My First Parole Hearing in Huntsville Prison

texas
Sonni’s note: This was originally written on Sept 1st 2013, as Jamie was waiting for his first parole hearing. He told me, in Huntsville prison no one makes parole with their first meeting. It’s so discouraging. He was in Ad Seg at the time (solitary confinement or G5 or administrative segregation. It’s all the same thing) One way they can keep you down is to not let you be able to do anything to show you’ve done something to better yourself. Trying to deal with prison politics is a joke, and the joke is on the prison inmates themselves. Since he shouldn’t have been locked up again for another two years in ad seg in the first place. The parole hearing is a joke. He got jumped. Even a guard testified he had no choice but to defend himself, but it didn’t do any good. They sent him back, anyway. And now they’ve they sent him back for the third time. They have their thumb on you and you can’t do anything about it.

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34287.pdf 

This is an article by NICIC. National Institute of corrections.  I added this article as a link on the left if you wanted to point someone else to it to find it easily.   It has the statistics of offender reentry back into the world.  The percentages of inmates that stay out, according to crimes they committed.  So much depends on education, housing and community support.  I also believe it highly depends on their belief system.  The numbers are for those that had been arrested  up to 4x and then higher.  Jamie has one conviction, and he wasn’t the one who actually committed the crime.  The parole board doesn’t see it that way when they determine whether to give parole, nor does it take into consideration on whether there is a need to keep the prison full.  What is best for the inmate doesn’t actually come into the picture. )

Hi Mom,

I hope this letter finds you well. My first parole hearing is coming up in a few months. I’m trying to not think about it because I don’t have a chance of making it. Mom wrote a letter to the parole board. She sent me a copy of the letter. It won’t do no good but she says it won’t hurt for them to read about me from someone else. She says maybe it will make them feel better about me the next time. I know she would really want to be here but I’m not sure if they would even let her in for it. But I’d really like to see her again. We didn’t have enough time last time. I know I shouldn’t be complaining cause it seems as if I had a lot of visits, but they all happened in a one month. It was six years since the one visit I had before then. It would be great if I could have a visit from somebody once a month, but I doubt that would happen. It never has. Wishful thinking. These things are what gives me memories. I play them over and over in my head.

If you want to get parole you have to have an L1 rating and I’m an L3, so they’ll probably put off my next hearing for 3 years. That sucks. It stands for line class. You go up one number each year, if you’re lucky. They keep you knocked down and then they can keep you locked up. Also, when you’re in G5 you can’t take any classes or use the library. I would have to be in G2 for that. But in G4 I can go to the rec room where there’s a TV or they play cards and other stuff. The parole board will want to know what I’ve done to help myself when they know very well that I can’t do anything to help myself because they keep knocking me down to a level where I can’t do anything even if I wanted to, and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s just the way prison life is. But at least I have the books and magazines that Mom sends me.

At the parole hearing they’ll want three addresses and three phone numbers so they can call and talk about the area where I would get paroled to, but I don’t really know if they would call anyone. They want to keep us here. They make lots of money off us. Without prisons Texas is broke. There’s over a hundred prisons in Texas alone. This is supposed to be the land of the free but we have more people locked than any other country in the world. Is it because people here are commit more crimes? I don’t think so. A lot of big businesses make money off us, too, with all the things we need to buy and all the things they have to provide us, as little as it is. Prisons are big business. So if they can keep us in here then they all win and we all lose.

It’s really cold right now. They have no heat. I’m wearing all the clothing I own. It’s hard to sleep when you’re freezing. No heat in the winter and no AC in the summer. I think it’s another way to torture us. I don’t like this at all. Too cold.

( Sonni’s note: Nov 25, 2014. He is now in G4. He gets out one hour a day to go to a cage not much bigger than his cell so he can walk or pace or exercise by himself. He’s still cold and winter is just getting started. I sent him some money to buy long johns. They have them in the commissary which they’re allowed to go to twice a month. He was right, though, there was no chance of making parole. He said to me once, ” The parole board don’t like to parole Blacks”. He’s seen a lot of men get turned down. Gotta keep those prisons full. He made G2 in December and they knocked him down to the bottom again mid February. They’ve knocked him down twice to solitary for a total of about 4 years. He’s in G4 now, not G5, He’ll have to work his way back up to g2 to get his privileges back. He managed to find a GED book and he’s studying. He said he wants to be ready to start taking classes when he gets out when he gets back to G2, except he has no idea when that will be. He’ll be able to go to the library then, too. I asked him what his favorite subject is. He said it was math. Hmmm. . . . There are careers he could study for if he has an aptitude for math. I was able to get my cell phone in the system for “Friends and Family” which is a way for inmates to make calls. The process was not easy, and now they have taken it away from him. he was able to make calls for two weeks. These are all positive things that will give him a better chance of making parole sometime in the next 8 years. ( I’m not smiling) (added: march 1, 2015. He goes up for parole hearing again in October, 2016)

Prison Hunger Strike

hunger strike
(Sonni’s note: In the past few years entire prisons have gone on hunger strikes, the most notable in California during the summer of 2013. 33 of California’s prisons joined in with thousands of inmates from all over the country in protest of the way they were being treated. Families stood in protest outside the prisons as well.  A few inmates died as the result of a hunger strike that lasted 50 days, because they wouldn’t give in. Realizing that the inmates were willing to die for their cause,I am sure, had a lot to do with them relenting.  Why was it so impossible for the prison officials to see these people as people – as living breathing people, with some of them there unjustly as the evidence now shows.  Eventually they were granted a few small concessions but it was too little and they didn’t apply to the people who were the most confined – those on death row – Those in the SHU Secure Housing Unit.   Jamie spent a total of 4 years locked up in solitary.

I wasn’t going to print this yet, because I’m waiting for a letter.  He was able to get his privileges back and could call me for two weeks. He was able to have ONE contact visit with his natural mother on his 32nd  birthday. They found a way to throw him back in solitary last week. I knew it was going to happen.  I just knew it.  Their rules to stay out of solitary are hard to play by.  You can not argue with an officer even if you are right.  If they say the snow is black and you say it is white you are insubordinate.  He got to make one last phone call, and then was stripped him of all of his privileges and  is once again getting his food through a slot in the door.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/california-prison-hunger-strike-30000_n_3567639.html

Those on death row. Why would someone scheduled to be murdered by the state be interested in a class of education?  I’m sure that’s what the must have thought. Why would any of these concessions be of any importance to them, even though many of them had been locked up for decades and large portion of them were mentally or insane because of the deprivations? But there are many others that want to be able use the rest of their life, if they are still to killed, in a way that at least allows them to give some value to their own lives. Maybe they did something horrible. Maybe they are falsely accused. Maybe they are a victim of circumstance. It doesn’t matter. The are still human.  They are living out the worst things anyone can go through to pay for their transgressions – they are waiting to die. That is their sentence. That is their punishment.  So why the need to keep punishing by not allowing them some comfort while they wait.  Justice was served.  What is wrong with supplying them some art supplies so they can draw? They were promised that.  This next excerpt is credited to http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/25/pelican-bay-prison-hunger-strike where you can read the entire article.

Largely unrestrained by courts, legislatures or public opinion, solitary confinement has become routine – a punishment of first resort for all sorts of prison infractions. Today, a prisoner can be placed in solitary not only for violence, but for any form of “insubordination” towards prison officials, or for possession of contraband (which includes not only drugs but cell phones, cash or too many postage stamps). Some inmates are sent to solitary confinement for exhibiting the symptoms of untreated mental illness. Others, including juveniles in adult prisons, end up in isolation for their own “protection” because they are targets of prison rape. Many of the men in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit are there because they’ve been “validated” as gang members, based on their tattoos or on the say-so of other inmates, who are rewarded for “snitching”

(So this is the setting for this blog post.  Hunger strikes are a common thing when inmates are treated badly.  It is their only method of defense and a way to make a statement.  This isn’t the only time he stopped eating and he at one time stopped taking his meds because he thought he was being used as a lab rat – which is something the prisons do.  Who better to experiment a new drug on than a worthless inmate.  He was a pretty big guy when I first met him.  He was a real skinny guy when I saw him in Oct of 2013.  His clothing was falling off him – literally.  The Beeville prisons raises hogs. That is why everything they fed them was some kind of pork often made into loafs that were unrecognizable as anything he could identify.  The prisons do not like to pay medical bills, though they do everything in their power to cause ill health.  Why is this not being stopped?  Why are they allowed to commit crimes on those that are still human beings?  Isn’t this in itself also a crime?  If someone murders someone on the outside and it is a homicide and they get life in prison, should the person committing the same crime inside a prison get the same punishment? Why are there two sets of standards?)

This is a letter Jamie wrote on 8/28/12 when he was at the McConnell Unit in Beeville,Tx

Hi Mom, How is everything.  I know you are home from your surgery.  I hope everything is okay.  I have to take a lot of pills. Some are my seizure meds for epilepsy and also fluxotine for depression. I’ve taken off some pounds lately. I stopped eating because I’m on a hunger strike. They feed us pork every day and I’m tired of it. Sometimes they sub it with peanut butter or two slices of cheese.

This unit is getting really bad. They just had a riot in the chow hall and a dude got stabbed four times and died. Another one was stabbed 23 times but he lived. He was lucky. I’m losing it in here.

I’ve written lots of letters but nobody writes me back but you. I don’t understand why I keep writing but I do. Maybe I think it will change. I think this is one of the reasons why I get depressed. I can’t make sense of it. People don’t understand how important it is. I still have a year and a half before I come up for parole, in 2014, so there isn’t anything else I can do except sit here. It hurts because we are all suffering badly. There’s nothing I can do about these things. I want to just give up on everything. I’m trying. I really am. Everyone is so quick to judge me. It’s nothing new to me. I can be doing good but I’ll still be judged because of my past. I don’t know where things will end up. Again, I’m losing it. I had some crazy thoughts. The nurse asks me what’s wrong and I just look at them crazy. I know they can’t understand. I guess this is my life. Tomorrow I’m going on strike with my medication. Life is so painful. Why not add more. I have nothing. My fan broke and its August in Texas. It is so hot. And these people took my hot pot that I can cook in because of a loose wire. I can’t take this no more. So what I’m saying is that I’m giving up. Why not? It seems like everyone else has. I read because there’s nothing else I can do, sitting in this cell all day and night. This is where everyone wants me and it’s starting to feel as though this is where I belong. I love you, as well as everybody else, but I can’t take it. Please try to understand. I have fallen and have no reason to get up. I have a year left in ad seg, (solitary confinement – administrative segregation) maybe less. I’m trying, but it seems that nobody cares.

(note from Sonni – Jamie scared me with this letter. I could see how terribly depressed he was. I begged him to eat and take his meds but by then a couple more weeks had passed. Depression is something that runs rampant in the prisons. No one can live with that kind of solitude. What does it prove? What’s the purpose? He never did get out of ad seg. No human being can live through that. He is doing better psychologically. But it has been a challenge.)

( another note: this one written today.  He never did get out of solitary until this past November. Then he was moved to G4 and then G2.  G5 is actually the same as ad seg or solitary.  Then in December he made it to G2.  Finally.  Then in the middle of January he could make phone calls.  I was the only one who hooked up my phone so he could call.  No member of his family did.  Now it’s all taken away – again.  I don’t know for how long,)

Watch – What Five Years in Solitary Can Do To a Man

I watched this several times trying to imagine myself in this same situation. It’s easy to empathize with this man and say, “What a horrible thing it was to have to go through this.” Now watch it and pretend it is you. Tell me – How would you feel, especially if you were locked up like this year after year with no hope in sight. You’re a forgotten piece, of humanity except to a couple people if you’re lucky. Try to imagine having to go back out into society after this. Now imagine you’ve been in there for decades. You’ve grown old. Your mental acuity is gone. Your health is shot. The prison no longer wants to “care” for you so they dump you out onto the streets with 50 bucks, and 30 days worth of meds, and you are supposed to pick the pieces of a life that no longer exists and much of it is nothing at all like the world you once knew. Think about this.

It has been determined that it only takes 15 days for your brain to start deteriorating from the isolation. Paranoia sets in. If you already have problems mentally in any form it is going to deteriorate fast. Depression sets in. Jamie was in solitary confinement for a total of about 4 years. We wrote letters constantly. I was the voice that told him to hang on and made sure he knew his life had value.

He’s out of solitary now, which is also called ad seg or G5. When they classify you as G5 it takes a lot of hard work to not let it get to you and keep your sanity and not let trouble find you. He is now in G2 and I am waiting patiently for my very first phone call.

I recently saw another YouTube video about the children locked up. 22 states in the US allow children as young as 7 to be tried in adult court and segregated in adult prisons, ‘for their their protection’
https://mynameisjamie.net/young-kids-hard-time/

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They took away any progress he made. He will have to work again to get any privileges back. He had applied to take his GED and now that hope is most likely gone. Somehow, to me, it seems deliberate. When he comes up for parole again in Oct, 2016, and he is unable to show he’s been able to better himself it gives reason to not grant it. But if is unable to learn anything what are his chances of survival? This is why I’m writing the book “Inside the Forbidden Outside”.

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Still Trying To Get Out of Solitary Confinement

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The doctors and nurses are much better in this unit that I can see. They will see me when I put in to be seen. I put in for new glasses. There is so much tape on my glasses trying to hold it together. I know you tried to get me another pair but they wouldn’t even let a doctor on the outside send them. They wanted to make the money themselves. I will have to go on a chain to another unit within three months maybe. Then I will come back to this unit. I have to go to another unit because they don’t have an eye doctor here on this unit.

I was supposed to be seen for my G4 on June 2nd. However the officer that was supposed to take me told me I was going to be seen by UCC on June 3rd. Wrong day. I wrote to three different people about this situation. Hopefully I’ll get some help. Or else I’ll do another six months and wait for another meeting. Ad seg is hard. It is solitary. You rarely ever get to leave your cell and you never get to be with other people. Then if nothing happens, by the end of November I should get my G2. Then I can make phone calls and take classes and go to the library. I can have contact visits instead of having to be behind glass. But that is only if they let me. They made up the lies that put me in ad seg in the first place, when they said they found a homemade shank on my sink during a time when they tossed everyone’s cell. Even if I had a knife would I be stupid enough to leave it out on a sink when I knew they were coming?? That was more than 4 years ago. They let me out once and then I was jumped and defended myself. What would you do if someone looked like they wanted to hurt you bad? So I got thrown right back in Ad Seg. I can’t do anything about it if they do that. Please chant for me because lately things have gone wrong.

On June 4, coming in from rec I got into it with an officer. It was hot and I came in wearing my t-shirt, shorts and boots and she tells me to get fully dressed. I told her it was hot and I have seisures. I passed out once last week. She just told me that I shouldn’t have gone to rec. ( She wasn’t the one who has been locked up in a cell for years) Then a man named Willis walked up and bumped into me. He tried to make it as if he didn’t. What he really tried to do was get me to hit him. I came close to doing it, but I knew what he was trying to do. He always tries to show off for the female officers. He also threatened me. He said I would get my ass kicked off the bone. I’m doing so good and trying so hard. Karma is really trying to get me. I’ve stopped going to rec. I’ll go once or twice a week maybe. I sleep in most of the time. I’m trying to stay away from trouble but its coming and I won’t let it get me. I’ll do my best to overcome it all.

Ad seg is hard. It is solitary. You rarely ever get to leave your cell and you never get to be with other people. Then if nothing happens, come the end of November I should get my G2. Then I can make phone calls and take classes and go to the library. I can have contact visits instead of having to be behind glass. But that is only if they let me. They made up the lies that put me in ad seg in the first place, when they said they found a homemade shank on my sink during a time when they tossed everyone’s cell. Even if I had a knife would I be stupid enough to leave it out on a sink when I knew they were coming?? That was more than 4 years ago. They let me out once and then I was jumped and defended myself. What would you do if someone looked like they wanted to hurt you bad? So I got thrown right back in Ad Seg. I can’t do anything about it if they do that. Please chant for me because lately things have gone wrong.

On June 4, coming in from rec I got into it with an officer. It was hot and I came in wearing my t-shirt, shorts and boots and she tells me to get fully dressed. I told her it was hot and I have seizures. I passed out once last week. She just told me that I shouldn’t have gone to rec. ( She wasn’t the one who has been locked up in a cell for years) Then a man named Willis walked up and bumped into me. He tried to make it as if he didn’t. What he really tried to do was get me to hit him. I came close to doing it, but I knew what he was trying to do. He always tries to show off for the female officers. He also threatened me. He said I would get my ass kicked off the bone. I’m doing so good and trying so hard. Karma is really trying to get me. I’ve stopped going to rec. I’ll go once or twice a week maybe. I sleep in most of the time. I’m trying to stay away from trouble but its coming and I won’t let it get me. I’ll do my best to overcome it all.