KS Prison Transfers Used to Silence Dissent

I copied this article word for word. I was too appalled to sit back and do nothing. So many people really have no idea of how bad it is when you are locked up in a prison in the US.  Some may say they deserve whatever comes at them but I disagree.  I won’t write today about the many non-guilty prisoners there are – but no one deserves this. As citizens it has to reach a point where people stop looking away like it has nothing to do with them.

It is a fact that WE cause the horrible conditions by allowing it, and then look away when the corporations want to shut up the people who are trying to help their fellow inmates inside – and most of us ignore it or give it a passing wave. Saying it is horrible is not enough – until someone you know gets locked up. We are doing this to other human beings should be enough to do SOMETHING. I sent this article to the two email addresses at the bottom.  That in itself will do nothing – but if hundreds – thousands of other people do it to – that does something.

El Dorado Correctional Facility

KS Prison Transfers Used to Silence Dissent

In the late hours of Sunday, May 20th, Kansas Department of Corrections officials sent a special operations team, known in Kansas prisons as the “black suits,” to the prison cell of Eric Sims, imprisoned in El Dorado Correctional Facility. They placed him in handcuffs and escorted him to a holding cell in another part of the institution, along with all his property. About an hour later, another special operations team arrived from Hutchinson Correctional Facility, removed Sims from the isolation cell, placed him in belly-chains and leg-irons, and then put him in a cage in the back of a van.

The two officers drove Eric through the middle of the night, for two days, stopping only long enough to place Eric in another isolation cell in a remote county somewhere in Mississippi. He remained in an isolation cell, with no windows, and reeking of death. Eric said it took nearly two days for that smell to leave him. After the officers had rested in a local motel, they placed Eric back in the cage, in the back of the van, and drove him to a prison facility in Orlando, Florida. Upon arriving in Florida, Eric was again, placed in another isolation cell, in 103 degree heat, with no fan, no cup to drink water, with only his Bible and a few legal papers.

In the days following, it was discovered who ordered the involuntary transfer. On April 18, 2018, Doug Burris, a correctional manager whose core function is described as “risk management” for the Department, authored a memorandum to Florida officials requesting Sims be transferred to their state. In that written document, Burris made reference to Eric “misleading” legislators as one of the reasons to justify his extraordinary retaliatory actions against Eric.

The only legislator Eric has had contact with was Senator Laura Kelly, now running for Governor of Kansas. On April 4th, Eric prepared a packet of information for Sen. Kelly that shared numerous published articles that detailed the dangers of outsourcing basic healthcare services for prisoners to predatory HMOs, and the tactics used by correctional officials to protect them. Sen. Kelly’s office signed for this packet of information on April 9th.

Additionally, in the April 18 memo, Burris explicitly listed Eric’s formal complaint filed with the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts against a Corizon Site Director at Norton Correctional Facility. Corizon Health Services is the prison healthcare provider contracted by the Kansas Department of Corrections. The medical care provided by Corizon to Kansas inmates ranges from rude and dismissive to criminal negligence. This manifested most tragically in the early spring of 2016 when a young Black inmate, Marques Davis, died in Hutchinson Correctional Facility from a fungus that ate his brain. For months, he pleaded for help as his vision blurred, his speech slurred, and he became so disoriented he drank his own urine. True to form, the Tennessee-based, for-profit HMO that the KDOC pays nearly $80 million dollars of taxpayer dollars every year to outsource their essential responsibility of basic healthcare for the inmates in its charge, blamed Marques. The KDOC did nothing, other than attempt to defend their contractor and control the narrative.

However, all the gruesome details of Marques’ needless and shameful death caught the attention of several Kansas lawmakers. The word spread quickly throughout Kansas prisons, that there were actual elected officials in Topeka who were looking into the practices of just not the predatory HMO in charge of their healthcare, but the other actions of KDOC officials in recent months that created unsafe living and working conditions for inmates and staff in Kansas prisons.

It is clear from the April 18 Burris memo that speaking out against these injustices in Kansas prisons is the reason for transferring Eric to Florida.

Eric entered the system at the age of 23. He just turned 50 years old last month. During those nearly three decades in the Kansas prison system, Eric has dedicated his life to being an advocate for those less fortunate around him; those inmates who lack the resources and education that too many times fall victim to an overwhelming system, the large bureaucracy that runs it, and the corporations its most essential functions are outsourced to each year. For his advocacy, Eric has a paid tremendous price – personally and financially. For his work, he has been targeted for over thirteen different retaliatory moves in his tenure in the KDOC; when others who entered the system the same time as he did, have only been moved two or three times at the most. When program dollars shrank in the early part of Eric’s sentence in the KDOC, both he and his family spent thousands of dollars of their own money to provide Eric the resources he needed to develop peer-directed educational and character-based program models to provide access to such basic needs like literacy and personal development. Many of these flagship programs are still in use in several Kansas facilities today. Eric’s ground-breaking work was foundational in establishing peer-directed inmate civic organizations for the first time in many Kansas prisons; who, over the past decades since their creation, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help some of the most disadvantaged and poverty-stricken families in communities all across the state.

In spite of the retaliation, Eric has remained true to the core principles he has based his life on; having maintained the lowest custody level, and highest incentive level possible over three decades. During that entire period, he has received less than a handful of minor rule infractions, with his institutional record being described by many staff as exceptional, and himself being described as a model inmate. One of the officers who escorted Eric to the isolation cell the night of May 20th commented to the other: “Mr. Sims is the most respectful and well-behaved inmate we have, why are they messing with him?” It wasn’t just the comments of this officer, but the numerous written references from both uniformed and non-uniform staff in almost every facility that Eric has been housed that all testify to both his character and conduct, day-in and day-out, over a long period of time. Just last year he received heart-felt thanks from staff for placing his own life in jeopardy to protect a female officer from assault. These are the correctional officials who have direct and personal knowledge of who Eric really is, and their written references are evidence that the narrative used by Mr. Burris and other officials is not in line with the truth. In addition to the staff that see him every day, there is a volume of personal written testimonies from his fellow inmates, who Eric has had a positive transformational impact on their lives – many, he taught to read and write for the first time. His daily choices over 26 years have been a model that has encouraged and inspired other inmates to change their lives.

There are over 10,000 inmates in Kansas prisons. There are inmates who have killed and brutally assaulted both staff and other inmates. There are gang leaders who have set-up and financed illicit organized criminal activity, whose members extort, steal, and intimidate staff and inmates. There are inmates who have trafficked contraband, drugs and illegal materials in every institution they are housed – again and again. Out of all of these 10,000 inmates, why did Mr. Burris choose Eric – someone who many staff describe as a “model inmate” with the above track record?

The retaliatory transfer of Eric Sims is one example of the negligence, malfeasance, and corruption in Kansas prisons and throughout the prison system. The prison-industrial complex and the neoliberal policies it supports drives prisons to privatize basic services, pack prisons full, and exploit a prison labor force. The mistreatment of these prisoners is not the result of cutting costs to save tax dollars; it is the result of a system that serves to maximize profits for those who make their money locking up and exploiting the largest prison population in the world.

For Eric, he just wants to be transferred back to Kansas, where he can at least be close to his family and church. But he also wants accountability for the prison officials behind this. The effort to silence and punish him is chilling. If a well-educated white man with social support can be effectively subdued, what of other inmates who are more vulnerable? And what other abuses are being swept under the rug? The KDOC needs to, at minimum, start with increased transparency and oversight on these issues.  

Contact KS legislators to demand Eric’s return to Kansas and an investigation into the Department of Corrections’ abuse of involuntary transfers:

Contact KS legislators to demand Eric’s return to Kansas and an investigation into the Department of Corrections’ abuse of involuntary transfers:

Laura Kelly, candidate for Governor (D): 785-357-5304; laura@laurakelly.org

Boog Highberger, House Correctional Oversight Committee: 785-424-3262; mrboog@att.net

 

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Are You Aware There is a Prison Protest Happening?

There is so much continued repetitious crap in the media right now, regurgitating itself over and over again – about the antics of Donald Trump – that serious issues are being put to the sidelines. Intentional? The ongoing dumbing down of America?

Over 14,000,000 people are arrested each year, often incarcerated for years without ever being charged and found guilty – because they can’t afford bail. The corporations make a fortune off these people from phone  calls and commissary alone. Many of these people provide the constant filling of prison beds. Add to it the reopened, crumbling prisons that had been previously closed, and the tent prisons used to hold the immigrants who needed out help. What did the US do with the people – they were turned over to prison corporations like CoreCivic to use and abuse for more profit. I won’t get into what they did to the kids.

Because of horrible and corrupt prisons where many of the guards are dirty and bring in drugs and other contraband to line their own pockets. It feeds the drug dealers and the gangs inside and puts everyone’s lives at risk. Contrary to popular, ignorant belief – everyone inside is not a hardened criminal. Some are innocent and some want to get their lives on track and lead a better life. Some have families that are left outside scared their loved one will get killed. I have communicated with a lot of inmates. Don’t argue with me until you have done the same. Prison is nowhere close to “Orange is the New Black.” The guards on that show are a joke and the inmates make good comedians.

This month there was a riot inside Lee’s Correctional institute in So Carolina. Seven men brutally died. Part of the reason was because there were very few guards to help put it down. A large percentage were dirty. The men had been left to roam free in the prison. Enough is enough is enough.

http://sawarimi.org/national-prison-strike  This includes the demand list.

There was, at last count, 17 prisons that started a protest for better conditions inside less than a week ago. That protest will go on until Sept 4th. Instead of listing everything this protest is about along with a list of their demands, I will give you the links to read it for yourself. The powers that be are trying viciously to not let info on the protest inside their prisons. I found one inmate yesterday that knew nothing of it. Now he does and he is armed with details. If you know anyone inside, find out if they know and get this information to them so more inmates and their families can stand in solidarity. The men inside are begging us on the outside to support their efforts.

 

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Ghosts In My Head – ITFO Chapter

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A few months ago I posted the music and music video for this chapter. I’m posting it again so you can hear the music with the story.

Only part of the chapter is here. Subscribe to ITFO News below to receive the entire chapter. In the notes section where it asks if you have anyone inside, simply write the word ‘chapter’ and I’ll send it ahead of the next newspaper publication.


 

GHOSTS IN MY HEAD

 

Jamie sat there, mouth open, immediately speechless. What the heck, was he asleep? Was he dreaming? Or maybe someone put mushrooms in his food and he was hallucinating? His food did taste a little funny.
     Scooting back on the mattress until he was sitting flat against the wall, he stared intently at the woman in front of him. He was afraid to say anything for fear it would make her disappear and he didn’t want that to happen. Why she was in his cell? How did she get here? People didn’t go around appearing in someone’s cell out of the blue, did they?
     Was being locked up in this place finally getting to him? He heard some men lost it and went crazy. Sometimes he could hear them screaming all night to be let out. No one ever went into their cell. At least he didn’t think they did.
     Honestly, he was a little scared. He didn’t believed in ghosts, but was this a ghost? That would mean she was dead, right? He didn’t want that. What else could he call it – her, or whatever she was? A spirit maybe?
     He had the cell to himself. He got locked up by himself a couple months ago. It was exactly what he didn’t want, but there was no way around it. If the guards wanted you locked up they made it happen. So there was nobody else in his cell he could ask if they saw her, too. This was weird and he didn’t know what to think.
     They stared at each other for a few seconds waiting for the other to speak. This couldn’t be happening, could it? No one, especially a woman, could get in here unnoticed. She would have to be let in by a guard.
     How many people would they have to go by who could see them? It didn’t make sense. Someone else would have seen her and that meant he should be hearing other dudes going nuts about it.
     Jamie knew he couldn’t be seeing what he was seeing. It wasn’t possible. Did he mentally go off the deep end, straight into crazy? If other dudes saw her and knew there was a woman in here she wouldn’t be safe. They’d riot to get at her. But no one was making a sound or yelling anything at all. It was quiet so he could safely think no one knew.
     If he didn’t know better, he’d swear it was Sonni sitting beside him – smiling at him no less. But she lived in Pennsylvania and he was in Texas. She moved there last year from Key West. How did she get here? Had she ever been inside a prison? He didn’t think so.
     He shook his head and rubbed his eyes trying to make the vision go away. It didn’t work. He hadn’t seen her face to face in a long time, almost six years. It was before he was arrested when she came to Texas to see Morgan and the kids. It was her, though. He was sure of it.
     She had been real good to him. She wrote letters when no one else would and she helped him get things he needed. Most of all she encouraged him and made him feel he could make it through these years. Sometimes just knowing she was out there made him try harder to do the right thing. After all, she was a grandmother to his son. As weird as this was he was really glad to see her.
     “How did you get in here?” he asked at last. “Is it really you, I mean, no tricks or anything?”
     “I’m not sure about tricks,” she laughed. “I don’t know how I got here, but yeah, I think it’s really me.”

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The Death Trap – ITFO Chapter

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Many people have read some or all of the chapters I’ve published for my book “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” This chapter is a game changer. If you don’t read to the end the next chapter will confuse the heck out of you because you won’t know what happened.

I’ve been waiting to get to this part of the rewrite. Did you watch the music video “Ghost in My Head”? You can find it at sonniquick.net. That is title of the next chapter.

You will have to subscribe ( BELOW) to get more than the beginnings of chapters. If I want this book and music to successful it is crucial that I build my mailing list faster than it’s growing. It is the only way to let people know what’s going on who don’t constantly follow my blog. No worry, I do not flood people’s inboxes like some do. I don’t have the time or rudeness.

If you have already subscribed, leave a comment with your name, instead of blog title if that is how you are registered here and I’ll find you on the list. I won’t approve the comment to protect your privacy. Your name won’t be published.

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THE DEATH TRAP

“What’s it like here?” Jamie asked his new cell mate, Ollie.      “Are the guards jerks?”

Taking his small bag over to the locker assigned to him, he squatted down and opened it. There wasn’t much to put inside. They’ll send the bulk of his property later on, maybe in a month or so. Meanwhile, he had no books, pictures or old letters to keep him company.
     “The guards are jerks no matter what prison they send you to,” Ollie finally answered with a pissed off look on his face.”    
     He paused for a few seconds. “They’re worse than some of the men,” he said shaking his head back and forth. “Real lowlifes.”
     “They aggravate the men so they can set up fights to bet on. “They push and push until you get angry and push back.” Ollie looked away, thinking – remembering. “Then they have you.”
     “Watching men beat the crap out of each other is their way of having fun,” he sighed. “Why else would they work in this hellhole?”
     “This place has more deaths from inmates killing each other than any other prison,” he added.
     “They do that to you?” Jamie asked quickly, not sure if he wanted to know the answer. Ollie didn’t say one way or the other.
     He did say, “If someone don’t wanna fight, the other men will make their life miserable . . . for a long time. So you’re better off gettin’ up and takin’ your licks. Your gonna end up fightin’ anyway, whether you want to or not.”
     Ollie stopped and looked over at Jamie. “I hope you know how to fight.” He waited to hear Jamie’s answer.
     “I can take care of myself.” 

TO BE CONTINUED!

 

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The Prison Factory

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The Prison Factory

Click on the title to bring up the video. It will blow your mind. I write continually about conditions in the prisons. Some are worse than others but none of them are places you would want to be. But there are people out there who think inmates have it pretty good. Three meals a day, a roof over their heads and free medical care. People are clambering to get inside and be taken care of – they ignorantly believe. Watch and tell me what you think.

The US state of Alabama has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the world. Its prison system has become so dangerously overcrowded that in 2016, for the first time, the US Justice Department launched a federal civil rights investigation into the entire state’s prison conditions.

If you trace it back to the slave plantation, this is where solitary confinement punishment started. If you tried to run away they would put you in a box. If you talked back to the slave master, they put you in a box. And so it has evolved from a small box to a small cell.

Melvin Ray a.k.a Bennu Hannibal Ra Sun, co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement

Meanwhile, prisoners have been taking matters into their own hands.

In September 2016, inmates at Holman Prison went on strike to protest against what they call cruel and unusual forms of punishment – including labour, for little to no pay.

Inmates used smuggled cellphones to spread the word about the strike, which took hold in about two dozen states.

How did a group of prisoners calling themselves the Free Alabama Movement organise the single largest prison strike in US history?

Fault Lines‘ Josh Rushing travelled to Alabama to find out more about them – discovering two of the group’s leaders are now in solitary confinement. Despite their isolation, through letters and videos they are still finding ways to get their message to the world.

Source: Al Jazeera

 

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The Smith Unit – Prison #1 – ITFO

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Inside The Forbidden Outside

The Smith Unit – Prison #1

Jamie could see the Smith Unit long before they reached it. After the bus drove through the small town of Lamesa he saw it sitting way back off the road on flat, treeless, desert land. Ugly and boring. The prison was a series of large, connected concrete structures sprawled out in different directions. He was definitely a long way from the piney woods of East Texas.
     Guards were in the towers at the corners, watching everything below. He could see big guns sticking out. Jamie wondered if they had ever used them to shoot someone trying to escape.
     High metal fences inside even higher metal fences were topped with multiple rolls of razor wire. No, he decided. He doubted anyone could escape if they tried. The only set of buildings in sight, this monstrosity, was now his new home so he better get used to it.
     Jamie could feel his stomach churning. He was scared and didn’t want to show it. Trying to calm his nerves, he took deep breaths and slowly blew them out. He had never been inside a prison, but he knew it would not be good it he appeared nervous or scared. The men inside would be looking for any weakness they could take advantage of. He was told not to look them in the eye or draw attention to himself. If he looked confrontational he might become a target before he had a chance to figure out what was up from down.
     He saw two huge buildings with two floors of tiny windows. That must be where the prisoner cells were. He could see fields in the distance with people dressed in white, working in the rows of whatever they were growing.
     Men on horseback with dogs walked next to the horses. Jamie frowned. Is this what his life was going to be now? It was hot as blazes outside. Maybe it was better than being kept inside, but he knew when he got overheated it could bring on a seizure. He didn’t think they’d care much about that.
     He had a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. This was a different world, inside a world that most people would never see, or even think of. He was now going to be part of a part of a society that would always be considered outcasts, even when they get out.
There were millions of people locked up in America; more than anywhere in the world.

It was a way of life for people like him, much more than whites, but it was still hard to believe there were so many, of either race who were locked up. They were being hid in plain sight if anyone bothered to look. They were able to provide jobs for people because someone had to look after them.
     This was his new address. He had traded his name for a number. Towns with prisons were only to happy to have it there. Of course, they were far enough away so no one had to look at it. They could pretend it wasn’t there, unless it was putting food on their table.
     Pains were taken to keep people from knowing what really went on inside, no matter how brutal it was. He didn’t really know himself yet how bad it could get. All he heard were stories. He learned a lot from talking to other dudes at the jail who had been locked up before. Would his time be any better?
     Why would anyone care about people who were locked up? They were criminals. They were bad people. It didn’t matter what kind of criminal. Murderer, drug addict or bad check writer, they were all treated the same. He was about to find that out for himself.
     Jamie told himself he didn’t care. He could make it, as long as he had Morgan and the kids, he didn’t need anything else. Just thinking about it made his heart hurt. All he knew, if he had been inside before, he wouldn’t do anything that would send him back here again.
     He was headed into this prison and there was nothing he could do about it. He no longer had any control over his life, or anything in it. He better get used to it because it would be a long time before he got it back.
     Do what you’re told, when you’d told to do it. Eat what you’re given you to eat, no matter how bad it is. Sleep when you’re told. Wake when you’re told, even if it is breakfast in the middle of the night. Shower when you’re told. Crap at the right time, before the toilets automatically flush. Wear the same prison uniform every day. There was no decision he could make on his own for the next seventeen years.
     Jamie knew he had to worry about other inmates as much as he needed to worth about what the guards could do to him. There were different laws inside, enforced with a different set of rules. His rights as a human being were taken way. There was supposed to be prisoner’s rights, that maybe looked good on paper, but enforcing them was another matter. This would be a hard transition.
     He wanted to scream at the driver, “Pull over. Let me off. This is a terrible mistake. I’m not supposed to be here,” but he didn’t. He kept his mouth shut. It would be a bad way to start day one.
     None of the dudes he started with on this ride were still on the bus. One by one they had been dropped at other prisons and new faces came onboard. Five men got off with him at Smith Unit.
     It was hot as hell when Jamie stepped down to the pavement. They were lined up in front of the bus. In spite of the heat, it felt good to stand and stretch his legs. Sitting so long made his knees swell.
     The heat coming through the bottom of his slip-on tennis shoes would probably fry up some bacon and eggs. When Jamie was hungry he tortured himself thinking about the different food he knew he couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have again for a very long time. He really was hungry, though.
     There were no clouds in the sky and the sun beating down was brutal. He wanted to shield his eyes but didn’t want to raise his hand to his face. It might look like an aggressive move. Three guards had walked up to the bus and two of them had a mean looking German Shepard at their side. He was not about to test them.
     The third guard stood in front of them and carried a clip board. The first name called out was “James Cummings?”
     “That’s me,” he answered back.
     “When I speak, you say, yes Sir.” The guard instructed.
     “Yes Sir,” Jamie repeated back.
     He called off the rest names and said, “Follow the yellow line into the building. Stop at the desk on the right for instructions.” The guard backed away and they filed into the building.
     The guard standing at the desk handed each of them a clean set of whites along with a worn, white towel wrapped around a tiny bar of soap. Jamie looked down at it. This was all he had. Everything else was gone. He didn’t know when, or if his property from the jail would be sent to him. He wasn’t counting on it. Others told him sometimes things had a way of getting lost when you were sent someplace.
     They were taken into a room and told to get naked for a strip search. No privacy, of course. If anyone was embarrassed, too bad.
     “Open your mouth,” he was told. “Stick your tongue out, then lift it up and down so I can see under your tongue and the roof of your mouth.”
     “Put your hands behind your head,” while they patted him down and checked behind his ears and arm pits.
     “Lift your balls,” was the next order, and Jamie listened. The guard then turned him around while he put on latex gloves to do a cavity search from behind. It wasn’t his first strip search. He knew there would be many more so he better get used to it.
     The men were then taken to the shower, which was good because he he knew how much he stunk from the bus trip. They were naked as they followed orders to walk down the hall. He felt eyes sizing him up as they walked toward the showers. They entered one big room with a shower nozzle every three feet.
     The mold on the floor and walls made him want to back out of the room before he touched anything. There were a few men already in there, standing under the water, going to town on themselves as if they were in a room by themselves. They didn’t seem to mind an audience.
     He had five minutes to wash. As filthy as he was, it was barely enough time. He would have enjoyed standing there for awhile letting the water pour over his body, but he was no longer allowed to decide how long his shower would be. They shut the water off whether you were done or not.
     When he tried to put on the clothes he was given, he realized they gave him a white shirt and pants that were way too small. Maybe it was done on purpose to see if he would complain. The pants had an elastic waist and drawstring but he could barely stretch the elastic enough to pull them up. He was going to split the seams for sure.
     He was led to the first tier of a cell block in medium security. The cells lined the interior wall. There was a walkway around the second tier with men standing outside their cells, leaning over the railing looking to see who the new guy was. Cat calls and rude comments were shouted down at him. He ignored them. He was put in a cell with another person sitting on the bottom bunk. They didn’t say anything to each other. There was plenty of time for that later.

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After a couple weeks he wondered if he was ever going to get his stuff from the jail. He didn’t know what they did with the clothes and shoes he had on when he was arrested. That stuff didn’t matter so much, but there was also papers he didn’t want to lose.
     Maybe Morgan had them. There was also her letters to him and his pictures. She sent him pictures of herself and the kids and little Jamie’s pictures this first year. She also sent him pictures of his family. Now he had nothing.
     So many times Jamie had laid the pictures out on his bunk and stared at each one, trying to memorize it. His mom and brother came to see him in the beginning and then they stopped. He didn’t understand why.      All he had were their pictures and now they were most likely gone. 
He missed them. He figured it was his fault his mom wouldn’t answer his letters. He gave her a hard time growing up. And the letters?          Morgan’s letters were his lifeline. He reread them so many times. It was like she was talking to him. He didn’t feel lonely when he read them. Now he did. Now he had nothing. A little more of him was chipped away every day.

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Jamie never knew who his dad was, at least not for sure. There was never a man who was active in his life. His mama didn’t talk to him about it. The other kids in the family each had fathers and he was jealous sometimes when they went off to spend the weekend with their other family and he had to stay home.
     He got one letter at the prison from a man who said he was his father. Just one and then he never heard from him again. If he was his father, how come this was the first time he was hearing about it? Did this man write to his mom but never ask about him? Or he did ask about him but his mom never told him. What was the truth?
He told Jamie he just got out of prison. For what? Was he in since he was born? How come his mama didn’t write to tell him now that she gave his address to this man?
     In this letter he asked Jamie to give him a chance to be a dad. He was twenty- five so it was a little late to be a dad. Still, Jamie told him it was okay and asked one thing from him; to give the love to his grandson that he never gave to him.
     Jamie never heard from him again. He gained and lost a father in one letter. That was fast. Was this man really his father? Did it matter at this point? He was over not having a dad. He knew the most important thing now was that his son knew he had a dad.
     His son would grow up knowing his father was in prison. He didn’t like it that and hurt real bad. Jamie knew he wouldn’t be there for all the growing up years. He wouldn’t be able to teach him anything. He couldn’t watch him play sports. He couldn’t help him with school or share holidays. So in a way he was absent just like whoever his own father was.
     Maybe his dad loved him but couldn’t find a way to tell him because he was ashamed to tell him. Not knowing was worse because he thought his dad didn’t love him. But since he will never know the truth, it was too late to wonder what it would be.
     Jamie did know one thing for sure. He loved his son. He wanted the best for him. He wanted him to grow up to be a good man. He had to trust that Morgan would raise him right and keep him safe. When he got out, Jamie would make it up to him as best he could.

 

wh jamie2

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How Much More Can I Take – ITFO Book Chapter

Last Note 2 sm

How Much More Can I Take

Jamie lost track of time. He tried to mark the days by tearing threads out of his blanket, but he no longer knew what a day was. When did it begin and when did it end? It felt like he had been in the hole for a lot longer than he probably was. There was no way to know the time of day. That was intentional, adding to his disorientation by deliberately keeping him off balance. If the system could break him mentally it was an added bonus for them. People who work in a miserable setting enjoyed causing misery to others.
     The grunge on the tiny window high up on the wall only let greasy light through. It was worse than the times he spent in solitary when he was in juvenile detention, and that was hard to deal with. He didn’t know how to process what they did to him. If adults can’t wrap their head around that kind of deprivation, how could a kid?     

Those memories and the scars it created were carved images in his head he could never forget. This time he felt like there was no hope, like everything good in his life was gone and he was never getting out. He wanted to crawl inside himself. The feeling of despair was complete.
     The only thing that broke up his day was when they brought food. Most of it was the same, and too awful to eat. He didn’t eat. He didn’t know if he was being served breakfast or dinner and doubted it was being given to him at normal eating hours. No one answered his questions or told him what time it was. He gave up asking.
     Jamie laid there. He knew he lost weight and he also knew he stank pretty bad. Showers were out of the question. He wasn’t sure which smelled worse, him or the room itself.
     One day it was over. Just like that. He had no idea they were going to let him out. He heard the lock turn in the door and it opened. They said his time was done. The guard threw clean clothes at him and he was taken to the shower. Afterward he was taken to a dorm similar to the one he was in before, but smaller. A bunk was pointed out. He guessed he wouldn’t be beating up anyone else after this.

<<< >>>

A few months later, a guard came to the cell door and called out his name. His son has been born on July 7th, 2006, at 4:20 A.M. Finally, his son was here and he was okay. He was relieved.
     He knew it was going to be a boy and that his name would be James. Jamie might be in a bad place right now being locked up, but the day he found out his son was born felt like the happiest day he ever had in his entire life. He was beaming.  He was a father! That caused a smile to spread over his entire face. Jamie laughed. He couldn’t help himself. His cheeks hurt from grinning so big.
     Morgan had sent him one of those pictures they take at doctor appointments of the baby when it’s still inside. Jamie knew his son would be beautiful, because Morgan was beautiful. She also sent him a picture with her big tummy. Sometimes he took out the picture and stroked the growing mound with his finger, wishing he could feel the baby move and stretch. It made him realize how much he was missing.
     He might not be able to be the kind of father he wanted to be, but he would do his best. He tried not to think about that. Not today. He was going to be happy on this day.
Little Jamie was planned to be born on July 7th. Morgan and her mom drove to Miami the day before and got a hotel room because they had to be at the hospital early in the morning. After taking her to a room on the labor and delivery floor, one of the nurses gave her a medicine to start the labor. The medicine didn’t work. More than twelve hours later Jamie Jr. showed no sign of being born.
     The hospital where the doctor worked was a four hour drive from Key West. Morgan didn’t want to go into labor and not be able to make it to her doctor. If she had the baby in the Key West hospital she would get the doctor on call. Someone she didn’t know. She had problems with the delivery of her last baby. If there were more problems with this one they would fly her by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital, which wasn’t the right hospital, either.
     Jamie didn’t realize how tense he was about the upcoming birth until it was over and he was able to relax. Not knowing what was happening and being out of the loop was the hardest to deal with.
     A lot of the dudes in his dorm were grinning and quite a few congratulations were going around. Even a couple of the guards congratulated him. That surprised him. He guessed hearing about a new baby allowed them to act human for a change.
     Jamie told everyone. This day would never come again and he wanted to make the most of it. It was the first time in more than seven months he had something, anything, to be happy about. Good things didn’t happen very often when you were locked up. Any reason you had to smile was a big deal, even if that reason belonged to someone else.
     He thought about his family. He missed them. He couldn’t share this with them. He was gone for four years when he was in juvenile detention and he did those years alone. He hadn’t been free for long before this happened. They weren’t there for him then, either. He didn’t feel like he was a part of his family for a long, but he still missed them. He wanted them to miss him, too. He felt like an outsider. Nobody told him nothing about what was going on in their lives.
     He needed his family to help him get hygiene and stamps and other things because he was not able to get any kind of job to make money. They don’t have jobs at jails. Not ones that pay you. All you do is wait, sometimes for years. But maybe when he gets sent off and settled they’ll give him a job.
     Jamie didn’t care what the job was, he didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. Even if it only paid twenty- two cents as hour, like he heard many jobs in prison did, it would still add up to dollars he could spend.

<<<  >>>

Some dudes had problems with their baby mamas and couldn’t see their kids. Jamie was glad it wasn’t like that with him and Morgan. She would never keep Jamie Jr. from him. He didn’t have to worry about that.
     Since he was let out of solitary and back in a dorm he was able to make a phone call to Morgan. She told him all about their baby. He stood there, still grinning, listening to all the details. He wasn’t happy, though, hearing how hard it was for her in the delivery room.
     “It wasn’t easy, Jamie.” Morgan told him quietly. “I had to have a c-section at the last minute. The doctor found the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times. They didn’t know that until they tried to take him out. That’s why he wouldn’t go down the birth canal. His vitals were dropping. The doctor had never seen a cord wrapped around a neck like that. Without surgery he would have died. He was lucky. We were all lucky”
     Morgan sounded tired. He wished he could’ve been there with her. She must have been scared. Healing from surgery, taking care of a newborn by herself, as well as the other kids, would wear her out. He was glad she was with her mom so she could help her. Now more than ever he realized how much he screwed up by going out that night.
     “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you,” he spoke quietly. Jamie’s regrets would become a pain that never healed.
     “More than anything,” he said, “I wish I could be there with you right now. Hold you in my arms with little Jamie between us. I want to protect both of you, and I can’t.” The anguish in his voice made his throat tighten.
     A fifteen minute jail call goes by too fast. There was never enough time to say all you wanted to say. The sadness in his heart after he hung up overshadowed the happiness he felt when he dialed her number.
     Reality hit hard. He didn’t want to think he wouldn’t be able to raise his son. He would miss every first – first laugh, first step, first tooth, first birthday, second birthday and more after that. He would miss it all. And little Jamie would miss having a daddy.

<<< >>>

He found out he was finally being moved. They couldn’t have sent him any farther away from home. Was it on purpose? There were a hundred prisons they could have sent him to. They had to choose one that was clear across the state where no one could visit if they wanted to? East Texas, where he was from, was had hills, pine trees and red dirt. West Texas was flat, a desert.
     There was no way now his family could come and see him. They had the perfect excuse. Making the drive in one day was impossible, especially with kids in the car. It looked like he was on his own for sure.
     Texas was a huge state to travel across. He had never been any farther west than Huntsville. Now he was being to sent to Smith Unit in Lamesa. By car it took about eighteen hours. By prison bus it would probably take four days. They wouldn’t take a direct route. They’d zigzagged to different prisons, picking up inmates and dropping others off. It would be a trip through hell.

It was summer and scorching hot. Even though there was air conditioning on the bus, it wasn’t strong enough to keep it cool from the heat of the sun scorching the metal of the bus. Having so many unwashed bodies inside that stank didn’t help, either.
     Through the entire trip across the state, Jamie wore the same white shirt and baggy elastic waist pants he put on the day they loaded up the men who were being transferred. He wouldn’t be able to take another shower until after he was processed when the bus arrived at the prison. No one cared if the inmates missed a shower, and no one cared how they felt about riding on the uncomfortable metal seats on the bus. Suffering was part of their sentence. They deserved it, right?
     After all the red tape was taken care of and he was assigned to a cell block, he should be able to make a phone call to Morgan and see how she and little Jamie were doing. He didn’t know then it would be weeks before he was allowed to make that call.
     Prison was going to be a lot different than jail. Jamie didn’t know how different, but he was going to do his best to do it right so maybe he could get out early. He also hoped maybe after awhile he could request to be moved closer to his family. If Morgan moved back to Texas he would do that for sure.
     Seated on the bus, the inmates were separated from the guard and driver up front. There was another guard and a dog in the back to keep them in line if needed. The guard had to deal with the stink right along with them.
     Guards and drivers changed a few times when they stopped at prisons along the way, exchanging some prisoners for others. The guards got to walk around and stretch their legs. The prisoners weren’t so lucky.
     The men had to sit silently and wait for the driver of the bus to start the engine again. He wasn’t allowed to let the engine idle if the guards weren’t onboard. They were standing outside having a smoke. The AC wouldn’t go on again until the engine kicked over. Jamie felt sweat drip down the side of his face. It was going to be a long, uncomfortable ride.
     The seats on the bus were hard like a city bus, not a Greyhound bus. There was no padding anywhere. The seats didn’t go back to make it possible to sleep or even relax. They were straight up and only came as high as his shoulder blades. There was no way he was getting comfortable. No way to sleep without dropping his chin to his chest. Because he was a big guy he couldn’t move his arms. either. The bus was made to make sure the men would be miserable.
     It was impossible for Jamie to stretch out his legs, so circulation was cut off at the knee. He couldn’t even cross a leg over his knee to get in a different position, and relieve one foot from hanging straight down. He knew his ankles and feet would swell. The heat made it worse.
     The guards were never amused by complaining. It was pointless, anyway. There was nothing they could do. He knew it was going to get worse the farther west they drove, when it became a drier heat. It sucked all the moisture out of his mouth and throat. He felt dehydrated and craved water. They weren’t given enough water. Less bathroom breaks that way, he guessed. But if anyone asked for water they just might make them wait even longer. Anything to make them feel worse.
     It was impossible to do more than doze off for a few minutes of light sleep. The whirring sound of the tires, as they turned on a road that was hot enough to melt rubber, was enough to lull the men into a stupor. Problem was, if they started falling to one side, the person next to them would give them a shove with their shoulder to tell them to straighten up.
     Jamie was cuffed to the man beside him. “I gotta piss.” The man nudged him. “We gotta get up,” he said almost in a whisper. This wasn’t their first trip to the toilet.
     “Guard, we need to go to the back of the bus,” he said loudly over his shoulder.
     If one man needed to use the john, they both had to go. Peeing was one thing, but it wasn’t much fun if you needed to sit and take a shit. No matter how hard they tried not to, sooner or later they all had to take a turn sitting on the seat.
     The guard came and unlocked them from the bus seat, but not from each other. It was hard for two connected people to do anything that took co-ordination.
     The guard returned to the back of the bus and stood near the door-less restroom. There was no privacy. Jamie and this other prisoner made their way to the back by walking sideways past the seats. When the other inmate stood inside the small closet-sized restroom, Jamie stood outside the doorway, and looked away, with his arm inside attached wrist to wrist down near this dudes privates. He was trying to give him a little privacy. He didn’t want to picture his wrist and hand participating with this stranger relieving himself.
     “Damn, it stinks in here.” Jamie muttered under his breath, trying not to cough as the dude finished up. Since they were all cuffed no one could easily clean up after themselves. There was pee on the floor, and anywhere else it splashed. The toilet seat was kept up out of respect for those who needed to sit, but it was still a mess. Forget washing your hands. How could you? After a couple days the smell was overwhelming. All they did was spray Lysol around the cubicle. Mixing with it was the heavy odor of a port-a-potty type toilet, along with body odor, making it hard to breathe. The men sitting in the back had it the roughest.
     Jamie desperately wanted to wash up. Splash water on his face and neck. Put on deodorant to mask his smell. He wished he had his property. That was supposed to arrive in a later bus, he was told, so no one else had any deodorant, either.

The only good thing about traveling on this bus was being able to see outside. There wasn’t much to look at but he could still see the horizon pass by. He supposed some people liked living in the West Texas desert but it sure looked boring to him.
     It was almost exciting to see a billboard and read the advertisement of some business trying to sell something. Insurance, an attorney office or a number to call if you feel suicidal. But there was also a high point knowing you were outside the walls and you could watch the day go from morning to night.
     Once he got to the Smith Unit he would be on the inside, and the outside became forbidden territory. The free world. A place he wouldn’t be able to live in again for a long time.
     “Hey, you got any family?” Jamie whispered to the dude next to him.
     “Shut up. No talking,” came from somewhere behind him.
     After a minute or so he heard a whisper, “Two girls. Three and five. You?”
     “Baby boy,” he whispered back. He glanced to the right and saw him nod. “Sorry, man.” He knew Jamie would miss the time of his baby being a baby.

     It felt to Jamie as though they were never going to get to the other side of Texas. It felt like an old Twilight Zone TV show where a scene was supposed to be real life, but you found out at the end it wasn’t. You never got to where you were going. The bus kept traveling down the highway. It didn’t get anymore unreal than that.

wh jamie2

Waiting Months to See a Dentist

Medical Treatment behind bars

Waiting months to see a dentist is not unusual. knowing you are crying in pain doesn’t phase them. Prison staff should be locked up to find out how that feels.

This is a repost from three years ago.  I have written recently about what is going on with Jamie medically and how I am trying to get a Power of Attorney to have something legally I can use to get his medical records. This is a common problem I have heard about with many inmates. If the medical corporations don’t treat the inmates it means more profit.

<<< >>>

(Sonni’s Note: Solitary confinement is nowhere anyone wants to be.  You have to find a way to cope with real life issues pertaining to where you are, and normal issues liked a bad tooth and you have no one on your side.  No one cares.  It makes you angry. Pain makes you angry. It makes you depressed.  You miss your family and you know they are going on without you.  Where do you put all of that bottle up emotion?  It’s hard to keep it together.  People are kept in solitary, AdSeg, G-5 far more than what they should.  It’s place to put them to cage them, so they only have to do the minimal to take care of them.  Yes, I know there are bad people in Prison, but there are good people there as well and there is nothing to differentiate between the two and the are all treated badly.)

Dear Sonni,

There are things I want my son to understand. I wrote to Megan about it. I want her to drive it into little Jamie’s head. I want Megan to tell him that I never meant for this to happen. I don’t want him to ends up here like me. I hope she tells him often. I told her it would be hard for me to get through to him by her reading him my letters. Don’t get me wrong, my letters are a good thing and they won’t stop. However, I told Megan when the time is right I need to see Jamie. I want to see him. He’s at an age where he understands. He and I need to meet face to face again. It’s been over three years now since I’ve seen him. That’s a good long stretch. (Sonni’s note: It ended up being five years before he saw him again)

I sent a letter to Megan to give to my mom. I don’t have an address for her. She moves around a lot. I asked her a lot of questions. I told her that no one is writing to me but you. I’m not trying to make her angry. Just something to think about. I’m trying to see if I can get some help from her. And I asked about my family. I also told her I was sorry I made things hard on her in the past. And I told her how I was doing right now, which was not too good.

I’m waiting to have surgery on my wisdom tooth. It’s infected and it’s hurting really bad. It gives me headaches and everything. I’ve been waiting two months now. They keep pushing my appointment back. They don’t care. They want me to go off. I tell then about the pain every day.

It’s been crazy in here the past few weeks. Well, it’s crazy every day but I try not to pay attention to it. I do my best to take my days one at a time. They got me on anti depression medication because they say something is wrong with me. I don’t take it ’cause nothing is wrong with me. I go on hunger strikes off and on. The longest I’ve stayed on is a week and a half. I just have those kinds of days. I don’t want to do this or that. It causes trouble sometimes. Oh well, I I just have that I don’t care feeling at times.

Me and everyone else have been getting into it with the officers. We’ve been without hot water for over a month. We’re also back on lockdown for 30 days. Once again only peanut butter. I guess it’s part of the punishment that we, as humans, get treated in situations like this.

Then, on top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot – on purpose. That’s the thing they open when they give us our food. He cut it open. A really deep cut. I made them take me to medial where they took a picture of it. I had to get an x-ray a few days later because it wouldn’t close. He told the sergeant he did it but that it was an accident. He said he didn’t mean to do it and he didn’t see my fingers. He lied. It wasn’t the first time he had tried to do that. I told him I wanted to talk to the lieutenant. This guy is the kind of dude that doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. But the Lt. told me to tell them to call him about moving me to another cell because also, the cell I’m in leaks water from the shower. One night I fell getting up to use the rest room. I hurt my ankle and had to go to Medical.

They’re trying to hurt me. I know they are. The cell I’m also leaks bad when it rains and they know it because an officer told me the dude who was in here before got moved because of it. The want me to fall their trap but I won’t. I’m writing up this officer who hurt me because I feel he is a threat to me. I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out I’m writing his a** up. To go through this whole process will take 60-120 days. Long huh ?

<<< >>>

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

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

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover

 

 

 

Wanna Trade Thanksgiving With Me?

HOLD.N.FF.JAILFOODWanna Trade Thanksgiving Dinner With Me?

Sonni, 

I got everything you sent to me. Thank you very much. I love those summer sausages and turkey bites you sent. Those were good. You asked me about the special diet I was on. It’s a low salt diet. It is another way they are messing with me by not bringing the right food. There are certain things we are allowed to request, like Jewish people asking for a kosher diet or diabetics requesting low sugar. It doesn’t mean they will do it.

There is too much salt in the regular diet of prison food and the salt will swell my legs and feet up. You may not believe me but I rinse a lot of my food off with water. Crazy, huh? The food I get on the special diet is baked. Everything. There is no getting around being fed pork unless I requested pork-free. Then they will give me two slices of cheese, a spoon of shredded cheese or a spoon of peanut butter. The main course will be beans – all the time.

Happy Thanksgiving. It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is out and the sky is filled with puffy white clouds. It’s a beautiful day all the way around. I want to fill you in on how Thanksgiving was. Well, as far as the food anyway. For starters we get the same thing every year. We are given two trays for the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. We get chicken or BBQ on MLK Day and Spanish food on May 5th.

Anyway, Thanksgiving we get a hot tray and and cold tray. On the hot tray there was a ham roll, dressing with brown gravy, sweet potato, green beans and two cheese biscuits. On the cold tray was four different kinds of dessert – two oatmeal cookies, pumpkin pie, carrot cake and what they call a peach empanada. Then there was something that was supposed to be coleslaw, but it was nowhere near it. Pickles and jalapeno pepper slices. They usually give olives and onions but not this year. Last but not least was the coldest, driest piece of sliced turkey I ever ate – or tried to eat. I ate half. I was scared to eat the other half. It was BLACK. It had a piece of sliced cheese over it, I guess to hide it. I pulled the cheese off and cut around it.

Tell me about your Thanksgiving. What was cooked? You said Mike does the cooking for this meal so you can just relax and be waited on. You deserve it. I know you stress yourself with everything you are doing. Have patience. Everything takes time. I know it seemed like we got a lot of food, but getting enough to eat only a couple times a year doesn’t make up for the rest of the meals. Even though it is supposed to be a hot tray and a cold tray, everything is cold. Those that can go to chow get hot food. When they let me out of adseg hopefully in March I will be able to go to chow for my meals.

Thank you for the food box and money you sent through Texas Eccom. It’s good to have something different to eat that tastes good, especially when the food is really bad. I’m lucky. I love you for that. You didn’t cut out on me in all these years ago like my family did. So many men don’t have anyone, especially those who have been here a long time.
I better get this ready to send because they will be picking up soon.

Love, Jamie

 

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 SUBSCRIBE

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

My personal music website  – sonniquick.net

Sonni’s Pinterest

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

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London

Soundcloud – album – Stories without Words

It will soon be listed at CDbaby, itunes, spotify, amazon and others

album cover