at us to come in the house. There were four of us kids. Raising us wasn’t easy. I have two brothers and a sister. My mom had to play the part of both parents and work all the time to take care of us.
As she was talking to us inside the house about what happened outside there was a knock on the door. When my mama answered it there was a police officer standing there. One of the neighbors must of called them. The officer wanted to speak to my brother and me but my mama said no, she had everything under control. The officer didn’t listen to her and called to us anyway. My mama told him again she had everything under control. She was the parent. It should have ended there. Then my mama tried to close the door and the officer stopped her by putting his foot in the door. He pushed the door open again. My brother and I stood up. We told him again that we had everything under control. He was determined that he was going to get inside the house. He pushed the door open so hard that my mama fell to the floor. She broke her wrist. I knew this was going to be bad. We had problems with this officer before. He was bad news. I helped my mama up off the floor and my brother went after the officer for hurting her. The officer maced him. When he did that my anger let loose and I hit him with a broom! His arm was all cut up from the straws. Then my little brother came into the room and it was just hell. My sister was pregnant but if she wasn’t she would have gone after him, too.
My mama was taken to the hospital and my sister went with her. My older brother was placed in the back of the cop car. He was so angry because the officer maced him that he kicked out the car window. Me and my little brother were put in a different car because we were minors. Let’s just say that I got the short end of the stick. After a while everyone got to go home except me. I was sent to do 9 months in the TYC.
When I got there I stayed in my room and didn’t talk to anyone. I said to myself that nine months in juvy isn’t that bad. I could do it. I did everything I was told to do. I went to school and attended groups. I waited and waited as time passed. Finally, the day came for me to leave. At least I thought it was supposed to be the day I was going to leave. I was packed and ready to go when they told me I couldn’t go home. I didn’t believe it. I got really upset and asked them why? I did everything I was supposed to do. They told me I didn’t have my level four to go home. I said I didn’t know nothing about needing a level four . My lawyer didn’t tell me and he didn’t tell my mom neither about any of this. They told me again I couldn’t go home so I went to my room and slammed the door. I sat in my room and cried. I just wanted to go home. Then I started kicking the door and walls. I really wasn’t trying to listen to anyone because I was lied to. There was so much anger inside. I started throwing the stuff I had packed to leave. An officer came and I was sent to 23 hour lock up in security.
disclaimer: This is not Jamie, but it is a locked up child
From then on everything with me was always on the negative side. I caused all kinds of problems with school. I got into fights in the dorms. I would take off running around the campus. I did everything I could to rebel. I got into it with the staff. It went from a nine month sentence to them keeping me there for four years. I was so angry. I shouldn’t be there in the first place. Things went up and down with me. But at some point I finally stopped and started thinking. I wanted to go home. I needed to do the right things that would get me home.
(Sonni’s note: It always sounded fishy to me seeing the reason he was locked up. What kid would not defend their family in their own home. Isn’t it the same with the gun issue? You are supposed to have the right to defend yourself in your home? But this was a cop. Why is it legal for a cop to literally push his way into your home without a warrant? With no crime committed. Was it a good enough reason, to physically hurt the mother and then not expect that her kids were going to get upset and defend her? You can’t defend yourself from a cop? Looking at the behavior of the police today, why am I so amazed at that?
It’s police brutality. But why put Jamie in juvy? And why not prosecute his brother? Because they knew they couldn’t. But kids are different. They’ll put kids in juvy, sometimes even because they are absent from school. It’s called the school to prison pipeline. They know it sets the stage to push them clear through to prison. These kids get out without an education, learning more about crime then they ever knew going in. That kind of atmosphere would be of no help to any young person. They don’t get the help they need and they never learn their life has value. When the kids get upset and lash out they put them in solitary confinement in juvy is just as bad as solitary confinement in adult prison.
But there is another reason. There’s a lot of crooked business going on between judges and juvenile detention centers among other reasons. There’s a lot of money to be made. For example there has been a case in the Pa courts about this very thing. This judge sentenced thousands of kids to juvy in exchange for money. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
From the beginning they had no intention of letting Jamie go home.)
In the four years I was in juvy I only got four letters. I know now that if my family couldn’t write to me then why should I expect them to write me now? I’ve written a lot of letters and it isn’t very often that anyone writes me back. I can count on one hand how many I got.
Anyway, I finally made it to level three. I was doing good and I got to do a lot of things. I went swimming. I got to play pool and watch movies. I loved it. I did good for a year and a half. Then I received a letter from home. One of my aunts died. My grandmother had ten kids. Six boys and four girls. I’m crazy about my aunts. I only had three. I lost it and went downhill. I was placed on BMP, Behavior Modification Program, for thirty days. I had to deal with 23 hr a day lockdown. They brought my schoolwork to me. I got an hour of rec. I was on three of these BMPs all total. I didn’t care anymore. The last time I was sent there was because I hit one of the staff and broke his nose so they filed charges on me. I did it because he used to just pick on me for no fucking reason. It really gets to me when I think about it. It brings it all back like it was yesterday. He used to call me nigger. It hurt me and it ate at my feelings. I know it sounds better to call it the N’word but lets just say it the way he did, and he didn’t call me ‘N’word. He called me nigger. I told his supervisor but she didn’t believe me because of all the other trouble I caused on her dorm. While I was finishing up on the third program a Broward County police officer came and told the staff about the charges that were filed on me and I was placed in the back of the patrol car and taken to Broward County Jail.
While I was in there I really started losing it because I knew what the outcome of my life was going to look like, with me ending up right where I am now. This would have probably happened to me no matter what I did. This is where my life was going. I look at all the things I did. How could it have turned out any different? I had chances to change things but I always screwed it up. I have no one to blame but myself.
During the time I was in county jail I wasn’t myself. I did try to stay out of people’s way. It wasn’t easy. I got into a fight over the TV, and once I got stabbed with a pen. I really lost it and went into a deep depression. I stopped eating. I couldn’t sleep. I thought of my aunt and cried. I was miserable and I couldn’t pull myself out of it. They placed me in a single cell and sent a doctor to come talk to me. Afterward, she talked to the judge and I was sent to a state hospital for more than three weeks so I could get some help with my depression. When it was over they sent me home. Finally.
This was back in 2004. I met Megan in 2005. I ended up back in here in 2006. Ain’t that crazy? I finally got home but I placed myself around the wrong group of so-called friends. I lost myself again. But I’ll say this much, it won’t happen again. I’m going to change the direction my life has taken. I’m going to be the kind of person I can be proud of, and my son can be proud of, too.