Allred Unit- Prison #8

Early Jan 2016

Hello mom, I’m sorry it to so long for me to write. Things have really been crazy the last few weeks. I have through hell and back. But that’s in the past. I’m not in the Wynne Unit no more. I’m now in N. Texas.

(  Sonni’s note: This is the 8th prison Jamie has been in. IF you would like to write to him here is his new address: James Cummings #1368189  12-Fpod-84, Allred Unit, 2101 FM 369 North, Iowa Park, Tx 76367 for those who have written and had birthday cards returned because he was transferred. If they were delivered, they haven’t sent his property to him yet so he doesn’t have any addresses, stamps, paper or ID to get any at the commissary. Hopefully he’ll get it, but last time the guards took things. It’s normal to be moved all over the state. There are more than 110 prisons just in Texas. Going to N Texas is better than going south. Texas is hot in the summer all over. But the south is hotter)

lockdown,voice from insideI am in ad seg, but believe it or not it’s okay as of right now. I am so glad to be away from Wynne Unit. It took two days to get here and we went through a little snow storm.

(Sonni’s note: Jamie told me a long time ago that he’d never seen snow. He’s never been out of Texas. So he must have enjoyed seeing snow. I just sent him a letter through jpay.com and sent a picture of the snow storm we just had on the east coast. 33″ and add 2 more feet of drifts. I hate cold weather. I prefer the tropics so I am typing right now wrapped up in three blankets! I hibernate in the winter.)

So far I’m okay. I’m still having chests pains here and there but I’ll be seeing a Dr here soon. They’ll start taking my medical fee out of any money you send until it’s paid. If you hadn’t been paying it all these years and helping me I wouldn’t have anything. I hope the send me all the books you had just sent.

( I buy them by the foot. A variety of all kinds of used books that measure three feet when stacked. I already bought another 3 feet. If he gets the last shipment h, too, he’ll be set for a couple months! In his property is also a radio. I found a neat article about how a monk sets his day. I jokingly told him he is like a monk who also lives in a cell. It helps to have a routine and stick to it spending so much time doing each thing and keeping his mind occupied in a positive way.

Source: Timo Waltari on Flickr
photo source: wikipedia commons (also from previous article)))

If you haven’t yet, read the post before this one about solitary confinement in the UK.  It’s hard to read what this kind of solitary does to the mind. It causes depression and mental illness. Suicide in prison is high. Depression and paranoia. Human beings are not meant to never be touched or talked to. Most people can’t handle it. Jamie is no stranger to solitary confinement or ad seg. They are both 23 hr a day lock down. Every three months they lock you down further to toss cells. Commissary is suspended even though he can only go once a month anyway and food rations are cut. Being able to stock up on food from the commissary is important.

Jamie studies Nichiren Buddhism. I started teaching him about 6-7 years ago. It’s not an easy practice to do every day without support. Compare it to taking out a gym membership. After going for awhile most people gradually stop going and make excuses why they can’t exercise that day, but they’ll go tomorrow and when they don’t see results they quit.  Buddhism produces actual results. It isn’t like Christianity where you go to church once a week, ask forgiveness and all is okay and you treat the world around you the same. We look at life and death in a different way and don’t think it was created by a god. It is different than a religion where a god is at the center. Since there is no god in Buddhism to worship, we don’t pray to an entity outside of us to change things in our life. We pray for the wisdom to know what to do to be able to change the part pf your nature that ends up causing you unhappiness. When you are able to change something on the inside, it affects your environment on the outside. 

We cause our own problems and over time we see the effects in our life around us. We can’t expect our life to change without doing the work. It’s like praying to change something and then holding out our hand expecting the benefit of cookies. We have to learn how to make better causes so we can be happy. In the last year, when Jamie was knocked down from G2 status that allowed him phone calls and had also allowed him to have a job – cleaning the showers – that he had worked hard to reach, because of the vindictiveness of a guard, it was a major let down for him and slowly he allowed his anger to have more control over his actions than common sense. He’s human. We’re all human, and we do or say things we later regret. But in prison you also have to deal with the rule that guards are always right and inmates are always wrong and there is nothing you can do about it. This has happened a number of time over the years where he had privileges taken away because of someone else has power over him.

But still, it is the result of cause that were made that put him in this situation to begin with, and only by changing how he deals with it can he change it. Wanting to change it doesn’t work by itself. If it were that easy to change, people would be doing it all the time. But they don’t and many fall back on, “That’s just the way I am.”

This is why we practice Nichiren Buddhism – not Tibetan or Zen or any other because they are ass different as Pentecostals and Catholics.If your faith only tells you what you should to be happy, but doesn’t tell you how to do it, then you have only half a teaching. Praising a god or any religion is not how you change the problems in your life. I’ve gone into this explanation because it’s a very important part of how he will be able to have the life he wants.  It’s up to him and asking an entity in the universe to fix his problems won’t work.  Ask any inmate in solitary confinement how that method is working for him.  If that worked we wouldn’t have the prison system we have because I’m sure there are a lot of inmates who are trying that method.  I don’t mean to disrespect anyone’s choice of faith.  I hadn’t intended this to be a post on faith, but it is a big part off how I keep his head above water.  I only know what works for me now and what hasn’t worked in the past. If anyone would like to know what this is go to http://sgi-usa.org.

So you had the chance to talk with the Warden when you called about my medications. The warden is just as bad as the guards. He’s the type of fool who tries to bone every female officer who works for him. When he can’t have his way he writes them up. This whole place is corrupt. I’ve had women who work here offer me sex. I would never have intercourse with them even if I wanted to. I’d be too scared because of HIV. A lot of these women have sex with these dudes and a lot of these dudes have sex with other dudes. So I have safe sex, with myself.

This seg is nothing like the last one. Officers here are respectful. I haven’t met them all yet but I’m going to do my best to be polite.

Do you think you can get Megan to bring little Jamie to see? If you are still planning on coming to Texas this spring I can’t wait to see you! I have to go for now. I only have one piece of paper and a stamp that I borrowed. I’ll write again as soon as I can. Please call Jamie. And tell him I love him.

Love you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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In Prison There is No Way To Win From Losing

“Sending All My Love to You” is the latest piece I’ve written and recorded”

December, 2015

seizure webmdcom
photo source: webmd.com

Hello mom,
How are you? Fine and in the best of heath I hope. As for me, things are crazy here as always. On Friday Dec 11 I had to go to the hospital. I had a seizure while I was asleep. I’m okay, I just hurt my left shoulder. It hurts here and there. They took x-rays and said I’ll be fine. I’m still not getting the medication for my heart. Nothing new with these people.

( Sonni’s note: That makes me so angry that they are allowed to do this. Why is that even the rights the inmates are supposed to have, the prisons don’t have to follow, People in our government know they aren’t being followed, and people get hurt or die because of their negligence. I don’t get it.)

The medication for my seizures was changed. They can’t stop giving me that one. They can’t screw with that diagnoses and say I don’t that medication. With the change in this medication, I’ll see if it helps. the other medication was giving me bad headaches. I was taken off it. So far so good.

Oh, just so you know I received all the books you sent me except for one. Something with the subject matter they didn’t like. It’s okay. There’s a lot of good books here.

( Sonni’s note: I sent him 30 books from an website that sends books to inmates. http://imailtoprisons.com.   You can send new books and used books and its already approved by the prisons. Who cares if they are used? It will keep him reading for quite awhile and then he’ll read them all again. He asked if I could send him some Westerns. He had never said he was interested in that. Why not? Fortunately there were some Westerns in the lot. He said he was going to save them for last. I guess it is like eating dessert last. Save the best until last. I got a laugh out of that.)

I also got the big envelope with the book chapters you wrote for Inside The Forbidden Outside. I’m waiting to get some stamps so I can answer your questions. I also received a few letters from people who read the blog. It was really good to hear from other people. It makes me feel as though there are people who care and I didn’t feel so alone.  I got a couple letters from a woman named Leah.  She said she talks to you a lot online.  Another lady is Kelly Sherrell.  I’m waiting to get stamps so I can write back to them.

I really enjoy everything you sent in the big envelope.  That is some strong stuff you are writing. You know, it always good to hear when you are doing good.  But remember some things can be fixed and some things can’t.  Just like with these guards with the way they treat me  me and the shit I give them back.  It’s wrong on both our ends.  Someone has to be the bigger person and I see it’s going to have to be me, because the system doesn’t care nor do the people who works for them.  I’ve been through a lot and I’m tired, so I want you to know something.  This might upset you a bit, however I think this is the best thing for me, okay? I’ve been placed back in ad seg (another term for solitary confinement)  As of right now I’m waiting to be sent to another unit because they don’t have ad seg here – only G5 (that is really no different either.  It’s a classification, but you are still in lock down 23 hours a day and get served your meals through a slot in the door and have no communication with anyone. ) So I’m waiting to leave.  Please don’t be mad.  I could still make parole in ad seg, but I have to get my line class back and that will take a year.  Also inmates that go to ad seg get a lot help as far as programs and school when we get out.  I feel this will be a new start and I will get a lot out of this, mom, really.

solitary confinement, Jamie Cummings, ad seg, behind glass visitation
Jamie Cummings in Prison Whites

I’ve sat here and read your letter over and over about how to keep my mouth shut, however it was already too late.  I did this to myself and it hurts me to tell you I’m going back to ad seg. because I know it is something you don’t want.  I understand if you want to stop writing to me. (fat chance of that happening!)  Just know that I will try and I’ll keep trying, okay?  I won’t give up.

Please give me a little time.  I will beat this.  I’m going to overcome myself.  I feel that this would help me more.  They offer a lot to us when we get out of the seg program.  I know I can do it.  I’ve done it before.

One of the officers broke my ID so I can’t go to commissary and it will take me three weeks to get another one.  One of the dudes in here got some stuff for me that I needed, and I will be able to get it back to him when I get my new ID.

I won’t give up.  Like you always said, it’s two steps forward and 1 1/2 steps back.  Everything happens for a reason.  It is what I learn about myself that counts.  Sometimes when something looks like a bad thing, there is something good inside it to learn.  I have to learn  how to overcome my anger.  I know I get angry fast and if I don’t learn why it happens and how to control it, it will get me into trouble when I get out.  I want to have a good life when I get out, so I have to work on these things now.  There is a reason for this.  I can’t blame nobody else but myself.  Like you said many times, to be happy I need to understand cause and effect.  I need to make better causes to get better effects.

I need to get this in the mail.  I love you, mom.  I love you always

Jamie    Merry Christmas

(Sonni’s note:  my response to this will be in another post)

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About SoundCloud – Click on my face to bring up all 12 music pieces. Use headphones to listen in you can or you lose the richness of the piano tones. Otherwise it sounds tinny.  My Newest piece is titled “Sending All My Love To You” It should be at the top of the list. I am using Soundcloud now instead of inserting a music player. I only ask that if you like it, let me know.  I only know by the stats, just like blogging. Share it or like it or leave a comment if you want. Getting feedback helps me a lot and when someone is a newbie at a site like this it encourages others to listen as well. There are 12 music pieces there. I put them on my first CD for my mother to play and share with friends. When you aren’t a computer person it doesn’t help to tell someone to go to a computer to listen to it! I enjoy creating music. I hope you enjoy listening to it.

Crippling court costs force poverty-stricken people to ‘plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit’

Adult court does not want to take time and money to cases that are being heard by public defenders, who actually work for the DA. They get paid on average, $75 an hour for maybe three hours work to convince you take a plea. They try to stack as many offenses on top whether they are true or not and scare you with unusually long sentences. If you don’t have a paid attorney to defend you, you don’t know what to do. Out of fear you take the plea.

In Jamie’s case he wasn’t innocent. It was his choice to go with his cousin that night. But having no attorney to help him made it worse. He had no priors. But a public defender isn’t interested in doing a good job for you. He’s only interested in being done with you so he can go on to his next “client”. At first Jamie was first told he would get 99 years if he insisted on going to court. The second offer was 45 years. When he continued to refuse they offered him 17 years and told him if he went to court he wouldn’t get that. It would surely be much higher. He was scared. He took the 17 years. He has now almost done 10 of that. They don’t like to parole blacks so he is afraid to get his hopes up. He does have an uncle that works in the parole system in his area so there is hope he can somehow intervene. But since they keep him in ad seg, and can’t show he has improved himself there is still only slim hope. The prison system sets them up to fail.

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What Has Happened Now? The Prison Cut Off My Emails.

I’m concerned. Two nights ago I started writing an email to Jamie. I have used http://Jpay.com to write to him for about 7 years. I can send him emails, money and pictures, which is easier than handwriting mail, and getting money orders, although I do send him other things – articles and cards. But when I logged into Jpay yesterday morning, the option to send mail had disappeared. I could only send money. That had never happened before in all the years I’ve been writing.

I called Jpay. The rep I talked to had not heard of this happening, either, and called her supervisor. She told me the prison must have stopped it as a way of disciplining him. To me that says they are out of things to take away from him. There isn’t much more they can take away from you when you are in ad seg. So his books must be gone as well as all belongings, probably his mattress as well. His little fan? In this godawful heat. His food -still on food loaf, which I think they make from garbage. They feed it to them three times a day.

food loaf

So what the hell happened that they would resort to stopping my emails. They would know I am the only one writing to him. Will a snail mail letter get through? Is it also directed at me for some reason because they didn’t like what they read?  I’m grasping at straws.  I just double checked again and it’s still blocked.  My concern is mostly for Jamie because most likely it is a punishment for something.

Melvin, the man in Texas who goes to the prison to visit with him every 4 to 6 weeks was recently there.  He said he was in good spirits.  The cut on his foot was still hurting but it was starting to heal.  They chanted together for awhile.  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  Jamie has been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for several years, a practice that is difficult to do on your own.  It’s easy to begin, like deciding to go to the gym, but it is hard to maintain with encouragement, because since it is a practice it is something you do every day.  He has been learning that we are the cause for own problems.  We make the causes.  We get the effects.  Learning how to respond to life a different way takes more than just thinking about it.  If you have an issue with anger there are things that are going to press your buttons and you are going to respond the same way no matter how many times you tell yourself not to.  Actually changing something inside yourself that reflects in your environment takes time.  You make baby steps.  The first step is understanding how you could have reacted in a different way.  We chant – deeply – to change that part of ourselves that causes us the most grief.  It is a life long process.  Most people understand there are benefits to meditation and chanting has the same benefits of that.  Deep breathing calms you and enables you to think.  Chanting is deeper that that.

The universe runs on a rhythm.  We see it easily in the tides.  All life is a cycle.  Birth, aging, sickness and death.  All of nature and all living beings. When you are able to join with that rhythm it brings into your life those things that help you and also those things you need to learn so you can change the things that cause you unhappiness.  When you try to change the things that hold you down the only way to do that is to confront the very things that cause you unhappiness. We never get rid of problems.  What we want is to deal with our problems in a different way that gets us a better result. This is not about asking something “out there” to change your life but instead looking inside yourself to change negative into positive.  Accepting responsibility that there is no one but yourself to blame for the plan you have for your life.  The plan wasn’t decided by something outside yourself.  We make the causes that affect us.  If we don’t change these things – especially an inmate – when he gets out he has little chance of doing things different and gravitates back to the life he had.

So I have to think – What has happened?  Most of these guards have such low life conditions.  We read about prison guard brutality more and more in the media. They have no problem hurting inmates just for the pleasure of being able to do it and get away with it. Did he react to something they did and that gave them the reason to want to hurt him?

All I can do is wait while I send him a snail mail.  Today is Saturday.  I tried to call the prison and no one is picking up the phone. Are they closed on Weekends?  That doesn’t make sense.  They have visiting hours today.  I’ll keep trying. On Monday I’ll try again . . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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: itfonews@gmail.com

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord.  She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. Call me, email me, msg me at fb. It’s that easy.   You can also contact me here:  Legal Shield

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Texas Prison Heat With a “Chill Towel”

Texas heat
July 27, 2015

Hello Beautiful, I got your letter. I love the photo of you. Still looking good (smile) What did you do for your special day? I hope Mike took you out. Before I go on I want to say Happy Birthday!  (LOL) I hope you don’t think I forgot about your birthday on July 28th. I would never do that.  Again Happy Birthday.

YESTER DAYS. by Sonni Quick. copyright 2015

I got your letter from the 23rd. I also got a postcard from Jamie. What is going on that life is so crazy? I got the money you sent. Thank you. Sorry it took so long to write back. Is been crazy here as well. It is so damn hot! Sometimes I lay naked. The officers come through and tell me to put my underwear on. I tell them to hold on I’m not done cooking yet! (LOL) It is so hot I don’t want to move. It’s 96 degrees but it feels a lot hotter. I love the summer but this heat I can’t stand. Inmates die in this Texas heat

(Sonni’s note: I got two letters back to back so I combined this into one so you would know he has found some relief)

I just bought what they call a “chill towel”. It’s a sponge material that holds water and chills the air while it evaporates. It somewhat works. It’s half the length of my arm, maybe a little longer. It’s thick and light green. It cost $6.50. I wet it and let the fan blow on me. I’m not as hot as I used to be and that’s all that counts. It helps a lot.

I used to lay and sleep on the floor, but now I can’t. There are roaches everywhere. These little suckers move like they have jet fuel up their ass. They move really fast. This cell is just temporary. I can’t wait until I move out of it to a different ad seg unit.

I got a letter from my little brother Lionel a few weeks ago. It’s been years since I heard from him. I wrote him back. He said he was going to send pictures of the family. I made it clear to him not to say he was going to do something and then not do it. It was really good to hear from him and see how he was holding up after his dad died.

So how are the veggies doing in your garden? Everything going well with your piano students? How is your mom? Tell her I said hello, okay? It sure would be good to get out of the house and move around. Going to see an old friend just might be a good thing thing for you.

I can’t wait until you come down to visit. You could bring Jamie. I haven’t seen my son in two years. Be sure to ask for a special visit. Because of the miles you would be traveling we can have a visit Saturday and Sunday like last time. If I don’t have a case on me then prison visits could be for four hours instead of the normal two.

Well, it’s six minutes to 8:00. It’s cooled down. It’s supposed to rain a little. I sure hope so. A program I like is fixin’ to come on the radio. I might catch a little rap music. Till next time.

LOVE YOU ALWAYS, SON
Later Gator

(Sonni’s note: It was good to hear him in a better mood, just chatting. Things have been rough lately)

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Protected Places

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

AFTER THE RAIN BEGINS
by Sonni Quick copyright 2015

PROTECTED PLACES
copyright 2002 by Sonni Quick

Under a Quicksilver Moon
ISBN: 0-7951-5065-2

Keeper of my thoughts
Protector of the secrets
that are very deep inside the part
of me that makes me who I am.
Lover of my dreams,
keeping safe my weakest thoughts
when I am down and need the heart
to help me grow and understand
the who,the what,the where and why
we do the things we choose to do.
We fall, we run, we make mistakes.
We learn there’s much we can’t undo
Keep the hurtful things inside
protected places in my mind.
Throw away the lock and key.
Protect, pretend that’s how we see
ourselves, and hope that others, too,
believe and understand this need
to guard this part from even you.
Afraid of hurt from loving me

(Sonni’s note: I wrote this long before I met Jamie Cummings in 2006. Reading these words again today it reminded me of him and how hard it is to survive in a place that wants to crush any life in your heart. Sometimes, when we find ourselves in a place we can’t escape, as time passes, even those you were sure loved you, go away. The need to protect yourself is overwhelming because it is all you have left so you don’t get lost.)

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Sonni Quick piano music complete list

In The Beginning I thought He was Safe In The Hole – part 3

PART THREE

by Sonni Quick

Most people don’t have a reason to think about our prison population so they don’t think it

women prison labor
photo credit:
popularresistance.org

affects them. But you do know people who had a hard time finding a job. There are many products the average consumer buys off the shelf that people are unaware are made by  inmates. Clothing, furniture, uniforms worn by fast food workers, electronics, weapons used by our military and

police, and the list goes on and on. These are companies with familiar household names. If you owned stock in that company wouldn’t it be in your best interest to have the highest possible dividend paid? If that product could be made using free labor, or at the highest about $2 an hour for highly specialized work, wouldn’t you want to make sure the prisons were full?

inmate labor
inmates making dentures
photo credit:
springfieldnewssun.com

Inmates should work.  learning a trade helps when they are released back into society.  But does that mean they should work for free or nearly free? The US has gone through a serious job shortage in the past six years. We all know that. We all know how hard it has been for many people not being able to find work. But why would these companies even want to pay minimum wage when their profit margin hinges on the number of people we have locked up? No one believes America has so many more criminals than any other country in the world, so think, what is the real reason behind this?

This is where the Prison Industrial Complex comes into play. So many states are having trouble balancing their budgets. Schools have closed, teachers have been laid off, roads are in disrepair, and that list goes on. The prison corporations, like  CCA   and Corizon, which handles medical are just two the many of the prison corporations with a long list of lawsuits.  Five years CCA alone housed more than 60,000 inmates and was the 5th largest prison corporation in America. What are the numbers today? This is the corporation that controls the prison Jamie is at, so I know just how substandard their care can be.  These corporations go to the state governments with a sweet deal. “Let us take over your prisons for you. We’ll take care of providing medical, food, and education. This will free up money you can use on education and infrastructure.We’ll save you money.”  They pay heavy campaign contributions to get what they want. The devil is in the deal.

The only catch, they want 20 year contracts with the government signing on the dotted line promising the prisons will be kept 80-90-100% full. CCA used to only be in the south, but have now even spread to other countries who want to the US model of prisons. Yes, there are states that have to be kept 100% full – at all times – or the government has to pay them per head for the vacancies, which can amount to millions of dollars. If you read the news you hear that our government is trying to lower the incarcerations rate. It sounds as though times are changing, but is it? One thing is offset by another. Absurdly long prison sentences far beyond what the “crime” deserves. The injustice in our justice system is unlike any other country. People can be held in jail for years without being convicted for a crime simply because they can’t make bail. Since it is predominately lower income neighborhoods that are canvassed, with people pulled over and harassed for no other reason than they are walking down the street – and also for being black. Lower income people can’t come up with bail.

Once someone is on the inside of the walls they are dependent on corporate services to simply make a phone call that is many times more expensive than for anyone else in the country. Why should this be? There are people trying to change that, but corporations like Securus, who provides the phone service many inmates need to use to call loved ones  are making the money are fighting them tooth and nail. It is the families who have to foot the bill. Then there are the corporations who have bid on the contracts to supply the commissary. Huge profit. Until 2 years I go I was able to buy paper and envelopes through Amazon and have it shipped to the prison for Jamie Cummings, the same way I send books. A corporation won the bid to supply those items and now they have to get it at the commissary at higher prices. But what happens when commissary privileges have been revoked. Being able to buy deodorant and soap is a privilege. Right now Jamie can only go to the commissary once a month so he is severely limited. There are corporations like Aramark who supply food. They have caused food strikes and lawsuits because of cutting portions down and serving substandard food.

In Texas, no inmate makes any money for any work they do. Completely free labor. TDCJ – Texas Department of Criminal Justice says they give “good time”, but there are many ways any good time earned is taken away. If you are in the levels G4,G5 or adseg you are not allowed to work.  Your value then is just to fill bed and spend money while they feed you slop and often deny necessary medical care.

Even though the media tells you incarcerations are down, more and more prisons are built and auctioned off to the highest bidder with the promise of a never ending supply of prisoners. Logically, why are they being built when the govt is showing concern and wants to free non violent crimes. Aren’t illegals crossing the border non violent crimes? Texas now has over 110 prisons. We no longer deport people caught trying to cross the border but instead imprison them, they have become another source of income for the prison corporations. People cross the border because their home situation is horrendous and they have the hope and misinformation that maybe it will be better here. The statement recently made by Donald Trump that Mexico is “sending” us their criminals and rapists is absurd. Hispanics are now added to the same slave status that many blacks live with. There are also businesses in Mexico who have shut down and relocated inside the walls of prisons here in the US. it is so much more cost effective for them to have the same people work for free. One problem the American people have is that many of them read headlines and hear news blurbs but never look to find the truth.

In many states, the prisoners have to pay room and board while they are incarcerated and it accrues throughout their time inside. They are presented with a bill after they leave. It is called a “pay to stay” fee. If they have to pay should they at least get enough food to eat, AC in the summer months, especially in the south, and heat in the winter? If it isn’t paid, they can be picked up and sent back to prison. Since rehabilitation is scarce and many parolees are literally dumped on the street, sometimes straight from solitary confinement, they have no way of getting their lives together. Inmates are a commodity. Nothing more, nothing less. Prison corporations have no vested interested in educating inmates and helping them transition into society. Education costs money. They put on a show on their websites about all the great things they do for inmates, but that is all it is – a show for the public. Many times, even if a parolee has family, they may have been gone so long that support and help is not an option. Old inmates, who have become a financial burden, often get dumped on the sidewalk. Many parolees are mentally destroyed by being kept in isolation for too long and there is no hope of them having a life that we, in the free world, would consider normal.

I’ve learned a lot in these years of writing to Jamie. Before this, I knew nothing about prisons. My knowledge came from TV shows, movies and occasional stories in the media, just like everyone else. I watched the series TV series, Prison Break, about a group of inmates who planned breaking out of prison. The show had you rooting for them to succeed. But this isn’t real life. The brutality found in TV prisons don’t come close to reality. The TV show, “Orange is the New Black” is meant to be entertainment, while throwing in a a tiny bit of reality. The warden, officers and guards don’t come close to portraying the real thing. People were glued to these shows week after week never about the real people in prison, and how they have to live. I constantly hear the line, “If you do the crime, you have to do the time”, yet people give no thought to what those crimes really were and was justice actually served? Who got punished and who didn’t get punished for the same crime?

Are there really bad people locked up who should never get out? Absolutely. They are now off the street and society is safe from them. Does that mean they should be continually tortured? No. Was the sentence perhaps “Life with no parole including getting beaten, starved. medications withheld, water shut off, food spit on with guards being to do anything they want including murdering them for fun?” I don’t think so.

2.4 million people who are locked up right now, or are still “on paper”. When someone is paroled, they are not free. If they are on probation they are not free. They are tethered to their prison sentence with the threat of being sucked back in if one small mistake was made. The smallest infraction of any rule, even missing a meeting with your parole officer or if you unknowingly spend time with an ex-felon, or someone carrying a gun, in a age where many thousands of people carry guns on their person, could get you put back in prison in a heartbeat with few questions asked. This is how the prisons are kept full without it costing the time and another of a conviction. They just sneak you in through the back door. The redivism rate is over 70%. Why? What broke down? Why can’t the parolees make it on the outside? Because they are set up to fail. If they can’t get a job or rent an apartment, how do they live? So even those with a clear determination to live a good live is often forced to find another way to eat. There aren’t enough halfway houses for the amount of people let go. Three out of four end up back inside because they can’t earn money and get started in life. They are left with few other options.

Unfortunately our society is not very welcoming of parolees or ex-felons. Getting job, being accepted at a school, renting an apartment or opening a bank account is not very easy when you have to check the box that asks you if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Fortunately there are organizations working on changing that so parolees have a better chance of integrating back into society, although it’s only in the process stage. There are many things we, on the outside, take for granted, but it is not something granted to those being released from prison after they have “repaid their debt to society”. If they can’t get a job, no matter how determined they are to have a better life, the walls society puts up can not be broken down by someone with a sentence.

Until things are changed and more is done for the people who have been deemed less worthy than the rest of society, it is a problem that is going to continue growing. No amount of dressing it up will make it look prettier than it is. We know many inmates need to be released.  Will help be available for them? Keep inside the ones who really are seriously a problem, and let go the ones who have done enough time for their crimes. Let them go before we destroy the ones who want to live, with all their marbles intact. Let them work and get paid for working and keep the money going around the way it should.

Corporations should be paying people a real wage who do the job of make their products instead of lobbying and paying politicians to vote in their favor to continue using slave labor. Instead of money going to the prison industrial complex, let it be used where it is needed most, on the people. As long as corporations have a stranglehold on the people of this country to use and exploit, we will continue our slide downward. The US government tells the world we don’t use solitary confinement the way we do and they get away with it.

Slavery moved from outside in the fields to inside the prison walls is still slavery no matter what you call it.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and other news about injustice in the world

Lockdown. Voice From Inside

lockdown,voice from inside

July 23, 2013 – nearly two years ago

I try my best to stay away from trouble. But I guess it’s my karma. I’m here in lockdown again and I don’t know why. All I know is my celly threatened me in front of an officer. They locked him up and came and got me the next day. My celly was trying to get away from another dude. He sold the dude his fan for 6 pictures of women and toothpaste!! However, he later tried to back out of the deal and the dude told him he was going to beat him up. So my celly did what we call ‘catch out’ cause he didn’t want to fight. But these people are now saying that I’m under investigation. I think my celly done lied on me about something. I don’t know what’s going on. The Security Threat Group Officer come and ask me if I was ok. However he said I have to be placed in tranzed (?) til I see UCC. ( Sonni’s note:UCC is the inprison court which is usually run by the warden. He hears so many claims about the same thing that not much attention is paid to what the inmate is saying most of the time.)

I seen my celly. He said the officer wrote him a case for a shank. He got G5 today. Could you call and see what’s going on please? I haven’t been given a case yet. There’s no telling what my celly done lied about. I tried to help him by talking to the dude but the dude didn’t want to hear it. So I left it alone and told my celly the dude didn’t want to hear it. So I left it alone and told my celly the dude said to sit the fan out. Like I said, it’s my karma for trouble. If you call just ask them, why am I being locked up? They won’t tell me nothing. Don’t say nothing bout my celly. Well, you know what? Just don’t say anything bout him getting G5. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. I don’t think I’m in any trouble. Then again I’m looking at where I’m at. In lockdown. I think this time they’re trying to make sure I’m safe. I hope that’s what it is. Cause I ain’t did nothing. But if they try anything I’ll be going back to ad seg. I’d rather be by myself. Then I don’t have to worry about no inmates. Who am I kidding? Trouble is everywhere.

I don’t know why I’m worried. I’m fixing to get up and dance and sing! For awhile, and then chant. That’s what’s wrong with me. I worry too much. But you know what? I don’t forget anything! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Cause I would like to see just how good at dancing you are! ( drew a smiley face) I don’t know you just might win. Naw, I’m just playing. We’ll see one day.

Love Always, Son

(Sonni’s note: For those of you who are tuning in for the first time, I’m not his real mom, but I guess you could tell that by the pictures. If you’d like to continue reading and find out who Jamie is, which I hope you do, go to; My Name is Jamie, and then to Jamie’s Prison, and The Meaning of It All. This are pages at the top. It will give you his story. Then start at the beginning of the posts, the oldest ones, as there is a story that unfolds through the years. Follow me as I continue to write and reshare on your social media. I am sorting through older letters until I reach all the way back to 2006. I have a lot of letters to go through! They are sometimes funny, but mostly sad because he missed the birth of his only child, now 8 1/2. He’s never touched him or talked to him on the phone, but hopefully he will be able to do that real soon!

Another Day In Ad Seg – Unintended Consequences

unintended consequences
photo source:
genewhitehead.com

December 15, 2009

PURE PAIN      by Sonni Quick   copyright  2015

(Sonni’s note: Will Jamie be able to get out of prison some day and be able to put this experience behind him? Will he be able to adjust to a “normal” life he has never experienced? Will the damage be too great? Will he be able to adjust? Chances are not in his favor if he doesn’t have enough support. My thanks again to everyone who sent him a message at mynameisjamie2@gmail.com when I asked about a week go. I’ve sent off to him.)

Dear mom,

How are you? Blessed as well I pray.  As for me I’m doing okay. The property man brought me my things to me today. I have everything, except I still have no mattress. I’m sorry to have worried you, mom. It’s just things are hard in here. I’ve been stressing myself to a point. There’s a dude telling me I love Megan too much and that later down the line she will turn  on me. I don’t pay him no mind because of the stories he’s told me about how he’s treated women. However, this is what hurt mom. Later that day the deputy called me and gave me child support papers. So I’ve been stressing on that. Not hearing from Megan haven’t made it no better. I wrote to her grandmother’s address and asked why. Nothing, I’m still waiting. I’m just going to have to write again. All I can do is pay she writes back.

Then on top all that I just got a letter telling me my great grandmother passed. I’m holdin up but I was upset because my family hides  a lot of things from me. It’s like they don’t want to tell me anything until it’s all over. It hurts me that Megan isn’t writing me. I’m sure is because of this man she’s with. He’s the kind of man that uses a woman. I can tell. Me and him will cross one day. As for the new little one he’ll have a birthday in a few days. One year old. It’s good that you’re able to talk to little Jamie. I wish I could call and talk to the kids again. We had fun together at that one visit we had. I wish I could get a visit for Christmas our my birthday next month. Ill be 27 mom.

It’s hard to believe Megan got laid off. I couldn’t see it happening to her. It’s good she filled an appeal. Mom this is all my fault. Megan and the kids shouldn’t be going this. I blame myself for everything. I messed up her life and the kids lives by leYou're not to blameaving them alone. As for her anniversary, I didn’t know she was still married. She told me she had gotten a divorce. How can that be? The same goes for BJ. She choose to have a life with him, and that didn’t work. Now, if he’s not trying to have a relationship with his son then he’s no good. I remember you said you cried when she got pregnant again. Oh I know you love little Ben, but since it didn’t work out it was just so much harder for her.  I know one thing mom. Mine or not, Ill keep a relationship with them. I love them just like I love their mom. Even if they aren’t all mine.  So you see, it really worries me about not  hearing from her.  And I don’t understand the child support papers. It would have been different if she did that when I came home. Well, I guess there is a reason for everything.

I have to go for now. Take care, mom

Love you, your son

P.S. Thank you for the present you are sending Jamie for me. And Merry Christmas!

(When I think of my life and the many twists and turns I’ve gone through and I look at those same years Jamie has gone through I can almost interchange the dates of his prison letters no matter how many years apart they are. Nothing changed except Megan’s letters began to get further apart.  All he has is his memories because anything else is not something he wants to remember. All he can do is escape into his mind. He still loves a woman that in his mind never changed – never went on without him, although she is on her third or fourth “serious” relationship since he went in. She cried so sincerely she would wait for him. She meant it at the time but there was no way she could continue to raise her children by herself with her income potential. She went on with her life looking for elusive man who would be a good father for her children and good to her, as well.  She even got married again and she had another child. Four children with four fathers and another one is in San Quentin.

Jamie is not responsible for her happiness or her unhappiness. He should not be carrying the guilt by himself.  Megan’s life was set in motion long before she met Jamie, and so was his.  Their lives collided.  Because of the way they made their decisions is the reason for the outcome.  Many different choices could have been made along the way.  But when there is no thought of the consequences life just slaps you around and you spend more time running around picking up the pieces instead of moving forward. it doesn’t mean they would not have ended up in the same place.  It means another path would have gotten them there.  Megan would have met someone else to have a baby with, just like she met yet another man and did have a fourth child.  Her causes for her life were made long ago.  And Jamie, just because he might not have met Megan, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be in prison right now, but it could be for a different reason. 

Things don’t happen by accident.  But unless you have a way to learn these lessons about life you don’t realize the power you have to change the things that cause you unhappiness.  That is why, some years ago I started to teach him the principles of Nichiren Buddhism – the law of cause and effect.  Where you are today is the effect of previous causes and where you will be tomorrow comes from the causes you make today.  Simple.  A plan is not laid out for you for mysterious reasons – you make your own plan.  It’s just easier to think you didn’t make that plan.  God did. When you think like that, life just keeps knocking you sideways, until learn to make a different cause  This is why many people really don’t start searching for answers until their life is a mess and you are willing to listen.  For some people – inmates in this case – they find God.  There is chaplain in every prison.  There are many good things to learn through Christianity. This is not a slam on Christians.  I grew us in the church, but I didn’t see people living what they were being taught.  It was easy.  Do what you want and ask for forgiveness.  That didn’t work for me.  I wanted better answers, so decades ago I started searching.  Christianity does teach you how to be a good person and the reward is heaven.  If the lessons are applied they will be in a better place.  Buddhism teaches a lot of the same lessons, but it also explains the real consequences in your life today as you live it.  Some inmates find the Islamic faith, which Jamie tried for awhile.  That faith in prison teaches peace, not violence, but in the end it still didn’t have the answers he needed. He grew up knowing Christianity, but even that never explained the law of cause and effect even though it teaches – you reap what you sow – but it doesn’t teach why.

My purpose here is not to get into a religious discussion.. But what I see in society is a lot of very judgmental Christians who aren’t good people to people who don’t think like them.  I do NOT see that in the Buddhist community. I have used Buddhist teachings to show Jamie how to understand why his life is the way it is and to apply them to his life so it makes sense.  Then he can work on changing it.. What he knows now he didn’t know before.  Even so, it doesn’t make the struggles go away.  Things don’t change just because you want them to. And nothing “out there” is going to give you a benefit without you first making a cause for it – you reap what you sow – period.  Buddhism has helped him keep his head on straight and to be able to pick himself up when he falls.  There will always be obstacles – because that is how you learn and grow, All of us needs to respect others choice of faith.  That alone will make this world a better place to live.  Respect.

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

Megan has been with someone now for a year and a half and so far she seems to be happy.  But she is still in the “getting to know you” phase.  The work hasn’t even started. But while Jamie still loves her like time stopped, she doesn’t care about him anymore and gets angry if I mention his name. She won’t take “their” son to see him so the last time was when I visited him at the prison 2 years ago. Some men don’t want to be a father. Jamie does. How will their son feel when he grows up knowing she could have made the 3 hour drive to the prison, but won’t. I can see the possible effect of that, but she isn’t thinking of that. I’m not saying it should be all the time, but maybe his dad’s birthday? Father’s Day? I think this will have unintended consequences – a word I tried to teach many times.)

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Use of segregation in prisons comes under new scrutiny

solitary confine cells
photo source:
flickr.com

…..I’ve written a lot about solitary confinement and ad seg. As you read this article remember that Jamie is doing his third round and the first two were for two years each. You will understand then why I have made so much effort trying to keep him sane and to know, no matter what, he was not alone. If his family cares about him I can’t understand why no effort has been made to help him AT ALL. I DON’T UNDERSTAND. If he was a lousy person who hurt people it might be one thing, but the only thing I can really see is times with depression. Given the fact that he grew up with severe epilepsy, not being able to have a childhood playing with friends and spending a lot of time alone afraid of the next seizure I just don’t understand how a family can just kick you to the curb. And he takes full responsibility and just keeps waiting for them to write.

Reading articles like this one makes me double my efforts.

HumanSinShadow.wordpress.com

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/05/06/use-segregation-prisons-comes-under-new-scrutiny/6HtnI5l8i8MthcQf88wP2L/story.html

Solitary confinement comes under new scrutiny

Courts, legislators look to rein in a practice they say causes behavioral problems but state prison officials call an essential tool

By Milton J. Valencia
| Globe Staff
May 07, 2013

Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

Jose Bou of Springfield was once a prisoner in solitary confinement, then sent to a minimum-security prison.

Neil Miller is still haunted by the seclusion, the disorientation, the darkness.

During his more than 10 years as a prisoner, Miller spent weeks, months, and once even two years in solitary confinement units, where inmates are kept for as many as 23 hours a day.

“It’s a mental game in there,” Miller, now 46, said recently, still reflecting the anger and acting out that repeatedly got him sent to what prisoners call “the hole.” “You’re fighting with your own sanity, trying to keep yourself together.”

He was eventually…

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