Life in Chapters: A life in and out of prison – The Round Table

Source: Life in Chapters: A life in and out of prison – The Round Table  

 

Talib-trailer-1170x780-1

Author’s Note: Some of the information in this article could not be independently verified

Life has never been easy for 62-year-old Talib Akbar. Born in Mississippi (town unspecified), he was the youngest child in a family on the run from an abusive stepfather. They made their way to Arkansas, where he would spend most of his teen years. This is also where Akbar would do his first prison stint. Akbar did not specify what his crimes here were, but he did state they were non-violent crimes. He also claims to have done another stint in Iowa, also non-violent.

It was in 1986 that he first moved to Wisconsin. He and a friend moved to Green Bay to start a boxing club. His friend ended up gaining some traction and competing at a higher level, while Akbar stayed back to run the club. But for Akbar, it was in Wisconsin where his life would be permanently changed.

Nine years later, in 1995, Akbar was convicted of two counts of second-degree sexual assault, after a patient at the facility he was working at reported him. His trial was peculiar to say the least. He said he knew the moment he lost. “My attorney told me, ‘They want you,’” he said. His attorney subsequently quit.

After his attorney left him, he was forced to represent himself. Akbar said the jury would not allow him to present evidence that could have potentially exonerated him. Akbar would then be convicted of two counts of sexual assault. He was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 10 years.

“I’ve never been a violent man my entire life,” said Akbar. “You ask anyone who knows me, I’m innocent of this crime.” While Akbar maintains his innocence, he also tries to maintain a positive attitude towards life. “That was just a chapter of my life,” he said. Akbar does not want to focus on what happened to land him in jail, so he has diverted his attention to prison reform. He says the horrors he has seen behind bars were enough to chill anyone to the bone.

Since being released, his life has focused on prison reform. He recalled a memory from part of his time done in Kettle Moraine, a town in southeastern Wisconsin, is also home to a prison facility. He remembered it was February, and another inmate was having convulsions. Having been trained in CPR, he tried to help. According to Akbar, he was then ordered back to his cell by a correctional officer, where he watched his fellow inmate die on the floor of the jail. “His name was Gilman, he was getting out in April,” explained Akbar. He claimed that once the officers arrived, it took them nearly half an hour to call the medical professionals.

While in prison, Akbar was subject to abuse himself. He claims that, while once being taken to the infirmary for an illness, the correctional officer groped him non-consensually. Akbar has also done multiple stints in solitary confinement, which has become the centerpiece of his activism. While in solitary confinement, he sketched the makeup of his cell; a group in Madison built the cell based on his sketch and has been touring around the state trying to expose the corruption within the Wisconsin correctional system, which made a stop at Beloit College in the fall of 2015. He says the corruption extends to much higher levels. He said some of the guards would often distribute the wrong medication to inmates. Whether or not the guards purposefully and maliciously distributed the wrong medication, or it was just negligence, Akbar stated that it needs to be changed.

While he was behind bars, he decided to put his time to good use. He has since become a paralegal, giving him a far better understanding of the legal system. Akbar hopes to use these skills to truly expose corruption in the system. In 1999, he tried to amend his sentence because he claimed that his sentence was extended without his knowledge. His sentence was changed from concurrent to consecutive without notifying him. His motion was denied, claiming the error did not lengthen his sentence and was a simple clerical error.

He also claims that the detective who investigated his case (name not given) had already decided his guilt, and overlooked evidence that could have potentially freed him. He had another friend who was investigated by the same detective during an appeal to be let out on parole. One of the last things his friend ever said to him was “I can’t go back to jail.” After an investigation by this detective, his friend committed suicide.

Akbar’s time in prison was, in his words, just a chapter of his life. He has many years ahead of him, during which he hopes to take time to continue to inform people about prison reform, to tell his stories and to enlighten people as to what’s really going on behind bars. “When you walk into prison, you lost control of all facets [of] life,” he says. That’s something he wants to change.

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Right and Wrong Has Different Rules For Prison Guards

This is a repost from 2014. Nothing has changed. There is a different set of rules between right and wrong than there is in the free world.

prison guard

My focus has been the injustice that has been shown to Jamie, and to all other prisoners as well. It’s about the injustice shown when he was a teenager, locked up for nine months that became 4 years.  They finally had to let him go because he turned 21 and they couldn’t hold him any longer. It is also about the injustice shown him when he was picked up for the charge of ‘aggravated assault’ because he was with someone who decided to use his gun to rob a place and he tried to run away, and the injustice of never having any justice at all because his woefully inadequate public defender, who is in the pocket of the district attorney knew it was his job to scare him to death so he would take a plea of 17 years insteadof going to court and possibly getting up to 99 years. What would you do if you were faced with that? You’d probably take the plea, too.

The years spent in solitary confinement, being treated as a subhuman being not deserving of human rights, is now hoping against hope that nothing will stop him from being allowed to make his very first phone call to his son since the day he was born. That is a lot of injustices, isn’t it? That has been my focus of this post.

There is another side of the story. The prison system is genuinely, very corrupt, filled with people and corporations looking to make a buck any way they can, even if it means hurting people. The security guards are to blame for the inhumane way they treat inmates. They are allowed to do this. The prison officers look the other way. The prison industrial complex sets the tone for this while taking advantage of prisoners. The security guards aren’t the ones who line the pockets of the government agencies and politicians so that the vote goes for the corporations and against the people. Corporations have been getting their way for a long time and there hasn’t been a whole lot anyone has been able to do to stop it. Money goes a long way in keeping information about their abuses from getting into the wrong hands and used against them, but even if it does and they have to pay off the lawsuits, they still made more money off the backs of the people than what it costs them to pay up, so I guess it’s worth it to them.

I could go into a long tirade against the corporations that cheat the inmates by not providing the care they so proudly proclaim they do on their websites, cheat the government and cheat people out of years of their lives all for the sake of a buck, but that isn’t my focus today. I want to focus on the prison guard himself. What kind of man or woman becomes a prison guard and what kind of nature does a person have to have that allows him to justify his actions and tell himself that what he/she is doing is ok? The prison says it’s ok if they torture inmates, so why not? But how do they live with themselves when they have participated in inhumane treatment of human beings? How can they do it and go home to their friends and family and tell them about their day? Who were they when they started and who did they become? Was that nature there all along and all it needed was a shove in the right direction? But still. I know that not everyone who works in a prison is like this. There have to be some good people who work there, too.

There are some careers where you have to turn off your emotions. If you are affected by the environment you work in, it could take you into a very dark place. If you got too involved, how could you turn it off at the end of the day? Is being a prison guard a role you play that gets put into the locker at the end of the day the way an exotic dancer puts her costumes in her suitcase and walks out the door at the end of a shift?

Is a prison guard always a prison guard? When does it become an identity instead of a job? Another profession that abuses the right to hurt people are the very people who are supposed to protect and serve the people of our communities. We know who they are. We read the news. We watch it on TV. We aren’t surprised any more when we hear of one more case where the bounds of the law were stepped over and another person was needlessly taken advantage of, hurt or killed. We would be shocked if it all stopped and the law was actually used to help us instead of control us. The days of Andy of Mayberry are long over.

The government has insisted that we don’t torture inmates.  How can they say that and who believes them? On Nov. 12 and 13, the practice of holding incarcerated people in prolonged isolation will come under international scrutiny when the U.S. government goes before the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva.

http://solitarywatch.com/2014/10/14/u-s-government-tells-un-committee-on-torture-there-is-no-systematic-use-of-solitary-confinement-in-the-united-states/

It’s part of a periodic review to assess if this country has been compliant concerning the guidelines of the Convention Against Torture and the first U.S. review under Obama’s administration. I think we know the answer to that. But I think anything said will just be lip service and they will continue to do things exactly the way they have been doing it.

But I’m getting off the subject. I want to find out who the people are who actually enforce the rules of behavior that says it’s ok to treat people so badly that they sometimes die from the abuse. What kind of prison guard can stand by and watch that happen? Apparently quite a few.

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So How Did You Think They Had Sex In Prison?

Inside The Forbidden Outside, writing new book, JamieCummings,solitary confinement, prison industrial complex, Sonni Quick
We can dream great dreams. “Inside The Forbidden Outside”

 

Before I print Jamie’s letter I want to give you a new piece of music I recorded called “Finding Me again” which you will see here on Sound Cloud.  Beneath it is another new piece called “Graduation Day” and is up there as one of my favorites, with the mixing of highs and lows of emotion.  I hope to include a disc of some of the music I have written on the inside of the back of the book when it’s done.  Please fill out the form at the bottom to be included on the mailing list.

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I have been writing for the book like you asked me to. I started where it began ten years ago, when I was at the county jail in 2006. I tried to explain about each prison I’ve been to and some of what I did in each place. I’ll send it soon.  Right now I’m writing about the Smith Unit. I’m writing more about this unit because this is where most of my troubles started.

I’m missing not having my photos. I had a lot. Ones from when Jamie was born and everything you and Megan sent, but I also had family photos my cousin sent here and there. I got the first box of  books you ordered while I was still in Wynne unit, but I didn’t get the rest of my property. I never did hear from my family for my birthday. I really don’t much care, either. You asked me what it was like growing up. I never had a birthday party but I had a cake here and there. Nothing special. Just another day to me.

I know this is a difficult subject to talk about. Thank you for understanding. Being a man who has gone a long period of time without a woman is hard on any man unless he desires another man. I will never do that. Disease in prison is everywhere.  No way would I have sex even with a female guard. If she has sex with dudes in here a lot of them have sex with men and they could be infected. So I practice safe sex with myself. What we have here is a lot of people who aren’t supposed to want sex. If they are caught, even taking care of their own needs they are punished, which is what they did to me. We have no privacy. If we put up a sheet if  our cell has bars they rip it down.  On the other hand, officers force themselves on weaker dudes. It is all about power. Maybe the officers weren’t like this before. Maybe working in this hell turned them to be like this or it brought something out in them. I guess its the same or worse with the females. I bet they have a really hard time.

sheets

In this new unit I am learning to keep my mouth shut and not draw attention to myself. Anyway, they don’t mess with me for sex. I haven’t been here long enough to know if it is any different. Believe it or not a lot of the officers like it better with same sex couples because then they feel they can make them give them up information about things. However, if they don’t it give up, they are blackmailed. They do the same thing to others with some changes. They feed them to the sharks by saying things that puts them in danger with other inmates if they don’t tell them what they know. They turn dudes against each other.

Thank you mom, for being there for me. You are a very loving and caring. Your encouragement keeps me focused so I can learn not to lose it. I love you for this. It’s what I really need to stay on my toes and in the right frame of mind. There are lots of times I get very depressed, really. I just try to block it out. I will seek help for this. Right now you are all I have. Families are hard to understand. I don’t think I can understand why mine doesn’t think I need them.  I guess it’s because we think we know them when we really don’t. How can you and I think we know them? We both have families who don’t care about what happens to us but there is nothing we can do about it. But I have spent enough time thinking about this. I have to work on myself. I get so angry sometimes. But I have a right to get angry don’t I? Am I not supposed to let this make me angry because my family is never there for me? Should I not get angry because I can’t see, ever, my only son, my flesh and blood? It hurts me so much I sit here and cry. It builds up in me and I want to explode. It is a punishment that is hard to bear. But it is my karma, right? I don’t know what I did but it is up to me to change me. It’s inside me. My lesson to learn. I want to be happy. You have not seen me snap. My anger takes control. But this is something I am personally working on.

The thing I want most in my life I am denied – my son. I have missed so much of his life. Even though this unit is closer to him I am still going to miss being part of his life, but I guess that’s family for you. Why do I deserve the punishment of not being able to see my son? Am I such a bad person that my love for my son doesn’t matter? I think about how my son feels. Does it hurt him to not be able to see me? It must make him feel bad too. Won’t this hurt him as he grows up? This punishment is for both of us. When I think about it I look at it as Megan don’t want Jamie to think it is good to see my son in a way. I look at it like that but I feel something else.

I’m more focused than I have ever been. So far everything in here is going well with me. I stay to myself and read. I work out here and here and get the rest I need. I chant and focus on what I need to do. As for respect, I give it and don’t look for it back. I don’t really talk to the officers believe it or not. I know these officers hold grudges – bad. Anyone who gets on their bad side, let’s just say, they won’t eat during the four days the officers are working. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and they get away with it. So with that said, I don’t say nothing to them but thank you when they bring me my food, or yes and no if I want to go to the shower or go to rec. Other than that, I might speak to my neighbor here and there. No, this is a different one, not the crazy one I had before. I was moved. I’m a level 2 now. I have to do 60 days more to get level one. So about March if I don’t get any major cases.

I want to say thank you to the people who wrote to me. I don’t have any addresses to write back because I don’t have my property. Tell everyone hi for me. It was really good to hear from them. It helps me a lot. More than they know.

I love you, Love always, Jamie.

Chapter List: “Inside The Forbidden Outside”
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story
The Nightmare

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In The Beginning I thought He was Safe in The Hole – Part 2

prison guard brutality
source credit:
a.w.i.p.com

PART TWO

by Sonni Quick

Still, in the beginning at least, I thought he was safe there. But he wasn’t, and the treatment this time in G5 is a lot worse than it was before. Either that or he just didn’t tell me everything so I wouldn’t worry. This is torture. This violent abuse. You get treated in ways no human being should ever treat another human being. When your captors get away with grinding your face into the floor, jamming you headfirst into a wall and split your head open, jump on you and beat you while your hands are cuffed behind your back, you know you have no place where it is safe. These are prison guard brutality is real yet there is no punishment. Why this kind of behavior is not only allowed, but also condoned, makes me very angry. It makes me feel helpless because I know there is nothing I can do to help him. Why is this allowed!?

Some of the guards exhibit worse, insanely criminal minds than many of the inmates, yet they are allowed to leave the building at the end of their shifts and go home. To their wives? To their girlfriends? Do they tell them the brutal things they did to other human beings while they work? Can they go home and say, “Hi, honey I’m home”, and then go outside and play with their kids? Or are their own heads so screwed up by the violence they perpetrate that they instead end up in a bar trying to drink their memories away? Because I know, from some of things I’ve read, only someone who is psychotic would enjoy the things they do to inmates, when the inmates can’t do anything about it.They say they are breaking prison rules. They will get ganged up on by five guys at a time, in armor, who’s sole purpose is to spray them with gas, rip them apart and make sure they are way beyond hurt. Prison politics have their own set of rules that have nothing to do with what is considered breaking the law in the land of the free.

Jamie has worked his way up the levels to reach certain benefits more than once. It never lasts for long. Jamie has a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. He expects if someone makes him a promise to do something they should be accountable to that promise. When that doesn’t happen he gets angry and lets them they are wrong. The more he insists on trying to right that wrong the harder he gets punished. What does that teach him? How is he to learn to trust someone when they use the words, “I promise” yet that promise means nothing? He is constantly judged to be right or wrong so expects other people to behave accordingly, especially when the words, “I promise” are being used. Even through these situations he is expected to remain calm and not get angry? Because if he does get angry it is the excuse to make him feel  more pain and suffering.

Next up the ladder is level G4. On this level you get to leave your cell to go to chow and you get a little time in rec to watch TV. It isn’t much, but it is better than having your food put through a slot in the door. You don’t have to eat so many meals of biscuits and peanut butter, or two pancakes and peanut butter. When you can go to chow the food is at least a little better. Not by much, most of it still look like slop, but you can get a hot meal and there is more food.

I don’t think there is G3, at least not that I’ve heard of. When you make it to G2 you are allowed to make phone calls and you can have contact visits sitting at a table

prison jobs, prison janitor
photo source:
photgraphersdirect.com

instead of sitting behind glass talking on a phone. You can also get a job, perhaps in the laundry or as a janitor to clean the showers. Prison labor is very important to the profit margin of the corporations that own the prison. There is no pay in Texas, but at least you get out of your cell and do something productive, something physical that makes you tired enough to go to sleep at night. Jamie has only made it to G2 once in the years we’ve been writing, and that lasted only a few weeks. He could call me for twenty very short minutes. I was the only person to register my phone. Being able to make phone calls in prison is their lifeline.  Taking that away breaks their ties with their family and they may not get that back.  No one else. No family. I honestly don’t understand how family can just pretend you don’t exist, but it seems to happen frequently to inmates.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I think they will throw him a party when he gets out and then go back to their separate corners and let him figure out what to do next with no help from them.  There is no help now so why would that change later?

It doesn’t take much to get knocked back down to G5 again, A guard can file a case on you for anything they want, real or imagined. Another guard will always verify it is true. It snowballs from there. Inmates aren’t always allowed in the prison courtroom (UCC) when their fate is decided. The guard who filed the case doesn’t even have to be there. Another guard can stand in for him and swear it is true. Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong. It doesn’t matter what the issue is.

When Jamie reached G2 he applied to take a course to study for his GED and also to learn a trade. He wasn’t at that level long enough for it to take place. He has been in prison for nearly ten years and he has never been at a level to complete one program that would show the parole board in October of 2016, they should let him out. Without that they will most likely turn him down because without even a GED, and with at least that he has no chance of getting any kind of job anywhere. I understand that, but if they don’t allow him take any classes doesn’t that seem pretty deliberate? He’s not a hardened criminal. He wasn’t a gang member. He had no other convictions on his record. He was guilty of being black more than anything – and not being able to afford a real attorney. Is he guiltless? No. Does he deserve what they have done to him? Again, no.

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In The Beginning I thought He was Safe in The Hole – Part One

world map of inmates

We have more people locked up in America than any other country in the world,  The US is in purple which means we lock up over 600 people per one hundred thousand people. This map is a few years old. It is actually closer to 700 now. That might no even seem like a lot.  We have states were there a lower percentage, and then there are states that have towns where half the residents are either locked up now or they have been locked up. There is a reason for that.  Many people are now only beginning to see what is going on.  It’s now no longer hidden away.  More and more it’s making it’s way into our headlines.  Do we have more criminals?  Do Americans  have a greater tendency for crime?  No.  It’s just business, that’s all.  Just like the south had plantations and needed slavery to continue because without it the plantation owners would have a money problem.  Who cares if people were tortured, women and girls were raped, men were whipped and families were turn apart?  It’s just the cost of doing business.   They weren’t white so what was the big deal?

Most people really don’t understand the business of prisons.  Aren’t they for locking up bad people?  Well . . . yes.  Some of them.  People don’t thank that for many of the human beings living inside it is a living hell. The sentence they receive in the courtroom is only part of sentence they get. That sentence starts when they get inside and deal with their captors. Those people have the license to be as cruel as they want to be, and their bosses will just turn a blind eye, even if a person dies from the abuse. Prison conditions are not safe for inmates. There is no justice in prison.

I used to think if Jamie was locked up away from other inmates at least he would be safe. I know being out in the general population, or gen pop as it’s known, can be dangerous. There is wide variety of people locked up and many of them are people with nothing to lose. You can’t turn your back on anyone, or trust anyone at any time. It worried me when he said he was making it up the levels from G5, which is also called Adseg or administrative segregation. I suppose it is a nicer sounding word than calling it solitary confinement, or the hole. When you are locked up there you have no human contact with anyone unless it’s a guard grabbing hold of you either to cuff you or hurt you.

In adseg the guards are supposed to take you to shower three times a week, but that doesn’t mean they will. If you are in a prison in the south, like Texas, there is no air conditioning. It’s like living in an oven. If you have someone who puts money on your books, and if you allowed to go to the commissary once a month, you can buy deodorant. If not, you stink. Being able to take a shower is the only way to get a little relief from the relentless heat and humidity. Taking away your shower is one way they punish you. Taking away food is another. They may substitute it with something called food loaf your dog wouldn’t eat. Or they will take away being able to go to the commissary. Sometimes they even take away all of your property – everything, even your mattress.

Your food comes in through the food slot. Jamie has seen his food spit on before it was given to him, with a smirk on the guard’s face. You are supposed to be allowed outside your cell one hour a day to walk, while shackled, to another slightly larger cage. This is supposed to be your one hour allotment of being “outside”. In this tiny cage is where you are supposed to exercise, if you choose. You are in that cage alone. Sometimes that cage is indoors and you don’t even get to see the sky or breathe fresh air for months at a time. Even the strongest person can easily lose their mind. It has been proven that any more than fifteen days in these conditions like this can begin to alter the mind in negative, often irreversible ways that make it even harder for inmates to reintegrate back into society when they are finally let out.

mentally ill inmates
photo credit:
photos.pds.org

Inmates lose the ability to tell if it is night or day. Lights are left on twenty four hours a day. There is no way of keeping time. Meals are often the same so you don’t know if you are being given breakfast or lunch. Paranoia easily sets in and conversations with people not really there are often the only ones to talk to. Many in solitary confinement will harm themselves physically, either to see if they are still alive or to kill themselves. If they don’t have something that will cut through the skin they might bite themselves to open a vein. If their mind is gone they might smear feces on themselves and on the walls and floor. Living every day in solitude with no one but yourself and your imagination can be pretty rough. Sometimes your imagination is not your friend, but instead preys on your fears, your loneliness and tears down your will to live along with your self esteem.

The effects of living in solitary are worse than most people can imagine. The isolation and deprivation are more than most people can handle. Often the people in solitary are those who are already insane. The mental hospitals were closed down. Law enforcement doesn’t know what to do with these vagrants they find. They can’t keep them at the jail. They can’t keep them in the hospitals. The only thing to do is lock them up. They won’t get the treatment they need and looking them up in isolation only makes them sicker. They can’t let them out in to the general population at this point because they would likely end up hurting someone. So the general thought was to put them in isolation because it is safer for them there. Doing that finishes off what is left of their sanity. There is no thought put into a prisoners mental health. It doesn’t matter. They don’t care.

What does it do to a guard’s mind after witnessing this day after day? Guards also have to work in these units without benefit of AC, wearing heavy uniforms and often protective gear for when they have to move an inmate from one location to another. They don’t care if an inmate are sick. Taking them to medical means more paperwork to fill out. It’s doubtful medical will do anything about it, anyway. So what if the inmate has a seizure from epilepsy? Medical care in prison is only given when they have no choice, and even then it’s substandard. They’ll just let the next guard on duty to take him to medical. Is that how people are cared for when they have a seizure? Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? What happened to the guards ability to care about them because they are human beings? How can they clock out after their shift and go on and have a normal day? Guards don’t care if you get your shower, or if you have edible food or water. Mess with them and just shut your water off for days. If you die because of it there aren’t any repercussions, except maybe they’ll give you a job in another prison. If it’s bad enough you might get fired. But you won’t get convicted and go to prison just because your actions killed a few inmates.

Tempers run high on both sides. The inmates get angry, but they aren’t allowed to get angry. If they do the guards will write up a case on them. No one, not even the warden will do anything about it. They hear complaints all day long about the same thing. Instead of fixing the problems, they just let the officers and the supervisors do what they want. After all, they are just inmates. This needs to change. There is much about our prison system that needs to change, from locking up kids, straight through to solitary confinement. It’s big business and a lot of money is at stake in keeping the status quo.
Many guards, like our police, who have been in the news more often as the people get angrier and angrier at having their family and neighbors locked up. When you ask a child now what he wants to be when he grows up I doubt you will hear the words “I want to be a policeman” anymore. The police used to be a friend of the people who helped them. That changed a long time ago. There is so much corruption in our police force that many of them need to be locked up with the bad guys. I think many begin their jobs with the best of intention to do a good job, but it doesn’t take long to find out that being able to be a good cop is very hard to do. The nature of the job changes people.

Police, and prison guards, like their position of authority. It’s addicting. They take advantage of being able to make people do what they want them to do. Prison guard crimes don’t carry the same weight when it happens inside a prison instead of in society. But does that make them any safer to be around?Many think they are above the law because their superiors look the other way, condone their actions and make excuses for them when people die. They don’t have to live through the consequences of their actions. At least until now. Times may be changing. But as long as your superiors are telling you that inhumane treatment is acceptable, and people have no way to retaliate, it brings out the worst in their nature. Many people, men and women who get this job of authority are put into the position of being able to hurt people indiscriminately. Many people end up dead or at least seriously injured. What a perfect job for a sick mind.

Does that mean all guards or police are like that? Of course not. I believe the guards who work with the general population have a dangerous job. They are around many inmates who would rather see them dead. Guards have to worry about these inmates when they get released. Will any of them hunt down where they live and hurt their families? For all the inmates who shouldn’t be there with sentences that were too harsh, there are just as many very dangerous criminals who have life sentences and have nothing to lose if they hurt the people around them. That is why I was concerned when Jamie made it to G2 level, because you have to have eyes on the back of your head. There are gangs who would think nothing of sticking something sharp in you. Sometimes the guards get hurt, too.

The guards who work in the lower level units are different. That fear of being hurt by an inmate is pretty low, and they seem to enjoy provoking them to the point the inmate can’t take anymore and they lash out. If it is your nature, being able to hurt people you control is much more fun and amusing because there is nothing the inmate can do about it. The guards are always in the right and the inmate is always in the wrong.

Sometimes they are put into “The Hole” for only a small infraction of a rule, or for talking back. Sometimes they are put there for their own protection because their life is in danger. Because of the lack of mental hospitals there is no place to put people when they can’t live in society. It doesn’t mean they are criminal. It means they need to be in a hospital, not punished. When they keep them in isolation it furthers their psychosis. If they do harm themselves, they will be taken to medical to be stitched up and then put back in solitary with an increased sentence. It’s inhumane, and the inhumane guards who guard them develop their own psychosis that tells them it is okay to torture and harm the people locked up, and do it with a wink in their eye, knowing they have full power over the inmates, so they better get used to it.

End part one

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

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

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

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

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

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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Dear Jamie,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes,You Just Do What You Gotta Do

wynne unit,Huntsville Prison,solitary confinement,mass incarceration
Prison unit Jamie is in
photo source; brokenchains.us

May 29,2015.

Hello mom,

How are you? Fine I hope and in the best of health as well.  I received all of your letters. Before I got them I had written back to you but I wasn’t able to send it out.  They took all my property.  Then they gave it back to me and then they took it away again.  In this letter I will explain to you how I have been feeling as well as let you know what happened with me.

For as long as a week I was picked on and refused showers, meals and recreation.  I’ve been given every punishment they could give to me. I spoke with every ranking officer about an officer named Robert Curlee.  He’s the one that refuses me everything.  Guess what they tell me?  Stop letting him get to you because he goes home at 1:00.  So I say okay, I understand that except he does it to me every day, and ya’ll are not doing anything to stop him, not even talking to him about it.  So I said, don’t worry about it. I went to see the warden in UCC ( the prison’s court)  about a case I got.  I talked to him about it and why I got it.  However, when I talked to him about the officer and what he was doing to me he just waved me off like a fly.  So guess what?  Me being me I’m gonna speak my mind. You know I’m very outspoken.

So I told the warden, “You know I’ve tried to do the right thing, by talking to your ranking officer about a problem I’ve been happening with an officer of yours. I’ve just tried to explain that to you, but you showed me you don’t care by waving me off, so I don’t care, either. Fuck you!”

Of course I was locked back up in solitary confinement after that.

So here I am, having the same problem with the same officer. I called him to my door and asked him why he was doing what he was do?

He said, “It’s because gray rides with gray (guards), and if an officer tells me not to feed you or take you to shower, then I’m not going to do it.”

But I know no one is telling him such things. He’s doing it because we got into it once and he’s holding onto that.

So I say, “You know what? I’m tired of you doing me like this.”

He says, “so?”

So I say, “You know what? Keep messing with me. Call my bluff and I’m gonna beat your ass.”

He turned red. I told him, “I’ve been through a lot. I’ve had some bad news. Let me chill. If not, the first chance I get I’m gonna break your jaw.”

I told the same thing to the ranking officer. Guess what? Now he comes to my door and asks me how I’m doing.

(Sonni’s note: This is not exactly the best way to handle problems and can hurt things for him in the future, but when you are continually pushed to the limit what do you do?  The warden wouldn’t listen.  I’m sure he hears the same thing every day.  He knows what the officers are doing to the inmates.  This is part of what needs to be fixed.  When people are treated inhumanely how much can you push them before they strike back.  But that only gives them reason to keep doing it.  How do we stop this treatment?  I wish I had the answers to that.)

A Story About Extreme Prison Guard Brutality

May 15,2015

black hands omn cell door, prison guard brutality
sourd credit:
pittsburgurbanmedia.com

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day. I received your letters. However, things have gone downhill for me.  I’m G5, but I did that so I can stay close to home. I didn’t want them to move me to west Texas.  I’m stressed out to tell you the truth. It’s all too much. I’m losing it in here. I got a letter from Megan  and she’s talking about our relationship as if we still had one. Believe it or not I still love her and care for her. Why? Because she’s my son’s mother. I love and care for you, too, because you are a very understanding woman. Also, you have been here for me at times when no one else has been. She has been better about writing back to me. One for one letters. I’ve gone a long time sometimes without any word from her about my son so I’m glad.

Now let me give you the scoop on me. I’m still in the same place. I might be moved around to different blocks, but not off the unit. If I do get moved I’ll write and let you know. I wouldn’t say that I’m doing too good because I’ve been through a lot the past week. I’ve been getting cases. I’m fine now but I wanted you to know this. 

I want you to write about what I’m going to tell you.  Put it on the blog.  This is about what the guards do to us they aren’t supposed to be allowed to do.  An officer wasn’t going to let me shower. I asked to speak to the other officer working the block.  I explained to her the situation and she told me I would get my shower.  The whole time I am talking to this officer, I’ve got my arm in the food slot to where she can’t close it.  However, she promised me I would get my shower. 

(Sonni’s note:  remember, this is summer in Texas in a building with no AC. It’s very uncomfortable and very sweaty.  A shower is the only relief they have.)

I asked her again and she said she doesn’t lie. I gave her the slot because she gave me her word.  Of course, she lied.  So at chow time, the ranking  officer  Lt Rodrigues was on the block feeding chow.  I call and call and call but she doesn’t answer me.  Even when chow was over I call her but she blows me off.  So when the female officer brings juice I take over the slot and tell her to call her ranking officer.  When she arrives she doesn’t want to talk or hear me out.  All she wants is the slot.  I know if I give it to her she’ll walk off.  So I try to explain.  She tells me she’s going to get a five man team spray me with gas and so on and so on.  It’s what they do.  They spray and send five dudes with helmets and body armor to run in and jump on us.  But get this, She comes with the team and asks for the slot.  I give it to her cause if I don’t she’s got the right to spray me.  So I give it to her.  She has the officers place me in handcuffs BEHIND MY BACK. They put me out of my cell and up against the wall.  They pack up ALL my stuff and take it.

This is why you haven’t gotten a letter from me. They aren’t supposed to do this.  When I gave her the slot she and her team were supposed to leave.  Instead, she violates policy by taking my stuff. I ask her why she’s taking my stuff and she just winks at me. So now I’m upset.  She tells the two dudes that’s holding me on the wall to put me back in the cell. While doing this I’m being pulled and yanked on. This is the second time.  The first was right when I got off the phone after I talked to my mom when she got home from the hospital. The officers do this so they can slam us on the floor while we’re handcuffed behind our backs.

prison guard brutality
source credit:
a.w.i.p.com

Anyway,The Lt sees them pulling and yanking on me and even though I am the one who is handcuffed she tells me to stop resisting.  Then she tells her officers to put me down. One grabbed me by my arm, one by my neck and my right leg. The other two jumped on me causing me to fall head first into the wall and busting my head open.  I felt the blood pouring down from my head.  My face was covered as well as the floor.  I was on the floor with all the officers on me. 

That was another violation. Nothing was supposed to happen without medical, because of things like this.  But medical wasn’t here.  Another violation.  But they don’t care.  So neither do I and I made sure they all heard the threat I made to each and every one of them – because they were in the wrong! Do you know these muthafuckas tried to put me back in the cell with my head busted open?  I wouldn’t let them put me back in so they called medical. At medical they cleaned the blood off me and sent me to my cell.

A little later my head starts bleeding again. I went back to medical. Now I got to see the doctor. Nothing was hurting at the time but now my head and back has been giving me problems. They left me with nothing in my cell. Nothing. I had to set fires and flood my cell just to get these people to talk to me. I told them I will burn this bitch down with me in it if I have to.

They turned my water off for two days. They couldn’t stop me from setting fires with help from other inmates.  I set fires for two days straight only because they ignored me when I tried to talk to them with respect.  I asked, “Is this what I got to do just to get ya’lls attention?”  “I called ya’ll with respect and you ignored me.”  Guess what?  The Lt came down and talked to me and said she was giving all my stuff back that she took.  Well not all, but most of it.  I told her, “If you want to play games then okay, I’ll make you look bad.” They have too many important people that come here from Huntsville.

I have been hurting though lately. Why does life have to be so difficult? I don’t know what the outcome to this will be. I’m sorry.
With love, Jamie

P.S.BTW They have me on what they call food loaf for 16 days. Look it up. It’s some nasty shit. It’s like molded cat food. It’s what I get for all three meals. They are only allowed to do it for 7 days. I’m on a hunger strike.

Jamie’s facebook Page. . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

 http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick

Life is Not Always a Matter of Holding Good Cards

life is not a matter of holding good cards

November 3, 2011

Hello mom,

I’m sorry about just now writing back. Things have been crazy these past few weeks.  We’re on lockdown right now.  They’ve been looking for weapons, drugs and phones.  A lot of inmates have been tested for drugs and coming up dirty.  It’s crazy mom,  because so many different drugs come through this unit.  It’s the officers that’s bringing it in, but if someone tells on the officer they get punished.

Okay now, I got moved from E pod 76 cell to 49.  Now get this – 49 cell is in the corner. On top of that the dude next to me has seizures, too.  I don’t know if it’s from epilepsy like me.  Just yesterday, on the second I had a seizure.  It was in the morning when it happened.  Later that night, after I went to sleep I woke up to get a drink.  I called to him to check on him because there’s a hole in our wall we can talk through.  He never answered so I thought he must be asleep.  However, right when I went to lay back down I heard him fall and hit his head. I called for the officer and asked others to help.  We started kicking the doors asking for help.  When they came, his mouth was all busted up.  Blood was everywhere.  Like I said, it’s crazy right now.  Get this, mom – he called me through the hole.  He says to me, “look”.  When I looked I saw he done cut himself with a razor.  I got help again by kicking the door.  I don’t think he’s all there in the head.  I’ve only been in this cell one day and it’s stressful.  I can be asleep and then I’d get up to check on him,  or if I’m asleep he starts hitting the wall and I would get up just to make sure he’s okay or if I need to get him help again.

I’m really thankful that you tried to help me get a visit with you son.  I think I was just so looking forward to it.  But hey, it’s not the first time I didn’t get a visit I thought was coming so don’t worry about it okay.  It would have been nice to see him, but I understand why he couldn’t come.  At least he got some time to spend with Megan and the kids.  I’m really glad that Jamie got some time to spend with his uncle. It’s hard when work takes you out on the road so much and you can’t be home with your wife and kids.  I understand that a lot.  But he has to do what he has to do to take care of his family.

Sorry about what happened at home.  Wow, that was some cuss words you used!  That was very shocking.  Lets just say I never thought you would use words like that.  But then again when I sometimes imagine the way you said them, I laughed.  I remember the letter  when you wrote about someone putting something in the kool-aid because they were acting crazy.  lol.  Sorry, it was just funny.

Snow, I would love to see it!  Eight inches!  I’ve never seen snow before.  I’ve seen a little ice here and there.  I’d love to stay somewhere it snows.  I just know it’s a beautiful sight.

How is Megan doing?  I still haven’t heard anything from her.  I’m worried about her as well.  Please try once more to get her to write.  If she doesn’t I feel as she wants me to leave her alone.

I love the books, mom.  Thanks.  Here’s a few things from the book we both have:  (1)When the going gets tough – Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but of sometimes playing a poor hand well. (2) A way of action – Real understanding comes from doing.  Only action has the power to turn knowledge into wisdom. (3) We have seen the enemy and it is (with in) us. (4) Life has cycles.  whatever goes up comes down, and what falls can rise gain. (4) Riding the natural cycles – Some of us interpret rough times as divine justice – a punishment from God.  I’d like to say that it isn’t God that punishes us.  We get opportunities to balance our life and to learn.

I want you to know  how much I appreciate you being there.  I wouldn’t know anything about my son without you telling me.  Please ask Megan again to write.

I love you, Son

PS Tell Megan I understand if she’s too tired to write and if she needs more time.

(Sonni’s note:  It’s hard to wait and wait for people to write.  He gives them excuses because it’s hard to think they don’t want to write – that he doesn’t matter anymore.  It would take so little time to buy a card, write a few lines, slap a stamp on it and mail it.  Nothing has changed since then and it’s been another three years.  There are people in my life who don’t understand why I do this for him –  write this blog and now the book. It all began because no one was writing to him and I knew how much my letters meant to him.  It’s discouraging to write letters to your family and not hardly get anything in return.  Do they even wonder how he buys the stamps.  It grew into a relationship of each of us holding the other up when we needed it. 

I know when he gets out it will be like throwing him to the wolves.  How can he know how to do even the simple things in life if he’s never done it before? How does he live a successful.  There is much we take for granted. I want him to have the chance to find out what he can do.  Go to school. Support himself and help raise his son.   In that aspect, I am his mother.  That is what a mother does.  He doesn’t want much.  Who will be there for him?  His family? So I keep writing to him and writing the book “Inside the Forgotten Outside”.  I constantly strive to learn the things I need to do for this venture to be successful. It is mind boggling.  But like I tell Jamie,  it all starts with having a dream.  Then you work at it every day and visualize it being completed.  Don’t let doubt get in the way.  Believe in yourself.  Your mind is powerful.  It will find a way to make it happen.  You either think you can or you think you can’t, and either way you go is right, because that is the way it will happen.  Taking a positive direction will have a positive effect. 

I have several sayings I repeat often. Here is one of them.  “The only legacy we can leave behind at the end of our life is the affect we had on other people.”  Then they affect other people.  That is how we live on.  I live my life with that in mind.  If what I do helps this man, then he will be a better father to my grandson and teach him the things he needs to knowIf I were to do nothing, what do you think the end result of that would be?  That end result scares me.