How Equal are the Scales of Justice?

horizontal-2071313_640There are quite a few new people coming to this blog. I want to thank you. It is important to be more aware of our justice system – and our court system that makes and breaks the laws that have been set up supposedly to protect Americans from those who break the law. But from what I read, our systems of court are very choosy about who they protect and who they punish for breaking those laws and it often has nothing to do with whether they are guilty or not.  It depends on their skin color, their money, who they know and how much power they have. The American people can scream “INJUSTICE” all day long and it won’t do a damn thing. It keeps happening! The courts do not protect all citizens.

The one thing the average person can do is to inform people of what they learn about this. Don’t just read about it and walk away thinking someone else will fix it. On this page – facebook.com/jamielifeinprison – and this blog there is more than the reporting of police and court injustice, there is knowledge of what goes on behind the scene that takes place inside jails and prisons.

When I heard Trump say that he has done SO much for black people and SO MUCH for inmates, and how he is the least racist person alive – while praising members of the KKK – I am astounded that some people believe him.  What he has done for criminal justice wouldn’t fill a teaspoon looking at the millions who are incarcerated and ten times that, when you add in the families who have ruined lives long after they are released from prisons sentences that are far longer than they have ever been. that does not include state prisons where 4/5 of inmates are that affects only a very small percentage of Federal inmates – it can’t stop there! Conditions inside the prisons are worse than ever. We need to do more than just read about it.

So I ask, would you please share more articles on your own timelines and social media that help teach people what our justice system has become. When it is time to vote again, if people are more knowledgeable, they will vote with their brain and not with their feelings, hopefully. Our country has to be more diligent than ever if we are going to have a country that protects all of its people, not just the light skinned ones who have money. Because that is how our justice system works today.

Did you know the prison corporations have contracts with the states promising the prisons will be kept full, or the government will have to pay them for the empty beds? Those contracts have always been there since the Prison Industrial Complex was formed but now, with less Marijuana arrests what sector will they raid to keep the prisons full? Will they prosecute more low income people who can’t afford an attorney? They already do that. They have to fill the beds some way – so who will they go after? We’ll find out. Stockholders must get their profits.

A few weeks ago my husband and were pulled over. It wasn’t because we did anything wrong. We didn’t have a broken tail light. We weren’t speeding. There was no reason to be pulled over. The cop was on a fishing expedition. We drive a seventeen year old car that has seen better days. It was pretty obvious we didn’t come from money. He pulled us over just so he could run our plates and see if there was anything he could get us for. There wasn’t so he had to let us go.

BUT THERE WAS NO REASON TO PULL US OVER. Good thing we were white. There was no telling what would have happened if we weren’t. We’ve all seen the videos. Cops aren’t trying to protect the citizens, they are looking to see who they can arrest.  Vigilante cops. Do you all citizens deserve to be called Americans? If you do, you need to do more, even if it is only making more effort to keep people informed.

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Jamie’s Backstory For New Readers

Lately I have been getting questions about why Jamie is in prison and what happened. There are so many posts on this site it is hard to find the ones that explain his story. I fyou read the earliest posts by going to the archive you will find more of his early letters as he is trying to figure out how he is going to  make it through 17 years. So I thought I would write a synopsis that tells his story n a nutshell.  Thank you for reading. I have been writing this blog for him for nearly 4 years.

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earlyjamie
Last moments of being free

I met Jamie Cummings in November 2005 when I went to Texas to visit my daughter and her two children. She brought Jamie to meet me. We talked that evening and again the following morning when I took everyone to breakfast. A quiet, shy man who was very polite. The following month he was arrested and that started the incarceration he is completing now. He has been inside so far for 12 1/2  very hard years. Most of it has been spent in adseg, which is another name for solitary confinement. It has been over 5 years since I received a phone call.  I try to see him every year now, but it isn’t always possible because of the expense.

Jamie is the stereotype of a majority of those incarcerated. Black, no father – might be in prison himself. No communication with him. He lived in the lower income section of town in East Texas with a hardworking mother raising four children. No woman can be a mother and a father. I know that from raising my own children who had a deadbeat dad.

Black children and teenagers are harassed by the police just about everywhere in this country. Black children are more often suspended from school and have teachers who treat them differently than white kids.  More black kids than white kids are sent to juvenile detention for the same offenses in schoool. Jamie went through a typical time of many teenagers getting into minor trouble and pushing the limits. He also had to deal with having epilepsy. In 9th grade he spent a year living with an uncle because he was given probation for something – I don’t know what. He went back home to start 10th grade.

That year he and his older brother got into a fight outside his home which their mother broke up and made them go inside. Someone called the police and they ended up on their doorstep. When their mother answered the door she told the police (2) everything was under control and he could see the boys sitting on the couch. He insisted on going into the house. There was no probably cause. The boys had done nothing wrong. There was no crime. When she said again that everything was under control he pushed his way into the house, knocked her down and her wrist broke when she fell. The oldest boy made a move toward the police and got pepper sprayed. Jamie and his sister went to aid their mother. The little brother, a child, picked up a broom and swung it at one of the cops on the arm with the straw end and scratched it. The only thing he know was this cop had hurt his mother and he was going to defend her. Now, there was no longer an issue of illegal entry and causing a broken bone – it was now assaulting an officer of the law. Now the cops had a reason to arrest someone.

Jamie was the only one who went to jail. His older brother was over 18 and no crime was committed to charge him with. The little boy was too young and his sister was pregnant. Jamie was the only one left they could pin anything on, even though he had not done anything. In court the attorney asked Jamie to do his brothers time in juvenile detention. He could take care of himself. It was a 9 month sentence and the attorney promised him he’d be out and could go back to school. Jamie agreed to do it. But after nine months they wouldn’t let him go – for four years. Jamie became a very angry young man. When he was finally released, he was only home for a few hours and when returning home from a cousins house, he was arrested for walking and because he looked suspicious. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Three days later he was taken in front of the judge – who was the attorney who had told him he only had to do 9 months. He had been given a judgeship. He didn’t know Jamie had never been let out.  He dismissed the current charges.

A few months later he met my daughter. She became pregnant. One night he went out with friends to party, normal for a 21 year old man. He didn’t choose his friends wisely. One of them had a gun in his backpack and robbed the club they had gone to.  Jamie ran, but not fast enough.  He said, “Friends don’t leave friends,” although I’m sure he feels differently today. There is much wisdom he didn’t learn being locked up during his teen years.                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn’t matter if you are the one who commits the crime.  If you are there then you are associated with it and will get the same charges. He never saw these friends again.

My daughter went on with her life raising their son. For a variety of reasons she didn’t take their son to see his father except in the beginning. No one else took his son in to see him, either. It’s been years since anyone in his family has gone to see him   except when I fly to Texas. On a rare occasion he’ll get a letter from someone, but no one answers the letters he sends.

This is not uncommon.  Just like someone who is housebound dude to illness or disability, people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing. Although he has no way of getting any money to buy what he needs at the commissary – hygiene products, stamps, underwear or shoes or even paying the yearly medical fee of $100 that Texas demands. Because of his medical issues he needs to be under a dr’s care but the care he gets is a joke. They often withhold his seizure medication.

I can’t begin to explain in a paragraph the treatment he has gotten and the abuse he has taken. Being kept in adseg means she can’t go to school or use the library. He is in cell 23/7 and often 24/7.

I am the only person who has consistently been there for him trying to provide the necessary things he needed along with books. I have paid legal fees to have papers drawn up to get them to stop messing with his medication by getting a medical POA designed for the prisons. Here is where it gets tricky. I have only a disability check of $1009 a month because of a series of difficult medical issues.  I have worked hard in my life and working harder to get my life back.

This is why I am writing a book about Jamie’s life and his growth as a human being. It is why I write the music I do to go with the book, determined to make this successful. He is worth the effort.  Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take care of somethings that could make his life better.  50% of the profit will go to help him build his life – and to help mine as well. Jamie gave me a reason to fight for my life. Now he gives me a reason to write music. I get up every day thinking of what I will do to affect the lives around me in a better way.

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I had T-shirts made hoping that sales would help me provide for him. Thank you to those who have purchased. I need help to help him from people who are able to, who have followed Jamie’s story, or maybe read some of the chapters I’ve posted or listened to the music. I know how much this has encouraged him – and I know how much it has encouraged me to continue on.

In addition to the merchandise there is a donation button where you can donate from $1 and can change the donation to anything with the up and down arrows next to it. I don’t know how I can say thank you enough for any help you can give.

 

 

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Why is a Half White, Half Black Person Always Called Black?

abagond.wordpress
photo source: abagond.wordpress.com

As more years go by the races become more mixed.  Really there aren’t many people who are entirely one race anymore.  Most whites are a combination of at least several different white races.  I am English, German, Irish  and Welsh, maybe more.  But it changes when the races are mixed with dark skin.  Then any other country involved in the DNA disappears and they become just black.  Obama is half white, but people don’t refer to him as white, even though is skin is lighter because of his whiteness. He is only black.  He isn’t our first mixed race president, he is our first black president.  This way the racists have more to feel negative about.  So the white part of him is never talked about.  His daughters are 1/4 white.  Does that not count either?  Does being mixed mean nothing?

Two of my grandsons are half black and half white, with a small part of American Indian, English, Irish, German and Welsh. Doesn’t that count?  Are they only black?  One has lighter skin and one doesn’t.  Jamie has his father’s skin and hair.  I have a half white and half black teenage granddaughter.  Her black side is half African and half Island black.  Her skin is fairly light and has beautiful curly, not kinky hair.  I remember that her mother wanted so much for her to be white.  She had white dolls, not black dolls.  I have another grandson that has enough Hispanic in him that if he is with any number of races he can pass for them.  Now all of my grandchildren have the same percentage of Chactaw Indian in them, too, which is very evident in my daughter because she takes after her grandmother, who isn’t full blood Indian.  It was her grandmother.  But some races are more dominant when the genes are passed.  The black race is very strong genetically; stronger than the white race and so is American Indian.

I have also seen mixed race couples have twins and one comes out white and one comes out black.  What are these kids called, because they both have the same genetics? will one girl have a harder life without the same privileges as the white sister?  How do the introduce them without getting weird looks from people? This is my white daughter and this is my black daughter? How can one daughter have racism directed at her and her blond haired twin have a privileged life – unless she met someone, for any reason who couldn’t handle that there was black blood in her – perhaps the parents of a possible spouse because there would be a pretty good likelihood that she could have a black baby.  OMG!  And there are people who would think that way.

mixed race twins
source credit: snoopes.com

I don’t care if my grandchildren represent multiple races, I refer to them as my grandchildren. But when I show pictures of them to people and I clarify that they are my grandchildren I can see the look they give because it is obvious they are black. but what if I chose to introduce them as my white grandchildren, because they are, after all, just as white as they are black, and Jamie, who is the darkest of the three could very well have white children, too.

To me, the entire subject of racism is absurd because as the years go by it will get harder to separate people by their race.  All of the ugly things white (privileged) people say; like black people are dumber, but it’s not their fault, it’s in their genes (or lack of decent schools and teachers) or that black people have a higher tendency to be criminals or black people do more drugs (statistically proven to be untrue) or black people want more handouts because they are lazy and all the rest of these things that are printed so white people can continue to believe they have a right to be privileged. If black people succeed I often read it is because it was given to them, bot that they earned it.  The horrible things said about Malia Obama when she was accepted at Harvard is a perfect example.

So where is it all going?  I’m in the middle of writing a letter to Jamie at prison.  He wrote to me about the limited information they get about things on the news and wanted to know what was really going on.  I told him, “When you get out, the world will not be what you remember.  You have lived on the outside so little since you were a young boy, so what you remember doesn’t apply to what is happening now.”

That uncertainty must bother him not knowing what he will have to deal with – and knowing so many people are going to be hostile.  The world is changing and not necessarily for the good.  He will have to treat life so carefully to not end up back inside. He won’t have to intend to do anything wrong for someone to take it as such.  He knows that from dealing with the institution inside the gray walls he is locked up in right now. He doesn’t have to do anything to find himself in the wrong.

Yes, I know he is very aware of being racially targeted.  That is how he ended up locked up in the first place.  And being racially targeted, even in juvenile detention,. where being called a nigger by white staff was not unusual.  Of course, a teenager is going to have a temper when he is lied to repeatedly.  Solitary confinement was used liberally to teach these niggers how to behave. No one was going to believe his side of any story.  Black teens grow up knowing they will be lied to, lied about, and will always come out on the wrong end of the stick no matter what they say or do. White people have absolutely no idea what having to live like that is like.  Maybe if they did they would learn not to judge so quickly. White people are NOT special people.  They have just fooled themselves into thinking they are.

Because racism is through the roof with cops, black people  have to worry still about getting killed. Don’t get indignant and insist it isn’t true. It is not the white people who have to fear for their lives from the cops in the same way. Do I have to worry about my grandsons?  Does Jamie have to worry about his half white son. Will my other grandson have to worry have to worry?  Will this boy’s father have to worry? My daughter isn’t worried because she is teaching them respect, but who is teaching the cops to have respect?  I don’t see that happening.  Who is teaching the judges to have respect who refuse to convict a cop when he murders yet another dark skinned person and uses the phrase, “I was afraid for my life, so I thought I’d better shoot him in the back before he turns around and tries to hurt me with the gun he isn’t carrying. Statistics about cop killing people have not been gathered in any kind of consistent manner until now.  It is being fought for now. We need to know what is happening.

WHEN JAMIE IS RELEASED FROM PRISON

When Jamie gets out of prison, what will his world look like?  How will he be treated?  This hate that has been unleashed by Donald Trump who has whipped up his supporters into a frenzy of hate has made it okay for people to take matters into their own hands and shoot people they think is okay to shoot.  When I think back to the history of Germany, did the German people just wake up one day and hate Jews?  No. They had a leader who worked them and blamed them.  He told his white Christian followers they were the privileged chosen race that God intended and he was such a devout Christian.  Religion was used to pit people against people.  This is what is happened with the Christians in this country.  They are special.  God loves them.  Trump tells them over and over that hate is good.  How do we put hate back in the bottle after the election?

Jamie wants to have a good life. Will he be allowed? He wants to help others to not have a life behind bars.  He wants to be a father to his son.  He wants to go to school.  He wants a chance. Will he have that chance? Will the United States come to it’s senses before it reaches a point where it is impossible before it ruins my family, and many other families. It took a long time for me to understand what it meant to not be white.  I didn’t know I had privileges that everyone didn’t have.  I didn’t know I was “special”.  I didn’t feel special, but the cops know I’m special.  Growing up I knew I was different, but I didn’t know it came with privileges.  That only makes me feel shame that some of my grandchildren are not privileged like me.  It should make you feel shame, too.

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Defining Black Lives Matter – Part 1

I have been trying to find the right words to explain “Black Lives Matter” to people who have missed the point completely – often deliberately because they don’t want to appear to anyone that they do understand. You can’t keep up the hateful offensive rhetoric if you understand. Please go to the original blog post and read why this was important enough to reblog her post.

I think some white people want to stay openly hostile to impress their friends that they can say racist things as well. White people don’t want to appear sympathetic to blacks. I am appalled by people I know, even family members, who deliberatelly misunderstand the meaning of Black Lives Matter.

Even those who know the years I have put into researching and understanding the racial divide, have a mocking tone to their voice when they say I support Black Lives Matter like it’s some kind of a joke, the way people used to call people “nigger lovers”, and no, I won’t be politically correct and put in asterics instead of the letter I. It’s a hateful word but this is a hateful subject we shouldn’t have to have.

White people feel and think it’s necessary to constantly put down black people and call them derogatory names because they think they somehow have to keep themselved on the top rung of quality people. I have 2 half black grandsons. I’ve been told not to worry, they will be okay. They are being taught to respect authority. But how are they safe when no one is teaching the cops to respect them back? There are so many statistics proving the racism of many cops. Please note I did not say ALL cops. The ones who shoot using the excuse they are afraid as a reason to shoot someone in the back, shouldn’t be a cop. A cop that tells a man named Sterling to get of his ID out but uses that as an excuse to kill him, a man who works with kids.  What does it teach those kids?

My grandsons aren’t any safer than any other black man who has been killed by a bad cop. I don’t want to hear any more but..but..but and bring anything else into this discussion. Fire bad cops who have proven they are unstable. Arrest and prosecute those who kill unjustly, no matter what race they are. Fire the cops who protect and lie for bad cops. Stop defending cops who kill. Stop implying that the man simply walking down the street is suspicious and deserves being taken down and kicked in head. There has been too much of this. It is not justified by anything other than certain white people who are afraid of losing their top dog status. If anything happens to my grandchildren I will be one very angry grandmother.

If you are someone who insists on not understanding the issues and encourages more harm to black people and also wants to let the cops off the hook when they kill without just cause then I feel bad for you because of the divide you continue to encourage. The writer of this post is right. We need to talk. We need to find a way for this to stop.

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We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

Introduction

“We shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game.” Statement of President Obama

As a Pacifist, I believe that every life matters.  For the last two weeks or so, I’ve watched town hall meetings with people speaking about the Black Lives Matter Movement.  I listened.  I learned.

After watching a town hall meeting on CNN called Black, White and Blue, I asked myself why are people who have had no experience whatsoever being discriminated against in America because of the color of their skin, arguing over the meaning of Black Lives Matter?

Each generation sits around the dining table and shares stories of their lives.  They talk about the challenges and…

View original post 1,480 more words

White Boy Privilege

A fourteen year old teen named Royce Mann hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately . . .

It is too late to change the hearts and minds of adults. We can not change the irrational need for cops to kill black people no matter how they are retrained, or how often any politician, including our president who says only the hole words, “We need to come together and respect each other.”

Nothing will change as long as there is so much hate and continue to fail to realize who and what has been responsible for the backlash against cops. As long as there is failure to understand that black people didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Let’s go kill cops,” for no reason, the situation will continue to increase.

Too many white people intentionally, willingly, stay blind to the fact that cops have gone too far killing people who should not have died, and never had to pay the price. Black people want that recognized. They want it stopped and they want the law to apply to everyone. If you murder someone, you will be prosecuted and found guilty. A badge doesn’t give you the right to do what you want with impunity.

There has never been equality. Even members of my own family think they understand the situation and blame black people for what our government intentionally did to them, because in their uneducated lack of understanding, devoid of any real research into the issue, think they know what is going on – yet they don’t. Their “experience” is such a small part of the truth. Don’t you dare say cops, any cops, are racist. Not in my house! Do what they tell you to do even if that means you have to let them drag you out of your car and beat you so then – hopefully – they won’t kill you. If you don’t do that, it’s your own fault if they shoot you. Is this really what it comes down to? Is that what you have to teach your children?

So it will be up to the children – like this young teenager – who will have to say, “Enough! I will not let you make me be like you! I will not let you divide my generation and turn us into hateful people. It doesn’t matter what color we are. Color doesn’t make us criminals. And my whiteness doesn’t make me better than anyone else!” Yet he had to be glad to have “white privilege” so he doesn’t have to deal with what black and brown kids deal with every day. So sad. 

Those were not only his words. You can hear his words. We need to teach our children not to hate. I look at this nation of supposed Christians with disgust. Trump is being treated like he is the second coming of Christ by those who condone his disgusting rhetoric and cheer on his hate while they salivate. This example of human being – this example of Christianity is so far from what it was supposed to be and turned it into something as bad as the Muslims who are the terrorists. We are also the terrorists. They come after us like BLM wants to stop the people who come after them. Too many in white America think they and our country are blameless. They think we are the good guys. We used to be – a long time ago.

We can’t cure ignorance. Hate tastes too good on their tongues. It is like an addiction to a drug, but what they crave, what makes them feel good, is the feeling of hate in the empty cavity that used to have a heart.

Children – calling all youth. This country need your help. Stand up for mankind before your leaders and perhaps your parents and teachers destroy what is left of mankind. You’ll be alive after they are dead. What kind of world do YOU want to live in?

Share this please. Something needs to be done.

Sonni Quick – grandmother of two half black grandsons who are being taught to respect authority, but who is teaching the authority to respect them?

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It’s Not Enough Just To Deplore Horrific Violence

(If you don’t know who Michelle Alexander is you should do some research on her history. She is a voice of reason among a sea of voices who speak only to hear the sound of their own voice pushing an agenda that benefits only the mighty few. Earlier in my postings are other articles and at least one video by her as well.)

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Michelle Alexander: It’s Not Enough to Just Deplore Horrific Violence

We need a profound shift in our collective consciousness in order to challenge an entrenched system of racial and social control — and build a new America.

By Michelle Alexander / BillMoyers.com July 10, 2016

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photo credit: flickr

I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. Thursday night, I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. It finally dawned on me that there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, and share some wisdom passed down from struggles of earlier eras, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. My fingers froze on the keys. I could not bring myself to recycle old truths. Something more is required. But what?

I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. And yet silence isn’t an option. On any given day, there’s always something I’d rather be doing than facing the ugly, racist underbelly of America. I know that I am not alone. But I also know that the families of the slain officers, and the families of all those who have been killed by the police, would rather not be attending funerals. And I’m sure that many who refused to ride segregated buses in Montgomery after Rosa Parks stood her ground wished they could’ve taken the bus, rather than walk miles in protest, day after day, for a whole year. But they knew they had to walk. If change was ever going to come, they were going to have to walk. And so do we.

What it means to walk today will be different for different people and different groups and in different places. I am asking myself what I need to do in the months and years to come to walk my walk with greater courage. It’s a question that requires some time and reflection. I hope it’s a question we are all asking ourselves.

In recent years, I have come to believe that truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old. What is happening now is very, very old. We have some habits of responding to this familiar pain and trauma that are not serving us well. In many respects it’s amazing that we endure at all. I am inspired again and again by so much of the beautiful, brilliant and daring activism that is unfolding all over the country. Yet I also know that more is required than purely reactive protest and politics. A profound shift in our collective consciousness must occur, a shift that makes possible a new America.

know many people believe that our criminal justice system can be “fixed” by smart people and smart policies. President Obama seems to think this way. He suggested yesterday that police-community relations can be improved meaningfully by a task force he created last year. Yes, a task force. I used to think like that. I don’t anymore. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy. We cannot “fix” the police without a revolution of values and radical change to the basic structure of our society. Of course important policy changes can and should be made to improve police practices. But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people — we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.

Consider this: Philando Castile had been stopped 31 times and charged with more than 60 minor violations — resulting in thousands of dollars in fines — before his last, fatal encounter with the police.

Alton Sterling was arrested because he was hustling, selling CDs to get by. He was unable to work in the legal economy due to his felony record. His act of survival was treated by the police as a major crime, apparently punishable by death.

How many people on Wall Street have been arrested for their crimes large and small — crimes of greed and fraud that nearly bankrupted the global economy and destroyed the futures of millions of families? How many politicians have been prosecuted for taking millions of dollars from private prisons, prison guard unions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, tobacco companies, the NRA and Wall Street banks and doing their bidding for them — killing us softly? Oh, that’s right, taking millions from those folks isn’t even a crime. Democrats and Republicans do it every day. Our entire political system is financed by wealthy private interests buying politicians and making sure the rules are written in their favor. But selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.

This is not hyperbole. And this is not new. What is new is that we’re now watching all of this on YouTube and Facebook, streaming live, as imagined super-predators are brought to heel. Fifty years ago, our country was forced to look at itself in the mirror when television stations broadcast Bloody Sunday, the day state troopers and a sheriff’s posse brutally attacked civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Selma. Those horrifying images, among others, helped to turn public opinion in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps the images we’ve seen in recent days will make some difference. It’s worth remembering, though, that none of the horrifying images from the Jim Crow era would’ve changed anything if a highly strategic, courageous movement had not existed that was determined to challenge a deeply entrenched system of racial and social control.

This nation was founded on the idea that some lives don’t matter. Freedom and justice for some, not all. That’s the foundation. Yes, progress has been made in some respects, but it hasn’t come easy. There’s an unfinished revolution waiting to be won.

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

Michelle Alexander is a legal scholar, human rights advocate and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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David Snape Show 2 (4.4.16)

I did an internet radio show on the David Shape Show about the US prison system, Jamie Cummings and how he deals with epilepsy in a system that doesn’t care about medical care for the inmates.  When you go to the show it is quite long, a little over two hours. If you move the bar ahead one hour and twenty minutes it should be shortly before the interview starts.

We also talked about the youth in juvenile detention and how children are treated in schools using cops for discipline instead of detention, and putting handcuffs on them and seating them in the rear seat of a patrol car.

We talked about the book I’m writing about Jamie’s life, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. You can find chapters on the blog. It’s more than half done and the editing process has begun.

We also discussed the piano music I’m writing for the book which will be included inside the back cover. At the end of the show one of my more recent pieces will be played.

This is the first of hopefully more media I will be doing over time to advertise the book that I hope will lead to being able to lecture on the prison industry. When Jamie is finally released he will be able to join me. He wants to work with the youth using his life as an example, in hopes of being able to turn their lives around before they, too, end up in the system. One in three black males end up in prison. Contrary to racist belief it is not because crime is in their genes. It is because of government pushing the War of Drugs on to black men’s shoulders making you believe through the media that they are dangerous.

Kids don’t understand the ramification of their choices until it’s too late. When someone has been incarcerated for a long time, and Jamie has been locked up for 14 years counting time in juvenile detention. Unfortunately, the four years in juvy was not because he committed a crime. It was because he defended his mother from a cop who illegally entered their home. He injured his mother and she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He hit the cop with a broom. It cost him the rest of his high school years and four years of his life.

This story needs to be shared. Unfortunately, it happens far to often to too many black youth. I am asking for you to please share this on your own social media. The success of the book will be determined by how well this info gets pushed through sites on the web. It bring so much encouragement to Jamie as he sit in his cell 23 hours a day, working his way again, up through the levels. He has received letters from some of you. Knowing someone cares enough to write matters more than you know.

Thank you for tuning in to the show. Let me know what you think.

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David Snape Show - Bourne and Beyond

On the show, we look back at the career of Ronnie Corbett. Why both the UK steel industry and Qatar’s World cup are in tatters. And can Rihanna make it 3 weeks in number 1 in the Itunes Power rankings?
All that plus this weeks post of the week: What Am i reflecting by Nancy Ruminski.
This weeks new artist showcase: The Ellipsis, Robyn Sherwell and Mt.Wolf
Two interviews: one with last week’s new artist showcase star, Salix Willow. And Sonni Quick with one of the most hardhitting interviews we have ever done, talking about the US prison system and Jamie Cummings who has epilepsy and how he’s been treated in there.

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Prisoner Re-entry YouTube Video

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?

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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.

Juvy to Prison

cuffs and books

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.

young offender

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.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/4/kids_for_cash_inside_one_of

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.

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Original Improvised Piano Music

George Stinney Jr was just 14 when he was sentenced to death for killing two young girls, but a judge said his confession was coerced

…I’m sure this won’t get many “likes” because it is a horrible thing they did to this child so long ago. The racism in this country hasn’t gotten much better and that is the horrible piece of knowledge we need to recognize. As these things get into the news more and more hopefully it will begin to change. But it takes people sharing this knowledge. Sadly there was another person who stood by and watched this boy be murdered and sadly, it was probably a white man who did it letting the racism take hold as white people probably cheered that they got rid of another black kid.  This needed to be posted here to remind us how cruel we can be to other people on many levels.  People who don’t believe our faith.  People who want to decide abortions for others.  People who spread hate because of sexual preference.  It’s nauseating.

CHILDREN IN SHADOW ::: CHILDREN IN WAR

Youngest person executed in US cleared of murder – 70 years after his death

George Stinney Jr was just 14 when he was sentenced to death for killing two young girls, but a judge said his confession was coerced

A teenage boy convicted of murdering two young girls has been exonerated – 70 years after he was executed for the crime.

George Stinney Jr was just 14 when he was sentenced to death over the killing of two white girls, aged 11 and seven.

He became the youngest person in the 20th Century to be executed in the US.

But 70 years on a US judge in South Carolina has thrown out the black teen’s conviction on the basis he was wronged by the justice system.

The ruling has been welcomed by Stinney Jr’s family and civil…

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