One Foot After The Other (and Don’t Look Back)

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The only legacy of real value you leave behind when you leave this earth is the effect you had on other people. It is powerful because you can change lives – for the better or for the worse. Affecting someone’s life means they will affect others. Lift them up or drag them down. In that way you live on through others long after you are gone.

What you do, say and think always has a consequence. We see that work in a negative way when parents, teachers and preachers teach children to be prejudiced and judgemental toward others in many ways. They grow up to be racist adults, or teens who bully classmates they think are inferior. They were taught to think like that.

Instead, think about how you want to affect the world around you. Take responsibility for all you do and don’t blame others for your life. This is what I have taught Jamie. He is responsible for his life as we all are. I have tried to show him through example. I’ve tried to teach him what he had no chance learn going through his youth. I’m sure his mother loved him. That love is unconditional, but we can only teach what we know.

The more you give the more you get. You reap what you sow – what goes around comes around, no matter what faith you practice. I practice Nichiren Buddhism. It has taught me more about myself than any other teaching. It taught me compassion for all people, not just people you decide is worthy based on your chosen faith. It taught me how to live and I’m still alive – so I can finish what I’ve started.

Life has been upside down the past few months. I didn’t have time to put out a newsletter  because there are only so many hours in a day. Many people have followed the blog at My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison and read blog posts about the reality of prison and how it affected his Jamie’s state of mind. I hope to think that being there for him and  knowing someone cared, helped him get through days when he felt like giving up. He couldn’t understand why his family wasn’t there to help him go through the extreme loneliness of a prison cell.

When I tried to encourage letters and explained to his family how lost Jamie felt I was told, “Just because he got hisself in trouble doesn’t mean my life stopped.”

I was then told, ” I’m not going to answer this because you’re really starting to piss me off.”

“My telling you the truth pisses you off?” I replied. “If I am wrong about any of this, please tell me where.”

“Really, it’s not your concern,” I was told. “Jamie lies a lot.”
That’s a good one. It’s hard to keep a lie going for ten years, especially when there is no reason.

“It is my concern,” I replied. “Tell me what the lie is.”

Silence

I couldn’t understand that attitude. This came from a blog post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” These excerpts were taken from that post. It still brings me to tears. I was helping his brother and for that I got slapped down. How dare I care. He’s the father of my grandson but his welfare was not my concern. 

I do not write about this in the book. I don’t say how I feel. The book isn’t about them. The most I say is how lonely he is not understanding why no one writes to him and I don’t mention any names.

Trying to finish the book and making the money to pay an editor has been a challenge. Opening an online store to make money has been fun – but more expensive than I thought. I didn’t know what I was doing. I paid marketing companies for guidance. I worked it and now I think I have a nice looking store with good products and I work on getting it in front of people every day. Slowly sales are picking up. Now I’m building a new website around the store that will have more to offer than just items to buy to give it value. I’ve learned, though, that making money the first year in business is difficult. Just staying afloat with enough sales to cover overhead eats up the most of the hours in my day and all of the profit. Most business apps have monthly fees. There are fees on top of fees.

My health is declining. I’ve been fighting for more life for 20 years when Hep C was diagnosed. Everything that could go wrong, has. I was stupid in my early 20’s and through a boyfriend I did IV drugs. It didn’t last long, but it was too late. But everything happens for a reason. What has it taught me about myself? So much. Symptoms started in my mid 30’s. I have fought hard to stay alive and today cancer is showing its head – again –

Radiation on my head after ear removal

The ugly scar you can see part of near the bottom of the photo toward the left is a botched skin graft that was supposed to heal into a thin line that eventually would fade. It is 6 months old and painful to touch because it cut into nerves. It’s more than 3″ long and still inflamed. The Dr wants to shoot a bunch of needles off cortisone into it. That will be painful. The red ball on top of my ear that looks like a wad of gum is where my ear was cut off. The skin graft was supposed be fashioned into a place my glasses arm could rest. A kinda sorta ear . There is nowhere now to put an arm from glasses. The bandaid is the biopsy site where the lump is. But hey! My hair color is real!

I’ve had several issues with cancer. Liver cancer and skin cancer – common with liver transplant patients. Which was in 2012. In Oct 2018  I had skin cancer and a pie wedge was cut out of one ear. It didn’t stop in January I ended up the top half of that ear cut off. “I am confident I got it all,” the Dr said. But he didn’t. I had radiation and it burnt off the hair on the side of the head. It didn’t stop it. Now it is spreading  internally and I have a lump on my neck. On July 15th I am having surgery – a neck dissection – to cut out all of the lymph nodes on the side and back of my neck and more radiation. If it spread further then it’s chemo time. My body can’t fight it because I’m on anti- rejection meds to suppress my immune system to keep the liver. I have lived so far for a reason.

My transplant doctor told me they lose more transplant patients because of squamous cell carcinoma than anything else. The fight is on.

I say this only because. . . I don’t know why I’m saying it other than it has complicated my life further and I’m trying to figure out where to put it in my head. I spent 12 years writing to him and 3.5 years writing this book and recording the music and videos to promote it. It’s given me a reason to keep going. I have to finish it.

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I wanted to write this book for the many people who have been through prison and understand the psychological effects of long term isolation. I want the profit from the sale of the book to help Jamie start his life again and be a father to his son, my grandson. Certain people have tried to turn this into something ugly. People enjoy negative gossip. They have no idea what this book is about. They have never read it or asked about it, but they’ve known I’ve been writing it.

Now Jamie is out, and the book isn’t complete yet. I need money and I’m stressing over the lack of it. I need to pay professional editors to work with me. This is why I started the store. Thank goodness he didn’t have to do the entire sentence and was paroled four years early. Now he can see his son, his only child.

I had just finished radiation from the last surgery and I couldn’t be there when he got out. No one was there. For thirteen years he was “Inside The Forbidden Outside. ” It was his first time being on the outside and he had to take a bus to his brother’s house. He had no way to call me even if he could. I was on a train headed back home because I found a lump on my neck.

A friend of 40 years, another musician, also a Nichiren Buddhist (and my 2nd ex-husband) suggested I start a gofundme campaign. It is really hard to ask for money. He told me there would be people who understood. I was amazed because I already have had a couple contributions. If you read the campaign you’ll see I will be sending them a free copy of the book and music when it’s published.

I estimate I have about 6 chapters to rewrite. This is the 2nd draft. With a story editor to guide me I’m sure there will be revisions. I can’t put out a book that is less than professional. There is also sequel planned, because this book only goes in time from 2006 to 2016. The sequel picks up there and goes through getting out and re-entry. Cancer isn’t going to stop me from finishing. But maybe, because of what is happening I should extend the chapters beyond 2016.

A BIT OF JAMIE’S EARLY LIFE, BEFORE PRISON.

To understand Jamie’s story a little more if you haven’t been to the blog and read the pages at the top ot any early affiliates

Jamie  spent so much of his life removed from society, never learning how life works. Four years in juvenile detention starting late in his 16th year, to keep his little brother from being sentenced after hitting a cop with a broom when he forced his way into their home. The cop knocked down their mother and broke her wrist. They wanted to send a little boy to juvenile detention for defending his mother because someone needed to be responsible and it just wasn’t going to be the cop. There have been many articles in the media showing cops doing the exact same thing to other families, but back then in the late ’90s the internet wasn’t what it is today.

The attorney convinced Jamie to do his brother’s nine month sentence, except they had no intention of letting him leave until he was 21. By then he was so depressed he was kept in a different facility far from home for incarcerated youth with mental issues. Epileptic seizures and having no family near was wrong.  He lost the rest of his youth and high school years. When was he supposed to develope the wisdom and social skills he needed to understand to get through life. Who were the right people to be friends with? So he picked the wrong people to be friends with. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong friends put him in prison before his son was born. I took care of my daughter until my grandson was a year old when she left to go back to Texas.

I helped Jamie through his prison sentence because everyone in his life who should have been there for him – wasn’t. No one helped him after the first year.  Letters and visits were as rare as snowstorms are in Texas. Money for things he needed, such as stamps and hygiene products or paying his medical fees were paid by me as well as books to read, extra food, ( he’s a big man) and even candy to bribe the guards.

Our letters are a journey through what went on his head. The emotional toll. He suffered through the heat with no air conditioning – summers when he passed out from the heat, and when guards cuffed his wrists and legs during a seizure, or when 5 guards picked him up and rammed his head into a wall or wouldn’t let him see a dentist when his impacted wisdom teeth got infected.

I will be there for him to lean on until his knowledge and experiencecatches up with his 36 years and he is a confident, strong man with a life of purpose.

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How to Do Six things at The Same Time (and stay sane)

This is a new video made to advertise my store slowly it comes together.

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Is it possible to do that? Six things at one time? I don’t think I have ever been so busy in my life with more to do than is human possible without something (or a few things) falling through the cracks. For three months I have nearly seen up from down. I had no idea that opening an e-commerce business was going to consume my entire life. I had no idea how much I would have to learn to make it happen.

The reason for starting the business was realizing I was barely surviving after paying the bills with only a disability check ( and my husband’s meager social security). There were things I needed and I couldn’t pay for them. (new glasses since I’m missing a left ear to hang them on most it was cut off because of cancer, and medications ruined my teeth and I need dentures) so how was I going to pay an editor to help get the book ready?

Okay, “STOP” I told myself. Reorganize. What do I need to do the most to keep it going in a forward motion. I needed to make money. For three years I have been writing and rewriting the chapters of the book, Inside The Forbidden Outside and recorded the music for it. I’ve seen ads, “Write a book in 90 days”. They must be nuts. You can’t write a good book that fast.

It took hours of every day to promote everything I’m doing – everywhere. Social media consumed time like a high powered vacuum cleaner sucking up every second. I had to promote the music. Those websites also demand time to develop a following. Comments are left that need to be answered. Thousands of people know who he is and know at least part of his story. I have to finish the book.

It has been a wonderful journey. Caring about someone else’s life gave meaning to my own life. When I got the idea to write a book about him, after we had already been writing for years, I had no idea what it would take. I only knew I needed to do it. I love to write – but writing a book takes more knowledge and dedication than writing a blog post. Thank goodness we had so many letters between us. At least 800. They are a journal and a way into his mind to understand the trauma. Piecing our letters together as we answered each other’s letters has taken time to present it out clearly.

After the first draft I realized it was missing something – a sense of following time – One chapter leading to the next. I started writing again, and rewrote again and sometimes again as I studied the art of writing. During these years Jamie was inside I went through more than one medical issues which left me with the time to work non stop on not only the book, but the blog and music even if I had to do it from bed.

I knew I had a good book that many could relate to. So many millions of people could relate to it because the United States has locked up so many people in prison for extraordinary lengths of time whether they deserved it or not. Prison corporations and investors were literally making a killing from imprisoning as many people as they could. Even though all races were vulnerable, the bulk of the inmates came from black people because they were unable to fight back by hiring attorneys. They relied on offering plea deals, forcing everyone to admit to guilt or their sentence would take up the rest of their life. What would you do.

I kept on writing and promoting. I wake in the (late) morning and work on different aspects – just as I am doing now because I’ve had less time to write blog posts and keep up my newsletter – until I quit falling out of my chair when it starts to get light.

In February of this year I realized I needed another avenue of money. I saw an ad about starting an ecommerce store and thought it was something I could do. But wanting to do a business and have it fully functioning with paying customers was a HUGE commitment of time to not only learn what to do, but applying that knowledge to make it work. I had no idea what I was doing. I can see today how far I’ve come but it has a long way to go.

I started out doing eBay. It has become much more sophisticated and professional in recent years.  This was my third time in 17 years). ebay.com/str/watchandwhirlshop That in itself is a full time job. Creating listings, and learning what to do to get noticed along the powers is mindblowing. I lost thousands of feedback numbers because I could no longer get into my old email address.

Of course you have to monitor everything, re-list and try new ideas if it doesn’t sell, communicate with people and ship things, or order from a dropshipper. At the same time I opened a store at watchandwhirl.ecwid.com which is the shipping cart, the hub for any other stores I open in different locations. I also connected it to a new Facebook store. It took days to get the business connected. On top of that I had to learn Facebook marketing. So in all I have three stores with the same storefront.

watchandwhirlShop

Everything online has a fee. Every app has a monthly fee. I have an ebay store fee, with a seller fee and a PayPal fee. There ecwid fee where all the products are, an app that integrates the product and sends it to every store location – it has a fee. Every single thing you need to operate a business has a fee. Then you need a resale license, and another service to do your expenses and taxes and that has a fee. OMG!! I’m the only one who doesn’t collect a fee from myself!

Most recently I am learning how to put a website together that is more than just an online store. A place people will want to come back to for more than just to buy something. I have a vision of what it will be, I just have to learn how to do it. It is like learning how to speak a language when you don’t know what it sounds like. You can see what I’ve done so far at watchandwhirlshop.com

I have to do all of this by myself. My husband is clueless about the things I do, but he does other things. Clean the kitchen, the shopping ( he spends less) takes packages to the post office, drives me to doctor appts, and keeps my ancient laptop running. He’ll do anything I ask as long as it doesn’t involve sex! Oh well, it is what it is.

I’m not making real profit yet, but most businesses in their first year don’t make money. They just try to stay in the game. But in the meantime, I have a book to finish, and still have no money to do that.

Now that jamie has been paroled, (my next post will catch up with what is going on with his life) – it is more important than ever to finish and get it published. I am printing out the manuscript, as it stands today, for him to read. He has read some of it, but not all. Inmates were setting fires at the prison. He had to give them all of his letters, anything paper and I’m sure that included the manuscript. My letters, too. But I have copies of mine archived at jpay.com, the email system for prisons.

Gofundme Campaign

I recently started a fundraising campaign at gofundme. A friend told me I should. He said there are people that would understand what I’m trying to do. I know a lot of people can’t, but if you could share that keeps it circulating the universe. This week I have been putting it everywhere I can, but still thinking, why would someone send me money? I wasn’t catestrophically ill (although I am fighting cancer – again. I was at the hospital three days ago for a biopsy and CT scan for a swollen lymph node on my neck. I find out in 3 days). Nothing bad happened. But still I was trying. Two people this week sent their hard earned money to me. $70. It’s Amazing how many people are barely surviving. All the hype about making America great again isn’t meant for those struggling. Oh well, enough about that today 😢

It takes a lot of time to do this, too, letting people now. I’m fortunate to have places like this I can put this on. I was humbled that these people sent money.  I can’t let them down. They will both be getting free books when it is done. It is a way I can pay them back for believing in me.

So I will continue to fight to finish this book. I believe it is the most important think I’ve done that would not have been possible without everything I have learned in my 65 years of living. There is a reason for everything. Who we are is no accident. We are the product of every decision we ever made. Good decisions and bad decisions all count. We can fight or we can give up. We can take responsibility or we can blame others. Those are our choices.

Thanks for reading.

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The company that made this video for the store, and other print ads and had one of their associates guide me along way is Business Ventures Online. I recommend using them if you have a business you’d like to get off the ground. Just tell them Sonni sent you !

Jamie Made Parole!!!

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I found out today that it was approved on April 21st!  I don’t have any other information. I don’t know if he a step down process to go through or how long it takes. I just know that it will soon be over.

I received a letter from him a few days ago asking me try and check on his status because they wouldn’t talk to him. I don’t even know if he knows.

It’s been so long!

Crippling court costs force poverty-stricken people to ‘plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit’

Adult court does not want to take time and money to cases that are being heard by public defenders, who actually work for the DA. They get paid on average, $75 an hour for maybe three hours work to convince you take a plea. They try to stack as many offenses on top whether they are true or not and scare you with unusually long sentences. If you don’t have a paid attorney to defend you, you don’t know what to do. Out of fear you take the plea.

In Jamie’s case he wasn’t innocent. It was his choice to go with his cousin that night. But having no attorney to help him made it worse. He had no priors. But a public defender isn’t interested in doing a good job for you. He’s only interested in being done with you so he can go on to his next “client”. At first Jamie was first told he would get 99 years if he insisted on going to court. The second offer was 45 years. When he continued to refuse they offered him 17 years and told him if he went to court he wouldn’t get that. It would surely be much higher. He was scared. He took the 17 years. He has now almost done 10 of that. They don’t like to parole blacks so he is afraid to get his hopes up. He does have an uncle that works in the parole system in his area so there is hope he can somehow intervene. But since they keep him in ad seg, and can’t show he has improved himself there is still only slim hope. The prison system sets them up to fail.

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

Sonni Quick piano music complete list

Why Loved Ones Are Lost In The Prison System – Letter To Maesha

(Sonni’s note: A couple weeks ago I asked for people to write messages of encouragement to Jamie and send them to his email address at mynameisjamie2@gmail.com. He had just had a really hard time with the officers at the prison. They poked and prodded and lied to him until he finally lost his temper, which gave them the excuse to bring him out of his cell. Five guards kicked the crap out of him and rammed his head into a wall and split it open.

The abuse continued for days –  because he fought back. You can’t fight back. He couldn’t win that one. They set him up and he fell right into it. I could tell by his letter he had hit bottom.

How often can you go through that and still stay encouraged you’ll live to get out of there,  and not be so affected by it that you can’t have a normal life? It’s like coming home from a war.  yes, inmates get PTSD. When you have lost all your freedoms and it lasts for years, knowing that you can walk out the door into the sunshine whenever you want to is hard.  That is why caged animals have a hard time leaving their cage.  Fear of the unknown. Some people were kind enough to send really great emails. I’m sending them one at a time and stretching it out. Hearing from people on the outside mean more than you can imagine.

When someone has been locked up for a long time, family and friends usually have less and less to do with you. Inmates lose their identity.  I write to him often and talk about what is going on in my day. We discuss things that are happening. This is often the only communication he gets from the outside for long stretches of time. So every single letter is a big deal. If you want – you can still send an email at any time to the above email address and I’ll make sure he gets it, even if it only a line or two. Thanks.

(First the message Maesha sent to him  and then his reply.)

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elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Dear Jamie,

My Name is Maesha. I’m a Canadian and I live in Toronto, Ontario. I’ve just recently ‘met’  your ‘mom’ Sonni online through blogging. I have to tell you that immediately I felt her deep and loving kindred spirit. It’s easy to see that she loves you a great deal. The effort she is making to bring your story to others is inspiring and noble. I wish you could see it. What she is doing would give you so much hope!
I can’t say I’m enjoying reading about the experience you are having in life, where you are at this very moment. My world was so vastly different than yours, so much so that I have a difficult time understanding sometimes. It does make me sad. It’s difficult to learn what I’m learning about the system. And when Sonni writes a post, I feel your pain.
There’s a part of me that hopes that by taking on some of that sorrow less of it will find its way to you. Sonni is doing that for you. You may not see her directly, but she is your very own tiny piece of heaven.
Jamie, you are still a young man. And when you get out, you will still be young enough with a lot of time to bring to the world all the beautiful human worth you possess. There are sources of strength deep within you. You are a survivor. I suppose we are all survivors in some capacity. We must continuously search for strength and the courage to go on, to become stronger and stronger.
Sending strength and hope, with a side dish of love.
Mae
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Dear Maesha,

I will try to keep this as short as I can. First I would like to thank you for your words of encouragement. Mom sent me your post from the blog. I must say when i first saw your your name I thought you were my cousin. Lol her name is Maesha as well. However, as I read I noticed you said you were from Canada. First person that came to my mind was Drake. One of the best rappers. He’s real gifted. Sorry for getting sidetracked.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my story. I tell it, not just to try to get the world to understand how the system treats us, but to try to get the families to understand why their their loved one’s are lost in the system. I’m in Texas and we who are incarcerated there, there is a good chance, 50/50 that we won’t make parole. Why? Money, as well as slavery. We are worked without pay. If we don’t work it stops us from going home. But even if we work we still don’t have a chance of making parole. We are kept incarcerated and away from our families to support these people’s greed. That’s just half of it Maesha. We are treated badly and provoked by the officers. These people speak of changing our life but the way they act and treat us is crazy.

The system is really made to destroy us, and turn us into someone we are not. They are successful with that with a lot of people, and a few they are not. As long as these people get as much money out of us they can, whether it’s from working us, commissary products we buy, and overcharging  the phone system, and even bringing in drugs and cell phones to sell. They don’t care. These want us to stay criminals, even while they call for us to change. However, they are the ones who bring in the drugs and cellphones. Crazy, huh?

cxonfiscated cell phones in prison
Confiscated cell phones in prison. People visiting can’t bring them in. They are patted down and searched. They can bring nothing in quarters for the vending machine.It has to be the guards.

Well, I’m going to go for now. I hope you get this. Thanks again for reading my story.
Always, your friend, Jamie

Jamie Really Needs Your Help – Please

Credit source: Frtimmoyle.blogspot.com
Credit source:
Frtimmoyle.blogspot.com

I’ve been worried about him since he told me what the guards did to him. My gut feeling was telling me that mentally he was in trouble. This 3rd time of being put in solitary about 4 months ago was so discouraging for him, feeling as though he’s losing the fight. He lost all the progress he made. I don’t know how this will affect his parole hearing in 2016 because he can’t complete any programs in solitary.

I contacted a man I met a year or so ago, Melvin, who sometimes goes to see him and encourage him. He could easily be his father’s age. Finally, Jamie had a visitor. Melvin changed his plans today and drove to this prison. He called me after and told me how down he was. He is going next weekend, too, and I’m trying to get my daughter to let Melvin take their son in to see his father  It’s been nearly two years since he has seen him.

I could feel Jamie’s depression in his letters. If you haven’t read Jamie’s last letter, you should. A Story About Prison Guard Brutality

I need everyone who has read about Jamie to send him an email. Tell him who you are and tell him to be strong and to keep his eyes on the future or anything else. Let him know there are people who care. Send it to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com  I will paste these msgs into a jpay email that goes to the prison and he will get them all at once. If any msgs come in later I will send them, too. If you want him to write back to you then add your address, otherwise he will only get whatever name you leave.

This is important. Take a few minutes and do this. Share it if you  can.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Sonni

Sonni Quick’s Jpay Prison Email to Jamie Cummings

Encouragement(Sonni’s note: I’ve posted many letters from Jamie but I’ve not posted my responses to him. Many of my letters to him were written through jpay.com, the prison email system. I can email to him but he has to write back longhand. They keep a copy of all letters. Yesterday I posted a letter he wrote in 2010, so I went back and found one of mine from the same time period. His letter to me was shortly before I had to close my store in Key West because I was losing my fight with Hepatitis C and was rapidly becoming to sick to work anymore. Add our crashing economy and the BP oil spill in the gulf and my life came crashing down. I moved back to my home state of Pa to be near a good transplant hospital, Penn State Hershey Medical. I thought being near family would be good. I could not have been more wrong. This letter was written right after I was accepted on the transplant list and the fun was about to begin.)

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November 2010

Hello son,

I don’t know the number of the institution you are in to make those phone calls you want me to make, but I am going to look on the net and I’m sure I’ll find it. I know you need to know what is happening. But also, I wanted to know if I should call as mother or mother-in-law and if it matters, especially since your mom  is not involved in your life at all. Megan told me she heard of your mom’s pending marriage when she took little Jamie over there and also found out about your sister’s pregnancy and your brother’s trouble. Maybe the person who wrote to you thought it would be better if you didn’t know but that doesn’t make much sense. It seems they keep a lot from you.

I hope the book I sent was good. On Amazon you can read the first few pages to decide, but that’s all. It looked interesting. I’d send you books every week if I could. It would at least help to pass the time.

I hated to hear about your seizure and the way they treated you. Since they haven’t been consistent about giving you your medication, I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. What is your cellie like? I’m sure they find out about your illness and wonder if you will have one in front of them. People get scared of things they don’t understand. I know that it can harm you and do damage to you. I understand that people are in prison for a reason and some of those reasons can be very bad, but that doesn’t me it’s okay for the guards to treat people as though they are less than human.

I’m sure there are decent guards and also those that get off on hurting people, enjoying having that kind of control. But people get back what they dish out. It may not come from the people they hurt, but what goes around comes around. The law of cause and effect is very strict. There is an effect for everything we do – good and bad – so just sit tight and do the best you can and ride this out because it will, someday, be over, and when you start your life again you want to feel good about what you are doing.

Yes, family is very important. But the hardest thing some people have to learn is to respect other people’s privacy. I had not spent  much time around my family and I didn’t expect them to be so judgemental. I felt that I couldn’t say anything to anyone, including my mom without everyone calling each other with their latest gossip. And my mom was getting aggravated because I don’t do things the say she does. It was hard ripping up my entire life and moving up here into to my mom’s spare 10×10 room. Not much bigger than your cell. I don’t like people talking about my life on the phone or discuss my medical tests with each other. I had asked her for only one thing. Respect my privacy, and it didn’t happen. Mike and I spend a lot of time in our room because it is our only space. But my mom is getting better about it. We’ve had fewer testy little arguments. She is 77 and I have to remember that aging is no fun. She’s losing her hearing and she repeats herself a lot because she forgets, so I have to learn to just let things roll over me and not react. 

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It’s hard to picture the rec area and the cages and the way they try to get people to fight. I think I would rather stay in lockdown to lessen the chances of getting written up. Although being able to play basket ball would be good if your knees were ok. What have the nurses said about your knees? There is something very wrong. Is it possible that it is water on the knee?

It was good to hear that you were helping other people. Some people have had such horrible lives and have people that don’t know the difference between right and wrong. They don’t have a chance. You, too, weren’t raised in a way to feel that you were capable of so much more. No one to help with your schooling. Where were the adults that you could look up to and respect? You have a chance to change all that when you get out. To do something your enjoy, to feel good about yourself and have the confidence to get past the negativity.

And yes, I would like to see a copy of the things the commissary has. Also – are you still getting the mag subscription you wanted?

Well, time to eat. I made a big pot of split pea soup. I like to cook, and not being able to work right now gives me all the time I want to cook. When Mike and I get our own place my mom is sure going to miss me because I do all the cooking! She finds it hard to cook for one person and doesn’t eat as well as she should. Since she has diabetes, what you eat is very important. I’m sure you would just like to eat something that tasted good with fresh veggies and fruit and maybe some nice bbq’d ribs. Oh! I’m being mean aren’t I? Just trying to get your imagination going!

Lots of love son, mom

My First Parole Hearing in Huntsville Prison

texas
Sonni’s note: This was originally written on Sept 1st 2013, as Jamie was waiting for his first parole hearing. He told me, in Huntsville prison no one makes parole with their first meeting. It’s so discouraging. He was in Ad Seg at the time (solitary confinement or G5 or administrative segregation. It’s all the same thing) One way they can keep you down is to not let you be able to do anything to show you’ve done something to better yourself. Trying to deal with prison politics is a joke, and the joke is on the prison inmates themselves. Since he shouldn’t have been locked up again for another two years in ad seg in the first place. The parole hearing is a joke. He got jumped. Even a guard testified he had no choice but to defend himself, but it didn’t do any good. They sent him back, anyway. And now they’ve they sent him back for the third time. They have their thumb on you and you can’t do anything about it.

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34287.pdf 

This is an article by NICIC. National Institute of corrections.  I added this article as a link on the left if you wanted to point someone else to it to find it easily.   It has the statistics of offender reentry back into the world.  The percentages of inmates that stay out, according to crimes they committed.  So much depends on education, housing and community support.  I also believe it highly depends on their belief system.  The numbers are for those that had been arrested  up to 4x and then higher.  Jamie has one conviction, and he wasn’t the one who actually committed the crime.  The parole board doesn’t see it that way when they determine whether to give parole, nor does it take into consideration on whether there is a need to keep the prison full.  What is best for the inmate doesn’t actually come into the picture. )

Hi Mom,

I hope this letter finds you well. My first parole hearing is coming up in a few months. I’m trying to not think about it because I don’t have a chance of making it. Mom wrote a letter to the parole board. She sent me a copy of the letter. It won’t do no good but she says it won’t hurt for them to read about me from someone else. She says maybe it will make them feel better about me the next time. I know she would really want to be here but I’m not sure if they would even let her in for it. But I’d really like to see her again. We didn’t have enough time last time. I know I shouldn’t be complaining cause it seems as if I had a lot of visits, but they all happened in a one month. It was six years since the one visit I had before then. It would be great if I could have a visit from somebody once a month, but I doubt that would happen. It never has. Wishful thinking. These things are what gives me memories. I play them over and over in my head.

If you want to get parole you have to have an L1 rating and I’m an L3, so they’ll probably put off my next hearing for 3 years. That sucks. It stands for line class. You go up one number each year, if you’re lucky. They keep you knocked down and then they can keep you locked up. Also, when you’re in G5 you can’t take any classes or use the library. I would have to be in G2 for that. But in G4 I can go to the rec room where there’s a TV or they play cards and other stuff. The parole board will want to know what I’ve done to help myself when they know very well that I can’t do anything to help myself because they keep knocking me down to a level where I can’t do anything even if I wanted to, and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s just the way prison life is. But at least I have the books and magazines that Mom sends me.

At the parole hearing they’ll want three addresses and three phone numbers so they can call and talk about the area where I would get paroled to, but I don’t really know if they would call anyone. They want to keep us here. They make lots of money off us. Without prisons Texas is broke. There’s over a hundred prisons in Texas alone. This is supposed to be the land of the free but we have more people locked than any other country in the world. Is it because people here are commit more crimes? I don’t think so. A lot of big businesses make money off us, too, with all the things we need to buy and all the things they have to provide us, as little as it is. Prisons are big business. So if they can keep us in here then they all win and we all lose.

It’s really cold right now. They have no heat. I’m wearing all the clothing I own. It’s hard to sleep when you’re freezing. No heat in the winter and no AC in the summer. I think it’s another way to torture us. I don’t like this at all. Too cold.

( Sonni’s note: Nov 25, 2014. He is now in G4. He gets out one hour a day to go to a cage not much bigger than his cell so he can walk or pace or exercise by himself. He’s still cold and winter is just getting started. I sent him some money to buy long johns. They have them in the commissary which they’re allowed to go to twice a month. He was right, though, there was no chance of making parole. He said to me once, ” The parole board don’t like to parole Blacks”. He’s seen a lot of men get turned down. Gotta keep those prisons full. He made G2 in December and they knocked him down to the bottom again mid February. They’ve knocked him down twice to solitary for a total of about 4 years. He’s in G4 now, not G5, He’ll have to work his way back up to g2 to get his privileges back. He managed to find a GED book and he’s studying. He said he wants to be ready to start taking classes when he gets out when he gets back to G2, except he has no idea when that will be. He’ll be able to go to the library then, too. I asked him what his favorite subject is. He said it was math. Hmmm. . . . There are careers he could study for if he has an aptitude for math. I was able to get my cell phone in the system for “Friends and Family” which is a way for inmates to make calls. The process was not easy, and now they have taken it away from him. he was able to make calls for two weeks. These are all positive things that will give him a better chance of making parole sometime in the next 8 years. ( I’m not smiling) (added: march 1, 2015. He goes up for parole hearing again in October, 2016)

My Parole Hearing is Coming Up.

It’s my first one, coming up in a few months. I’m trying to not think about it because I don’t have a chance of making it. Mom wrote a letter to the parole board. She sent me a copy of the letter. It won’t do any good but she says that it won’t hurt for them to read about me from someone else. She says that maybe it will make them feel better about me the next time. I know she would really want to be here but I’m not sure if they would even let her in for it. But I’d really like to see her again. We didn’t have enough time last time. I know I shouldn’t be complaining ’cause it seemed as if I had a lot of visits, but they all happened in a one month. It was six years since the one visit had before. It would be great if I could have a visit from somebody once a month, but I doubt that would happen. It never has. Wishful thinking. These things are what gives me memories to think about. I play them over and over in my head.

If you want to get parole you have to have an L1 rating and I’m an L3, so they will probably put off my next hearing for 3 years. That sucks for sure. It stands for line class. You go up one number each year, if you’re lucky. They keep you knocked down and then they can keep you locked up. Also, when you are in G5 you can’t take any classes or use the library. I would have to be in G2 for that. But in G4 I can go to the rec room where there’s a TV or they play cards and other stuff. The parole board will want to know what I’ve done to help myself when they know very well that I can’t do anything to help myself because they keep knocking me down to a level where I can’t do anything even if I wanted to, and there is nothing I can do about it. But at least I have the books and magazines that Mom sends so I can keep my mind busy.

At the hearing they’ll want three addresses and three phone numbers so they can call and talk about the area where I would get paroled to, but I don’t really know if they would call anyone. They want to keep us here. They make lots of money off us. Without prisons Texas is broke. There’s over a hundred prisons in Texas alone. This is supposed to be the land of the free but we have more people locked than any other country in the world. Is it because people here are commit more crimes? I don’t think so. A lot of big businesses make money off us, too, with all the things we need to buy and all the things they have to provide us, as little as it is. Prisons are big business. So if they can keep us in here then they all win and we lose.

It’s really cold right now. They have no heat. I’m wearing all the clothing I own. It’s hard to sleep when you’re freezing. No heat in the winter and no AC in the summer. I think it’s another way to torture us. I don’t like this at all. Too cold.

( Sonni’s note:   Nov 25, 2014. He is still in ad seg. He gets out one hour to go to another small solitary space not much bigger than his cell so he can walk or pace or exercise by himself. He’s still cold and winter is just getting started. I sent him some money to buy long johns.  They have them in the commissary which they’re  allowed to go to twice a month. He was right, though, there was no chance of making parole.  He said to me once, ” They don’t like to parole Blacks”.  He’s seen a lot of men get turned down. Gotta keep those prisons full. But he’s supposed to make G2 by the end of this month.  G5 is solitary confinement, or ad seg, a level they kept him at for a total of about 4 years.   G4 ( where he is now, lets him go to chow and to spend a limited amount of time in rec.  Then it skips to G2.  He managed to get  ahold of a GED book and he’s studying.  He said he wants to be ready to start taking classes when he gets out.  He’ll be able to go to the library, too.  I asked him what his favorite subject is.  He said it was math.  Hmmm. . . .there are lots he could do if he has an aptitude for math.  I’ve been trying to get my cell phone in the system for “Friends and Family” which is a way for inmates to make calls.  Getting his G2 means he will FINALLY be able to make a phone call!!.  These are all positive things that will give him a better chance of making parole sometime in the next 8 years. ( I’m not smiling)