( Sonni’s note: This is the first thing I posted on this blog in 2014 and it has been read about 1000 times.  I decided to post it again because there are so many new people who come to this blog.  it is hard to get a sense of who he is or why I do this so I wanted newer readers to have the opportunity to know I write for him – why it matters so much.  I am going to repost some early posts.  You’ll know by the dates.  I hope you go on to read the chapters of the book I am now writing,  “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.   You can sign up to be on the mailing list at the bottom of this post.  The success of this writing, and the fact that he wants to go in the direction of helping kids avoid making the same mistakes, and wanting to help others have a better life,  using this book will be an important tool.  You can help it be a success by sharing it with other people.   I think he is a very special man with a lot to give back to society.  help me help him.  It is extremely hard to have a successful life when inmates reintegrate into society after a long time because so many things have changed.  What he has learned about his life while helping me to write this book, because he has had to look honestly at himself, is helping him to keep his determination strong to change.

There are many piano pieces throughout this blog.  There is a reason for that.  My life and Jamie’s life are intertwined.  He has helped me survive and I have helped him.  Everything happens for a reason.  The people we meet are not by accident.  Hew gave me the reason to start writing music again.

My music pieces are improvisations. There are many throughout this blog. This piece of music is an early recording, before I had the means to record the way I do now.  I wrote this after my liver transplant, when I was able to sit again at my piano.  My playing changed.  I used to write songs with lyrics, and do copy music of other artists.  I lost the ability to sing, my vocal cords are shot, so the meaning needs to be expressed solely through my playing.  I can’t explain this right, but when I lived through the transplant, my music changed.  I no longer wanted to sound like someone else.  My dream as a child was to play the most beautiful music in the world, but I didn’t know how to play what I could hear inside.  Now, it may not be the most beautiful in the world, but to me it expresses what I feel inside.  I crawl inside my piano and play it from the inside out.  I kn0w.  I sound a bit nutty, but it is the only way to describe it.  Every time I sit down to play I have no idea what I’m going to do.  I don’t listen to it while I play.  I just play.  I don’t listen to them until a few days has passed so I can listen to them as a stranger would hear them.  I don’t remember them.

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I sit here in my prison cell, as I do every day, trying unsuccessfully not think too much. How can I pass this day quickly? How many hours can I sleep? How can I pretend that I am somewhere other than this place, trying to wish my life away? It’s sad. What a waste of my life. How did I let this happen to me? This isn’t where I was supposed to be. I want to be with my family. With the woman I love, and with my son and her other children. I think of them like they are my own. I try to not think about that too much anymore. I’ve lost so much I will never be able to get back.

 From one human being to another, Jamie – I love you. Not a romantic love, but the love for you as a human being. You inspire me with the strength you have shown in making it through these things that have been done to you in the false name of Justice.)

I can never get back the time. They are all growing up without me. I’ve let everyone down. I know I’m not a bad person. I try to do the right thing, but sometimes, in the past, I did things on impulse. I never thought about what it would do to my life. I never thought I would end up here. Unless you’ve been here you have no way of understanding. This is a nightmare I can’t wake up from.

I often think I won’t make it. I feel like I want to explode inside. I tried to kill myself more than once, but I didn’t succeed. Sometimes I feel like I am under my cell, under the floor, and everything is on top of me. I feel like will never get out of here. I don’t care about eating most of the time. I’ve gone on hunger strikes. But mom, the woman I call mom, always talks me out of it by telling me that my life matters even if I don’t believe it does. You wouldn’t want to eat if you had to eat the food in here. Sometimes all they feed us is peanut butter.

Sometimes I don’t take my medications for epilepsy. The medical care in here is another story. One time I had a seizure and I woke up on the floor with my hands and feet in cuffs. There was no concern for me. They were afraid that they were going to get hurt. Amazing. Anywhere else a person would be taken to the hospital, but not here. Another time I fell off my bunk and broke my front teeth. I have had so many seizures and many times the guards let me lay here because they don’t want to do the paperwork.  They do give me my seizure medication, most of the time, but I’m not too sure what it is. I’ve heard that drug companies try out new meds on us with the government’s permission – we have a debt to pay society, they say. But how many seizures can one person have and not have their brain all scrambled? People on the outside don’t treat their dogs the way they treat us in here. What does it matter? I don’t think it matters to my family, either.  No one ever writes and asks me how I’m doing.  I’ve given up waiting.

I know, I’m feeling sorry for myself. They didn’t put me here.  I did.  I was wrong to think they would care.  Eight years in here. It tears my head up thinking about where I could be. Where would I be right now? I’d like to think I would have done something good with my life. Would Megan and I be together? Would I have been able to take care of my family? Would something else have happened to me because it was my karma to be in here? Eight years is very long time. I have nine more to go, unless they let me out of here someday. I’m not hopeful. My family doesn’t pay me any attention because they say they feel too much pain knowing I’m here, or they say they didn’t make me screw up, so they ignore me instead. It makes it easier for them. Out of sight, out of mind. That’s kinda screwed up, isn’t it?

There isn’t much I can do in here except think. I lay here hour after hour just thinking about things. Some of my memories are worn out by now. I try not to think about the memories that bring me down, but they seem to sneak in anyway. I have so many regrets. I try to replace those thoughts with good ones about the future. Sonni, who I call mom, tells me that the mind is very powerful and I can shape the future the way I want it to be. I need to think of the life I want to have when I get out of here.  Focus on what CAN be, not what was in the past.  The future hasn’t happened yet so i can shape that the way I want it to be.  It’s hard not to get depressed.  I have to work at that.  Some day this will be over.  I can do it.

Sonni, Megan's mom
Sonni, Megan’s mom

Sonni might not be my mother, but she is the one who has been here for me. She treats me like I am her son. She keeps my head on straight when I’m really feeling bad. Over the years she has been my lifeline. She’s the one person I know I can count on. She helps me buy the things I need at the commissary and sends me books and magazines. But most of all she writes to me and I am so grateful for that. She’s done so much for me when she didn’t have to.  I don’t know why she wanted to help me, but I’m glad she did. She’s my son’s grandmother, so she will always be a part of my family. I know I am important to her. But it’s a shame when you have a large family like I do. They live close enough to visit, but they don’t. I don’t even get a birthday card. It’s like I don’t exist anymore. Sometimes I am so hurt and angry.  that is the hardest thing I have to overcome – my anger.  I used to think it was my fault. Maybe it was because I gave my mom a hard time when I was growing up. Maybe she is just too busy working two jobs and she used to take care of my nieces when their mom was in jail. So maybe my family just doesn’t have any time for me.

I can’t say that my mother never visited me. She and Megan drove across the whole state of Texas when Jamie was little more than a baby. It was the only time I saw my son for 6 years until last October.

jamie-meg

photo43

Megan brought all the kids to see me. It was great.  I felt, for a little while that I had my family around me.  It gave me good memories to think about over and over.  I think I almost wore them out!  For a long time I was moved around Texas and the first two prisons were very far away. I’ve been in 6  8 prisons so far.  But even when I moved closer I still rarely saw my family. My mom did come some months back. I was really surprised. She brought my nieces with her. She told me that she would be back every week. That made me feel really good, but she didn’t come back again for a long time. Megan brought my son Jamie Jr to see me in 2013.  She also brought the other kids. That made me so happy. They were so small the last time I saw them. They grew up.

IMG330                                                                   Antonio Alexander

i0000010                                                                                                     Alyssa

 photo-29 The next month, November, Megan came back and brought Sonni, who from now on I’ll just call mom. That’s what we use in our letters. She lives in Pa. After all the letters we’ve written, we finally got a chance to see each other eye to eye since that very first time in 2005.  She put her hand flat against the glass and I put my hand up to hers.  I could feel the caring through the glass. I haven’t seen them since.  Mom hasn’t been back to Tx yet.  Soon I hope. A man named Melvin, who is a member of the SGI, the Nichiren Buddhist organization  that sends me the reading materials about life I am studying, visited with me for awhile until i was moved to a different prison to far away for him to travel.  It is teaching me how to change the things inside me that cause me unhappiness.

I met mom Thanksgiving before I was arrested. I was only 22 then. I’m 31  35 now. She took my picture when I walked into her room at the hotel. I was embarrassed and couldn’t look up into the camera.photo-44The next morning all of us went out for breakfast. I wish I could turn back the clock and do things different. Megan had just found out she was pregnant, but we didn’t tell anybody. It was only a month later that I got arrested. I was surprised when I got that first letter from her. I am so glad she took the time to write to me, and over time we got close. A lot of dudes in here don’t have anyone to write to.

I wish I could see my son more, but I doubt it’s going to happen. Megan’s life is too full. It keeps her from being able to make the drive. It is a full day of driving so I guess it isn’t easy. I’ve given up expecting more. What I don’t understand is when they say things like, “Just because I don’t write you doesn’t mean I don’t love you” or ” I don’t write to you because it hurts me too much.” Hurts them?? They make it sound as though they are the ones being punished. It hurts me so I’ll hurt you instead? And someday, when I get out of here, am I supposed to open my arms and be glad to see everybody? When someone you love doesn’t write back to you, you make up all kinds of things in your head.

If I could go back and do that night again, I wonder where I would be?  If I had thought about that the night I chose to follow my friends maybe I would have had better common sense? I went out with some friends to party. I was in Megan’s car. She tried to get me to stay home that night. This wasn’t supposed to happen.One guy made a joke about robbing this place.  I think in a way I was shocked, but at the same time I didn’t try to stop him. I didn’t leave because friends don’t leave friends behind. I played a part as well by helping him. I was driving. He had a gun in his backpack. It was all so stupid.

You know the court appoints a lawyer for people who don’t have the money to hire an attorney.  They aren’t on your side. This lawyer gets paid about $200, at $75 an hour, to help whoever needs help. But they don’t really care about helping you. They work for the DA so whatever deal the DA wants, that’s what they tell you to do. The first deal he came to me with was 45 years!  No one got hurt. Yes, it was wrong. I accept responsibility for that. But a white guy could murder someone and not get 45 years. But when you can’t afford a lawyer and you’re black and live in Texas, you’re screwed. So I told them no deal and they set another court date. Then they enhanced my case to make it 50-99 years. This was to make me take the deal. They also don’t want to take the time and money to go to court. It’s called, clearing the docket. So then this lawyer said they would offer 17 years and I should take it. He never discussed the case with me. He didn’t know who I was. He didn’t care. He wasn’t there to help me. I didn’t have anyone I could talk to who would help me. This was a first offense. I did go to juvy on a nine month sentence when I was in tenth grade, but it wasn’t because of a crime.  The school to prison pipeline is very real. That’s another story.

That was more than 8 years ago. I think I have a long way to go. They don’t like to let people out of here. They keep knocking us down so we never make the level to get out. Guards file false charges. One accused me of blowing her a kiss. Who would be that stupid. But she wrote me up for it and got me in trouble.
Prison recreation cages
Most of the time I spent in ad seg (administrative segregation), which is solitary with another name, and I can’t even leave my cell for meals. They let me out of my cell for an hour to go outside by myself to the cages if the weather is okay. A few times a week I go to the showers. They put my food through a slot in the door. Ad seg is also called G5. Recently I made it to G4 and I could go to chow. Someone jumped me . A guard saw it and said it wasn’t my fault but they still took my G4 away and put me back in G5. Now I have to wait another 6 months to a year to get out again. It has happened every time. Last time it took me more than two years to get back up to G4. When I do work my way up it is never for long. They always find a reason to send me back. because of that, in all these years they have never been able to make even one phone call. I would have to be G2 for that to happen. My son was born after this happened but I can never call him, never wish him happy birthday or tell him I love him. That sucks.  It also means I can’t go to school.  Without a GED I can’t even work at a fast food place.  I couldn’t live on that anyway.  This is why inmates can’t make it when they get out and why prison doors revolve.  Let one person out while it brings another back in.

(Sonni’s note: Please read the page called Jamie’s Prison located at the top, before going to the dated posts in the archive. It’s best to start with the earliest posts to really get to know who Jamie is. It’s important. There is also several page written by another man Armando Macias, who is on death row in Texas.  Find out what life in solitary confinement really is. Leave a comment for Jamie if you’d like. I send him all words of encouragement through http://jpay.com. If you want to write to him his ID is #1368189. I appreciate your taking the time to read this story. I hope it helps you to understand that even though prisoners are locked up they are still human beings. He made a mistake. He paid for that mistake with his life and his son’s life.

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Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years.  It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

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

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75 thoughts on “My Name is Jamie

  1. oh my god this music is absolutely beautiful.
    i’m so sorry to hear about the pain and struggle you have endured, and especially being in ad seg. that is truly a horrible place to wind up.
    the way i try to rationalize the depth of suffering that humans have to endure in this life, is that it makes us more in touch with our true selves and search deeper for the happy life we want. true peace and happiness will be so much more valuable after a life of suffering. you still have a long life ahead of you to achieve the happiness you want. & maybe in the future you will see that this suffering was worth it when you finally have a chance at a joyful and blissful life. Keep having hope because this situation will not last forever. there is light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tanvi, thankyou for your kind words. I hope you read more about him. I have a newsletter once a month as well as these blog posts. If you look at the top in the white area, the laslast entry is a subscription form. Also, if you go to soundcloud.com/sonni-quick you will find many pieces of piano music. These pieces can also be found on random blog posts. I’m writing a book about him that is nearly ready to be edited. You are right, it’s about hohope. He’s been through a lot in 14 years. 6 1/2 to go. He’s grown up inside. He has had to learn a lot. I will send your message to him. You can also find him on facebook at fb/jamielifeinprison

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  2. Great post. When I first read this & saw the length of the sentence I thought for sure someone was severely hurt. I don’t agree with robbery but it was a first offense and 17 years! I’m seeing people get off on manslaugther and worse in 4! I think the system is screwed up. I had a tenant steal from me on cameras & I pressed charges for grand larceny and they didn’t get arrested! It’s awful he’s in segregation all the time my brother was in jail a few years ago and the way he was treated was awful and also didn’t get the medications he deserved. I wish there was more we could do! Jamie is lucky to have you!!!!!! Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So you know through your brother what the prison experience can be. It’s why I’m writing the book. There are some chapters on the blog even though most of them have been edited. “Inside The Forbidden Outside” They all have the same picture on the header of a man pressing on an invisible wall to get out. It is not the cover of the book – just temporary. I felt his story needed to be told. Hopefully it will sell and I can help get a parole attorney or use it in some other way to help him. I just started a newsletter. I put out two issues so far – one each month. The newer posts have a link to the subscribe form if you’d like to get it. It takes people telling people and there are other things on the newsletter about other inmates or articles as well. You’ll also find the sign up form on his facebook page.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m late answering comments. I’ve been traveling around the US and went to Tx and had a two day visit with Jamie at Allred Prison and took his son in with me. No one else will take him so it was almost 3 years since the last visit. He was my daughter’s boyfriend and got pregnant. She dumped him. I don’t blame her. His sentence was 17 years. But it turned to anger. She is angry because I’m not letting her forget him and she thinks our “relationship” is disgusting. ( I’m 30 years older than him and 9 years older than his mother and I’m married. What does she think our relationship is) His family dumped him, too, even his mother and he had no one to help him through this. We’ve exchanged at least 4-500 letters. I started the blog in 2014 because he has a story to tell and now the book is almost done but has to go through the editing process. I want to raise money to help him. I just put up a post today about the visit and on the bottom is the sign up form for a newletter I just started and will be putting out the 3rd issue ( once a month) if you are interested. Even just sharing it will help get new subscribers who will learn about the book, but there is more info about other prison issues, too.I want to do what I can to help change this, and change people’s attitudes.Yes, there are bad criminals, but the fact that we have so many people locked up – more than any country means there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be locked up, but the prison corporations have contracts with the state prisons for twenty years to run things so the less they provide the more profit they make. It’s disgusting. Thank you for your interest and all the articles you read. I really appreciate it.

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  3. So much respect for what your doing here. So necessary, and so conflated with obstructions to healing within our society and selves. However this is the only way, people caring about people. All people. Important work. -J

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    1. Thank you. So often people say there is nothing they can do. Ther is always something you can do about something even if it only using your words. So many people just allow things to happen and then complain about it late. Is it too late to hall our society? Probably. Greed is too high. But still we have to do the best we can and push back against the powers that be.

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  4. Wow that is such a crazy and sad story. I’ve read and heard some things about how bad prisons can be, but never anything this personal. Thanks for sharing his story, it’s an important one- hopefully one that can help push for change. I hope he gets out of G5 soon, it’s so crazy that they keep people in solitary that long, what a horrible horrible nightmare…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That you for your kind words. so many people don’t really know why we have prisons and the way it is structured for profit. They sacrificed the people they determined had less value and the ones who didn’t have the money to fight the system or hire attorneys. It is why there are 6 times more blacks that whites in prison. I do hope you continue reading and share this with people you know. I’m writing a book on him, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.If you would like to be on the mailing list as I print out chapters I’m working on, drop me an email at sonniq56@gmail.com and put “email list” in the subject line.

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  5. Thanks for publishing this story, and for supporting Jamie. I volunteer with kids in the juvenile justice system, and have an inkling of the stories behind the stories of people who are incarcerated. Looking forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for writing that. I eat, sleep and breath Jamie’s story. I see sometimes that some blogs get an incredible response and often. I got a msg from a man once who he wrote he just didn’t know what to say because he couldn’t find the words. Another one said it left him in tears. And. these were men. Yes, women say these things, but if it can affect a man emotionally enough to write it . . .I don’t but it slowly builds over time. I realize some people have been around a longer time and usually a large percentage of my viewers don’t come from WP. There is a teacher in me. Music, 42 years and every thing I am passionate about. I don’t know everything about blogging but I like to help when I can. On my other blog http://watchandwhirl.com I’m going to put out a post on how to use StumbleUpon the right way. – after much trial and error.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I had no idea prison conditions in the US were so bad that Jamie could be kept in solitary for so long and isn’t even able to access a phone to call people. When his family are a day’s drive away limiting his ability to stay in touch with things like the occasional phone call just seems inhumane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you have no idea what goes on. The prison sentence doesn’t even begin until you have to deal with the inhumanity inside. American corporations have taken advantage of the money to be made from prisons. The list of American companies who use prison labor would shock you – Eddie Bauer, Victoria’s Secret and many more, to make their products that also helps to raise the jobless rate outside. Why would a company even pay minimum wage to someone who needed a job to feed their kids if they can pay prison wages that average from .23 to .49 and hour with no benefits, human resources or union to complain to. Some states like Texas pay no wages at all. You are supposed to be grateful just for the opportunity to do something – if you are at the level that allows you to do work of any kind. Jamie did reach the point recently where he was able to work a janitor job and make phone calls – to me only – no other family signed up their phone for him to call – but a few weeks later they found another reason to thrown him back into 23 hr a day lockup because of cases written up by guards that he wasn’t alowed to attend the hearing for. When he gets out of lockup he has to start the process of climbing through the levels all over again. Eight years ago I had to grab hold of him to keep him from drowning. If you go the page “I want to encourage you . . .” it will give you some pointers on how to go to other places on the blog and explains the book I am writing about him and the prison injustice system. Read his letters. Some of them will break your heart. I also am putting an email together for him with responses people have made so he can personally answer them and I will add yours to it. I can email him through jpay.com, but he has to write back longhand.

      Please . . follow the blog and share on your SM and if you would, fill out the contact form for the email list for news about the process of the book (necessary for when I look for an agent) and also if I post more 3 chapters to read.

      I hope I don’t presume too much. I will also be round to read your blog. Us bloggers have to take care of each other.

      I also haven’t said, “Thank you”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And I thought overseas sweatshops were an issue, really had no idea that businesses were benefitting from cheap labour from prisoners in that way. Although clearly there’s a lot I don’t know about the US justice system. I will definitely explore your blog more, to learn more about Jamie’s experience and find out about your book. Good luck with the book and supporting Jamie through all this.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Overseas sweatshops really are an issue. it is very mush and issue when American companies go overseas and have their products made in deplorable working conditions. There are other companies outside our borders who have also shut down their companies and relocated them inside prisons on the promise of having such a lucrative work force as our inmates. Our media has done a good job of convincing the public that prisons are just for bad people, but opening up the minds like yours one at a time, helps.

          Go to Moorbey’z Blog and go to an article on the top right that says” America is Addicted and Dependent on Slavery” and read the list of American Companies who use prison labor. It will blow your mind.

          Liked by 1 person

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