Jamie Wanted Me To Ask You a Question

Jamie wanted me to ask you a question. I’ve had so much going on the past six months, that I haven’t posted any of Jamie’s letters. Three weeks in Texas in Oct/Nov to see family and go to the prison to visit with Jamie three times. Then to the Florida Keys for six weeks – running from the cold. Home for three weeks and now I’m back in Florida. Keeping up with everything has been a challenge.

I’m behind on posting Jamie’s letters so you can read his words. In his last letter he asked me to do something for him. There are many people who have tapped into this blog over the years. I write to him about some of the comments people leave here and on various social media. He is so much a part of what I’m doing.

He asked, “Do you think any of these people would write to me?”

Jamie's letters

After twelve years I don’t think I can fathom the degree of loneliness he feels. Keeping your head on straight around so much negativity must be hard. He misses what goes on in the world – the free world, he calls it.

I thought I’d put his address here so if you felt so inclined to write, you could.  If you had the means to send a book, you’d make a friend for life. He likes mysteries and westerns. You can’t mail it from your house. It has to be ordered from a business like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you have any questions just leave me a message or contact me through facebook messenger if you want it private.

I order books through imailtoprisons.com

They also have used books and I can get 2 or 3 books for not much more than the price of one new book and there is no shipping cost. They have puzzle books and back issue magazines.  Two days ago I ordered a 5 book series of Doonesbury cartoons from the 70’s. It is before his day but the history should be interesting. All 5 books were $8. Good price. Maybe you know someone who would be interested in this website. I’ve ordered from them for at least 8 years.

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James Cummings #1368189 . . . Allred Unit . . . 2101 FM 369N . . . Iowa Park, Tx 76367)

 

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I’m preparing issue #17 right now so when you subscribe you’ll get it in your inbox.  This issue is all about the music. To hear the latest – “Ghosts in my Head”, go to SoundCloud or my website – sonniquick.net

Jamie’s Letters on Prison medical Care

Below are Jamie’s letters over the years on bad prison medical care. I wrote this a couple years ago taking excerpts from letters over at least six years.  It is part of the first draft of the book I’m writing.  It has taken me longer than I anticipating because of having to take care of so many other things that need writing – including my music. But when it is done it will all be worth it. When I read this today it reminded me how long Jamie has been dealing with bad medical care at the prisons. I sent him forms to sign to give me POA  and I’m not surprised it didn’t reach him, although it is against the law to mess with mail – even in the prisons. So I resent the forms certified, return receipt. That way I can verify that the prison received it.  They can’t open it unless it is in front of him.  If they stop it from being mailed back then that is an issue I will take up with the warden. There are laws the prisons have to follow.  They can’t make up their own. the problem is – people don’t know how to make them bide by the law.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

JAMIE’S LETTERS

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 put me on anti-depression meds because they say something is wrong with me.  I don’t take it because nothing is wrong with me.  I think they want to keep me doped up.   I’ve gone on a few hunger strikes, off and on.  The longest I’ve stayed on one 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 just have that ‘I don’t care’ feeling at times.

     All of us 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, the only thing they feed us is peanut butter.  I guess treating us like this is part of the punishment,  But I don’t remember being allowed to starve us was part of the sentence.  No one stops them.  There is no oversight.  The officers do what they want and get away with it.

     On top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot on the door – on purpose.  It was a really deep cut.  I made them take me to medical 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 sargent he did it.  He said he didn’t mean to do it because he didn’t see my fingers.  That was a lie.  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 who doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. 

     The lieutenant told me to tell the officers to call him about moving me to another cell. lt  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 about that, too.  They are trying to hurt me.  I know they are.  This cell 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. I’m writing up a grievance on this officer because I feel he is a threat to me.  I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out what I’m doing.  To go through this process will take 60-120 days. They make it long to discourage anyone from filing a complaint.  It goes into the guard’s file and keeps them from getting promoted.  Then the guard retaliates and makes life miserable.  Even if the inmates feel threatened it keeps a lot of them from trying to do anything about it.

     I’ve also been getting into it again with these people about my medications. They are trying to give me something and I don’t know what it is. Hell, they don’t even know what it is.  Two different nurses are telling me it is two different medications.  I’ve asked to speak to the doctor, but they won’t let me.  The pills are the same dosage, but they are two different colors.  Not only that, one has powder in the capsule and the other one is a hard pill.  Something is not right about this.  One of the nurses told me Huntsville uses us as lab rats to test medications from pharmaceutical companies.  Since this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that, I stopped taking the ones that I’m not sure what they are.  I’m not going to be a guinea pig.

     Then they put me on a different anti-depressant.  A lot of people in here are taking them. They’ve had me on so many different meds it’s crazy.  I’ve been on about four or five different ones.  Now they have me on Thorazine.  I had to stop taking it.  It makes me dizzy, lightheaded.  I asked once if we could have a book on medications. The doctors are quick to put us on something and not tell us anything about it, except to say, “See if this helps.  If not, put in a sick call.” They are in such a rush to get us out of their office. These meds they put me on?  if it isn’t upsetting my stomach, it gives me terrible headaches.  One had me where I couldn’t use the bathroom.  I’m feeling bad all the time.  I recently had a bad ear infection and all they would give me was a Tylenol.  I laid on my bunk with my head and my ear hurting so bad, but they wouldn’t give me anything to help with the infection. 

     Sonni looked up one of the medications they gave me.  I asked the nurse how to spell it.   It’s a little brown pill.  I had already stopped taking it.  Some medications make you worse. The side effects make you sicker than you already are. That’s why I don’t take something they give me anymore if I don’t know what it is.  If I feel they are giving me too much of my seizure meds I won’t take them.  Too much will hurt me.  I don’t trust them to know what they are doing.  I go by how it makes me feel.

<<< >>>

     The people who work in the medical unit don’t know what the hell they are doing.  I have such a bad pain in my tooth I can’t think straight.  The first doctor I saw told me I had an infection when I told her about my pain.  Then I saw another doctor, and he told me I not only didn’t have an infection, he told me there was nothing was wrong with me!  I asked him if he thought I was lying about my pain because the pain had to be coming from somewhere.  I also told him the other doctor told me I had an infection.  I asked him if that lady was lying, and he said, ” I didn’t say that.”  So I told him that somebody was lying, and I knew it wasn’t me.  I could tell by his face he was mad.  Who gives a shit?  I’m in pain.  He didn’t care about that.  He just wanted to send me back to my cell. He’s here to waste time and get paid.

     The pain kept getting worse.  I had to wait two months before they decided it was okay to take me to a dentist to maybe have my wisdom tooth pulled.   Since they knew it had to be done, making me wait for two months was their way of torturing me.  They wanted me to be in pain.  No matter how many times I told them they ignored me. Later I was told there is a nerve that goes around the ear.  I wasn’t kidding about being in pain.  The dentist who tried to tell me there was nothing wrong with me had to know that or he wasn’t a real dentist.  That wouldn’t surprise me.  I think they only hire medical people who agree to not help people.  I wonder if they even have a license to practice. Maybe this dentist couldn’t get hired anywhere else because he was so bad. 

     The first week of this month I left on something called a medical chain.  I needed  to go to a unit in Huntsville that has a hospital.  It took two days to get there, even though it is only a couple hours away.  It takes that long because they pick up and drop off other inmates to different units along the way.  Texas has over a hundred and ten prisons. Sometimes we ride on a bus they call a Blue Bird, and sometimes we ride in a van.  I’ve ridden on both.  This time the trip was in the van.  It is so damned uncomfortable.  They make the trip as hard on us as possible.  We sit elbow to elbow in the van.  On the bus we are cuffed to someone else.  They pair everyone up.  If we have to relieve ourselves there is a toilet, but if someone has to go, the other one has to go.  So much for privacy if you have to do something other than pee.

     When I finally got to the hospital, I had to wait.  There was others in front of me.   It took two more days of waiting until it was my turn.  Now it’s been four days since we left and the pain was bad.  The gave me Tylenol with codeine and it helped some, but not enough. I’ve had about all I can take.  I wanted to lay down and cry. 

     Before I went in for the surgery they did x-rays.  The photos showed up on the computer so I could see it.  The one I was getting pulled was growing sideways and it was cutting my gums.  It was the top left tooth in the back.  When the dentist saw it he said, “Wow.” I asked what was wrong and he showed me the photo.  You could see all my teeth perfectly. He showed me the bad one, and it was flat!  The word he used was deformed.  He asked if I wanted it removed.  Of course I wanted it removed.  It was killing me.  I couldn’t keep it the way it was.  They don’t allow dentists to put us to sleep, even though this was a lot more than just pulling a tooth.  He was going to have to cut it out.  He was only allowed to numb it.  He was digging at it for two hours.  When he finally got it out, the tooth had four roots!  It came out in five different sized pieces.  All that pulling, pushing and drilling was bad.  I held on, but I almost passed out.  One of the bottom teeth needed work, too.  He had to do a little more cutting. I felt every minute of it.  He had to stop.  I was in so much pain and still am.  It took four days to get back to the unit I’m in.  The hospital gave me Tylenol with codeine during the surgery.  Now that I’m back in my own unit, their best med is Tylenol which isn’t doing much for the pain. 

     I’ve been sleeping a lot to get away from the pain. It hurts like hell to chew or drink because my tongue is swollen. I’m supposed to be on a soft diet, but the doctors here won’t give it to me.  The guards only bring me solid food, which sometimes I can eat and sometimes I can’t.   I try not to give these fools what they want so I just deal with it the best I can.  If the pain becomes too much I’m gonna try the right way first, to get help.  If I don’t get help, there is only one other way.

     On a brighter note, I think of the beautiful the days outside.  I imagine the sun, and taking a walk, and that really sounds good.  In my mind I can meet mom on the hill.  We both will walk until we ache too much.  Its cold down this way, as well.  A jacket would be nice.

<<< >>>

Sept  2012

     The unit is on the second week of lockdown. This is the hardest one I’ve gone through.  I’m hungry.  They are supposed to feed us a hot meal every three days but they do what they want to anyone wearing prison whites.  They feed us  a peanut butter sandwich with only a half spoon of peanut butter.  We are supposed to get a full spoon but on lockdown they only give us a half spoon.  It saves them money. 

     The food they serve is nasty.  They stretch it more by  also adding some really horrible soup or applesauce that makes me gag. I have to eat it or I get nothing.  I’ve heard  it costs $40,000 a year to keep each inmate in prison. Where does the money go?  It sure isn’t spent on food.  Once in a while we get a meat sandwich or cornbread, and sometimes prunes or raisins.  In the morning we get two biscuits with a half spoon of peanut butter or maybe two pancakes.  That’s why I have lost so much weight.  The food is worse when we are on lockdown.

<<< >>>

     It’s hard dealing with this.  It’s 2013 but it could be any year.  Nothing changes. Stress builds up inside me and it hurts. My head wants to explode into a million pieces. I had two more seizures, back to back, because of all the worrying.  I have had so many seizures in here.  Sometimes I feel like I’m being backed into a corner. Stress brings them on.  The people who work in the medical unit don’t know what they are doing. Why are they working here, instead of a real doctor’s office? Maybe it’s the only job they could get.  Everyone is always in a bad mood.  There is never a comforting touch or even a smile.

     I don’t think anyone in here would give a damn if the seizures killed me. If it happened to someone in their own family, they would be rushed to a hospital.  But I don’t matter.  I’m only a convict.

     The scary thing is, I don’t usually have seizures close together. I saw the doctor and she took some blood and said my level of seizure medication was in the toxic range. Did the last doctor give me too much? She took my meds down to a lower dose. It didn’t help, so she put me on a different one. I’m on two different meds. I’m not having the seizures as often but it’s not unusual to still have one or two a week.

     I had another seizure today. When I went to the medical unit I was told my sugar was low, 66. It’s supposed to be between 70-100.  I know I need to see the doctor a lot.  There is nothing I can do about that.  It’s not my fault.  It is the way it is.  Some inmates rarely have to go to medical.  It used to cost $3 to see the doctor or a nurse, but they changed all that. Now it costs $100 a year, whether you see a doctor one time or fifty times.  When I get money they take half until it’s paid.  Next year it starts all over.  Someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, if he need to see the doctor he probably won’t go.  Sometimes they get sicker and it spreads to other inmates. 

     Some people think we get medical care for free, but that’s not true.  This small amount of money might not seem like much to some people but to me its a lot.  I also wouldn’t call this medical care.  They won’t help so they don’t have to pay for anything.  Even things they can treat they won’t, and it gets worse until people die.  Diabetes, heart disease, cancer.  People die because they are left untreated.  They don’t care. The public doesn’t care.  They think we deserve it.  No one cares if we’re in pain.  They just ignore us.

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Life, Love and Letters to Zoey #30

The writings of another inmate. Many people have written harsh things about inmates. “They got what they deserve,”even when they don’t know it is they got or what he got or why he was there. All inmates are not monsters or murderers or child molesters. Many sentences are long to the point of absurdity and the only benefit goes to the prison industrial complex who gets paid for every full bed. Our prisons are so corrupt it is shameful. Screw inmates up. Make sure they are unable to survive. Get them back. The revolving door is cheaper than the first time around.

Chad Eric Hollamon

Dearest Zoey,

It’s actually a few minutes since I wrote the last letter. I reread it and thought it sounded too negative. It wasn’t supposed to come out like that but it did. That’s the beauty about writing – I’m able to see how I think, no matter if it was meant to be negative or positive. I’m also able to learn more about myself from writing. I reflect back on my words and see my feelings in back and white.

An inmate passed me right before I began this second letter. While he was walking he commented, “Chad. You writing Zoey?” I talk to him on occasions and he’s aware of me having a blog and me dedicating Life, Love and Letters to Zoey on it. Guess he noticed our routine. After he got a few dozen feet away, I wondered if he had a special Zoey in his…

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Issue #8 of the ITFO Newsletter

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Because of my limited html coding knowledge I can’t get the the newsletter to print out here. So I’ll give you the link that will pull it up for you and save me the frustration of figuring it out (or waking my husband up from his old hippie before dinner nap!)

I only ask (plead,cajole with a smile) that if you like what I have so far accomplished, to click on the subscribe button and add your name to the mailing list, and then send it to any social media accounts you have to help me grow.

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I am finally, in short spurts back to work continuing to edit the book I wrote that got put on hold while my thoroughly crumbled broken arm bone begins to heal. It’s hard to hold my arm up very long so I can type and my chapter files are on my computer, not my tablet. The nerves in my wrist and fingers are starting to heal so I can press my fingers down.  All in all it’s been a real pain.  But everything happens for a reason. It is giving me more time to build my mailing list.  Those addresses on the list will get first notice when it is being published and for a limited time can download the book for free. I’m still not sure if I will go for a traditional publisher because it costs a considerable amount to pay for editing and formatting and book cover art.  The more addresses I have and the more followers I have on all social media, and here at wordpress, can make a big difference on whether they think I am a good enough risk as an unknown author.

I know sometimes when I subscribe to something I end up getting up to three emails a day from them and end up trashing them and unsubscribing. I don’t have time to send out a bunch of emails. It takes 2-3 days to put together one issue. I’ve been putting out one issue a month so you won’t get flooded.  Click on the archive button and take a look at the issues I’ve put out since last May.  It’s been a learning process, but you can see the topics I’ve covered so far.

Anytime you share this anywhere it is a big help.  There are so many people and families who have been impacted by our justice system and it is going to get worse unfortunately. There are already 40 prisons built for deportations so the CEOs of the Prison Industrial Complex is probably drooling over all the money they are going to make locking up immigrants.  Because they have no rights they are getting even less medical care and worse food than the inmates that come from this country and they have no right to an attorney.  No matter how you feel about immigrants they shouldn’t be looked at as profit.  They are building and then auctioning off the prisons with the promise of an unending supply of people to fill them.

Once again here is the link

Thank you

Sitting Alone In His Prison Cell . . .Thinking

Dear mom,

You wanted me to write more to you about how it was growing up. I don’t think I was happy but I didn’t realize it then because I didn’t know what it felt like to be happy. I don’t think I had any birthday parties with friends and family. We just didn’t do it. I don’t think being unhappy is unusual. I don’t think I was unhappy, I just wasn’t happy, either. I don’t have many happy memories. Most of the dudes I’ve talked to in here weren’t happy as kids, either. Maybe that’s part of the reason why we’re in here. I think if we aren’t happy as kids and don’t have a family who is there for us, how can we expect them to be there for us now sitting in a prison? My family doesn’t care about me in here. But I have you and you care about me. Otherwise I’d have no one.

jamie cummings

How did I learn things about life? I guess I learned from everywhere. School and home and street friends. I was taught things by my mom, rules of what to do when she was working. But when she wasn’t around I usually did the opposite of what she wanted me to do. We had an aunt who lived down the street if we needed anything but we were mostly left up to ourselves to be good.

Once, I was placed in a children’s hospital because of my always leaving home. I had a problem with depression even as a child. My mom didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t like life having epilepsy. I wanted to be normal. It scared me and I didn’t really have anyone who could help me understand it. I always felt there was something wrong with me because I was different from the other kids. Sometimes my older brother and sister made fun of my seizures. I had so many seizures until I had brain surgery at age 12. It didn’t stop them but it helped.

I stayed in that children’s hospital for a few weeks but one day I begged my mom to come get me. She did but she never told me during the whole trip home that my cousin, who I was very close to had died. I got to my house and there were a lot of people there. It wasn’t until I walked into the the back room and saw him laid out did I know he died. I cried and cried. No one prepared me for the shock. I took that news real hard. He was my best friend. We were the only two sick kids in the family. Me, with epilepsy and him with sickle cell anemia. It didn’t matter he was older than me. I still think about him to this day.

It’s hard for me to write about myself. I know you want to know because of the book you started writing about me. I’ll do my best but so much of this I have stuffed deep inside and it makes me feel bad to remember it. Maybe it will get easier over time.

I’m still waiting for the books you sent. Hope they get here soon. The book on grammar will help me a lot. You asked if we could trade books we don’t want anymore. If an officer finds another inmate’s book in your cell they will take it and write up a case on you. It’s how they keep us down.

There are so many ordinary things that get you in trouble for no reason. So many dudes have no one to buy them books  and time goes by so slow. What is the harm in sharing books? There is none, but if they can write up a case they can keep you locked up by yourself for longer time. Sometimes they let it go, but you never know if they will. So it would be taking a big chance to do it. They call it trafficking and trading, and it’s a major case – all for a book.

Time to go and get some sleep

Love to you, Son

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

(Sonni’s note: This letter was from some time ago. More than 2 1/2 years. I decided to reprint it to give newer readers a little more history on his life. I believe his story overall has a very powerful message. It is not an unusual story. There are many parallels with many of the stories in prison. So many inmates are not bad people. They are people who made a mistake and some are innocent and forced into plea deals. many of their mistakes were being born black in a society who still looks as whites being a superior race and blacks are meant to be used. The fact that so many parents today still pass down racism to their kids is truly sad. Of course that isn’t everyone, but looking at the percentages of white to black in our penal system tells the true story in this country who people say is a Christian nation but too many don’t live the Golden Rule. Will that change? Only when enough of us stand up for what is right and change what is wrong.

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

 

THE NEXT MONTHLY ISSUE OF THE ITFO NEWSLETTER WILL BE GOING OUT SOON. TAP THE LINK TO GET IT DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX. EACH ISSUE NOW WILL FOCUS ON A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF PRISON ISSUES EACH MONTH. THERE HAS BEEN NO TALK OF PRISON REFORM SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHEN EVERYONE JUMPED ON THE BANDWAGON SAYING THEY WOULD BE THE ONE TO FIX IT. NOW NOTHING IS BEING SAID. IT WILL BE THE PEOPLE DEMANDING CHANGE THAT HAS THE ONLY CHANCE OF CHANGING THIS. PLEASE POST THIS ON YOUR OWN SM AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SHARE IT, TOO. WE’VE SEEN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE COME TOGETHER AS THE AMERICAN INDIANS HAVE DONE. WE NEED TO MAKE PRISON REFORM IMPORTANT, NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT. CAN WE DO THAT?

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Depression, Chronic Illness and Solitary Confinement

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I’m not a professional so I can’t say for sure I know what I’m talking about. I only have my own observations of people who suffer from depression and also the what I’ve read. Depression is very real and it can be debilitating. My intention is not to make anyone uncomfortable or make light of their situation. I am only trying to understand something I don’t experience except on rare times when life temporarily gets overwhelming.

I’ve read the blogs of many people who suffer from depression and other chronic illnesses. Reading experiences is a best way to understand what they go through rather than only reading medical articles.

We all have deep sadness sometimes, and it can go on for a long time before we get a grip on it. Something happens to us sometimes we can’t find a place in our brains to put it, so it is always right in the front part of our thinking and it can stop us from living.

I’ve had times when I was down. It happened more when I very sick but I would find a way to pull myself out of it. The teachings from my practice of Buddhism gives me hope. I’m sure people of other faiths rely on their faith as well. I could that but sometimes people can’t.

Jamie has suffered suffered from depression since he was a child. Would it have been different if he didn’t have epilepsy that resulted in seizures from birth to present day? How does it feel knowing it will never stop unless science comes up with a cure?

How does a child deal with a hopelessness?  Do people think, “He’s only a kid.  He’ll snap out of it?”  Jamie doesn’t like to talk about it. It took a long time for me to understand  what it did to the relationships in his life with family and friends. It knocked his self worth down to nothing. Writing about it brings it back. He prefers to keep it locked away. It will have to be his choice to unlock it. Maybe talking about it could help but it is not my decision to make.

seizure webmdcom

I know there are different kinds of seizures and they affect people in different ways. It must be a dreadful feeling to know one is starting and it can’t be stopped. There is nothing you can do. Is there a feeling of embarrassment, not wanting to show what you think is your personal failing to other people? Do they talk about you behind your back, laughing, if they wanted to be cruel or even feeling sorry for you like you are a broken. It has been this way for him since before he even knew what it was.

I asked him if he could explain to me what it felt like. He wouldn’t, really couldn’t tell me. To write about it in detail would be like reliving it. It was too much for him. It was then that I finally realized that epilepsy was the underlying factor for everything. If this one biological thing had been different it would have changed everything in his life, but it couldn’t be changed. He tells me when he has another seizure and he tells me if it was bad enough to be taken to a real hospital or if the guards just let him lay there because they don’t want to do the paperwork. The prison is messing with his meds and won’t give him what he knows will work so the seizures are more frequent than necessary. But he doesn’t go into detail about the seizure itself. We do what we need to do to protect ourselves.

Would talking about it begin a healing process? Not to change epilepsy itself, but would it change what it does psychologically? I don’t know, but I do think that years of stuffing it down has caused insecurity that is easily rattled and it begins another episode of depression he can’t stop. Being completely alone in a cell with no one talk to makes it worse.

When that happens if he feels it is hopeless why should he even try to go on. No one will bring his son to see him unless I go to Texas. Family, his son, and my daughter all live in Texas within a couple hours of the prison.  Has anyone else made one trip to this prison? No.  In the past ten years he’s been locked is he not worth visiting, even when they learned he also has problems with his heart? No. I don’t have enough money to go often enough.

His family ignores him. He recently tried again and wrote to them – with no response. Would that make you depressed on top of everything else? The total lack of caring makes me angry beyond words. He sold his food for stamps because he couldn’t go to the commissary. Not meaning to make it worse for him, I waited too long to answer his last letter because of everything else I’m writing and he began thinking I was gone. I left him. I was mad at him. He thought he did something wrong. He has lost the one person who has been there for him nonstop all these years. I’ve been his rock and it was like I died. It sank him into a depression where he stopped eating and used sleep to escape.

He wrote a letter and poured out all the pain he was feeling, convincing himself it was all his fault. I felt horrible. But that day, after he wrote and sent that letter, he received my ten page letter. Because of things happening in my life it took about a week to write it –  in pieces. Sometimes I think he’s stronger than he is. Is it because I want him to be stronger?

I do know, and always have known, if I had never written that first letter he would not have made it this far. My daughter would still not be taking their son to see him. He is supposed to understand how hard it is on her yet she doesn’t understand the power she has to destroy him – or to make him happy. She doesn’t want for him to be happy – because of me. She’s angry at me for being there for him. His family would also still not be in his life. No one would be paying his medical fee, so his care would be even worse than it is. Medical care is not free.  I’m on disability.  It takes me months to pay off the fee and still have enough for a few basic necessities. He still would have no one who cared if he was okay. It doesn’t matter that Jamie’s son needs his father. Not “a” father – but his own father.  If I wasn’t there his depression would have destroyed him –  completely.

jamie cummings
Father on the left and son on the right – both eight years old.

His mother had him in therapy as a child and other times in his young life. It didn’t begin in prison. Because there is literally no help for those in prison who need it, when an inmate is locked up alone it often causes harm that can’t be undone. There are so many articles in the media about what happens to the mentally ill in prison and no one can seem to change it. Jamie is not mentally ill, but he does need people who care about him. He does NOT need to be made worse because the people in his life think he’s not worth their time of day.

He’s a big man, 6’2″. He is physically strong. He looks like he should be strong. But no one can see inside his head to find the scotch tape piecing him together. My daughter is very angry with me because she said I’m not allowing her to “let him go,” as if I’m doing this to her. She said my relationship with Jamie is gross. She’s angry at things I don’t even understand because it makes no sense. There aren’t any sides to take even though I feel as though I am supposed to take one. What is there to choose? She is my daughter. I love her and always will, but to do this will not make her happy. 

I don’t know why she is so angry except maybe this makes her look at things she doesn’t want to see. Jamie has asked only one thing of her – one thing.  To see his son.  He loves him.  Being a father gives him purpose when he doesn’t feel he has any.  It is not a big thing he asks.  My daughter does so much for her children.  She is a good mom – except for this.  It’s too much trouble to do this one thing. Give up an afternoon and let their son spend son time with his father.  Don’t do to your son what your father did to you – ignore you.

When Jamie got my ten page and realized I hadn’t left him – I was still there – he immediately wrote another letter and apologized. I can’t take for granted he will understand if I wait too long to write. Do any of us thoroughly understand what it is like to spend years locked away from all communication – away from people? We can’t. We have never been through it, let alone for ten years. There are inmates who are locked up for three or four decades. Are they supposed to come out of that okay? Did it accomplish anything good or productive? No. It’s cruel.  I will NOT be cruel and give up on him because I know there is a reason for me being there.  I see in him what he is capable of.  And I won’t let him give up on himself.  It is not an option.

I will continue to try, to learn, and help others if I can. This isn’t about me. It is about how I can use my life in a positive way. If anyone else doesn’t understand that I can’t make them understand. Sooner or later his family and I will meet eye to eye. I can’t promise to keep my mouth shut.

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Can Someone Be Happy on Death Row?

Mando-August-4-2013-001-2

I have written posts and pages about a man who lives on Death Row. I use the term “lives” because he has a life. It might not be the life he wants, or one you and I could tolerate, but it is the life he has and he is trying to make it the best life he can.  He has spent years studying to understand life to a greater extent than most people do. He had to go back to the earliest part of his life to understand and learn to appreciate it.

Most people float through their lives from day to day without much thought about why we are the way we are, or why we ended up with the life we have.  We often don’t take responsibility for making the causes we have, to end up where we are. I began writing to him a couple years ago because he intrigued me. I had gone to a pen pal site for inmates, not looking for someone to write to, because I was writing to Jamie, but because I thought this site might a place to put his info and acquire a pen pal or two for him.

Then I saw this post about an inmate named Armando Macias who was on death row, and he was a Buddhist. Since I am a Buddhist as well, I found that intriguing.  I doubted he was a Buddhist before he was sentenced to death row, and how does someone find that practice inside? There aren’t Buddhist monks in prison like there are chaplins. What has his study and practice changed his life to enable him to have quality in his life while living in a tiny bathroom sized cement box. We have had wonderful letters discussing the teachings of Buddhism while getting to know each other.

A member of my family, not understanding, even asked why why I would even want to have him for a friend?  Why would I even want to write to him/  He murdered someone!  He didn’t deserve to be a friend of mine. He no longer qualified to be a human being.  He was going to hell, I was told. Even though he understood what he did was wrong he didn’t deserve to be treated with kindness ever again for the rest of his life.  Because none of us are perfect and do things that are wrong does that mean we should be shunned?

I’m writing about him today because something a little strange happened two days ago. Most of my posts, no matter when they were written still get views. I think that is fairly normal on blogs that aren’t time sensitive, like news. He sent me something to me near the end of 2014 he had written. I broke it down into The parts and it can be found at the top of the site where all the pages are. It is called The Inhumane Society

I still get views every month on the entire series of three posts.  I was quite shocked the first time i read it because it was quite degrading. So far it has been read over 500 times.  That’s not bad because I was a fairly new blogger when I posted it. It showed me it was something people were interested in finding it out more about. People are realizing they have been lied to a great many things and they are tired of being lied to.  We need to insist even stronger we aren’t going to take it anymore. The days of being manipulated are coming to a fast close.

The other day, in the space of two hours, 62 people read this post. Read it yourself.  What do you think?  These were unique viewers.  My blog won’t register a viewer as “unique” if a person logs into the same post within 24 hours. What was bringing here? It wasn’t a new post, I’ve had a few take off and have had 800 to 5000 views over a couple weeks, but not when it had already been out for 1 1/2 years. Was it the subject and was was happening now to get a lot of traffic?  Why was it being quickly shared?  Mind you I’m not complaining.  Anyone who writes wants to have their words reads.

DEATH ROW AND THE DEATH PENALTY

There have been more articles written about the death row and the death penalty than there ever has been.  People want it changed and it has gone back and forth over the years.  The fact that it has been proven that we murdered innocent people and it is too late to give them their lives back.  to have that on your conscious is hard., I would think. Many people aren’t guilty and are used to falsely fill the prisons for the sake of the profit of the prisons.

Yes, there are some really bad people inside, but they are the minority, not the majority, and the length of sentences are often beyond reason. If they aren’t as bad as they have been out to be, simply to fill “for profit” prisons, that means the people in this country were taught to have no moral compass..

This brings me to the second problem I realized. America wants to insist this is a Christian Nation. If this were true – if this country was founded on Christianity, what the hell happened? Why does this piece of dirt that holds 5% of the world’s population have 25% of all the prisoners in the world? Do you see what I’m getting at? Either there is something ineffective about the teachings or there aren’t as many people really and truly “practicing” the teachings, living their lives as if the teachings make a difference. There is so much hate and so many hate crimes, and people think they have a right to do them. People either have no idea what the term”you reap what you sow” means, or they think it doesn’t apply to them.

I recently read a article on a Christian website. The preacher was teaching a lesson. He said to his followers, “You don’t have to worry about the phrase, you reap what you sow. Jesus died for your sins.” What??? It doesn’t matter what you do or who you hurt. You are saved and going to heaven.. I’m sorry, it doesn’t work like that.  You get back the effect of every bad -and good – thing you do. If you aren’t happy, it is for a reason. It also applies if you are happy. You have no one else but yourself that is responsible for your life. Even if you were taught differently, it doesn’t make it so.

This country should be overstuffed with happy Christians. Where are they? They are all out there proudly toting their guns In case their neighbor tries to shoot up the grocery store while they are in it.  A Christian country wanting to terrorize lgbt people because they say Good doesn’t like it. They terrorize Muslims because they say every single one of them wants to kill you in your sleep. And damn those Mexicans raping and killing our women. Then they teach this to a new generation of kids? Is this our Christian nation? It’s shameful.

Armando Macias studied all religions to find the truth about his life.  He did do something bad. But through this bad thing, with the teachings of Buddhism, which is doubtful you know anything about, he learned what it meant to truly be a human being. He is more free in that prison than most Americans are carrying they guns around because that is their god given freedom to protect themselves – from what?

NICHIREN BUDDHISM

It is Nichiren Buddhism I teach Jamie, so he will truly learn his value as human being. Praising an entity does not replace the work we need to do on ourselves that make us better people. We can’t say “Praise the Lord”, and then do as we damn well please and think we won’t have to pay the price for our actions.

This is my opinion. Please understand i am not lumping all Christians into this category.  You can believe what you want. Each of us to come to terms with our own life.  You can be angry or you can think about it. I’m not saying you should stop being a Christian. But understand why you are.  Was it told to you ha

I think it is hard to not try to analyze it, but that doesn’t change anything. So how does one change something that causes unhappiness? Let’s take a hard situation, since I mostly write about the prison system. Today I wore about juvenile detention and the artwork is from a man on death row. He committed a contract killing. Not his first offense. Read what he wrote about what happened the first time he was released. He wanted a better life. His karma was too strong. What is karma? The effect of causes made. If you want to know what causes you made in the past look at your life today. How do you want you future to be? Make the right causes. Otherwise life just slaps you around and if you really think life isn’t being fair it is easy to play victim and say it is not your fault – it was done to you by something outside your control. At that point many people would pray to God to fix it and when that doesn’t work they’d say it was part of God’s plan for them to suffer. So nothing changes and no responsibility is taken. Amen. Praise the lord!

How does someone change the fact they are on death row? or Ad Seg like Jamie? Physically, right now it won’t change. What changes is attitude and life Condition. You could call it moods. depending on your mood, when something happens you will react differently. If you are angry and a guard treated you badly, you’ll get pissed which will start a chain of events that could end up with you getting very hurt. If you have a higher life condition you might blow it off and the guard would  just walk away. You could have a higher life condition and instead, genuinely smile him.  After all, he has to work in this 100 degree weather with more clothes on than you and tempers are flaring. Now that he isn’t angry and you weren’t condescending to him maybe you’ll be the first one he takes to the shower and you thank him. Different causes. Different effects. This is all of life. This is how karma is made.

Everything you think, say or do creates karma. Even in a prison cell he can be happy. There are many kinds of prison cells. To escape unhappiness you have to understand the causes of your life. When you are in rhythm with the universe you will bring to you what you need, and when you try to change, your life will throw up obstacles to keep you down. Resistance to change. This is a life long battle. How do you get in rhythm? By chanting “nam myoho renge kyo” The law the cause and effect through sound and vibration.

Some people mediate, but that is too passive. You physically have to do something. Yes, you can think about change but it isn’t the same. There are so many things I want to do. None of it will happen unless I make the cause for it to happen. We understand that on a basic level. Can you even imagine what you could do if you took control of how you’re life actually went? So whether it is changing violence, or anger or jealousy or lack of confidence, or a hateful coworker, or not wanting to be alone, anything – if you have complete confidence your mind will figure out a way. But we are human and it is always 2 steps forward and one step back That is life.There is nothing supernatural about it. No God up there who has the ability to love no matter how much people want it to be so. Common sense. This, was the intro to Nichiren Buddhism 101. You don’t have to believe it, but millions of other Nichiren Buddhists in this country to do, which is why this is not a Christian nation.  We have to have laws for all people not just a select person.  There is no fat happy Buddha, either, BTW.  We don’t worship the man, we try to live what he taught.

This was not meant to insult anyone and their faith, only to bring to the surface the people that don’t practice their faith as it was meant to be, but instead use it to judge others they think should practice what they believe in, and use hate and violence to push their agenda – no matter what faith they have.

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Invisible Mailman by Jamie Cummings

mail in prison, prison mail

INVISIBLE MAILMAN

by Jamie Cummings    copyright 2016

 

The strangest thing happened today

an invisible mailman passed my way

He handed me an envelope that wasn’t really there

An invisible mailman you know is quite rare

I opened the envelope which was very wide

and I found less than nothing inside

The writing was faint as I recall

In fact, there wasn’t any writing at all

The writing was neat and so very clear

So crystal clear it couldn’t be seen anywhere

I searched for words I thought would be there

but all I found was invisible air

So I’m writing you back with love, you bet

Saying thanks for the letters I never get

After reading this, do you think you’ll think twice?

Pay attention to this bit of advice

I had needed to hear sweat words from you

but the letters never, ever, came through

Don’t get me wrong, you still have my love

It’s very real and comes from within

I’m locked up but only for now

I’m still waiting waiting waiting like it matters somehow

I wait to hear from those who say they love me

Instead I receive a letter so crystal clear I can’t see

This mailman brought invisible letters

missing the words, the feeling and thoughts

It hurts to this day what the invisible man brought

He brought me nothing

My life was still I lost.

Jamie sent me this poem. It is his first one that I know of.  He told me awhile back he was writing a poem.  He is writing to those people who didn’t care enough to pick up a pen and write back to him.  Sadly, I don’t think they know what they are missing because they don’t know the man he has become.  He has taught me a lot about many things. Two of them are patience and perseverance.  I was overwhelmed when I read this, so I set it to music. It is at the top of the list at soundcloud by the same title as the poem and you can listen as you read. Enjoy. Please, leave a reply and tell him what you think.  I send replies to him.  You can also hear other piano recordings and you can listen as you read. Enjoy. http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick

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Sometimes I Ask Myself, Why am I still Alive?

cartoon4Mom, in your letter you said you feel sad for me. Don’t be. Lonely is something that has always been part of my life. You are the only reason I have not lost my mind. Remember that, okay? I love my family so much. No, I can’t explain why. I can’t explain anything. I don’t know why they made the choice to not help me or come to see me. Sometimes I ask myself, was I that bad? I know I caused these things to be in my life. It is my karma. No one else is to blame. But what did I do to cause me to not know who my dad is or even know if he is alive? Will I ever know who he is? It was hard growing up knowing my brothers and my sister’s dad but not mine. My mom did everything she could to take care of us kids. I love her for that. I would never turn my back on her. She has never hurt me, at least not up to my 32nd birthday when she said she almost aborted me because my so called dad wouldn’t leave his wife. That hurt. Right then I forgot all about the visit and was on another planet.

HEAL A DAMAGED HEART    by Sonni Quick  copyright 2016

I sometimes ask myself, why am I still alive? Up till now you didn’t know this, but I cut my left wrist twice since I’ve been in here. Remember when I was moved to the prison in Richmond? I was only supposed to be there for a short time. I was happy because it was closer to Megan and my son. I thought she’d come see me but she didn’t. They moved me there because of my depression. I was refusing to eat. Sometimes I have wondered if I’ll make it out alive. Not only because of what they might do to me, but because of what I might do to myself. I have fought depression ever since I was a kid because life has been so hard.

No one could know how hard it is, always being afraid of the next seizure. They are so painful. Having them in front of strangers. Making a fool of myself. Knowing they were talking about me or maybe they were making fun of me. It’s probably why I had no friends growing up. They were afraid of me or their parents made them stay away from me. I’ll bet the guards make fun of me. Maybe that’s why they pushed me so hard. Maybe they want to see me have one. All of this made me so angry and sometimes I needed to be angry to keep going. It’s easy to say life isn’t fair but if what you say about karma is true, I’m getting back in my life something I caused and I need to learn something about myself to understand it.

Unless someone had ever been here and had to be alone for so long, there is no way to understand how your mind takes control. Every day I have to fight with myself to be the one in control. I read your letters over and over about you telling me I have value so I have to fight for my life. When I read your letters I believe you. Knowing you are out there helps me. Many dudes in here have no one and they go crazy. There are lots of crazy people in here.

I’ve been waiting for six weeks for my property to reach me. To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get it. I think the lady in property at Wynne unit lied to you. I have talked to the property lady here myself and still nothing. I’m trying so hard not to flip out on these people.

( Sonni’s note: I called the Allred Unit and talked to the warden’s office. His secretary did some checking and called me back. He just had his belongings delivered. They don’t send it through the mail. They send it to the main prison until they have enough other belongings to send of other inmates to warrant a trip to that prison. Then it has to be gone through to make sure there is nothing he shouldn’t have. That process took two months. It doesn’t matter if that inmate doesn’t have anything he needs. Anything that matters to him is in that locker. To lose it would be devastating. While he waited, I sent him another box of 30 paperback books from http://imailtoprisons.com so he could keep his mind busy. Melvin sent him money so when he got his new ID, because a guard at the other prison destroyed his, he was able to go to commissary and buy paper, envelopes, a pen and stamps. But he had no addresses other than mine because he memorized it. This letter I received 3 days ago. If anyone wanted to write to him, the easiest way is to send him an email to: mynameisjamie2@gmail.com. I would then forward it to http://jpay.com. They print it out and deliver it to his cell. If you want him to write back put your address in it. You can also send an email directly through jpay using his ID#1368189. It costs the value of one stamp per page and one stamp per attachment if you send a picture. If you wanted to send any money so he can buy food – coffee, Raman noodles, canned food, snacks and hygiene products – you can do that at moat, too. Right now I’m paying off his medical fee for this year so he can call medical. It costs to see a doctor our even a nurse. But If for any reason you don’t want to pay the cost, I’m more than happy to send your mail for you. Letters from the outside mean so much. Just send it to the gmail address.)

I have nothing to read to give me that encouragement. No books that you and Melvin sent me that teach me how to change my life. I fight inside myself to stay alive because I don’t want to disappoint you after all these years you’ve been there for me, trying to get me ready to have a life outside here with my son.

I’ve wondered what it would have been like for me if we had not been writing each otherBlack and white hands and you helping me. Truth be told it brings tears to my eyes because I know I would not be coming home. I would be lost in the system. So right here and right now I want to say thank you. I love you for all of your help and support as well as encouragement. And I can’t forget the love. It’s been too long for there to not be love. Sorry about that, my feelings just popped out. (smile)

Til later, love you.
p.s. Tell Melvin I’ll write soon and thank you.


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A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story
The Nightmare

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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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