The Children of Inmates, Where Do You Stand?

kids in handcuff

(The source for this photo is borde.org. ) This past week the facebook page for Jamie, “Jamie, Life In Prison” gained 45 new likes, the most it has grown in any one week period! It takes time to build readership just like it takes time here at WordPress. My last ITFO Newsletter didn’t post here to this blog. I am having difficulties doing some things right now since I broke my shoulder and arm a week a ago. I can only use Swype on my Nook which is slow and tedious. At least I damaged my left side and not my right side, as I try to find something positive in all this mess. If you aren’t on the mailing list yet for the newsletter, go to the link for the facebook page. Scroll down about a dozen.You’ll see a post “What About The Children?” sent out to over 6000 people. Clicking on that post will bring up the issue. There are about 7 articles you can read by clicking on the titles. Only a tiny portion is visible. Each one is a different aspect of the children. On the top are buttons to see past issues and also to subscribe. Please do that and also share it on your timeline if you think it is important. The next issue will be about the women, a quickly growing segment of the prison population. Why? Without mothers the children have no chance at all.

The issues about prison reform are so important because it affects so many people in addition to those incarcerated.  Wives and husbands. Sisters and brothers, grandparents and friends. If our justice system didn’t incarcerate so many innocent people to feed the corporations that don’t want to pay a living wage to the public who desperately needs to make a livable wage then just maybe things could change. If you break it completely down, it begins with the percentage of people who believe the corporations who bring you the news are also bringing you the truth. Sadly, the truth is hard to find. Versions of the truth, which are really only opinions are believed as truth. Only if you take the time to read outside the box and strive to understand why it is so important to “them” for you to believe what they say can you begin to understand what is true and what isn’t. Until you do that you are just a pawn in their game of control.

The incarceration of the black race was deliberate. We know it for sure with John Erlichman’s confession about Nixon’s War on Drugs. We also know for certain because it is mainly the black race being set free because of bogus charges – not the white race.  Sadly it often takes 20 – 40 years to get the conviction turned around and prisons often fight like hell to keep them and say it is up to them to figure out how to get released with no help from them. Is it because they don’t want to admit wrong doing because of the way they are mistreated?. I don’t know, but I think, as human beings, they would want to do no more harm. It is not the case, though. Because of racism, being born black is often the only “sin” committed.

In cases where crime was committed, the mandatory minimum sentencing laws often take the rest of that person’s life away from them. A gram of coke, an ounce of pot and a life is lost. Which is worse? Driving drunk that caused a death, but with a good attorney could set you free, but if you only had a public defender they’d force you to take a plea of many years. The public needs to do the right thing and force change.

In the meantime, the destruction of families, the destruction of a child’s education, children deprived of parents, black children overwhelmingly shoved through juveniles detention with very few people hearing their cries for help. Look at what the system did to Kalief Browder. Remember him? It took him committing suicide to stop the system from putting kids in solitary confinement. I wonder how many times he was raped by guards and predators. We should be ashamed that it was allowed to happen. I know other personal stories of ruined people. All I could do was apologize. I don’t know how to fix it. It makes me sick. I don’t know how the law works, but there are people who do, and we can help them by educating people.

Until the people, us ordinary people, throw our support behind the people who are fighting for change, then it will continue. Get away from TV news, bought and paid for, and use the power of the internet. That doesn’t mean to go to news sites that support what you think. Go to sites that don’t sing to the choir where you can actually learn something.

parents in prison

Take care of the children, especially the children of inmates. They are our future, too. We can change their future and also change the future of the world. So many people like to say we are a Christian nation. I don’t see it by looking at people’s actions. What I see is  hate and judgemental attitude… Is it you?  I don’t know, but you do… I see many harsh words for people who are pro choice. But those who are against abortion, you have the right to your feelings, but are you all talk? Do you do anything at all to help care for the children you say have a right to be born because life is a gift? If you don’t help the children your talk has no meaning. Do something. Be proactive. You reap what you sow.

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Parents In Prison Missing Their Children


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(Sonni’s note: This post was originally posted nearly two years ago,  in April 2014. It could have been written today.  At this time, Jamie has still not seen his son. No one in his family could spare even one day to let them see each other. That in itself will have long range effects, especially for his son who needs to know how much his father loves him. My daughter never had a father, either. When he left – he completely left. She never got one birthday card from him. She was angry at me for years because she believed I made him go away. There was a big hole in her life. She understands now, but she didn’t then. This karma she passed to her son. Doesn’t she remember the pain? Whatever her reasons are,  a child wouldn’t understand. He wants his dad, and Jamie desperately wants to see his son. It would make so much difference in being able to make it through these years with less damage. Many people don’t realize what it does to the mind when you are locked up, deprived of all things human. Many inmates who are locked up 23/7 are affected so deeply the ability to function is severely affected. I want him to come out whole.

REMEMBER MY LIFE    by Sonni Quick. Copyright 2015

Dear 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.

Jamie Cummings
Jamie Jr. with his father’s face in the background.

I ask myself over and over, why won’t Megan 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.

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 is wishful thinking. I don’t think any of this will change.

Love you, Jamie.

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NICIC.gov: Toolkit for Developing Family-Focused Jail Programs

parents in prison
photo source: abqjournal.com

Source: NICIC.gov: Toolkit for Developing Family-Focused Jail Programs

Through no fault of their own, millions of children have been exposed to and affected by the criminal justice system by witnessing their parent being arrested, by seeing their parent in court, or by visiting their parent in jail or prison. Indeed, many of the thousands of adult men and women who are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated each year leave behind minor children who must grapple with their parent’s absence for days, months, or years. Although such exposure does not always result in negative outcomes for children, the extant research does suggest that parental involvement in the criminal justice system can put children at risk of residential instability, economic strain and financial hardship, mental health problems, poor academic performance, and antisocial and delinquent behavior. Parental involvement in the system can be traumatic for children and can hinder the quality of the relationship they have with their parent … This toolkit and the strategies and experiences described herein are intended for people who are interested in developing family-focused jail programs in their own jurisdictions, such as jail practitioners and community-based organizations working with jail administrators and jail detainees” (p. 1). Sections cover: family-focused jail programs; Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights; considerations for developing a comprehensive family-focused jail program—identify goals, ensure that the process is collaborative, determine what components should be in the program (parenting classes, coached phone calls, contact visits, and others), and implement the program (program structure and sequence, eligibility, and staff training); challenges and lessons learned (have adequate and appropriate space for the various program components, strike a balance between having fun and providing a service, minimize the trauma associated with visiting a parent in jail, account for high population turnover in jails, and secure adequate, sustainable funding); and conclusion.

Go to the link at the top to read the rest of the article.

There is not enough consideration given to the children of inmates and how our broken system effects them.  I have recently dedicated other posts to the children.  I know, through my grandson, who is only 9 1/2 years old that not having his father and trying to understand this will affect him for the rest of his life.

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

What About The Children of Incarcerated Parents?

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Jamie’s son, Jamie Jr.

“That’s a pretty big job, mom, can I get paid?” nine year old Jamie asked his mother.

She decided that $2.00 would be a fair amount, but she was curious what he wanted the money for.

“How much would it cost for my dad to buy a soda in prison?” Jamie asked. “I want to send the money to him for Christmas.”

My daughter told me this over the phone the other day. It made me smile that my grandson was thinking about his dad. Jamie also asked her, “How much money would it take to get my dad out of prison?” He told her he wanted to start saving his money to help.

There was no point in dashing his efforts and telling him he couldn’t do that.  He wanted to do something to help.  The biggest thing it was going to do was lift his father’s spirits, knowing his son was thinking abut him.  One of his fears is that his son won’t want him to be his father because he left him for so long.

What a Christmas present this will be, for Jamie to know, not only that his son was thinking about him, but that he was missing him in his life so much that he wanted to help get him out. I can see the smile on his face when he gets my letter. I can’t think of a better Christmas present.

Whenever I talk to my grandson I tell him about his dad and about how much I love him and how much his dad loves him. I tell him he is the most important person in his dad’s life and he misses him very much.

I ask my daughter for any little thing going on in my grandson’s life that I can pass on to Jamie. I fight to keep the connection there. For both of them to get through these years, they need to be constantly told how much they love each other.

For big Jamie, it is his anchor in the real world; the one thing of value he has done that is waiting for him to get out with open arms. For his son, it is finally having his father.

Karma repeats itself. When you look closely at your life you can find the patterns. Jamie, the father is the third oldest of 4 children. Each child has a different father. He was the only one who never knew his father so he was the only one who never was even allowed a relationship with a man he could call dad.  What a hole that creates in a life. He still has no idea who his father is.

On his last birthday, Jan 10th, his mother went to visit him. He was so happy she came bescause she visits so seldom. She told him she remarried – to his father! That made him very happy. He had a father! She told a story about who his dad was and why he wasn’t there when he was growing up. She said he was a cop and he didn’t tell her he was already married. She said she ended the relationship. She told me this, too,  when I talked to her on the phone when I was trying to get her to go visit Jamie.  She told him the same story. He wrote to his “father” more than once at his mother’s address and waited and waited to hear from him. Jamie wrote to me and said he didn’t understand why his father never wrote back. He even sent him a birthday card. Why didn’t he write back? He was disappointed.  But there was a reason why he never heard from him – his mother lied. There was no father – or marriage. He didn’t exist. How could she do that?

My daughter is pretty sure Jamie’s dad is in prison.  She met a man at Jamie’s mother’s apartment years back who had just gotten out of prison, who is now back inside.  She said he was the spitting image of Jamie, so maybe that is  another piece of the karma of why he had no father.

Cause and effect. It’s some pretty strong stuff. I hope, for my grandson’s sake, that he doesn’t have to learn the same lessons.

There are so many children who have one of their parents locked up.  The US incarcerates people for many years longer than the crime dictates, so the prison industrial complex that run the prisons have the opportunity to make more money. This affects  more people than the person locked up. The children don’t understand, and often get bullied by other children who make their lives hard because they have a parent in prison.  Is it necessary to lock people up for so long?  People think of those incarcerated as murderers and rapists. Even though there are people locked up for that reason, the majority of the people are not. Other countries don’t lock up people for the length of time we do in the United States. That is because this country looks at inmates as a way to make money, no matter the other lives it destroys and no matter how many children are affected by losing their parent.

Here is the karma. His son Jamie is the third oldest of four children and each child also has a different father. He is the only one who hasn’t been able to know his father. He has seen him a few times but there has been plexi-glass between them. Not once has Jamie and his son ever been able to touch. If you have children can you imagine what that would do to you to never be able to touch them or hold them in your arms.

My grandson is but one of millions of kids and grand kids who are affected by having a parent in prison. When the sentences are absurdly long, beyond necessity, it ruins more lives than just one. Children don’t have the capacity to understand why they are gone, they only know there is a hole in their life where a father or mother should be. 

I wrote a piece of music called, “For The Children”   When I recorded a piece of music in the past I added a media player so you can hear it.  Instead, my music is now in new location.  Please go there to hear it.  My other recordings are there are well. I can keep track of my stats this way so anytime you also like, share or comment, it helps me, especially when others find my music.  People listen to what other people have listened to, so any time you do any of these things you help me. Thank you.

As an added note, the music, Life Interrupted, was recorded for my niece, who just recently passed away unexpectedly, the day before her 43rd birthday.  She wasn’t sick.  It was just her time.

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

Prison Sentences Are Just As Long For The Children

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Hiraeth by Sonni Quick copyright 2014

(Sonni’s note: I am reposting part of this from a post July 2012. Nothing has changed from then except that two more years have gone by, so there is at least that. October 2016 he comes up for parole again and I want things to be different this time around. They never give parole the first time around and they have made it very difficult for him this time coming up by not letting him have any education. He has to be so careful now. But even being careful doesn’t help when they use any excuse to file a case against you, real or false. The picture of his son is two years old, so I am adding one that is newer. His son is his reason for being. The one thing that gives value to his life. His one accomplishment. At least 3 months before a parole hearing, a parole packet should be sent to the parole board to read. It’s important because it tells them what kind of support an inamte has. The chances of going back in, recidivism, is higher for those who don’t have family support. They want to see  there is a system in place to help him get back on his feet. The adjustment back into society is no always possible. When an inmate has no one, he has to figure out himself how to get his life together. He may not have those life skills. So many inmates don’t. Jamie has never had the opportunity to live on his own to gain the experiences needed to live. There is much we take for granted; how to turn on utilities, how to open a bank account, how to do laundry. These are things we find easy. He doesn’t know how. He is going to need help and guidance to figure out all he’ll need to do to survive. One of the reasons I am writing his story as a book is to have it ready before his parole hearing.  I don’t know if is a good idea to present it to the parole board so that will take some thought first)

Jamie and his little brother Ben
Jamie with his little half brother Benjamin

I’m just lonely and it hurts. I miss everyone so much. It seems as if no one cares at all how I’m doing. And it bothers me that the woman I care so much for isn’t worried about my health or well being. No one stays in touch with me at all. It hurts that Megan is treating me as if I’m not Jamie’s dad. What I mean is, she don’t tell me nothing about how he’s doing. Everything I know comes from you. I’m very thankful for that. I would love to hear from Megan once or twice a month. What’s so hard about that? I get mad and try to write her to let her know I’m mad but I end up throwing the letter away. I tell myself it’s all my fault I’m here. Then again, it’s no reason for her to not stay in touch. If not for her then for the kids. I do love them and miss them so much.

It hurts so much not being there for Jamie. I’ve missed out on so much. I’m trying. I’m staying clear of trouble. I come up for parole on July 27, 2014. That’s one reason why I try to stay in touch with everyone. If these people decided to give me parole and they can’t get in touch with nobody I will have to wait for them to find me a half way house. I’m being treated like an unknown person by them.

So, if it stays like this, why should I try? My son is young and he has dyslexia. It’s hard for him to write. But still, Megan could give him some paper and let him color a picture for me. EVERY little thing touches my heart. I miss him so much. I sit here trying to read and my mind wanders thinking of everyone, from the night me and Megan met, even to the day I met Megan’s dad, to the day I first met my son. That was the most wonderful moment in my life. Please talk to Megan for me. Ask her what’s wrong. Why don’t she write to me? Tell her all she has to do is let me know. I can’t put up too much of an argument here. I just want the truth, that’s all. I’m going to close this letter. Take it easy, okay? Take one day at a time. The pain will be over soon and things will be just as beautiful as before. I love you mom

(Sonni’s note: Jamie’s  heart is big. He wrote this six weeks after I had a liver transplant. The healing had been very painful. He has always shown concern for me. He has kept my spirit up while I try to keep him going, too. Two wounded people living through the consequences of our own making. Cause and effect is very strict. Long ago I began calling him son, and he began calling me mom. He needed someone to hold him up during the times he couldn’t do it himself. I felt honored.)

Reading this letter again brings tears to my eyes. His pain pours out through his words. He has always expressed so much caring to me about these things that are important to him. There are so many children of inmates who are separated by at least one of their parents.  They accept it.  It is common.  Most all their friends only have a mom, or they are raised by their grandmothers, like Jamies neices and nephews have been raised by his mom.  How do they grow up and understand what a family should be? Knowing how many dad’s are in prison, what do these little boys think about themselves when they grow up?  That is an interesting angle to pursue.