Alonza Thomas – Heights – YouTube

Over the past year I’ve written about Alonza several times.  I’ve had the pleasure of skyping with him many times – a deep and thoughtful man trying to figure out how to begin his life again in a world that caused him pain.  We have read frequently the past year what effects are of solitary confinement. Because of what happened to Kalief Browder and his suicide caused by abuse and solitary confinement the law was changed and kids could no longer be held like that. Alonza had just turned 16 and California had just changed the law to try 16 year old kids as adults and he was the first one. He became their poster child/adult. He made it through 13 years but came out in a million tiny pieces he has been struggling to put back together. I’d like to say that today everything is great. I know he wishes it were. But the reality is the same as someone who has come back from war. On the outside everything seems to be okay, but the glue holding the pieces together never really dries. It is fragile and easily broken. He is safer inside his lonely room than facing the world outside.

I hope he someday heals. He’s a special person. He will always have a piece of my heart as I hold a piece of his.

Below the video is a link to other poetry. Below that is the piece Frontline did on him when he was released.


Link to Alonza’s poetry . . . .         Good Wouldn’t Exist Without Bad   

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Good Wouldn’t Exist Without Bad

. . . I have written about Alonza before. I don’t want him to disappear. The abuse he suffered in prison should have never happened. The justice system used him as a poster boy. Google him and hear his story on Nightline.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards
Sonni’s Piano Music

Sonni Quick

Alonza Thomas

Alonza Thomas

It was a stormy winter night on the streets of New Orleans

A fortune teller told me that she could see me in her dreams

She said, there’s a part of me that evil overtook

Plus the devil has my heart, and my name is in his book.

I cried, i cried.

I’m a mixed drink, combined with good and bad.

The image I’ve portrayed became my truth, I chose my path.

I look myself in the mirror and i wish that I would die. Then I heard the Lord whisper, he said, believe that your mine. Believe that your mine!

My mind beats my heart, my emotions are second nature.

The result of realizing my mind was never basic.

My heart tells lies. My heart is self destructive.

I do right for the good, and well being of the structure.

Trust is not the issue, really it…

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The Stickup Kid

A week our so ago I chance upon a video of a segment from the TV show Frontline.  I watched it. It was heartbreaking. After the tragedy of Kalief Browder who committed suicide after three years in an adult prison as a teenager many people are more sensitive to the atrocities inflicted on youth, as well as adults, when they are made to endure years of solitary confinement. This young man, Alonza Thomas, spent 6 of a 13 year year sentence locked up in a cell by himself “for his own protection”, if you no what I mean.

I tracked him down and we talked face to face on video chat. What I found was a very scared, very lonely boy, because his life experiences not only didn’t allow him to grow up, he was scared of life as he now saw it. He had lived under such strict rules and had no idea now how to live life where he had the ability to set his own rules for himself.

He had violent experiences he can’t talk about because it makes him go to the “dark place” that is hard to get out of. I don’t know how much contact his family had with him during those years but I doubt it was enough. He, like Jamie, was moved to 6 different prisons and the distance often is makes it difficult. Time finished it off. Out of sight out of mind. The prison intends to destroy his mental health.

They threw him a party, as I imagine Jamie’s will, but then, because he is a grown man they will expect him to figure it out on his own with no knowledge of how to do that. He gets no help now so why expect they will help later? They won’t.

Alonza’s family expected him to figure it. Maybe they tried. Maybe when he didn’t fit in with his family of strangers they let him go. Whatever the reason, he spent the next 6 months sleeping in the park. He tried to go to a shelter but they required the men to shower together every day in one big room. Because of things that happened with the men in prison he is scared of being around men in any capacity, especially that one, so he was made to leave.

He hasn’t had contact with his mother in a year. Why? Is he not normal enough? Is he not her son anymore? I don’t have the answers. There is always more than one side to every story. I know I don’t have the complete story.

But this I do know – this would be Jamie’s story. Locked up before 17 with one year outside from 21 to 22. If Alonza had someone like me to reach in and grab hold could it have helped to have a different outcome? If someone had been able to teach him would it have made a difference? Why is it so important to me that I dedicate my life to changing even one person’s life?

Because . . . The only legacy we ever leave behind is the affect we have on other people’s lives.

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