LAND OF THE FREE – HOME OF THE INCARCERATED

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Texas Flag source code: theintercept.com

Everyone knows it. Some people are trying to fix it. Too many people are tied to the money made from incarcerating as many people as possible. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they have done. If the system is fixed in one place, new crimes are being created to take their place.

Up until now the focus has always been on the big, bad, dangerous, inferior black man. The media, especially FOX News, has put forth enough garbage to make you believe whatever the conservative politicians want you to believe by twisting propaganda. Many people watch this entertainment licensed station religiously like a junkie needing his fix of heroin. It has been determined that it isn’t against the law to lie to the people under the guise of truth. Understand these words. News doesn’t have to be true. If you are stupid enough to believe what what is said or printed, that is your own fault. 

When a lie is told often enough, with a concerned straight face, that lie is then believed as religiously as we believe other so-called truths. Are you a person who has fallen into this trap, not wanting to know actual truth because it isn’t as important as knowing perceived truth if it sings to the choir in your head that wants it to be truth?

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The rise of women being locked up is higher than men, and yes, more black women than any others, growing by 730% since 1980. The prison population has decreased by 3% but the rise of women has increased by the same amount. Women are more likely to be locked up for a non violent crime than men. If they are anywhere near where drugs are sold, being the wife or girlfriend, they are automatically given the same sentence regardless if they had anything to do with it. Now that is true of all crime. Loan your car to a friend and he commits a crime and someone dies, you will receive the same sentence, even if you had no idea what he was going to do because you can’t prove you didn’t know.

So many of these women are mothers. So many are already single mothers. What happens to their children? Even if they have a family member to raise their children they are often too far away to see them. The mother child bond is often lost. There is another law in place as well. If a mother is incarcerated more than 22 months child protective services, CPS has the right to force them to give up their parental rights – permanently – and gets a huge check for each and every child the adopt out. But women don’t get sentences of 22 months. The average is 4 – 10 plus.

To make matters worse, 71% of all prison inmates come from foster care. So are they setting up a permanent revolving door of inmates to appease the bottom line of the wealthy prison corporations like the newly renamed CoreCivic (CCA) or the GEO Group, and medical corporations like Corizon? Add to that the Guards Unions, fighting for more prisons for jobs, not caring if their jobs are making them money off the backs of real people.

Obviously, there are people who need to be taken off the street, but you’d have to be living with your head in the sand to not know how many people are given sentences not equal to the crime, are who are innocent. All of the predominantly black men who are aquifer each year because they finally got the help they needed to free them should tell you that. Our judicial system preys on people who can’t afford an attorney and forces them into plea deals. 3% of those arrested have there day in court, except to plead guilty because they were threatened with a longer sentence if they didn’t.

With new laws creating new crimes who is truly free. Think about this. College students participating in a sit down, nonviolent “crime” protesting the inauguration of an inept president are later arrested because of a picture taken – no one said to move or you shouldn’t be here, and forced to take a guilty plea deal that requires doing time in prison with a felony record for the rest of their lives, ruining their education, their life and theiitfo newsletter

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Stay current on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build followers for Jamie with the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. It gives him a purpose when he gets out that he can help other lives. Much of the information is not on this blog and it’s important we reach people everywhere. We have a government now even more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years – making crimes out of things that were never crimes before to placate the prison corporations. It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself, because, yes, it can happen to you, too.

 ( If you realize there has been a name change from Megan to Morgan from other chapters, my daughter didn’t want her real named used.  I was going to name her Morgan so we settled on using that)

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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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Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord? Customer not refund your money? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Call me, email me, msg me here or at FB. It’s that easy.

I can’t make you do this. It is why you have car insurance even though you are a good driver – the other person who hit you, isn’t. Then you call your insurance company. That is why you NEED Legal Shield. If I didn’t think this was true I wouldn’t waste the space putting it here.

You can also contact me here: Legal Shield

There is a new law that should scare you. Starting now, in Missouri, if boys fight on school property, as boys, having immature minds have done for as long as there have been schools, they can now be prosecuted and locked up. THERE IS A 4 YEAR YEAR PRISON TERM FOR THESE SCHOOL CHILDREN. Which state well be next?

All parents should be scared. Your son might not be a bully but there are plenty of others who are. Everyone has read about bullying. Now we have the added dimension of some parents teaching their children to hate other races. Those who falsely think white people are superior. Hate crimes have been rising. The white boy has a higher likelihood of affording an attorney to keep their son out of trouble. Does the minority child have that same advantage? 

Read this. It should shock you. The sheer numbers of Black and Hispanic youths incarcerated in the late 90’s are men now. Where do you think they are now? Take a guess. Since their percentage of the population was so small compared to white youths who committed the same crimes and were not punished, is the racism of our government and courts ever questioned? Have they been hell bent on destroying the lives of minorities so white people can continue to insist on their false sense of superiority? Yes.

As drug laws for marijuana decrease and less people can lose their lives for it, more  laws for other crimes need to be passed to keep the quota rising. Look at all of the new jobs created for worthy Americans to build and maintain these prisons. What makes it greater still – you don’t need a college education for the menial job of being a prison guard, and you get to wear a uniform that allows you to abuse people to make up for the fact that most of them couldn’t get any other job. Like the police, they don’t want “A” students. They have a higher consciousness of right and wrong and can less easily be swayed be reacting emotionally, what is known as “kick the dog syndrome”. In most states the only requirement to be a cop is a GED. Yes, some who advance get degrees. These are not the ones pulling you over to do a”stop and seizure” of any asset you have on you, or shooting you through the window because they are scared of black skin.

America, at the top of the list of all countries, has created a class of people the government has decided is good for only one thing – to be fodder for creating wealth for people they feel are more deserving. They do this while equally pushing forth the belief we are a Christian nation. You can read it every day on social media where people are sending “prayers up”, “prayers for you” and asking “Can I get an amen for that?” It is used so often it’s worthless. What I haven’t seen is one “prayers for all the children who lives have been damaged” because of our legal system, because they aren’t white. Because they can’t defend themselves from the old white men who think they have God-given powers to destroy those they think are less fortunate. 

Where do you stand on these issues? Do you look the other way?

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itfo newsletter

pssst . . .tap this button

Stay current on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build followers for Jamie with the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. It gives him a purpose when he gets out that he can help other lives. Much of the information is not on this blog and it’s important we reach people everywhere. We have a government now even more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years – making crimes out of things that were never crimes before to placate the prison corporations. It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself, because, yes, it can happen to you, too.

<<< >>>

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

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

<<< >>>

Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord? Customer not refund your money? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Call me, email me, msg me here or at FB. It’s that easy.

I can’t make you do this. It is why you have car insurance even though you are a good driver – the other person who hit you, isn’t. Then you call your insurance company. That is why you NEED Legal Shield. If I didn’t think this was true I wouldn’t waste the space putting it here.

You can also contact me here: Legal Shield

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Make Ban the Box Better

This is so important – everywhere. When someone completes their time their sentence should be over – OVER! When you take into account that many are completing mandatory minimums the judge – who should be able to also determine the length of the sentence but can’t because his discretion has been taken away and all offenders must get the same sentence. So many prisoners were sentenced unfairly. Also, black community and poor neighborhoods have been unfairly targeted and can’t afford a private attorney and are forced into taking plea deals whether they are guilty or not. Because the prisons have an unfair percentage of black inmates to white inmates with a quickly rising Hispanic population anyone with half a brain can figure out the profit motivation being pushed by the prison corporations who are fighting to keep the mandatory minimum sentencing. It makes for a very profitable return on an investment for all shareholders. I would wager most shareholders are in the rich white category who want to keep the poor peons locked up because of the financial. Of course removing “ban the box” might allow more ex-felons get a job and get their lives together – instead of doing something illegal in order to eat.

This is but one thing that needs to happen to allow men and women re- entering society to have a chance to have a successful. It doesn’t really matter if they were guilty or not guilty, because we sure do have a lot of people in society who are guilty of something but never got caught, myself included. If they are free they shouldn’t need to keep telling people that in their past, 5-10-15-30 years ago they made a mistake and have to reiterate those facts of an earlier time in their lives. They already paid their dues.

EJI’s New Museum on Slavery to Prison

 

Enslavement to Incarceration

Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative has been a strong figure in today’s fight for equal justice. In a society that proclaims all men are created equal, many white people have made a mockery of it’s meaning.

When all humans are born they are born with equal possibilities that are crushed through every step of life. If their skin isn’t white, there is no equality. All non European white people learn very early in life they are superior to others. Does that mean they ARE superior? No, but it is shoved down their throat with the same absolute sureness as when people thought the world was flat and they were scared they would fall off if they sailed their ships to close to the edge.

Even when it was proven there was no edge to fall from, many people wanted to believe that truth was wrong. They declared, regardless of the truth, the world was going to stay flat no matter what. They wanted their belief to hold true because they has believed it so long.

Far too many people don’t want to give up the believe they are special and privileged, with superior intelligence; more deserving in any way. Some, like Ben Carson, the “See, I have a token black man in my administration’s cabinet,”  man who was willing to speak aloud the words that tried to make a new truth by saying, “Slaves were really immigrants.” as if they voluntary came to America to start a new life volunteering to be slaves. The fact they were chained lying side by side in the belly of ships, kidnapped from their family and land, dying in their own filth didn’t matter.

Lost forever was any respect the white man thought he deserved over and above any other human of any  race and color. In fact it makes the skin of those white people who believe they deserve privilege,  a boring skin of non color because the ugliness of their nature shows in all aspects of the nature of their life.

I can say these things about my fellow man because I am white. I am ashamed of those people of my race. I am thankful not everyone of my race believes with the ignorance of those who do and that gives me hope.

We see many things of color and exclaim, “Oh, how beautiful. The richness, and warmth of the beauty of color can bring tears to our eyes. Like the opening of a flower, color can warm and melt our hearts. From the music and passion of cultures to the tastes of  exotic mixes of foods. The stories of centuries of history. The children, all with slightly different shades of color – and what do we white people want to do with that?

Kill, enslave, mutilate, rape and incarcerate. Hide it away and make ourselves believe that what we did was . . . okay. We had a right. We were superior in every way. We said it enough until we believed it until we could not see we were ultimately responsible for creating the cause that has led to the death and destruction of any race that challenged any people who dared make the white man understand they are NOT the superior race they think they are.

They are poor. They are lazy. They don’t want to work. They want to suck off the the government’s teat so they can produce more babies and rape us of our hard earned money. Feed them for free.  Clothe them with money from free government checks. They don’t want to go to school. They could rise up if    they wanted to even though our shoes are standing on the back of their necks, face down in the street with a gun aimed to kill if they move a muscle.

This white man has no depth of heart and soul. They have only fake happiness that  comes with acquiring “things” that make them look rich. How empty is that life?  There is no unshakeable, absolute happiness that comes with the sureness of knowing from where you come and who you are.

Too many plastic pale faces trying to ignore the pain the white man inflicted. They want to erase that from  and pretend they didn’t beat, enslave and rape stolen people. That will no longer stand. Later generations stand as new generation of white people still try to manipulate their lives and make it look as though the condition of their lives was caused by them.

Keep trying to put the supposed superior race at the to of the list if you can, but the only way respect can be regained is by embracing the truth of what was done. Elevate their history and make amends for pasts mistakes and apologize by treating each person with the respect they deserve simply for being human. Wipe the arrogant look off your face.

The black man is not yours to use as a tool to create wealth. Our country is failing on many levels because of greed that puts the wealth of the few above the lives of many. Our world can no longer support this way of thinking.

This needs to be a museum of PAST history not current daily life.

How Lonely is Your Prison Cell, Jamie

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Dear Jamie,

I was listening to some music on you tube last night and heard a singer who isn’t well known. Her voice was like silk, like running your fingers through honey. Lift your fingers and the words were pulled together. I don’t know if you recognize the words or can hear the melody in your head. It’s an old tune. I listened to it over and over and tears were running down my cheeks.

Sonni Quick   copyright 2017

This is not the music I was listening to that night. This is one of the first pieces I’ve recorded since the surgery on my arm from a fall in Oct. I was afraid I would be unable to play again. It’s painful and I can’t play for long but it should heal within a year. No gigs until then. Karma is a funny thing. It creates obstacles to overcome and it did a good job with this one. I had just decided to come out of retirement from playing professionally.  My last gig was 14 years ago. I decided age was not going to be a factor. I went in a new direction with my music and I liked where it was going. It was time to get back out there. I have not heard pianists be able to improvise the way I do and keep the continuity of a storyline going. It took the vivid emotions of what Jamie has been through to pull the music out of me this way.  The least I can do is play it for him. I destroyed my vocal cords and can’t sing anymore so I can’t use words to convey what I’m feeling. The music has to do that for me now.  I don’t really pay attention when I play. My fingers know what they are doing and play what I’m feeling. So Jamie, this is for you.

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

I often think of you sitting in your cage with your life wasting away, not being able to choose for yourself how you want to spend your day. It makes me sad. Is this the result of a thousand years of justice for the black man? If it is America has nothing to be proud of and certainly can’t call itself a great nation.  Not with so much dirt on it’s hands. If you being in prison was going to do one positive thing for society, or if it was going to make you a better person, it could be different. But there is no value to what is happening to you.

Is the world safer with you locked up? Does it help anything anywhere? Have you “paid” for your crime and does paying with more years mean anything good anywhere? Are you ever done paying? Or are you just playing the part our society designated you should pay long before you were born? How would I feel knowing other people were getting rich by keeping me locked up like a caged animal and thought I had no worth. You should be the one to feel the benefit of being alive, because whether or not those in charge recognize your life has value, it does not mean it doesn’t. You, and so many like you were not born to be a slave for anyone to make a profit from. If they think the law of cause and effect doesn’t apply to them, and that their lives will escape the effect they deserve, they are sadly mistaken. No one escapes the causes they make. Their money will be no good and they will pay with their own lives instead.

I know there are many who are locked who are too far gone mentally to live outside those walls. Many were too damaged long before they lost their life to the system and can’t safely be let out. But that is only a percentage of those inside. The rest of you inside are only parts in their machine. But so little is done for you to make it possible to live on your own like free men. The adjustment between inside and outside is too great for many to make the transition no matter how badly someone wants it. They have no experience living the life they want and end up inside again where they want you. Where corporations get paid on the body count.

No matter how badly you want to be out here, the road blocks set up, keeping you from succeeding, are very high. Nobody gives a damn. In their eyes you are just another worthless, stupid, lazy, black man.  They don’t know you.  They don’t care if you have a chance or not.  All they know is you aren’t white, as though being white is all a person needs to have quality, as our top Republican racist, Paul Ryan, has been so pointed in telling us. All black people need is help from rich white men.  What a joke.

I don’t know what will happen before you get out in six years, but no one I have talked to has a positive feeling about the future of this country with the direction it is headed in.  Trump wants to make it easier to lock you up, easier for cops to kill you and lengthen the mandatory minimums. All I want is for things to be better by the time you get out. Good night. Sleep well. Meet me on the hill at 8 PM. I’ll bring a picnic dinner.

Meet you on the hill , riding bikes

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

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My Dear Grandchildren- I am Afraid For You

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 My Dear Grandchildren – I Am Afraid For You

Over the last eleven years I began my study into America’s prison system. I never knew anyone who went to prison before my daughter’s boyfriend was arrested. I knew nothing about prison except what I saw in movies. Until I was in my 40’s there weren’t any weekly TV series that took place in prison. All the shows with cops showed them a pillars of the community. They we the good guys. No wonder it is so hard to see them as bad guys now. Good cop, bad cop, they all look the same. So the average person has had no way to understand what happened inside prisons unless they had family locked up. Then they learned the truth about our justice system and their plans for them and their families.

My grandson’s father and I began writing to each other. I was appalled by the things he told me about how they were treated. How could they treat people like that? It’s inhumane. So I began to study and read everything I could to find about what it is like to be black in this country because it looked like it was almost all blacks in every photos I saw. There are a lot of white people in prison, too, but if you go by the photos in the news it is portrayed as black mass incarceration. Why? Were black people that bad? Or were black people, being suppressed since slaves were freed, and became a tool to be used to get presidents elected.

In 1975, when I was twenty-one, I met a man who said he worked for a government agency I won’t name because at that time he made me promise not to. Besides, he may still be alive. He was infiltrating the top level of the KKK in Houston. He never told me any names. I don’t even know if his name was real. For five years he would drop in on me wherever I lived. He would tell me things but never enough that I could repeat and get him in trouble. I think he just needed someone to talk to sometimes. We talked about race problems and how important it was for the government and the KKK to make people continue to believe black people were inferior in their minds; incapable of deep rational thought. Inferior. Keeping racism going important politically. He even asked if I wanted to join to see for myself. I remember laughing about it then, but I didn’t join. I do remember thinking that maybe black people were a different species of human and not as good a white people. After all, the government kept up the idea that blacks have a criminal gene that makes them a danger just because they are black. In 1980 this man came by my house after the birth of my second child. He gave me a card and a gift, held the baby for a few minutes and said he had to go. I never saw him again. I have often wondered what happened to him.

Something had been going on for a long time and most white people had been brainwashed into believing it. To this day they STILL believe it. Some are waking up, but not enough. There is still an enormous fight for equality. The government still tries to tell people that people of color – all people of color are inferior or to be feared. Now we have to build really big walls to hide behind or to keep people out and keep people in,  like Berlin.  Separate families. Some on one side and some on the other. This is to keep the fear fresh in their minds.  There are still people who want to believe this, and thinking it sets them up on a superior pedestal. But all it really does is exactly the opposite. It tears us apart.

MY GROWING UP YEARS

Before this, throughout my life, I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t see it affecting my life. I wasn’t black. In fact, my entire life growing up I was scared of black people. I was scared of the kids I went to school with. Why? Because they were different and no one explained that to me. Why were they kept separate? We fear what we don’t understand. Was it something I read? Who taught me to be afraid? Was it the fact that they lived on their side of town and “we”  white people lived on our side of town, which we knew as the better side of town.  

Black people weren’t allowed to live on our side oof town. I heard things. If a black family were to move into our neighborhood, property values would go down. I heard they didn’t know how to take care of their houses. Proof? Look how poor their houses were. Black kids walked down my street to get to the big park at the end of the block. They always walked on the side of the street by the ice cream factory, never in front of the houses. They never talked to us. We never talked to them. No one told me why. I was never told to be friendly. It was just understood they were different and we didn’t mix with them.

My mother sold Tupperware. Over the years she had dozens of women who she managed in her unit. Many times, when we later talked about this, she always told me how she wasn’t prejudiced. She had a black woman in her unit – one black woman in all those years. She told me how nice she was. We also had a black cleaning lady named Violet who came once a week. The only time I ever went into the black neighborhood was to go with my mother to drive Violet home. The bread factory was there and the smell when it was baking was intoxicating.

Since black people were never talked about in my house, and black kids didn’t go to the same schools, I had no black friends. there were none to talk to. But they weren’t talked about negatively, either. Still, I grew up afraid of them.  But I was also curious. What did their hair feel like? Did their skin feel like mine? People fear what they don’t understand. Later in life, visiting my street, it was run down. Many houses were turned into rental properties. I saw black families. An old neighbor said, “See what happens when the blacks move in?”. But it wasn’t because of blacks, it was because of renters. Renters don’t put money into keeping a place looking good and the owners of that property don’t keep it up for renters. Too often renters – any renter – trashes the property. It was sad looking at my old house, and it was white people living in it.

When I think back, it was so easy for so many people to believe what they were told. After all it was our government telling us what to believe. We also believe how our community believes, in social issues and religion. How could we not believe our government who we thought was trying to protect us. We had no way of knowing the true intentions. We were taught to be ignorant. No adult ever talked about the race issues. At last no one talked to the kids, especially in the 60’s. Not one word was said. I graduated high school in 1972, still knowing nothing.

This summer I will be going to my 45th  class reunion. Many of these same students will be there. I’d like to talk to some of them about that time period in our lives.  Do they remember? Maybe they can help me understand what happened. I’m connected to some of them on facebook. I never thought before how this affected them. How many had families who were caught up into what America did to so many black families. How do we undo the damage we all did by falling in line and believing the garbage our government put out over our trusted evening news and our trusted newspapers? Too many people still believe it and watch programs like Fox News which doesn’t tell the truth any more than the rag sheets like The Enquirer. It’s pathetic what people believe as the truth.

Nothing in my life has devastated me more, and has caused more pain in my heart than watching the ripping apart of the dignity and lives of so many people. having the life sucked out of them in prison and continue to be destroyed even after they are released. What is the difference between them and the kids in my home town? How can we all get together and meet and catch up and not talk about the elephant in the room. Are my white classmates prejudiced against my black classmates? Is this small group of people somehow different from the rest of America’s? Do they understand the reason for why Black Lives Matter? Black lives have never mattered, so All lives can’t matter until black lives matter. It hurts my heart like nothing else ever has. I didn’t understand. I do now. Yes, other lives have been trampled on in this country by the white man, but my families blood is mixed now with black blood so this is also the degradation of my people, too. I can’t separate who I am from who you are.

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

Grandsons you are young. My granddaughter, you are almost grown and are too removed from me for you to understand who I am, and hopefully one day you may want to know who I am. When caught between two parents who love you it is easy to think the truth belongs to only one. As you mature I can only hope someday you will look for the other half that completes the truth and helps you understand how much you’ve lost by not being able to understand both the white and the black families you are part of. I have been fighting the best way I know how to educate people who don’t understand.

I have read hundreds of articles and watched dozens of videos and movies. I have written and read hundreds and hundreds of lnd.ters from inmates and written hundreds of articles to bring alive the fact that the people in prison are ordinary people like you and me who breathe and hope and dream. Yes, some are violent criminals but we also have violent people on the outside and some of them are the people who are supposed to protect us. But the majority of the people in prison are there to make money for corporations like  CCA ( Corrections Corporation of America) who still depend on slave labor for profit. They created a monster with an appetite that needs to be fed.

It is you boys I worry about the most because not much can be done to protect you. When the white cop looks at you they won’t see the white in you. You will have no privilege in their eyes. You will be another dangerous black kid and if you breath wrong they will shoot you. They may just shlot you anyway and make up a story that they thought you were reaching for a fictional weapon. They will only see black. You can’t stay protected inside your white mother’s house forever, always in her presence. She isn’t worried enough. “I’ve taught my sons to respect authority.” But has authority been taught to respect her sons? No.

I watched a movie tonight. “13th”  I could hardly make it to the end. It talked about The death of Emmet Till. This is the third time in two weeks I have read of him even though he died so long ago. How coincidental is it that the woman, now age 81, who accused this boy of flirting with her when he was 14 and white men beat and mutilated him, came clean in 2007 and said she lied. It’s too late now. But it is only now, ten years later that it is in the news. The courts decided not to prosecute the guilty parties. I thought there was no statute of limitations on murder. If Emmet had lived he would be 70. The woman went into hiding and it doesn’t sound like she had a happy life. Why did she do it? How could anyone do that? But they do – to this day, they still do. Grown men killed this child because he was black. White people have killed black children and men to this daplllpppy. They are mentally sick to hate people because of the color of their skin.

How man people have died and the killer. got away with it by saying they were afraid of the color of his skin? We can’t even prosecute them? They are killed for sport because they think of black people as being unworthy. Who is to say one day a white person would say they are afraid of you and decided you needed to die. Or maybe they decided you looked like a dangerous child and handcuffed you, took you out of school and sent you to juvenile detention. It happens every day. You will be judged, not by who you are, but by what you look like.

It is easy for a white person to say, “I’m not racist!”  But would you be suspicious of someone just because he wore a sweatshirt with a hood. Would you cross to the other side of the street if he was walking toward you? Would you fear for your life in a black neighborhood because you think they are all drug dealers and criminals? Have you been brainwashed to be afraid?

Until American government stops what they are doing, and I don’t see that happening, my family isn’t safe. The black race has never been safe and I never understood that.  Not deep inside where it counts. I knew everything that happened but I didn’t know how it felt. I didn’t understand the repercussions.

Could white politicians all clambering to be the next “law and order” leader; think of the destruction they have been advocating as they declared the black man dangerous?  It is still happening. TWO DAYS AGO,  Our top Republican, Paul Ryan, who can’t decide if he is for or against Trump, as he contemplates his own career, declared black people are inferior, lazy, and don’t want to work. We should take away all social structures to help poor people and the rich white men should mentor them and teach them how to do things. I gagged with vomit.

I knew then that this new Trump administration wasn’t done doubling down on black people but he has also added anyone else who isn’t white to the list. Yet Trump declared while campaigning, “Black people are going to love me! They have never had it so good as they will with me! Vote for me! What have you got to lose!”  Then he threatens the city of Chicago. Clean up your city or Ill send in the Feds!”

America is a scary place because of all the different people they hate – in the name of God. Murder charges for doctors who perform legal abortions. Lock up grade school kids for an after school fight. Lock up a little girl for shaking her first at a cop. Run down a protester with your car and kill him? That’s okay. Report the news as a journalist and get locked up. This is our America now.

Grandsons, I will do my best to protect you. I will do my best to reach as many people as I can to help them understand what has happened. This is my promise to you. This is my reason for living. It is the focus of my day – every day.  I love you dearly as I do all of my seven grandchildren, but you are the ones who will have to fight for the privileges my other grandchildren will take for granted because they are white.

I’m so sorry.

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

The piano improvisation was the first recording made since the surgery on my arm. When it was injured I feared I would be unable to play again.  It has taken a few months but gradually I am able to lift my arm and make my fingers move. There is still nerve damage that makes it painful to move my wrist back and forth, and press fingers down with even, controlled pressure.  It is very painful to sit up straight for any length of time.  In order to play gigs I have to be able to sit and play three 45 minute sets, so I have a lot of work to do.

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If You Do The Crime You Should Pay With Time

Jamie’s son and Sonni’s grandson

 IF You Do The Crime You Should Pay With Appropriate Time

America is in denial. Instead of seeing us as the country that incarcerates more of is citizens than any country in the world – by a long shot – for corporate profit, many see America as this good Christian nation than benevolently lends a hand to countries who are aching for us to take over and teach them the kind of democracy we have; including teaching them how to set up a prison system that rapes it’s own country – literally – of any freedom or liberty people should be able to have.

America is about profit and if people’s lives need to be forfeited to get it – well, that is just the American way – unless it is your family that is affected.  Blindly, many Americans are sucked into “news” sites that are better at twisting the news than reporting it. People’s habits run deep. They don’t know how to understand an issue unless someone tells them how to understand it.The problem is, what they think they understand has been skewed to mean something other than the truth. This past year is a perfect example.  When people ignore the continual massive lies of our new leader(?) in chief, and want to give him a chance – to do what? Continue to lie and behave in embarrassing ways you would never accept from anyone else, what is the end result? We have a country that sees itself differently than the rest of the world sees us with a very twisted reasoning of right and wrong.

I have such a bad feeling about this because the writing is on the wall and has been for a long time. But this article is not about Donald Trump. I doubt his supporters are reading this anyway because the truth isn’t something they want to hear because it isn’t on Fox News. Their version of the truth and reality are two very different things.

I have read more articles on all facets of incarceration than I could ever count, trying to understand where we went wrong and why. How do we fix it? Can we fix it? We have a country that “wants” to think it’s a Christian nation yet doesn’t know how To apply it to their own lives. They are not devastated over the intentional ruination of an entire race of people where the only real difference is the color of skin. But somehow, because white people, and I am one of them, are often so insecure about their own worth they have the need to feel they are made of a high quality substance than people of color, missing the point that it makes them less, not more, than the people they put down.

Is this all white people? Of course not. But because people of color have been stomped down, and a high percentage treated unfairly by incarcerating them to keep them down, they have been kept from a decent education with good schools and good teachers. A vast amount have been kept from the very people who should have raised them and were instead sucked through the penal system from grade school on up through the juvenile detention system. This was the long range plan to hold down the black race since Nixon started the fictional  war on drugs so he could incarcerate blacks through the PR plan labeling blacks as heroin addicts on a war path to rape the white man’s daughters, along with all the pot smoking hippie war protesters.  It worked, and we’re still trying to undo that one.

I’m sick of hearing, “If you do the crime you have to do the time”, because you’d have to be a complete idiot or unable to read to not see the vast amount of information out there that talks about all of the innocent black people being freed from prison every year because they were falsely incarcerated. It often took 10-20-30 years to finally free them, now too damaged to pick up a life that was taken from them. They can’t go back to their wives or raise their children all over again. Their lives were destroyed. Their children’s lives were destroyed. My grandson’s life with his father was destroyed. Why?? Because they are black and you don’t like black people? Or because corporations run by rich white men have the power to keep slavery going in the prison system and their shareholders could make money off them by making them work for free? Or food or medical corporations could get rich from denying services while their families were made to pay fees so they could make a medical call and see a nurse on a computer screen who tells them to go drink more cruddy water that comes out of a spigot in their cell instead of actually treating their illnesses?

Our government, along with the Prison Industrial Complex – with your compliance, because you intentionally look the other way, has caused the suffering of an entire race – and America thinks it is a Christian nation? Is this what it means to be a Christian? I am sickened by the hate and I am astounded by the ignorance.

When it comes to incarceration there is a new problem beginning. Crime is down. No matter what our new leader tries to make you believe about how awful it is everywhere – Crime – Is – Down. But the prisons have to be fed. Our government has contracts with the prison corporations. If they aren’t kept full then your tax dollars has to pay them for empty beds. Did you miss those articles? Who will they fill the prisons with? With people who break the new laws. The are increasing the crimes your grade school children commit that will give the adult sentences. Michigan passed a law that went into affect on Jan 1st. Children as young as 5 will be prosecuted as adults if they are caught fighting.  Children. Just kids. So common. That’s what boys do. And now they can get sentenced and locked up for it. Think I’m kidding? Read. How many Detroit children will this affect? What color is Detroit?

N. Dakota is only one state that wants to make protesting a felony and if you kill someone by running them down with your car it’s okay. Is this sick? Do you want to be associated with this? How many haters would have a field day with this? Trump says he’s the “Law and Order President” but law and order has never been his strong suit. Ever.

Sentences will become longer. Approvals for parole will become less in order to fill the prisons still being built. It scares me. Too many people look the other way. Unless you are a family that has been affected by the draconian laws our prisons are run by, why should you care? Because it affects everyone. Nearly every day I read a message, usually by a mother, “My son, or daughter was arrested. What do I do?”

Maybe they are guilty and maybe they aren’t, but the handing out of 20 year sentences for non violent “crimes” is very common, and their entire life is ruined for profit. Absolutely nothing of value is made except more money for the rich. Educate yourself. Don’t assume you and your children will be safe. Your family could be next. Teach your children how to interact with police the same way black parents train all their children from a young age. Assume they will be stopped. Teach them how interact with authority. Being white isn’t always the only protection needed.

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I Want To Tell You a Story . . . About Ricky Jackson

I Want To Tell You A Story . . . About Ricky Jackson. Once upon a time . . .

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source credit: abcnews  Ricky Jackson on the right and one brother, Wiley Bridgeman on the left. Ronnie Bridgemen was paroled in 2003

 
Ricky Jackson, 59, is sprawled across a leather couch in the basement of his house in Chesterland, Ohio. “I intend to live well,” Jackson continues. ( This article is abbreviated) “I’m not going to waste it by holding grudges.” Not that anyone would blame him. Beginning at age 18, Jackson spent 39 years in a prison for a crime he did not commit – the longest prison term for an exonerated defendant in American history, and a staggering example of how the criminal justice system can wrong the innocent.

In 1975, after returning home after an honorable discharge from the qqqqMarines for medical reasons, he and two friends were arrested for killing Harold Franks outside a neighborhood convenience store. According to police, a pair of assailants splashed acid in his face, clubbed him, shot him several times, stole $425 and fled.

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source credit:  abcnews

The weapon was never found. Jackson and his friends said they were elsewhere. But police obtained a statement from 12 year old Eddie Vernon who told police Jackson fired the weapon and the other two young men doused him with acid and stole his car. But Eddie’s statement was shaky. He couldn’t identify the suspects in a line up and several classmates said he was nowhere near the crime scene. Still, three separate juries accepted the youngster’s account. All three were convicted and sentenced to die by the electric chair.

Before it could take place, Ohio took away the death penalty and the sentences were changed to life in prison, which in itself is a death sentence. Jackson spent his life reading, giving himself his own education. He studied everything from gardening to refereeing basketball. He found solace in the prison library. He wrote letters – to journalists, filmmakers and anyone who might be interested in his case. In 2012 The Scene – a Cleveland magazine published an article about the frail nature of Jackson’s conviction that condemned him. He was connected to the Ohio Innocence Project by minister of that now grown 12 year old boy Eddie Vernon who had testified against him. He said he was coerced by the police to give it. They threatened to arrest his parents if he didn’t give the statement. His mother was sick and he was afraid. When he became ill himself he could no longer live with what he had done. Ricky said there is no anger. He was just a scared young boy. In 2014 the charges were dismissed. But that can not give the time back. Time stands still in prison. Very little changes. “It was overwhelming being out after all that time. He received less than a million dollars for the loss of his life. He bought a house and began the process of building a life with a fiancée’ and her children.

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But what does that mean when compared to losing everything his life could have been from before he was even able to vote? Youth being coerced by police without a parent or attorney present has come under scrutiny lately. Cops have bragged they can get a confession out of anyone for anything by wearing them down after many hours of interrogation. All they have to do is tell them what they want to hear and they will let them go home.

I read this story today in an article in the 2017 JAN/FEB issue of the Smithsonian magazine, written by Matthew Shaer. It is impossible for me to read the life stories of people who were destroyed by our justice system run by human beings who don’t care about the lives and families they destroy – on purpose –  getting away with coercing false information that should never hold up in court. It almost didn’t for Jackson.  It took three (probably white) juries to finally hand down the death penalty, letting the real murderer off the hook. Did he kill again? Did he commit more crimes? Why didn’t Ricky Jackson’s life matter? Why didn’t the truth matter? Given the number of predominantly black men who are eventually set free, apparently truth in our justice system doesn’t mean much. Truth also has a price tag –  if you can afford to pay it.

Black people’s lives obviously don’t have the same value as white people since they represent only 13% of the American population but 58% of the people incarcerated. If you still want to believe somehow that blacks are inferior or have a genetic predisposition toward crime then count yourself among those who are racist. It is people like this who strove to lock up as many blacks as possible because after reading and believing what our government wanted you to believe you never looked any further to find the truth.  In the last 40 years our prison population more than quadrupled.

Didn’t it ever seem odd that black people suddenly became so dangerous? Even though heroin was predominantly a white man’s drug, it was the black man to fear? More crack cocaine has been used by whites than blacks, unless you believes the media. Over all drugs have been used equally by whites and blacks but because there are more whites than blacks in the population why weren’t more white people locked up?

Did you know, in Virginia in 1856 , there was only one offense a white man could be given for the death penalty – ONE – but there were 66 offenses choir which a black man could be given the death penalty. Mississippi had 38 offenses for blacks and one for whites. Today it often happens that sentencing is less harsh for whites for many different crimes.

When Black Lives Matter became a household phrase, white people got defensive and said All Lives Matter. Black people have been trying to get that across for many generations but it mattered little to the court system. All lives have always mattered. Where was everyone’s sense of correct judgement towards blacks for all these years? Why is there a belief in white privilege, based only on the color of one’s skin?

Then it became Blue Lives Matter. They had always mattered, until it didn’t matter when they recklessly killed black citizens, because they could, and didn’t have to pay the consequences. Unfortunately, what they lost had farther reaching affects than the relative few who were killed, and I’m not belittleing those deaths; they lost the respect of many Americans because they were allowed to be above the law. No one is above the law. Not even our president.

Police are no longer seen the same way as other protectors, the way we see firemen and ambulance EMTs. Police are instead feared because many are corrupt and behave as legal criminals. Children have to be taught how to interact with cops so they don’t hurt them. Black men have to fear being shot and killed. Why is this? Because this is what many cops have done and it has ruined the reputations of all of them.

Now that you hopefully understand, if you already didn’t. I’m now going to get back to my story . . .

You tell me if you think Ricky Jackson rightfully lost 39 years of his life, or if a racially prejudiced court didn’t care about finding the right murderer. How would you have felt? Would his being black be enough for you to think he should lose his life? If the answer today would be no, what will you do today to help change things for other human beings in the same situation? Or would you stay quiet? Would you at the very least share this story with others? It takes people standing up to change things, otherwise nothing changes. Is that acceptable?

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LIFE BEYOND BARS-The Beast Must Be Fed

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Isn’t it ironic that these men were pretending to join in on being aghast at Hillary’s supposed lies, but now that Wall St is getting front row seats in the White House to manipulate the country’s finances, they want to make sure their shady dealings are glossed over during their confirmation hearings. Is there something wrong with this picture?

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?

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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.

race graph in prison

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 to keep 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. But corporations 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 with one last thing to read and I hope you take the time to do so. Open your eyes. See what is happening. Do what you can to help change things.

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

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The Children of Inmates, Where Do You Stand?

kids in handcuff

(The source for this photo is borde.org. ) This past week the facebook page for Jamie, “Jamie, Life In Prison” gained 45 new likes, the most it has grown in any one week period! It takes time to build readership just like it takes time here at WordPress. My last ITFO Newsletter didn’t post here to this blog. I am having difficulties doing some things right now since I broke my shoulder and arm a week a ago. I can only use Swype on my Nook which is slow and tedious. At least I damaged my left side and not my right side, as I try to find something positive in all this mess. If you aren’t on the mailing list yet for the newsletter, go to the link for the facebook page. Scroll down about a dozen.You’ll see a post “What About The Children?” sent out to over 6000 people. Clicking on that post will bring up the issue. There are about 7 articles you can read by clicking on the titles. Only a tiny portion is visible. Each one is a different aspect of the children. On the top are buttons to see past issues and also to subscribe. Please do that and also share it on your timeline if you think it is important. The next issue will be about the women, a quickly growing segment of the prison population. Why? Without mothers the children have no chance at all.

The issues about prison reform are so important because it affects so many people in addition to those incarcerated.  Wives and husbands. Sisters and brothers, grandparents and friends. If our justice system didn’t incarcerate so many innocent people to feed the corporations that don’t want to pay a living wage to the public who desperately needs to make a livable wage then just maybe things could change. If you break it completely down, it begins with the percentage of people who believe the corporations who bring you the news are also bringing you the truth. Sadly, the truth is hard to find. Versions of the truth, which are really only opinions are believed as truth. Only if you take the time to read outside the box and strive to understand why it is so important to “them” for you to believe what they say can you begin to understand what is true and what isn’t. Until you do that you are just a pawn in their game of control.

The incarceration of the black race was deliberate. We know it for sure with John Erlichman’s confession about Nixon’s War on Drugs. We also know for certain because it is mainly the black race being set free because of bogus charges – not the white race.  Sadly it often takes 20 – 40 years to get the conviction turned around and prisons often fight like hell to keep them and say it is up to them to figure out how to get released with no help from them. Is it because they don’t want to admit wrong doing because of the way they are mistreated?. I don’t know, but I think, as human beings, they would want to do no more harm. It is not the case, though. Because of racism, being born black is often the only “sin” committed.

In cases where crime was committed, the mandatory minimum sentencing laws often take the rest of that person’s life away from them. A gram of coke, an ounce of pot and a life is lost. Which is worse? Driving drunk that caused a death, but with a good attorney could set you free, but if you only had a public defender they’d force you to take a plea of many years. The public needs to do the right thing and force change.

In the meantime, the destruction of families, the destruction of a child’s education, children deprived of parents, black children overwhelmingly shoved through juveniles detention with very few people hearing their cries for help. Look at what the system did to Kalief Browder. Remember him? It took him committing suicide to stop the system from putting kids in solitary confinement. I wonder how many times he was raped by guards and predators. We should be ashamed that it was allowed to happen. I know other personal stories of ruined people. All I could do was apologize. I don’t know how to fix it. It makes me sick. I don’t know how the law works, but there are people who do, and we can help them by educating people.

Until the people, us ordinary people, throw our support behind the people who are fighting for change, then it will continue. Get away from TV news, bought and paid for, and use the power of the internet. That doesn’t mean to go to news sites that support what you think. Go to sites that don’t sing to the choir where you can actually learn something.

parents in prison

Take care of the children, especially the children of inmates. They are our future, too. We can change their future and also change the future of the world. So many people like to say we are a Christian nation. I don’t see it by looking at people’s actions. What I see is  hate and judgemental attitude… Is it you?  I don’t know, but you do… I see many harsh words for people who are pro choice. But those who are against abortion, you have the right to your feelings, but are you all talk? Do you do anything at all to help care for the children you say have a right to be born because life is a gift? If you don’t help the children your talk has no meaning. Do something. Be proactive. You reap what you sow.

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Do We Care About The Children of Inmates?

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?

jamie cummings
On the left is Jamie Cummings at age 8 who was never told the name of his father and is believed to be in prison. On the right is his son, my grandson, Jamie at age eight. He has only seen his father a few times in prison behind glass. What does he think of this?  How does this affect him? Has anyone asked him how he really feels? I know what his father thinks. This is his deepest grief, not being able to be with his only child.

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.

children-hopeformiami-org
source credit: hopeformiami.org

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.

black-white-acheivement-gapjpg-f7b89770bb2374b5
credit source: Mlive.org          This looks like white children are smarter, but the real reason is they aren’t given the same quality of education with equal accessibility of educational programs and materials that cost money to provide.

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.

children-breakaway-outreach
source credit: breakawayoutreach.org

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.

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