Prison Torture Never Ends

Heat in Texas prisons, no AC in prison in the summer
Wynne Unit, the prison Jamie is in. These fans are the only cooling system even when it is over 100 degrees. Since there are no open windows all it does is blow hot air around. Credit source: beaumontenterprises.compip

Jamie has been at the Allred unit in Texas for nearly three years. Before that, Wynne Unit. How much is an inmate supposed to tolerate from staff and guards? They can do anything they want to them and there is nothing an inmate can do. Why is that? Everyone knows it. Anyone with the power to stop it – doesn’t. They can file a grievance but the system is not set up where the inmate wins. When the medical unit and staff knowing screw around with someone’s health, aware of the consequences to the inmate, I wonder if they stand around and laugh about it in the break room? They push inmates to break them and so often succeed. Here is what is happening . . .

I received a letter from Jamie yesterday. He is close to getting out of adseg – administrative segregation – a fancy word for solitary. Locked up in a cell 23/7, except for Jamie it’s 24/7 because he’s trying to stay away from the guards by refusing showers and rec. He bathes using the sink. He knew they’d try to press his buttons to keep him down. He’s had no write ups in a long time.

He wrote to me that the nurse is refusing to give him his seizure medication for epilepsy. At his point of writing it had been three days. He keeps asking her for it and she refuses to bring it. Have you ever watched someone have a grand mal seizure? The prison won’t give him the medication that works best for him. I already went rounds with the medical unit over that and they wouldn’t budge. So he still has more seizures than he should. But not taking anything, and as any protection leaves his body it will induce more. Add to that the terrible heart in a closed cell with no ventilation makes me angry.

Guards work three 12 hour shifts. One of the guards put his hands in his food just to try to make Jamie angry so he could retaliate and write him up. He won’t eat now if this guard is on shift. He only eats breakfast, which is pitiful, but not lunch or dinner when this guard works. He’s close to losing it. I could feel it. I wrote to him today to turn away. Don’t let them take away your chance of getting out of adseg. He can’t study for his GED until he is classified G2. First he has to get to G4. This process could easily take another 1-2 years. At G4 he can leave his cell for chow and limited time in TV rec room. He’s been this route before. They can, and do, take it away in a heart beat and it takes years to climb back out. He’s had 11 years of this. If seems deliberate. The guards get a perverse pleasure from abusing people with permission. Jamie has been in adseg this time for almost 3 years because he needed to move prisons because of physical abuse that included beatings by guards at the Wynne Unit. They moved him – and gave him 3 years of adseg to go with it.

I also bought him food today. It’s like gas station convenience food. Not even one can of vegetables on the list. Snacks. But also tuna, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, coffee, Raman noodles and such. They only allow someone on the outside to purchase $20 a month or $60 a quarter. But I wasn’t due to buy him more until Oct. I sent it to another man, probably next to him, who doesn’t have anyone helping him. He’ll probably pay him in food. They go on lockdown soon – for 30 days – every 90 days. They cut food rations so without extra food and that guard who’s messing with his food he’d get hungry. There are so many inmates with no one on the outside. It’s easy to see why so many don’t make it when they get out

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Most of you who follow this blog know I put out a monthly newsletter called  ITFO NEWS. Each month I focus on a different prison issue. The one being published at the end of the week is on Incarcerating The Innocent. It’s an important topic because many lives are ruined even when there is no solid evidence to convict them. I’m having a book give-away this month. Each new person who wants to try ITFO NEWS can enter their name and email address HERE and have a chance of winning a signed copy (or ebook if you prefer) of “Waiting on the Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky. If your name is randomly pulled by Sharron, you’ll receive one of ten free copies, shipped free. 

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This book is timely for what is happening today. It is a true story of a young man still in prison today who got involved in the KKK as a teenager, attracted to craziness, violence a drugs and couldn’t find away out. Young people are easily swayed. You need only to look at pictures in our media to see who the recruits are. Any mother who has lived with the fear of raising an out of control teenager will find this book hard to put down. Did it start when he was a child? This story shows you what unconditional love is. Will he make it now when he gets out? Will the KKK let him go? 

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Jamie’s Facebook page   – current events in the world of injustice

Jamie’s twitter page 

Are You New To Jamie’s Story?

j and jWhen I started writing this blog for Jamie over three years ago it was because I thought people needed to hear his story. It wasn’t because his story was exceptionally different from other people in prison. It was because his story is too damned common. A large percentage of people live their lives oblivious to the pain and suffering inflicted on many people who are locked up in all kinds of detention centers – not because they are dangerous people, although there are many in prison who are – but because they are a source of profit for prison corporations and shareholders who have stock in the growing number of prisons. It is also a source of campaign donations for politicians who then bide by what the prison corporations want – more people to profit from and little oversight about the way they are treated and cared for. We know what the problems are but we can’t make them change.

I don’t blame people for not knowing. I didn’t know anything, either, before Jamie came into my life. All I knew was what I learned in TV series like Prison Break. I didn’t know it didn’t tell the whole story. I thought people were in prison because they deserved to be there. I didn’t spend any time thinking about whether the amount of years they were sentenced was fair. I didn’t know blacks and minorities were targeted. It didn’t affect my life – I thought. Then I met Jamie.

In the pages at the top of the blog is a page that was written at the beginning of my writing the blog. “My Name is Jamie”. If you don’t know his story that is a good place to start because it tells some of the reasons why he is there and what his life was like. There have been many changes since that was written. If you read through all 300 plus blog posts for the ones that include his letters you would be able to follow his life, but that would take a lot of dedication. Instead I thought I’d give you a synopsis of where he is now and what is going on.

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

In addition to this blog I am also writing a book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”, which is in the second draft. It has taken me longer than I expected to write because I can only write one thing at a time. Two blogs, A newletter “ITFO News” and a book take time and I work on them in a cycle. Add to the mix all the required social media promotion to build a network. When I work on one I can’t work on another. I often work until the sun comes up.

In addition, I am an improv piano composer and I’m working on an album of music for the book. Much of the music was originally written for different blog posts you could find scattered throughout the blog. The music is sometimes painful and melancholy, relaxing and peaceful, best listened to with your eyes closed in the dark. Music promotion takes up another huge chunk of time. You can find my music at these two websites. Skunk Radio Live and ReverbNation. (the links are below the post) Share it if you like it. For anything on line – stats matter.

The reason for all of this is to create a place mentally for Jamie to go when he gets out in 2023. He needs something to work on that has meaning. A book to use to talk to people – help young people stay out of prison and give meaning to his 17 years inside. Turn a negative into a positive.

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Jamie has been inside for 12 1/2 years. He has 4 1/2 years to go. He did 4 years in juvenile detention right before this on a charge he wasn’t guilty of. He took the fall for his younger brother and was told if he did the time for him he would only do nine months. There should have been no charge period. A cop illegally came into their home with no warrant and no cause for entry. His mother got hurt and his little brother hit the cop with a broom in defense. But Jamie was lied to. They didn’t let him go until he was twenty-one. This is in a chapter early in the book. With no education, no life experience, no job history and no counseling, what was he supposed to do?

I think the last 4 years of his sentence are going to be harder than the first four because he is tired. Burnt out. He will be 35 in January 2018. In the beginning he had no idea what to expect, he only knew it is going to be a long time. He hoped his family will be there to support him. He lost raising his only child, a boy, my grandson, who was born after he was arrested. He turned 11 this past July.

He waited and waited for his family to be there for him, giving them excuses of being busy and they will probably write later, which they never did. He asked for a little money to buy hygiene products and nothing was ever sent. He suffered from depression – and epilepsy. No one asked him how he was or if he needed anything. My daughter, his son’s mother went on with her life. He never blamed her for this. They hadn’t been together very long.

How would you feel if this was you and no one gave a damn how you were? The largest percentage of inmates come from the fostercare system, but he had a family and that family acted as though he didn’t exist. Letters weren’t answered. They still aren’t answered. The only person he has had through this is me – and through me, some of you who have written and encouraged him.

Jamie wasn’t guilt free but when you are black or a minority and have no money for an attorney they force you to take a plea deal with threats of a longer sentence if you don’t. If he had an attorney he would have never gotten 17 years. Only 3% of those arrested actual go to court to have their case heard. 97% only go to court to plead guilty – in and out of court in ten minutes. There are so many people arrested there is no time for anything more. this is also why there are so many, often after decades get their cases overturned. But nothing can back the years of suffering inside.

He has been moved around to eight prisons so far. He isn’t in gen pop where there is an opportunity to take classes or go to the library. Even so, gen pop is a dangerous place because there is a mix of inmates with nothing to lose. A lot of bad stuff happens, not only with the inmates with drugs and sex and fights with weapons, it also often includes participation with the guards. Jamie has been beaten, sprayed with gas and false cases have been filed against him he can do nothing about. At the last prison, in retribution for filing grievances against guards for their treatment they filed thirteen sexual harassment cases against him. He can’t fight that. It’s on his prison record.

Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong. It’s the same thing out here in the “free world” when it comes to cops and taking responsibility for the people they murder for no reason.

Today he still sits in adseg – administrative segregation – another name for solitary. When he was moved from the last prison 2 1/2 years ago because he was no longer safe there, he was given one year in adseg. Once he was moved they added two more years. Why? Because they can. He has a meeting this month to see if they will let him out. He has a 50/50 chance. If not, then the next meeting is in six months. Is this serving any purpose? Or does it make the guard’s job easier?

I’m worried about him. It is too much time alone. He turns down going to the shower and does a bird bath in the sink – to stay away from guards. He turns down his hour of rec for the same reason. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of getting out of adseg. How will this affect him when he gets out? it isn’t a matter of, will it affect him? It is only a matter of how much. Reintegration will be hard.

This Fall I am making another trip to Texas for a few weeks. I went a year ago, too. I want to finish up on some details I need for the book. I can take his son to see him. I can encourage him to hang in there. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the things I am trying to do to create a life for him, which also has a benefit for me with my music and gives me a reason to keep on writing. There has to be a sequel about what happens next.

It’s important to focus on the positive. See yourself being successful with whatever you want to do. If your life is full of, “I can’t . . .” or “It won’t . . .” or “I could never . . .” then you won’t do anything. All you will do is sit back and feel sorry for yourself and the bad hand of cards you were dealt. It is up to each of us to make our lives work. But if no one teaches you how to do that, what can you do?

I have spent years teaching Jamie the law of life – the law of cause and effect. Some call it “You reap what you sow,” but many don’t take it seriously. Where we end up is the result of the things we have done, so it is up to us to do things to undo what we don’t like and get our life going in a positive direction.

I want to thank all the people who have encouraged me. It has kept me going when i doubt myself. It has helped give me the strength to not give up. Who am I to think I can accomplish these things? If I lose confidence I remember why I’m doing it and what the stakes are. My actions affect other people. Everyone else abandoned Jamie. It happens to most who spend a long time inside. I promised him I would be there and he is counting on that.

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Next issue coming soon. The topic this month – Incarcerating The Innocent  . . . AND . . . beginning today, until ten days after the next issue is published, anyone not currently receiving the issue in their email can tap the above button and enter a sweepstakes to win a signed copy of Sharron Grodzinsky’s “Waiting on the Outside.” Ten copies will be given away.  No shipping fee. Absolutely free.

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

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

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

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London playing music composed for  the book being written for Jamie.  If you can, help support. It will all help Jamie in the end.

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord? Customer not refund your money? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) 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. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Call me, email me, msg me here or at FB. It’s that easy.

No one can make you do this, but it is why you have car insurance even though you are a good driver – the other person who hit you, isn’t. Then you call your insurance company. That is why you NEED Legal Shield.

You can also contact me here: Legal Shield

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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

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

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

world map of inmates

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

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

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

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

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

mentally ill inmates
photo credit:
photos.pds.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End part one

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…

View original post 1,752 more words

A Story About Extreme Prison Guard Brutality

May 15,2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ad Seg is Solitary confinement – The Prison keeps us here

prison rules,prison politics,solotitary confinement,ad seg,jamie cummings,lockup, no justice in prosion
photo credit: Bing.com/Pinterest

(Sonni’s note:  This is a repost from an early post a year ago with some catchups.  To get it into the right social media channels because i knew so little about it then, if you had read the earlier version and wondered why it is here again.  It is a compilation of things he wrote about in several letters that were written in 2012. It is now 2015. They had found a way to send him back again. Hopefully this will be a shorter time, but still they took away everything he worked for, swallowing his pride and letting them say what they wanted – to be “good” but you can never be good enough. They find a way, and if they don’t they make it up. So you understand, Ad Seg is about as low as you can go. It’s also called G5, administrative segregation and solitary confinement. It’s the hole. It’s a place where you have no privileges. You never touch another human being. You are behind glass if you have a visitor. You learn to love peanut butter because it’s a large portion of your diet. You will be treated as though you are worthless. You will be called names. You will be degraded. People will want to hurt you if you give them the opportunity. You are alone. Really alone with yourself. If you don’t have anyone who cares, or if you don’t like yourself very much, you’re going to have a hard time making it. Depression sets in. Many hear voices and hurt themselves. Some speak so little they lose the ability to talk. They get paranoid. Jamie knew, when they threw him back in there in 2012, all because of the lie from a guard who wanted to prove he could mess with him, that it was going to take at least another couple years before they’d let him out. He was right.

The only good thing about solitary, also called “the hole” is that he was safe from other inmates. But it doesn’t take much to break prison rules. There is no justice in prison. In addition to the guards, you have to be careful, there are violent prisoners who have nothing to lose who are going to try to mess with your life. How do you deal with it when someone comes up and puts themselves in your face and challenges you? It could be someone who wants be granted prison favors. Someone claims that your space belongs to them and they will try to take it from you. If they get away with it and you don’t try to stop them you are going to be in a whole different world of hurt from other inmates.)
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solitary confinement, jamie cummings,ad seg,prison rules prison politics, lockup,violent prisoners,prison torture
photo credit: Bing.com

Hello mom,

No matter what I do, they always find a way to send me back. It took a couple years to get up to G4 the last time when I could to go to rec and watch TV and go to chow. But being allowed out of here means there’s gonna to be people, even guards who want to mess with me. But being allowed out of my cell is a kind of freedom. I can’t get out of here if I don’t get into a program.

It is so hard sitting in my cell day after day, trying to find ways to make the hours go by. I write letters but mostly I throw them away. It’s how I get my feelings out. But hardly anyone writes back but you. Once in awhile I get a letter from my sister or my cousin but not my mom. When I make it to G2 I can have contact visit. I can hug my son. At G2 I can make a phone call and I’ve never been able to make one. I would be able to take classes and learn things. I can be with people. I don’t think they want me to be able to do that. I will never be able to make parole unless I can show I’ve taken classes. But they won’t let me do that now. They don’t like to give black people parole. The longer they keep me here the more they make off me. They don’t care one bit if I am ever “rehabilitated”. Use ’em up, throw ’em out and pick ’em up again. You’re never free.

The last time I only made it to G4 for a short time. It took years to get that far. I was jumped and the officer even saw it, but I still caught a case for it. She even wrote that she saw the other dude hit me first, but there is a rule that if you swing at all, even if it is defending yourself, you get a case. I tried to avoid him twice but he was right on me and I was next to the fence and had nowhere to go. He was coming from breakfast really early one day and I had a chance to get him back, but I let it go. I wrote an appeal to try and get the case turned over and get my G4 rating back again, but I never heard anything back. So I’m playing the waiting game again. I wanted to cry. I have been going through this for so long it just hurts. Maybe in six months to a year I can get it back. ( Sonni’s note: It took until August 2014 to get out of solitary confinement, Ad Seg, G5)

But it doesn’t matter how hard I try. There is always something waiting to drag me back down again. I know that’s gonna happen. I have to see it and not react. I have to try harder not to let anyone make me do something I know will get me in trouble. I have a temper. Push me enough and I lose control. But I don’t have anything to prove to these people. I don’t have to prove I’m tough. If I don’t fight back next time it doesn’t mean that I’m a pussy. It means I have more to lose than they do. I have to do what is good for me. I have to remember that the next time someone gets in my face.

Up Front and Personal about the Prison Industrial Complex and Solitary Confinement = Torture

law review blog, solitary confinement prison industrial complex, prison guard crimes, mass aincaceration. prisoner mental abuse
photo is from the Law Review Blog

This post is not a letter from Jamie. It is an extended reply I made to @manuchettan when he posted at https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/03/12/there-is-no-such-thing-as-justice-in-prison/.

I wrote back about what I’ve learned through the research I’ve done into many areas concerning our prison injustice system.  The things I didn’t know scared me.  My only knowledge came from TV shows like Prison Break or Orange is the New Black.  Since those shows are for entertainment purposes it doesn’t come close to telling you the truth. The attitude our country has about our inmates and how our justice system combined with the Prison Industrial Complex, which leads to how the lives of the inmates are impacted needs to change.  I learned that people and organizations have being working to change this system but the government has created a monster it doesn’t know how to put down, and many unnecessary people have to pay the price for that.

Prison itself, in the solitary units, has created so many mentally ill people, who were functioning human beings when they  first set foot into a solitary.  Sometimes it is the infraction of a rule or the guard doesn’t like you and creates a case against you.  Sometimes it is for “your own protection”, like a teenager certified as an adult and is preyed on by men who want to abuse them.  That teenager could spend years alone in that cell – for his own good, of course.  Solitary cells ruin people.  It is over used and abused. They are left inside for too long and it destroys their mind. They usually end up hurting themselves by cutting open their veins, trying to bleed out, trying to commit suicide. Staff take them out of their cell, sends other inmates into the cells to clean up the blood from cut arteries, they sew them up the hurt inmate, put them back in their cell and double their sentence. They do it over and over. A three month sentence can easily turn into a year or two or ten.  When that person is eventually released back into society, and most of them are if they don’t die inside, they are completely unable to take care of themselves and if they do have family they are often unrecognizable.  They don’t know them anymore.  Brothers and sisters are strangers. I strongly urge you to watch this: The Stickup Kid I have gotten to know this young man and we speak on a daily basis.  He has a facebook page you can fain by searching his name.  He is in bad need of friends to talk to. Also, he write powerful poetry explaining his life.

It has been determined that 15 days is all person can take without probable psychological damage. When they finally get out they often end up trying to kill someone else. They are nuts. So where do they put the mentally ill person they created? Back into a solitary cell. There are many of these cases of these people who are put down like dogs by guards, with the prison looking the other way, making excuses and defending the guards who do it. The harshest punishment for prison guard brutality is possibly getting fired, or sent to another prison unit. No real repercussion. The crimes guards commit have no consequences, yet these guards would have to be mentally. They are let out of the prison after every shift and allowed to live among the people.  He could be your neighbor.  Would you want him near you/  near your family? Do the guards have family? What do they say when they get home or talk to their friends? “Oh, today I murdered a person by putting him in a shower and turned on scalding hot water for hours, listened to him scream and scream until he died and his skin peeled off his body.  True story.  Another inmate was sent clean up the shower and he knew what he was looking at was the dead man’s skin. His file said he died of a heart attack. No crime was committed.  The prison needs to protect themselves. Examples of three murders can be found at: Looking From The Other Side of The Prison Cell door – part two

Jamie has spent about 4 years in solitary confinement, which is also called Ad Seg. Two times of two years each, not far apart, and each one was a lie from a guard. One was a guard finding a knife on his sink when they were shaking down cells. A knife the guard put there. Even if Jamie had a knife, would you leave it on the sink when you know they are shaking down cells? The second time was because a big fat ugly female guard said he blew her a Kiss, and that is a crime because you are trying to consort with a guard. He was standing lion for his medications when he was looking around and saw the guard. Period. The he gets slapped with a case. What inmate in his right mind would blow a guard a kiss? I saw this guard when I visited with him in Oct 2013. You would not have blown her a kiss.

On another note, I am putting together an email to send to Jamie right now and putting in comments people have made. I have told him there are people who care. We have the ability to leave our house and talk to people. We still might not have anyone who cared how our day went, and those people become depressed and lonely and probably drink or take pills to get through their day. But Jamie knows there are people whose hearts have been touched. People who care. He is a good man. I want people to know him. People who care if he’s okay. That goes a long way in keeping his depression away. The post I wrote,  In Prison Who Do You Have to Care About Your Day? is very real. How would you feel if you thought there was no one who cared about you, you saw no one, talked to no one, or had communication from anyone? What if no one even cared if you alive or dead? On the outside we have people I’d like for him to answer these comments so I can add them to the comment section.

You can send any words of encouragement to him at mynameisjamie2@gamil.com and I will send it to him. Each and every comment is a bright spot in his day.

There are so many people who have a misconception about prison and think they are only there to lock up bad people. That is only one reason. Our government needs to keep the prisons full, (while telling the public they are try to reduce their arrests) because of the huge demand in the public sector, the American companies who bid on prison labor, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. So there may be fewer arrest this year but the sentences will be longer and the percentage of those paroled are fewer. Once in awhile a good thing happens and people cheer, but they really don’t know what is going on. A great many prison are owned privately through companies like Corcoran and CCA – there are more. The Prison Industrial Complex. They offer to help the states with their budget problems and if they take over the prison they will have more money for roads and education BUT they have to keep the prisons 90-100% full or the government has to pay them for the empty beds. This is why the US has the highest prison population in the world 500 out of every 100,000 people, and since approximately 65% of those are black people, there are entire towns that have 50% of there town locked up – for “walking while black”. But the media portrays it as though black people do more crimes, which they don’t. Black neighborhoods are patrolled for people to arrest. Are many of those arrest legitimate? Of course. But many of them aren’t. White people can be picked up doing the very same crime, yet they don’t end up in prison because of it.

Pa recently announced the building of a brand new $400 million SHU – solitary housing unit. Only for solitary confinement. They are also closing many schools for lack of funding. Can you figure out why there is a lack of funding? The US has also made it very clear to the world they do not use solitary confinement like this – as torture. They intend on locking people up for years, decades. You read that in the media and believe it. You believe black people are more dangerous than white people. Black people do more drugs and commit more crimes. This is all hogwash. This is the media making you believe what they want you to believe. Thank goodness there are many people who are not blinded by this garbage and know what is going on. Many people and organizations trying to change this conception. I am one of those people.

@Manuchettan, I realize I have written much more than a reply! I get on a roll sometimes and the words spill out. I go on a rant and get intense. I think I will turn this reply into a post – “Up Front and Personal”

I can’t thank you enough for reading these posts. It means a lot to me, Sonni

Thank you for your words. It’s hard,though, to get an accurate picture of the US through Hollywood, as you have to do in India. I am going to look for the prison movie you talked about, “Death Warrant”. Then I can tell you if it accurate. The thing, though, that you are very right about is that the atrocities don’t stop. Because of the things they do to inmates, an inmate learns to be very subservient, because if they aren’t, they pay for it. But even if the inmate is very docile and does nothing to provoke the guard, it doesn’t stop them from writing up false cases on them or from doing things like spitting in their food, or not letting them shower. Humanistic things.

When a human being finally gets out of prison, they don’t know how to act around people again. One woman told me her son even asked if it was okay to go use the bathroom. going outside is too much stimulus for them. Go to the blog “Breaking Free”. http://breakingfree.com and read about the communication between a mother and a son.

Reintegration to society is hard if you don’t have someone guiding you. Sometimes that doesn’t even work. At the 5 year mark after parole 71% of parolees are back in prison. For a variety of reasons. My concentration with Jamie has been to build his self confidence, his value as a human being. Keeping him from slipping into depression or keep thoughts of suicide away, which he tried when it was unbearable, has taken much effort. If I hadn’t been there, I don’t know what state of mind he would have. When someone has spent the years he has locked up in a a cell 23 hours a day it makes most men mentally ill.

If you have read any of the chapters I posted about the book Inside The Forbidden Outside, here is a sample chapter. Inside The Forbidden Outside . Fill Out the contact form below if you want to be on the mailing list for updates or other chapters posted.

When I started writing to Jamie 8 years ago, after he had been in for a year, I knew I was taking on a lifetime responsibility with a willing heart. I was not going to be able to just say hi and ask how he was doing and then not continue to write. He has no one else who writes to him. If he ever hears from a family member, it is usually a catch up about what is going on in the family, not a letter of caring how he was doing. Never a question of, “Is there anything you need or anything I could do to help”. Not even from his own mother. I know she loves him. I talked to her once. She’s okay with him calling me mom and is glad I’m there for him – but she isn’t there for him.

Armando Macias, San Quentin death row, SHU, solitary housing unit, programs in prison
Armando Macias

The other man I write to on death row in San Quentin – Armando Macias – three pages of his you can find through the menu tab at the top. Here is the first part https://mynameisjamie.net/looking-from-the-other-side-of-the-prison-doorlooking-at-the-other-side-of-the-prison-cell-door/ Find out what they do to prisoners when they enter the death row unit. When I started writing to him I knew I was taking on a lifelong commitment. I will be posting more about him soon. He also wrote the post https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/01/06/lifes-cleaning-rag/ ( the girl in the mud is my grand daughter)

If you’d like to find out what solitary confinement, go to http://solitarywatch.com. Armando is one of the most interesting men I’ve known. Solitary confinement actually rehabilitated him. It was a benefit for him. His transformation is nothing short of incredible. He will never be released, but he is fighting to have a better life inside the prison walls, based on his conduct inside his 5×8′ cell. He is still a human being. yes, he did a horrible crime. He is paying for it. His behavior deserves what they call “program”. where can do art, or take classes. Why would someone on death row want to continue to learn anything? Because he is alive and he is human. His major crime now is that he is Hispanic. They have a special way of dealing with Hispanics. If the prisons say the want the inmates to be rehabilitated, which they really don’t, then he should at least have his accomplishments come with a few benefits for that. There is no reason for inhumane treatment. Common decency rewards. He is in for a contract murder. Goggle his name and read the articles written about the murder. He grew up in a violent family and lived in a violent community. It was all he knew. He was never taught right from wrong. Never thought about the consequences of his actions. He lived in the moment with the rewards his crimes brought to him. In prison he had to start all over and learn what what right and wrong was. Through the study of Buddhism he found out who he was, and found out what his life meant and what he needed to to change. When someone is never taught these things and the people around them all behave in a certain way, how can you not follow what that teaches you? This arrest was not his first murder and it was at the end of many crimes. It was his life and he knew nothing else. That is not Armando Macias today. I hope someday I can actually meet him.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it is long. Please comment about how you feel, even if it is criticism. I want to have a discussion with those who have something to say. Please

A Prison Cell, The Loneliest Place

prison cell, solitary confinement,mass incarceration
The loneliest place

All music is copyrighted and improvised and recorded on first take.

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

Hello Mom,
It’s ok. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else. And I will chant for you, too, I promise I will.

I ask myself over and over, why won’t Megan come and bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Megan, I guess, feels different. Maybe I should try to get moved to another unit. I would probably have to get in trouble, though, to do that. That wouldn’t be good. But if I was moved father away from home then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away” or “I can’t afford the gas”. Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. Maybe Megan just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that but it’s hard not to.

If I knew people cared as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you I would know nothing. Megan has kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why would she want to hurt me like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. There are lots of people with lots on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.

Sitting here in my prison cell I’ve written a lot of letters. I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. My (biological) mom came to visited me last year. First time in at least 6 years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple units that were far away. Clear across Texas. Too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. I was really glad to see her.

It would be good if I could get Megan to take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along too good right now. The person who misses out the most is Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. It gets me depressed just thinking about. This prison cell, it’s the loneliest place to be.

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Prison Food and Starvation in Solitary Confinement

solitary confine,ad seg,lockdown,comm privileges,inmates privileges,injustice system
Solitary confinement

(Sonni’s note:More than a year later. I initially wrote this post on Feb,14,2014. One of the first ones,  so I thought I’d post it again with a catch up. The letter I received from Jamie Cummings was actually written in September 2012. 

What the guards did that day, planting a homemade knife, out in the open, on his sink, put him back in Ad Seg, which is short for administrative segregation or solitary confinement. Anything more than 15 days in that kind of complete isolation affects the brain. It can break even the strongest men and affect them so bad that even when (if) they get out, it is impossible for them to be around people. Many try to kill themselves. The suicide rate, and the attempt to commit suicide is off the charts. The first chapters of the book I’m writing take place while he is in ad seg.

There is much I didn’t know about prison those first years I was writing to him. I hadn’t started researching the issues I do now. I initially wrote him that first letter about a year after he was arrested because I wanted to see how he was doing. He was surprised I wrote to him out of the blue. I didn’t find out at first that he was alone in every way because no one writing to him. My daughter wrote to him at first, but went on with her life, met another man, got married and had another baby. His family went on with their lives and did pretty much nothing to help him. He had only one visit. My daughter and his bio mom came. They had sent him to a prison that was as far away as they could in Texas, from one side to the other so a prison visit was nearly impossible because it took 3 days, traveling with 3 children. But that should not have stopped everyone from writing.

At that time I only knew he was a lonely young man and my letters gave him something to do when he answered them.  I had no idea at that time what deprivation in a solitary cell meant He had no books. He was indigent, meaning he didn’t have a nickle to buy even simple things like deodorant. Our relationship grew. I became “mom”. He was a pretty hefty guy when he went in. I had met him right before this happened, when I went to visit my daughter in Texas for Thanksgiving. He was arrested in December. He isn’t a hefty guy anymore, though. What a way to lose weight. Near starvation. If you have no commissary money put on your books by family, your up the crick without a paddle. Even if he was at the G2 level and was able to get a job, Texas doesn’t pay anything.  Some states you can make between .23 to .49 an hour depending on the job.

I haven’t posted any of the early letters yet that are before 2010. They are packed up in box in my garage, but I will be publishing them. I want to read those early ones again very much.  They were packed when I moved. When his son gets older he will be able to know who his father was during this time he has been away. When you read these letters he wrote to me to me, just remember, these letters were his only lifeline.)

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Dear mom, I hope you are doing good.

Sorry for taking so long to write.  They are starving us. I don’t know how they get away with this but they do. We can’t do anything about it. They put us all on lockdown again. Not because we did anything but because they want to toss our cells looking for weapons and drugs. One time they planted a weapon in my cell. They put a homemade knife on the sink.

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photo credit: wstrainingcompany.com
Prison knives are made of anything they can sharpen.

I was really surprised and mad when they “found” it. Even if I had a homemade knife, would I have been stupid enough to leave it out on the sink when I knew they were going to toss my cell looking for weapons? It had to be a guard. They try to get you in trouble and keep you down. It doesn’t matter if you are guilty of doing something in here, they will make sure you are guilty. It’s your word against theirs, and you can’t win.

We’re on our second week of lockdown. This is the hardest one I’ve gone through. By law they are supposed to feed you a hot meal every three days but they do what they want to anyone in prison whites, which is us. They are feeding us what they call a peanut butter sandwich which is a half spoon of peanut butter on bread. They only give us a half spoon because they are trying to stretch it out to last longer. It saves them money.  They serve nasty prison food.  They stretch it more by  also adding some really nasty soup or applesauce that makes me gag.  But I have no choice.  I have to eat it or I get nothing. I’ve heard that it costs $40,000 a year for each inmate, to keep us here. Where does the money go because it sure isn’t spent on food. Once in a while we get a meat sandwich or cornbread. Sometimes prunes or raisons. 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.  Food is worse when you are on lockdown.

prison food,lockdown,ad seginmate privileges,no justice for inmates
example of prison food on while on lockdown
Photo credit: pennsylvaniacooking.blogspot.com

This injustice system is built for the inmates to lose. If we think we’re being treated wrong by the officers and they write up a case against us ( make up a case is more like it ), they tell us to write up an appeal. First they take away privileges, like going to the commissary or rec, for 30-45 days. Guess how long it takes for the answer to the appeal to come back? 30 days. It’s crazy. The appeal will always be denied, too. It’s all for nothing. All inmate privileges taken away for everyone. I lose my comm privileges for nothing. I get punished because I appealed the false charges against me. I lose because I tried to stand up to the bullshit. There is no way around the system. All the officer has to do is lie and the next one will back it up or say he didn’t see anything.

But I’m learning there are effects for every cause that is made. All the good ones and all the bad ones.  If I have to pay for the wrongs I did, so will they.   I’ve been reading these magazines you got for me, the Living Buddhism and the World Tribune about Nichiren Buddhism so I know these guards in here don’t get away with the things they do.  It’s now part of their own lives. They will have to face the effects of so much inhumanity to the inmates. They don’t get away with the things they do to other human beings. They may get off treating us like dogs, but we aren’t dogs. They may talk to each other about all the things they do to us and laugh about it, thinking they are getting away with it. But we are people. I will do my best to change the parts of me that caused this to happen to my life. I will find a way to make a difference. I will become a better person. I will someday leave here a better person. I do have hope.

It’s a new year and I’m going to do my best to stay out of trouble. I never try to make trouble. It’s always someone else who comes up to fight me. But no more fighting. Nothing. But when you don’t fight back then everyone feels they can run over you. But I’m not going to fight. I want to focus on coming home. I have to raise my level before they will consider me for parole. I’m level 3. I need to be level 1 before it’s even possible. Even then they could still turn me down. They will give me something called a set-off, which means I have to wait another five years before I can see the parole board again unless they want to bring me back up again. This system is built for our downfall. They don’t want us to survive in here. There is no justice for inmates at all.