http://www.nightslantern.ca/2018bulletin.htm#may10 Gerald and Maas nightslantern.ca Why are They Still in Prison? by J. B. Gerald On April 27th, 2018 Herman Bell went home to his friends and family. Eligible for parole after 25 years he served 45 years, as a model prisoner. His 8th application for parole was granted by the New York State […]
( This video and photo below is not part of This article. I urge you to watch it for better understanding.
This article is well worth reading. It is important to understand what our justice system does to people, blacks and minorities who challenge their equality. We continue to incarcerate political prisoners for life, denying new trials even in the face of evidence proving innocence, and even when they are close to death. They are often incarcerated because they threaten the understanding, the need, for America to be superior in its whiteness. The value of a human being is determined by their skin color.
A few of these men I have followed up on why they are incarcerated. In many cases there is doubt even of guilt but still they were prosecuted even with a lack of evidence. They are black. They must be guilty. They are forever too dangerous to be given freedom, even if critically ill. Mumia Abu-Jaal is one of these prisoners. He is a journalist and was reporting on corruption in the police force. He was framed for the murder of a police officer. He was guilty, just like today black people are assumed to be criminals and all are guilty. Black Partners fought for their freedom and the right to live against an army of a white country determined to not let that happen. Those who joined in that fight are hunted down and eliminated by incarceration.
Incarcerating the leaders was supposed to shut these radical Black citizens down. It is why Black Lives Matter was also demonized because they wanted to stop being killed for being Black. No mate your skin color, wouldn’t you fight to live if your race was being gunned down and rarely the murderer was held responsible?
What does keeping these men locked up accomplish? Is the government afraid people will come together and support them because of what the criminal justice system did to destroy them by hiding them away? This has got to end.
I’m not going to say anything else. Read it. Tell me what you think.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas speaks at a news conference at the Supreme Court Building in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, May 4, 2017, about the shooting of Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs, Texas. Listening are, left to right, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and state Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas. ( Jay…
I have talked to many people who have had more than their fair share of run-ins with the police, and those who get out of jail or prison and have no way to level the playing field when cops continue to harass you. This is why I originally decided to show people their is a way to have better control over your life. But this is for everyone because all of us are no finding that what we believe to be our rights under the law are being taken away from us. Plus, everyone needs an attorney at some point and would call one if they had one to call, when things go wrong.
The justice system in the US, with our new Attorney General, is now more determined than ever to lock up greater numbers of people using drug usage and crimes committed by poor people that hasn’t worked the last forty years. People who can’t afford attorneys. They don’t see the inside of a courtroom except to plead guilty whether they are or not. These people accept pleas because they have no choice. Only about 3% of arrests get to plead their case with a jury of their peers.
Even people who are guilty, without an attorney at the onset, are going to do many more years, decades even, than they would if they had the ability to say 6 magic words, “I want to call my attorney.” The police are very confident you don’t have an attorney to call. If you don’t they can and do anything they want to you and get away with it.
They can say you have a broken tail light, even if you don’t. They can force an illegal search of your car. Who is going to stop them? They can do a search and seizure and take your money and anything else they want and say they think it is drug money. They can shoot you if you don’t comply. As a woman they can search your body and stick their fingers where they don’t belong. What can you do? You don’t have an attorney you can call. But if you did?
The list goes on – but what if you could press an app on your phone that is answered by a law office – 24/7 for an emergency. Has this ever happened to you? The cops do these things because poor people don’t have attorneys. Again I ask, what if you did? Do you think it would level the playing field a bit? How much would you pay for that ability? Would you pay the price of a pizza?
Do you say, ” No good law office is going to take my call and do that for me unless i pay him hundreds of dollars. And on a Saturday night? No way!
Let me carry this thought a little farther. You are walking down the street. Cops follow and harass you. “Why are you following me?” You ask politely. “I don’t like your punk ass,” the cop mouths off at you with a cocky sneer, because he is wearing a uniform and he’s just itching for a reason to put you face down on the ground. Maybe he didn’t like the way you crossed the street. You tell him you have called your attorney. Your phone should already be in your hand, app pressed, ssaying, “I’m being illegally detained by a cop,” and show the cop your phone and who it dialed. Tell him, “My attorney would like to talk to you.” They won’t want to mess with you with an attorney listening. If he really is just harassing you, looking for a punching bag, he will probably tell you, “Have a nice day,” and leave.
I can write many different scenarios about things that can happen about why a cop stops you. It might even be just for speeding or changing lanes without signaling. The things we call ourselves names over for being stupid because we know better. But it could be other situations, some as ordinary as being screwed by a landlord, overcharged on a bill or for every single thing you sign your name to.
Every person needs an attorney hiding in their phone waiting to be called, except, oops, you didn’t think you would need it. You thought you weren’t interested. You are a good driver. You haven’t been stopped in a long time. You never sign your name to anything without reading every bit of fine print, right? We all read everything their company used an attorney to write for you to sign that protects them, not you.
If you are familiar with my writing, one of my biggest concerns is what does a prison inmate do when they are released back into society? He’s watched. Is he on parole or maybe probation? That means he is still tied to the justice system. At the snap of a finger, for any reason that parole can be taken from him. It is the fastest and easiest way to keep a prison full through the back door and there is nothing you can do about it. When he is off parole he has a bulls eye on his back and absolutely no protection from anyone who implies he did anything. It’s open season.
What is the cost per month for this privilege? About a fifth of your cable bill? The price of a run thru at fast food place? A half a tank of gas? Less then the price of an oil change? A couple boxes of Jimmy Deans breakfast sandwiches? Would that be worth paying to have an attorney in your pocket the next time a cop stops you and makes you subservient because he thinks you have no legal recourse?
There is a lot more I could tell you – after you think about this. There is one more thing, though, to consider. You, or one of your children gets pulled into a police station and is relentlessly grilled hour after hour until someone admits they did something – without a parent present. Or maybe they played good cop bad cop. “Just say this . . . and you’ll get to go home.” They don’t. They end up up getting 20 years, when they could have said instead. “I want to call my lawyer.” How much would it be worth to you to be able to say those words and possibly change the outcome of what you or your child could be facing?
Tip the scale. Look at the website. Don’t make a decision until we talk so you know everything. My grandchildren have had 2 fathers in prison. Four out of my seven grandchildren are half black or Hispanic. I’ll be damned if I will lose any of them to some racist cop who thinks it’s okay to beat up, taser or take them to jail and abuse them because of the color of their skin. Poverty level poor people, and those who just can’t afford to keep an attorney on retainer, which is all of us, need a way to protect themselves from people who think they have the right to harass us.
If you want to hear more – no commitment. Just leave a message and say “Interested” or send me a private message or email at email@example.com. It never hurts to talk. It can hurt a lot more if you don’t.
Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. It would be a tremendous help as I build my mailing list for the book I’m editing, Inside The Forbidden Outside. Those who receive the newsletter will have the opportunity to download it for free when it is ready to publish.
This puts an amusing twist on a very real subject that affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. You might look at x-inmates as dangerous criminals – and some of them are. But a majority of those people being released aren’t dangerous criminals. are like you and me and are no more apt to be a danger to you – than yourself. Unless of course you are a danger to the people around you.
I get so tired of people professing that the United States is a Christian nation. There are prisoners in every corner of the world but none come close to the amount this country has locked up and the number in solitary confinement that we have. Do we breed more criminals? I don’t think so. Why is it that this country is the ONLY country that is so adamant when insisting we are a Christian nation, especially when there are so many faiths practiced here? How disrespectful to the many millions of non Christians.
No country uses people for profit as much as we do. We imprison so many people unjustly. We lock up more children. Cops think is okay to throw a student across a classroom, while she is still sitting at a desk, because she stood up for herself and the girl defending her gets arrested, too. How can this be? Is this what it means to be a Christian nation? We lock up people who don’t have the money to fight back or hire an attorney. We do this for money! For profit! So many of our citizens are led around with a rope through their nose believing the garbage put out in the media about how the color of one’s skin can make them dangerous so they can justify ruining their lives and destroying their families. They are deemed worthless.
Yet we are a Christian nation? Really?
I am sick of hearing politicians saying they are Christians and even Ted Cruz says a president should start every day on his knees, as if this type of Christianity makes them right in the things they do. It is scary if this is the way these Christian politicians think America should be. If this is how people think, if people are supposed to study the Bible so they can feel the loving arms of God around them (I was told), then why is it that the line is drawn in the sand when people leave prison and their life is judged so negatively that help is not extended because people think they are not worthy enough to live near you or work with you because they think they are so much better than they are.
This is the holiday season when we spend money to send out cards that say “Merry Christmas”, and “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” ALL MEN, These phrases that make us feel good for a minute but change nothing. Now, I know there are people who care. You know who you are. But I don’t tell you the other things people say, “You should take this site down and shut the fuck up.” ( an actual comment)
If you care about people – if you really do want this world to be a better place – stand up for everyone’s right to live and be happy – even those who don’t think like you, who have families to feed, just like you. Who need a job to survive, just like you. Who need a place to live, just like you. and even those who may have a different faith than yours.
The presidential contender Donald Trump has a slogan. “Make America Great Again”, although he thinks he can do it through racism, insults and selfishness and war. I think we can do better – don’t you?
Original Improvised Piano Music –
The music I have written for this blog has been moved to Soundcloud to make it easily accessible for those not on WordPress. It would help me tremendously if you went there and “liked” it, commented and shared. people tend to listen to music that others have listened to and it would give me a push to get started to have better stats. All bloggers understand that.
This was originally posted over a year ago and I decided to post it again. With so many posts to read to learn about Jamie, it is easy after all this time for his story to get lost. Why does this matter? How did he get caught up in the school to prison pipeline that led to prison, as it does for a very high percentage of youth. Not only is their education is taken away, their self esteem is lost. They are not expected to succeed, and many don’t have parents who care. It became just as easy for kids to be put in solitary confinement as adults. They are sexually exploited. They become angry and they give up. They become the next crop of adults who feed the prison industrial complex. A different kind of slavery, but slavery none the less. Juvenile detention has only one direction – Do not pas go. Go directly to prison. They belong to the system now. And who cares? Not many.
Why is police racism encouraged by their superiors? Why do they look in the other direction or do whatever they can so these legal criminals don’t have to pay the price for their actions? In the part few years especially, it has become so much worse. Police brutality is off the charts. Why has it been more difficult for black kids than white kids? Why do blacks kids get taken to jail for simply walking down a street after dark because a white man “thought” he looked suspicious even though he hadn’t done anything wrong? Why are kids handcuffed in school for reasons that not long ago only got detention? Why? Because it became profitable.
There are still so many misconceptions by the average American because he gets his “news”, and I use that term loosely, from the media who is paid to report things in a biased way, or he learns from TV shows that aren’t based on reality, yet it is taken as truth.
Before I met Megan I had only been home for 9 months. I had done just 4 years in Texas Youth Commission, better known as TYC. I was placed in there in 2000 when I was not yet seventeen. The charge was assaulting a police officer. This never should have happened. The cop was harassing our family. It was his fault. But when you’re black and the cop is white it’s always your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it. I always seemed to do something to get me in trouble. I’m beginning to understand that karma has a way of doing that to you. This is the story of what happened that day.
My older brother and I got into a fight in the front yard. He had an amp for music in his car. I took it to a friend’s house across the street. I went back to get it but it was gone. I don’t blame my brother for being mad at me. He thought I sold it. We weren’t little kids and we fighting pretty good. My mama yelled at us to come in the house. There were four of us kids. Raising us wasn’t easy. I have two brothers and a sister. My mom had to play the part of both parents and work all the time to take care of us.
As she was talking to us inside the house about what happened outside there was a knock on the door. When my mama answered it there was a police officer standing there. One of the neighbors must of called them. The officer wanted to speak to my brother and me but my mama said no, she had everything under control. The officer didn’t listen to her and called to us anyway. My mama told him again she had everything under control. She was the parent. It should have ended there. Then my mama tried to close the door and the officer stopped her by putting his foot in the door. He pushed the door open again. My brother and I stood up. We told him again that we had everything under control. He was determined that he was going to get inside the house. He pushed the door open so hard that my mama fell to the floor. She broke her wrist. I knew this was going to be bad. We had problems with this officer before. He was bad news. I helped my mama up off the floor and my brother went after the officer for hurting her. The officer maced him. When he did that my anger let loose and I hit him with a broom! His arm was all cut up from the straws. Then my little brother came into the room and it was just hell. My sister was pregnant but if she wasn’t she would have gone after him, too.
My mama was taken to the hospital and my sister went with her. My older brother was placed in the back of the cop car. He was so angry because the officer maced him that he kicked out the car window. Me and my little brother were put in a different car because we were minors. Let’s just say that I got the short end of the stick. After a while everyone got to go home except me. I was sent to do 9 months in the TYC.
When I got there I stayed in my room and didn’t talk to anyone. I said to myself that nine months in juvy isn’t that bad. I could do it. I did everything I was told to do. I went to school and attended groups. I waited and waited as time passed. Finally, the day came for me to leave. At least I thought it was supposed to be the day I was going to leave. I was packed and ready to go when they told me I couldn’t go home. I didn’t believe it. I got really upset and asked them why? I did everything I was supposed to do. They told me I didn’t have my level four to go home. I said I didn’t know nothing about needing a level four . My lawyer didn’t tell me and he didn’t tell my mom neither about any of this. They told me again I couldn’t go home so I went to my room and slammed the door. I sat in my room and cried. I just wanted to go home. Then I started kicking the door and walls. I really wasn’t trying to listen to anyone because I was lied to. There was so much anger inside. I started throwing the stuff I had packed to leave. An officer came and I was sent to 23 hour lock up in security.
disclaimer: This is not Jamie, but it is a locked up child
From then on everything with me was always on the negative side. I caused all kinds of problems with school. I got into fights in the dorms. I would take off running around the campus. I did everything I could to rebel. I got into it with the staff. It went from a nine month sentence to them keeping me there for four years. I was so angry. I shouldn’t be there in the first place. Things went up and down with me. But at some point I finally stopped and started thinking. I wanted to go home. I needed to do the right things that would get me home.
(Sonni’s note: It always sounded fishy to me seeing the reason he was locked up. What kid would not defend their family in their own home. Isn’t it the same with the gun issue? You are supposed to have the right to defend yourself in your home? But this was a cop. Why is it legal for a cop to literally push his way into your home without a warrant? With no crime committed. Was it a good enough reason, to physically hurt the mother and then not expect that her kids were going to get upset and defend her? You can’t defend yourself from a cop? Looking at the behavior of the police today, why am I so amazed at that?
It’s police brutality. But why put Jamie in juvy? And why not prosecute his brother? Because they knew they couldn’t. But kids are different. They’ll put kids in juvy, sometimes even because they are absent from school. It’s called the school to prison pipeline. They know it sets the stage to push them clear through to prison. These kids get out without an education, learning more about crime then they ever knew going in. That kind of atmosphere would be of no help to any young person. They don’t get the help they need and they never learn their life has value. When the kids get upset and lash out they put them in solitary confinement in juvy is just as bad as solitary confinement in adult prison.
But there is another reason. There’s a lot of crooked business going on between judges and juvenile detention centers among other reasons. There’s a lot of money to be made. For example there has been a case in the Pa courts about this very thing. This judge sentenced thousands of kids to juvy in exchange for money. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
From the beginning they had no intention of letting Jamie go home.)
In the four years I was in juvy I only got four letters. I know now that if my family couldn’t write to me then why should I expect them to write me now? I’ve written a lot of letters and it isn’t very often that anyone writes me back. I can count on one hand how many I got.
Anyway, I finally made it to level three. I was doing good and I got to do a lot of things. I went swimming. I got to play pool and watch movies. I loved it. I did good for a year and a half. Then I received a letter from home. One of my aunts died. My grandmother had ten kids. Six boys and four girls. I’m crazy about my aunts. I only had three. I lost it and went downhill. I was placed on BMP, Behavior Modification Program, for thirty days. I had to deal with 23 hr a day lockdown. They brought my schoolwork to me. I got an hour of rec. I was on three of these BMPs all total. I didn’t care anymore. The last time I was sent there was because I hit one of the staff and broke his nose so they filed charges on me. I did it because he used to just pick on me for no fucking reason. It really gets to me when I think about it. It brings it all back like it was yesterday. He used to call me nigger. It hurt me and it ate at my feelings. I know it sounds better to call it the N’word but lets just say it the way he did, and he didn’t call me ‘N’word. He called me nigger. I told his supervisor but she didn’t believe me because of all the other trouble I caused on her dorm. While I was finishing up on the third program a Broward County police officer came and told the staff about the charges that were filed on me and I was placed in the back of the patrol car and taken to Broward County Jail.
While I was in there I really started losing it because I knew what the outcome of my life was going to look like, with me ending up right where I am now. This would have probably happened to me no matter what I did. This is where my life was going. I look at all the things I did. How could it have turned out any different? I had chances to change things but I always screwed it up. I have no one to blame but myself.
During the time I was in county jail I wasn’t myself. I did try to stay out of people’s way. It wasn’t easy. I got into a fight over the TV, and once I got stabbed with a pen. I really lost it and went into a deep depression. I stopped eating. I couldn’t sleep. I thought of my aunt and cried. I was miserable and I couldn’t pull myself out of it. They placed me in a single cell and sent a doctor to come talk to me. Afterward, she talked to the judge and I was sent to a state hospital for more than three weeks so I could get some help with my depression. When it was over they sent me home. Finally.
This was back in 2004. I met Megan in 2005. I ended up back in here in 2006. Ain’t that crazy? I finally got home but I placed myself around the wrong group of so-called friends. I lost myself again. But I’ll say this much, it won’t happen again. I’m going to change the direction my life has taken. I’m going to be the kind of person I can be proud of, and my son can be proud of, too.
I recently posted a chapter excerpt on the the blog Inside The Forbidden Outside about medical care in the prisons, but it isn’t just prisons. The racism in our justice system is extreme. It’s also the brutality inside the jails and the casualties that come from that brutality. Deaths are covered up and all effort is made so the officers involved don’t have to suffer the consequences. People are rightfully angry. Many of the officers are worse criminals than the ones who are locked up.
Police brutality is either escalating or they are being recorded more, which means it’s always been this bad but we didn’t get to see it. Police, and prison guards should pay the price for the crimes they commit. They are a danger to society. This ugly pimple has only begun to burst. More and more people are going to take to the streets until it’s an all out war between the people and the oppressors. They can’t keep beating people to death and get away with it.
Although the larger percentage of people maimed and killed are black and minorities, it is white people, too, who get the wrong end of the stick. How can someone stand by and just watch someone die? What kind of human being would do that?? Let me repeat that! How low does your personal standard for life have to fall for you to stand by, or be part of the death of another human being and do nothing to help him? Could you sleep at night? I couldn’t. Most people can’t. But many people watch the video or read the article and just go on about their day and look the other way instead of getting involved in even a small way. It’s just a news story. It doesn’t affect the lives of most people. We feel sorry for the families and that’s about it.
If I were an officer of the law and went along with what happened in this video, could I face my family and friends and admit I was part of it? NO – but then, we can’t see the faces of those men can we? But still – the cause he made for his own life will have it’s effect and I sure wouldn’t want to be there when “What goes around, comes around” comes back to him.
Watching this made me want to vomit, seeing how low the human race can fall. This must be stopped. Share this on your social media. Stand up for what is right. Don’t sit back and say you can’t do anything. Find a way to get involved. Join an organization that is trying to make [positive change. EJI – Equal Justice Initiative is just one that comes to mind to start with. http://eji.org If you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. We need to hold the police and the prisons accountable for every death they allow to happen.
I saw this video today on Youtube and it really warrented being posted here. I speak so much of racism. Many people think that the issue is better than it used to be, but it isn’t. Some people say there are more black people in prison because more of them are criminals. The sentences given to white people vs black people for the same crime are hugely different.
The issue of cops being racist has been in the news in greater quantities than it ever has been. People are fighting back and proving it just how bad racism exists. What else can they do but record it. Anything else can get them killed. Even recording atrocities can get them arrested. How can a white person only be politely questioned when they see him walking down the street with a machine gun over his shoulder like a guitar, and accept the statement that he is only exercising his right by law to open carry his weapon, (which I think is about as stupid as it gets.) and when a black man uses the same law to open carry his gun he gets cuffed and the gun taken away and it brings half a dozen more cop cars to the scene? This man is lucky they didn’t just shoot him, but they would have never done that to the white man.
Please pass this video to your own social media. The only way to even begin to try and change this prejudice is to put it in front of everyone’s face. The black people in this country have a right to be very very angry at the disrespect they are shown simply because of the color of their skin, which honestly is a far prettier color than mine at age sixty. Mine is an uneven pasty color that is getting full of dark age spots. White people have spent years in the sun to get a brown color while disparaging people of color. It needs to stop. Attitudes need to change. Human beings are human beings. Good and bad in all colors.
Last year I joined EJI – Equal Justice Initiative – being able to watch and hear this video solidified for me exactly why I am doing what I do. I have joined and/or read about many organizations trying to change our injustice system. Why do I have the desire to fight to change the perception many people still have who think prison is just a place to lock up bad people. Unless you’ve actually done the homework and followed the trail, it is very easy to believe what you see on the media. But that is an issue for another post. It seems to be getting so much worse. There is a new injustice, a new murder or beating every week, by the police, and by the prison guards, and people are getting very very angry. Can you blame them? There is more to it when you take the time to understand. It is so easy to put people in prison who have been deemed unfit to be in society while also giving the prison industrial complex another body to fill a promised bed by our government. Why has our government promised that? How can prison population be reduced when the profit makers are fighting so hard to make sure we keep our inmate count as high as it is? How many more of our children are forced through this funnel to complete their profit agenda. People are more expendable now than they have ever been. Are my grandsons going to get sucked into this? It scares the crap out me.
It is very very easy for white people to say they aren’t racist, but have a black man approach them walking up the street and they are going to think of the possibility he is going to hurt them, steal their purse, or they’ll cross to the other side of the street just in case. I tested that theory on someone who declared she wasn’t racist, but still said she would be very suspicious of seeing a black boy in a sweatshirt with a hoodie? An article of clothing made her fearful. That was what the media has shoved down people’s throats. So she said she would be suspicious of anyone where she couldn’t see their face. So what about a wide brimmed hat, or a baseball cap and sunglasses. Would she be suspicious then? Does that count, or is it just hooded sweatshirts? She didn’t know what to say. She isn’t racist – but still thinks racist because the media has made her fearful of hooded sweatshirts.
But having the probability of that racism being directed at a member of your own family and you will be forced to look at yourself and the split second racist thoughts that fill your lead. Add to that all the people who are outright racist – against any race not like them and it becomes the powder keg it is now, where it’s okay to shoot a black man in the back seven times and try to say it was because you feared for your life.
The percentage of black children without a father is staggering. It is many times more than white children. The effects of only having one parent has an effect on children that really isn’t talked about, because we, as single mothers just suck it up and do what we have to do to take care of our children, and the ramifications later in life is where we see those effects the most. I understand that. So should my daughter, the mother of Jamie’s son, but it seems she doesn’t. I would think for that reason alone, my daughter would make an attempt on behalf of her son to help him know his father loves him. But later, when he grows up he will have all the letters his father wrote about how much he loves him and begging to see his son.
I do what I do in the hopes that it will help him create a life when he gets out where he will be able to help provide for his son; use the experience of his life to talk to children and communities. If he can be a positive example and role model and turn this negative experience into something positive, isn’t that worthwhile pursuing? How could he provide for a child without even a GED, any work experience or even the smallest amount of wisdom learned from life experiences? His teens years were spent being unjustly locked up in juvenile detention, and juvenile solitary confinement in detention centers too far away for family to visit if they wanted to. He was swept up by a cop with a vendetta. I’ve written about that story. When he gets paroled, sometime in his 30’s, he will still not have any life experience. Do I let my grandson’s father flounder with no guidance, when I can help? How does he not become one of the 71% of parolees who go back to prison because they don’t know how to make it outside? No one will rent to them or want to give them jobs. Having epilepsy with the possibility of a seizure at anytime is also a drawback. Life will be very hard.
If these writings that he and I are doing together are able to make a difference in his life where he can help provide for his son, hold his head up and set a good example, will it help his son, as well as his younger brother, who doesn’t have is father, either? Can fault be found by what I’m doing? If there is a possibility that I can actually get this book I’m writing, “Inside the Forbidden Outside” off the ground, is it not something worth trying? It’s easy to fail if you never try. It’s easy to give when it becomes too hard. I don’t live my life that way. Never have and I won’t start now. There is already a second book planned. I struggle to learn because I have a dream. I see this dream. I don’t take the easy way. Instead of encouragement I hear negativity, but I will not give up. Because I love my family, my kids and grandkids and because I love Jamie, as a man, a human being and a man with a life worth fighting for. I can see what the possibilities are, and I am the only one who has fought for him. No matter what, when my grandchildren are grown I hope they learn from me that you need to fight for the things that are important. I hope they look at my life as an example that life is for the living. His son will always know the love he has for him. No one can take that away.
I have several mottoes I have used to live my life. One of them is: There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who say, What happened? I am a person who makes things happen. The strength and intensity of my convictions scares people – because they have nothing worth fighting for.
Loving your children, by itself, will not protect them from the cops or the racism coming and they, too, will be easily swept up into the school to prison pipeline that has propelled far too many kids into, and it ruins their lives and you can’t do a damn thing about it unless you have a whole lot of money, and even that often doesn’t work. It would be better to join me in this fight. Help me fight for their lives instead of fight against me. It will be seen, perhaps, when it is too late, and you end up being the one trying to take care of someone who is locked up. The percentages are not in my grandson’s favor. A vast amount of people, especially during the next ten years will use every excuse to add one more juvenile to the roster of kids in detention to abuse, waiting until they are old enough to go to prison.
The prison industry uses the test scores of 3rd graders to determine how many beds they will need for adult prisons because they decide these kids will never have a good job and will instead turn to crime. Recently they filed felony charges against a 12 year old black boy with autism because he got emotional and panicked and pushed back against a cop who was trying to restrain him and the cop filed felony assault charges on him – this tiny boy with black glasses. Why would this cop do that? What was his training? This is what I am trying to fight against and too many people turn and look the other way after they see the blurb on TV news. After all, what can they do? The American people have looked the other way about many things far too often.
Jamie’s bio mom sent me this picture of a much younger Jamie. Seeing these pictures of him and his son Jamie, side by side, there is so much resemblance. Both of them are about the same age of eight. I have also received recent letters from Jamie and I am getting the information sorted out. He is having a very rough time.
Prison guards get away with making his life hell as they do for many inmates, often undeserved. It seems to be the agenda of most of the guards with the approval of the people in charge of them. It brings out the worst side of many men who enjoy causing people to suffer. We also read, more and more in the news about the atrocities cops get away with, from beating people to outright murder, and the people in charge of them not only look the other way, they do everything they can to make it look as though they people they hurt were asking for it. They do their best to make sure these officers don’t have to take responsibility for harm they cause people. I hesitate to even use the word offer for these mean because that word denotes respect, and there is no respect for people like this. Unfortunately it also also brings shame and respect to those officers who are not like this because how is anyone supposed to tell the difference. Every officer is looked at with distrust and they have brought it unto themselves.
Each time that happens the fuse gets shorter and shorter. People no longer trust the police because they have proven time and again they can’t be trusted. These people who outright lie about hurting people will have to stop because the people are demanding it. Police – prison guards – those that think they have a license to indiscriminately hurt and kill are people cut from the same cloth. They are the legal criminals. Whatever it is inside them them tells them it is okay to choke and kill people or shoot them in the back, or in the prison to torture them to death or to deny them medical care and they die, aren’t going to get away with it. They will [pay with their own lives in one way or another. These people have extremely flawed human natures and need to be feared. If I were a black man being pulled over by a cop knowing there was a very good chance that I would be, at the very least, beat up or killed for some trumped up charge that they thought I was reaching into my waist band for a gun I wasn’t carrying, I, too, would take the initiative and run. Why would he even have to think these thoughts? Because he has known of it happening time after time. They know that a black man can be put in a police van alive andf when it arrives at the station he is unexpectedly dead and they don’t know why.
What Jamie is going through now, at the hands of the guards, which I will write about soon, needs to stop. Any human being can only take so much being locked up 24 hr a day, being denied the ability to breath fresh air, taken to the shower once in awhile, maybe. It’s inhumane. It’s cruel. It’s unnecessary. It’s wrong. Rec, if they give it to him is being taken to a small indoor cage not bigger than his cell to walk around in, and is now being threatened with being taken to another prison far away – and for what??? They said they had no OPEN BEDS to give him. Huntsville Prison is a big prison and they have no open beds?? This is a set up. They took away his hard earned privileges of being able to use the phone, walk to chow, go outside for rec, get a janitorial job, because he argued back to a guard because what the guard was saying was wrong. Jamie broke a rule. In other words, he defended himself. They took everything away he had worked hard to get for the past few years and stomped on him for it.
It’s 2011. He got a letter from Mom the other day. He loved to get her letters because she wrote long ones. If he read slow and then read it through again it could take up a good bit of time. He usually read her letters over and over. Just knowing she was there thinking about him helped him get through some of the bad days. She never lost hope in him and he couldn’t let her down. He tried to pray but it really didn’t seem to do much for him.
If he did happen to get a letter from his brother or his cousin, which didn’t happen very often, they never really said much. Mostly newsy things about the family but nothing of any real substance. His mom never wrote. She just don’t. She hardly wrote when he was in juvy, either. Said she was too busy, and she was. She couldn’t write because it hurt her too much he was on there. Hurt her? She was raising his sisters kids and working two jobs. He said he understood. That’s okay. That’s how family letters are. But the family he never hears from, he’s done waiting for them. He keeps giving them ultimatums in his head. when he doesn’t hear from them he makes new ultimatums.
“If they don’t write back to me by next week then I’m just going to take them off my visitors list.”
He’s threatened that one more than once. Of course, they never knew it and they never wrote back anyway. Everyone just goes on with their lives while he sits here year after year. Except for Sonni, his mom. These are the thoughts that go through his mind, over and over:
“They never come and see me so why am I supposed to care any anymore about them?”
“Let them come and find they can’t get in. Serves them right”. He was steaming now.
” When has anyone cared enough to come and find out how I am?”
“They don’t know what it’s like to know your family doesn’t care about you”
“Why did they stop loving me?”
“Why won’t Morgan bring my son so I can see him – at least once in awhile? Is she trying to punish me for not being there? Has she forgotten about him completely.”
“Paybacks are a bitch. Someday they might need me and I won’t be there for them.”
But he knows that not true. That’s not the way he is. He’s just angry and hurt. He’s the most hurt by Morgan. He never did nothing for her to treat him the way she does. Takes his son away from him? Brush him out of her life like he’s some kind of dead fly.
“Why is she keeping my son from me? Is she trying to hurt me?” He yelled at the walls. “If she is, she’s succeeding!” He added. “It’s my son, too!” Every time he thought about that, it started to make his blood boil. He started to breathe faster. The words caught in his throat.
“Is he calling some other man, daddy?” When he gets out and sees his son and Morgan tells him that some other man asked his son to call him ‘daddy’ it would rip his heart out. He’s the only thing he ever did in his life that gave him any value for his existence was this little boy. That bothered him more than anything else, losing his son, and his son calling another man, daddy. It was so frustrating not being able to do anything about it. She rarely wrote to him so he could know how he is. He knew mom got on her case to write and send pictures. Then sometimes she did. He didn’t know if she would it at all if she wasn’t made to feel guilty.
He stopped, walked over to look out the window and whispered the words, “He might be too old to want to call me daddy. He night be in high school before I get out.” Those words crushed his soul. Tears started running down his face.
“What if he doesn’t want me around?” He paused. “What if he says it’s too late. It’s been too long?”
He pulled his lips in and bit down on them, thinking, ” He could tell me to look at my own life and see how bad I screwed it up, so who am I tell him what he should and shouldn’t do?” It worried him, thinking his son may not think he had any worth as a dad or maybe didn’t want to know him. He was four years old now. He was missing all the good parts of his childhood.
He left the window to go sit on his bed, rocking back and forth, thinking what the worst thing was that could happen. “What if he ends up in here just like me”.
He laid back on his bed, waiting for food, and closed his eyes to think.
He knew what the statistics were. He knew black people got locked up six times more than anyone else. He knew the newspapers and TV tried to make people believe black people were mostly all losers and they did more crimes than white people did because they weren’t smart enough to get jobs. They were just lazy and drug addicts all high on crack.
He knew there was a lot of white people who thought they were smarter that black people. He knew a lot of blacks get pulled over and their only crime was, ‘Driving while black’ or ‘Walking while black or they had a sweatshirt on with a hoodie and that made them suspicious of doing crimes. He knew white people weren’t picked up nearly so much. Cops probably didn’t even go into white people’s neighborhoods. They didn’t cruise white people’s corners. He knew that for a fact. (2) No white business man or attorney or banker was going to let one of their precious kids go to jail. They had too much money to let any of their kids pay for the they things they did. But it was okay to send black kids and rip up their families.
White kids in their fancy cars drive into black neighborhoods to buy their drugs. They bust the black people who sell it but they don’t stop the white people in the cars that buy it. Oh, the poor white people went to jail, too, and other minorities, because they didn’t have any attorneys, too. but not better off neighborhoods. They had the money to pay their way out of their kids having the same punishment. And because of what gets put on TV and the paper, they made white people afraid of black people, like they were all trying to get them somehow. White people were scared of black people. Just walk by a white person and you can see the look in their eyes that wonders if they’re going to be safe on the same sidewalk as you.
Only black people did things like that. Ha! Cops didn’t need no reason to yank anyone off the sidewalk, slam them against a wall and tell them to put their hands up on the wall, kick their legs apart and search them. Threaten them. Punch them, throw them to the ground and kick them. Cuff them and have them sit on the curb. Haul them down to the police station and get harassed. They didn’t need a reason. Just being black was guilty enough for them. If wearing a hoodie was all it took to become a criminal, nobody but black people must wear hoodies.
When he got out of Juvy when he was 21, His mama came and picked him up. They were going to have a party for him at home that night but it was after 10:00 when they got there. The juvy they put him in was far away from home. Too far for anyone to visit and he only saw his mama one time in four years. By the time they got home most everyone had left accept for a few cousins and an old friend. But guess this, I went to a cousins house that same night. I visited for awhile and then started walking home. In the apartment complex my cousin stay in they have guards after 10:00 and they stopped me. I explain to them I was visiting my cousin but I’m on way way home. The next thing I know I’m in the back seat of a patrol car for tresspassing ( walking while black). I had to stay in this jail for two days, and I had only been out of juvy for less than 24 hours when this happened and I’m back in jail again. My mom came and got me out.
I went to the court for the case and guess who I ending up seeing? I saw the lawyer who was my lawyer four years ago, only he was now a judge. He didn’t know who I was at first.
He asked me, “what’s your name,” and I told him.
He asked me, “who’s your mother?” I told him. It hit him then who I was, so he said,
“How have you been doing?”
“I just got home from TYC, ” I told him. ( Texas Youth Comission} He looked at me crazy.
I said to him, “You lied to me. Why did I have to lose my life?” I continued. “I was sixteen going on seventeen and I was sent to TYC. I was told I had to do nine months?” It was hard to keep my voice even. “I was lied to by the court. I ended up having to stay there four years.” The charges were dropped and I got to go home.
But really, no joking, he knows the chances are of getting picked up and taken to jail for doing nothing wrong at all. You are guilty of doing nothing. People try to say this country was becoming less racist. That’s a joke. You only have to be black to know that. Nobody admits to be being racist. They want other people to think they’re fair to everyone, no matter what the color of their skin was. The problem is that it’s actually becoming worse, not better, at the same time the media tries to make you believe other wise. Black people aren’t so stupid. They know and feel the racism every day. But it can also be racism by blacks against whites, but that comes from being mistreated so much. Blacks are fighting back and the whites don’t like it. Blacks can be racist, too. They’re pissed.
OK, not everyone is racist, but when something is ground into you when you are young, just wanting to not be racist doesn’t mean you aren’t. It’s like whatever your religion is. People think the truth is what you were told over and over. It’s not so easy to think different from how you were raised. If your parents talked bad about blacks when you’re growing up then that is what you’re going to think, too. He laid his head back, waiting for food to arrive and he started thinking about how different it was for black people than it was for white people.
Let’s say you’re a middle aged white woman walking down a street and a black teenager, wearing a hoodie, with it pulled up over his head, is walking toward you coming the opposite way. No matter how much you think you aren’t racist, the first thought shooting through your head is fear. You can’t help yourself.
“Is he going to try to rob me? Maybe try to grab my purse and run?” You start to get concerned because throughout your life, the media, movies and TV has mostly shown you that black people aren’t as smart as white people. It’s not their fault, so they do more drugs. And, they kill more people, and they’re lazy. They just keep having more kids so the government will give them more free things other people have to work for, like food and housing and even medical care. They even teach their own kids to do the same thing. She knew it was true.
She watched Fox news. They blame black people for everything and said because of them we need to have that stop and frisk law. Fox also said that black people were the cause of the financial meltdown the country was going through.(1) She knew Fox news wouldn’t lie about things like this. It was the only News station she knew she could trust to tell the truth. So she knew she could be the next victim. He could be out to hurt me.
Rapidly, you think what to do.
“Should I cross the street and just make it look casual, like I was meaning to cross the street, anyway?” Your mind works fast searching for the right thing to do.
You have a little gun in your purse. You bought it couple months ago. You didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t their business to know that. You went to a store in another town so no one would recognize you. One couldn’t be too careful, you know. You have to protect yourself from all those other crazy people out there who want to hurt you. You have to be prepared. It was just common sense in this day and age. She even looked up a place where there was a gun range so someone could show her how to shoot it – if she needed to, never thinking that it wouldn’t do any good unless the person she wanted to shoot agreed to stand still long enough so she could try to aim. She’d probably shoot off her own foot. But you aren’t thinking any of that. You’re just frightened.
“I’m not so young anymore.” She told herself. “I don’t have a man to protect me.”
“I wouldn’t be able to fight him off if he attacked me.” She had heard stories about people who got attacked just walking down the street minding their own business. You don’t know who might be carrying a gun.
Everyone is so scared everyone else has a gun, so they bought one, too. A lady has the right to protect yourself, you know. All those crazy people carrying guns, not realizing that you’re actually one of these crazy people yourself. You casually slip your hand into your purse, just in case.
He’s about ten seconds away now. Your heart starts to beat a little faster. What to do? What to do? There’s a door to the left. Good. You can pretend you’re going there. You turn toward it, making it look like it was your destination. You pretend you’re searching for your keys, but your hand is really around the gun, slipping your finger to take the safety to take it off, ready to pull your hand out if he starts to step in your direction. God, he might even want to try to rape her!
You don’t look at him again, pretending everything is okay. You try to steal a look at him through the side of your eye, trying to make like you aren’t looking right at him just in case he sees you doing it. You want to make him believe you aren’t a scared racist, but that is exactly what you are, whether you want to believe it or not.
When you reach for the door handle, this scary looking black teenager just continues to walk on by without even looking at you, or even wondering what you’re thinking.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone to search through his Itunes so he could play one. Reaching further into his pocket, he felt for his headphones so he could plug them into his phone. He was in the mood for a little Bob Marley, wanting to hear some tunes off the “Songs From Freedom” album. He sang about the down trodden people in all the corners of the world and about passing the love around.
Later that day, that same woman would be calling her friends and telling them about the close call she had with this black man she thinks wanted to hurt her, but she was ready. Now she tells them about the gun and how she had her finger of the trigger and was about to pull it out when something frightened him away.
“Oh!” They all say. You were so lucky you got away. You must have been so scared!
“Did you call the police?” one woman asked. “No.” she replied. “Since he didn’t get a chance to hurt me, I didn’t want the people in the neighborhood to have the cops arrive and wanting to talk to everyone. They would have kept me there, too, and I had other things to do.” she added.
“That’s using common sense, but I bet you could have gotten on TV, though. Then everyone could’ve seen you.”
“I never thought of that.” You always think of things like when it was too late. ” Oh well. I’m just glad I got away.” The conversation ended.
Let’s go back for a minute to the would be almost criminal this woman was so glad she had the insight and courage to get away from. What he was really doing was walking to his gramma’s house. He was a good kid, always came when she asked. They’d been real close every since he was little. Did good in school. He wanted to be an architect and was going to start college in the Fall. He was a bright spot in her life, the only grandchild that lived close to her. All the others moved away. She called him because she needed him to help get some boxes down in the garage. He told her she wasn’t to climb her little ladder anymore, and to call him if she ever needed any help. She’s 82. She already fell one time and he was worried she might fall again and get really hurt this time. He loves his gramma. So when she called a little while ago asking him if he could come over and help her, he grabbed his sweatshirt and phone and started walking over to her house. It was only a few blocks away. The weather was nice. He could even stop at the little store along the way and grab a pack of smokes at the same time. He wasn’t even paying attention to the lady he passed. He reached into his pocket to get his phone out, searching for the tunes he wanted to play.
But someone else was watching. The lady across the street who was peering through her lace curtains. This kid looked real suspicious, she decided. What was he up to? It sure looked like was pulling a gun out of his pocket. She didn’t have her faraway glasses on, but that black thing sure did look like a gun to her. She thought he might be trying to rob that lady walking down the street. She called 911.
“911, is this an emergency? If not please, call the regular number for the station.” the woman started to say on the other end of the line.
“Yes.” She said a little breathlessly. There’s this teenager outside and it looks like wanting to to rob someone. He kept looking at this lady and she got away from him. He pulled a gun out of his pocket”
“You saw this gun ma’am?” she was asked. “Yes. With my own eyes”
“Let me have your location ma’am and what direction he’s heading in. And I’ll send a police car right away” the 911 operator told her. She gave her the address and cross street.
“Thank goodness. Hurry. I just saw him heading into this convenience store down the block. An old man works there and he might get hurt. This man might try to rob him.”
“Stay inside your house. They’ll be there in a few minutes,” and hung up.
Two minutes later, two cop cars come speeding down the street. They pull up in front of the convenience store, puled out their guns and started to walk toward the store. When one of them gets inside the store, the owner of the store saw them and had a sprised look on his face. There was a teenage black boy with his hand out toward the old man behind the counter. It appeared that he was demanding money. He pulled something black out of his pocket.
The cop stood in the doorway and yelled “Freeze and drop the gun!” The boy was confused. Was he talkling to him? He didn’t have a gun. He turned around, with his black cell phone still in his hand. The cop shot him 3 times in the gut because he didn’t drop the gun. He didn’t drop his cell phone. The money for the cigarettes was on the counter.
“Shit”, the cop said. We’re going to have to make this look legit he said quietly when he walked over to the other cop. We have to make people believe he was committing a crime. Not once did either of them go over to the boy and see if he could be saved. They justlet him lay there and bleed to death. If they had called immediately for help he might have been saved. But the cop couldn’t have this come back on him. He was just doing his job.
“Hey, old man”, he asked the man behind the counter.”Was he threatening to you in any way? Was he trying to steal the cigarettes or make you give him money in your register?”
“No”, he’s been in here before. “Polite young man. You killed him!” He was visibly shaken.
“Woman down the street said he tried to rob a woman and thought he was coming in here to rob you next. He tried to grab her bag.” The old man didn’t know what to think.
The two women involved got their fifteen minutes of fame talking to police officers, and news papers reporters and even had a little spot on the evening news. The woman behind the curtain told them it certainly looked like a gun in his hand and tried to grab the woman’s purse and she fought him off. She could see how scared the woman was. She was sure he was going to rob the store. She did a good thing reporting it to the police and get one more of those black thugs off the street. With each telling the story got a little bigger.
Later when the woman walking down the street told her story it got a little grander with each telling. That night, she went to church and talked to all her lady friends at the pot luck dinner. By then she had a big audience who wanted to hear every word she had to say. Everyone knew she was a good Christian and she would never lie. She was a hero who had barely escaped death.
They all said, “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! He protects those who have faith in him!” they cried. “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
“Yes, that was surely it. Praise the Lord.” She told them he was really a mean looking kid. He had a scowl on his face. When he passed her on the street she said he looked at her really ugly and said, “What’re you lookin’ at bitch.”
Not one person suggested they should pray for the boy or his family. No one thought of, or even knew of his grandmother who was grieving for the loss of her grandson, for the loss of the life of one more black boy who had his life taken away by an overzealous cop.
The police had their story down flat. They reported they had entered the store fully expecting him to have a gun and when he didn’t drop it and turn around, they had no choice but to get ready to shoot. So when he did finally turn, still holding his black cell phone, they shot him three times in the gut before he could shoot them. They were just doing their job. Protecting the people. Of curse, they were found innocent of any wrong doing
The black community now had more reason to be angrier at the injustice and racism.
Bang! The wheels of the food cart rammed the steel door! “Cummings! Food!” the guard yelled. Jamie woke up with a start and sat up, startled. He’d fallen asleep. He heard the lock turning in his food slot and the door opened up and a tray slid through. He didn’t even bother to look to see what it was. He knew it was a little carton of milk, a biscuit and a spoon of peanut butter. When he gets out of here he never wants to see another spoon of peanut butter for the rest of his life.
(1) links to the Fox News Youtube sites saying these very things
(2) link to Youtube site