Thank You For Supporting, “Inside the Forbidden Outside”

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Inside the Forbidden Outside

Many people have followed me, Sonni Quick, on this journey I’m taking, writing about the life of Jamie Cummings. “Inside the Forbidden Outside”. chapter one which had the previous title of “Inside Out”. You’ve encouraged me and told me to keep writing. Some of you have given me guidance and writing tips as a new book author. You told me it was a story that should be told. Some of you have told me you cried tears. You had no idea what being in prison really meant, because only knowing what TV and movies portray is not the whole story. Only people who have been where Jamie is will know for sure that what I say here is the truth.

Tears weren’t cried because Jamie is in prison. Tears were cried because his anguish was felt; his loneliness and depression. The loss of his family and his son from his life, with no one making the effort to bring him to visit. It is easy to see what he is going through through in his head, trying to understand what happened to his life that brought it to a screeching halt inside the thick prison walls.

Over the nine years I’ve known him, trying to hold him up, made me want to reach through the prison bars and wrap myself around him and hold him him, telling him it would be over someday. Reading and knowing about the stripping away of human dignity is hard to read.

There are many different reasons why people are put in prison. The reasons for what they did, and having those reasons used for corporate gain has put millions of dollars into many people’s pockets. Now American private prisons are spreading outside our borders and we are teaching other countries how they,too, can exploit their citizens the same way we do.

Imagine yourself in his circumstances. You can’t say it will never happen to you, because it can, easily, just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These are the things you seldom read or hear about in the media. The government has to justify why there is no money for education, yet hundreds of millions of dollars are available to build new prisons to satisfy the unending thirst of American corporations that want to use prison labor to manufacture their products. Lower taxes for the rich will not create jobs for the people, but it will provide more prisons to house more inmates to manufacture items that are available on our store shelves. Inmates also produce a great many items our police force and military needs to continue to do what they do. A subject to explore at a later time.

I posted a two minute video recently. It is not of Jamie, but it is of a man who spent 18 1/2 years in a solitary cell not unlike the cell Jamie has spent years of his own life. Jamie’s sentence is 17 years and he has done more than 9 so far. Not all of it has been in an ad seg unit (administrative segregation), but it has been determined the human mind can only safely stay in deprivation like that for 15 days before there are possible alterations in the mind. There was a politician about a year ago who voluntarily went into a solitary cell for ONE DAY and wrote about how horrible it is. I say, stay in for 15 days. Maybe then some laws will change. Keep him there for a month, not even
years which is so common, and he will be screaming to be let out just like all the others.

Even though I believe what happened to Jamie’s life, beginning at a young age, was unfair, coming to life through racial inequalities, life isn’t fair. I also believe if he had not been with this particular group of friends that got busted that night, which you can read about in Jamie’s Prison or read the post Juvy to Prison. Something else would have happened to produce the same result. He didn’t learn the life skills he needed. He needed to “belong”, and was easily swayed by the wrong people.

So, what to do about all of this now? How do we make something positive from something negative? The change in the life of a single human being can change the world. Because there are 10 strikes against any person getting out of prison, beginning with of the lack of acceptance by society, it is extremely difficult for them to survive and create a life of value. No one wants to employ an ex-offender and no one wants to rent an apartment to them, either. Many of these people, men and women, have families they love and need to take care of. They paid their price to society and have earned the right, at the very least, to gain their self respect. Society wants to keep punishing them for the rest of their lives. Ask yourself why? For this reason many ex-felons have to resort to other ways to make money, because they have no other way. Our prisons didn’t teach any way. Do you understand the dichotomy of the situation?

What happens to an x-offender, who, from his teen years has not been able to get an education? When he is finally released in his mid to late 30’s, or older, and has no work history, but wants to work, where is he going to find that job in a unwelcoming society who is afraid of him simply because he has been to prison? God forbid, he could be dangerous!There are many people who have never been to prison who can’t find work. If they have a hard time, how does an ex-offender find work? Many of these people, who haven’t been incarcerated apply for government assistance, live in public housing or section 8 housing, get disability, or use WIC (Women, Infants and Children) or food stamps to help supplement the rising cost of food. Most people don’t go to the government for help because they are lazy, but because they have no other choice, as the media would like you to believe. NONE of these options are even available for an ex-offender. Jamie won’t even be able to apply for disability because of epilepsy until he has been out for one year. How does he survive that year?

Jamie is black. I am white. We are connected by the blood of his son, my grandson. He is part of my family. he calls me ‘mom’. Because I have taken the time to be his family andf because he let me inside his head to feel the pain as he tries to understand the causes he made for his life to produce the sharp left turns that led to prison.

What should he and I do with this knowledge? I believe it can and should be used to help people. Help kids understand what the end of the path leads to if they choose to go down the wrong one. Young people have no wisdom to draw on. They can’t understand something no one has taught them. There are many ‘Jamies’ out there. His life story can also help educate people so they can have a better understanding of our prison system and why America has only 5% of the world’s population but imprisons 25% of the world’s inmates. His life story can also help inmates who want to do better, to understand their lives have value. It’s all about choices. Cause and effect. Not all inmates are inherently broken. Some just made a bad choice and have paid for that mistake. Many deserve a second chance and need our help, even if that help is only having a better understanding and acceptance of their value as a human being.

This is what I need from you that would help me in my quest. Please, go to different posts and pages on this website and post them to your own social media. Go to posts that talk about the book and send them out. The category still says “Insideout” for now uieven though the title has changed to “Inside the Forbidden Outside”. Encourage people to fill out the contact form to be on the mailing list for the book. If you don’t use social medial there is a tab where you can send out emails.

I have a dream. That dream is watching Jamie have the kind of life he can be proud of and being a father to his son. Will you help me help Jamie? My dream is that this book will sell, but I can’t do it by myself. It will be book sales that will enable Jamie to survive in this society he will hopefully, someday, in the near future, enter into. Inside the Forbidden Outside is still being written. There is still a lot of work to be done, but when you self publish writing and promoting have to go hand in hand.

I know I’m asking a lot from you, You have my sincere appreciation. . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Sonni Quick piano music complete list

Roller Coaster Ride With Prison Guards at The Controls

rollar coaster

(Sonni’s note: This post was written in 2012 when I was at a different blog site and it never got the attention it deserved. The things prison guards do to the inmates that cause the inmates to have a life of hell needs to be known. There are different types of prisons. Minimum security. medium security and high security prisons. Inside that you have solitary confinement,(ad seg) the G4, and G2. You have to be G2 to have phone privileges, have a job, which in Texas all labor is unpaid, go to the library or apply for any kind of class or trade. prison guards make sure you stay down, even if they have to invent something and it is your word against theirs. It brings out the worst in their nature, knowing they can pretty much do anything and there will be no repercussions. So I decided to re-blog this post today.)

I’m trying to hold on to this roller coaster ride, but the speed is gettin’ too high for me. Not everyone can make it through life by themselves with so much pressure on them. When you have so much build up there’s no telling what will set you off at any given time. It’s just like with these officers. Yes, they take my food, and it pisses me off because I try my hardest to stay focused to succeed and be successful at getting out of this place. But it’s a no-win thing here. The system is built to help officers only. If we, as inmates, would have the system on our side Texas would owe a lot of money for lawsuits due to officers beating up on inmates and going against policy. We go on a 45 day lock down next week. If they take any food from me again I’m going to lose my level and start from the ground up again. I’m going to write my brother. Lord knows I don’t want to, but I got to see if he will send some money before Thursday because it will be out last commissary before lockdown. Due to the fact that I am in Ad Seg, we go on lockdown four times a year. Every 90 days and 180 days. The rest of the unit goes on lockdown every 180 days. Like I said, the system is built to help the officers. All they have to do is babysit 4 days on and 4 days off. They make $2,300 to 2,400 a month. All they have to do is feed chow and run showers and rec. But they are so lazy, when we do get rec they only run 4-5 people in each section and there are 6 sections. It’s 84 cells in all. Then, when they stop everything, that’s it. No one gets nothing, not even showers. All they get is chow. Get this, they are so lazy they will give dudes an extra tray of food to keep them from having to make the effort to do their job and take them to shower and rec. It’s because they just want to sit there on their asses. Look, I put all this in this letter because I feel that you out of all people would understand me. If I went too far please let me know. I just wanted to express some of what I’ve been holding in. And no, I don’t get anuff to eat, mom. Sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands.

( Sonni’s note: November 1, 2014. Not everyone reads from the beginning of the archive of posts, so you may not realize that Jamie calls me mom it is because that is what I have been to him for the past 8 years. Sometimes the difference between making it and not making it is knowing that there is someone on the outside who cares about you. The above letter about treatment of the guards is a recurring theme in many of his letters. There are good and bad guards and there are good and bad inmates. If I can affect his life in a positive way then all of this has been worth it. When we die, the only real legacy we have to leave behind is the effect we have had on other people, good and bad. I may not be read about in history books, but who I am will be passed down in the book of life.)

It was quite awhile after I wrote the above before I began to write the book about his life. It started out with the title of InsideOut, but was recently changed to the working title of “Inside the Forbidden Outside” There are 3 random chapters posted here on this website and you can find one here.  Please let me know what you think. Your support is vital to it’s success, which means success for Jamie when he gets out.

F**k it. I’m Tired of Starting Over

prison letters,inmate letters,ad seg,level G4
Jamie Cummings letter 2010

( Sonni’s note: This is not the letter below, but is instead the next letter I’ll post.  Jamie is from Nacogdoches, Tx and this prison is all the way across to the other side.  Texas is a big state.  For Megan with the kids and his mother to visit  it would take 3 days.  It seems quite often as though the prison system tries to separate the inmates from their family. It’s like another way to make it harder on them. I have read many times of this being done.  Mothers separated from their sons and daughters and husbands from wives.  Considering there are 110 prisons at last count in Texas. Quite a lot don’t you think? After a few years in that prison he was sent back across Texas, but to prison  far south, in Beeville.  After a few years there they sent him closer to home,  forty five minutes from his mother and a two hours away from his son, but still, visits have been minimal.  He hasn’t seen his son in a year and a half, but his mom did go visit him on his birthday in January. An SGI member -Melvin – from a Buddhist organization, visits every couple months to keep him encouraged to have a positive attitude and plan for is future.  I have hundreds of these letters.  They have been his life line, but my lifeline as well.  When I was so sick for a few years I always knew he cared, and it gave him someone to care about. Both of us were in prisons of our making.  Effects of causes we made.  It was time to make better causes – better choices.

At the end of your own day, how would you feel if there was no one who cared?  No one you could write to or call about your day?  Getting to know this man through these letters and knowing his mind is not that of a criminal, and knowing that someone has to be there to help him develop a life for himself, inside and outside, because when he gets out, society will not be waiting with open arms, ready to give him a second chance.  Quite the opposite.  And that effects their survival rate on the outside. 71% of all parolees end up back in prison within 5 years because they have no way to take care of themselves.  They never learned a new way to live and even though most parolees are determine it is going too be different when they get out they don’t have a way to make that work. No one wants to hire them or rent to them, so they resort to old habits to live.  they are looked at as worthless or dangerous, even if they weren’t inside for a violent crime. This is our fault.  The prison’s fault.  If an inmate serves his time he should be able to begin a life and not looked down on.  We do that – society This is why I am writing a book (first chapter)about him based on these letters.  The original title was “InsideOut” and recently changed to “Inside the Forbidden Outside.”  Please follow this blog to find out how he’s doing and/or  fill out the contact sheet below for the email list to only get posts about new chapters and to find out when it will be published. There is a media file on some posts that have original, improvised piano recordings of music I’ve composed for Jamie that I hope to have included with the book.)

Written 6/18/2013

Hello Mom,
Good morning.  How are you? Fine I hope.  As for me, Well, so far things are Okay.  Sorry it’s taken so long to write back. I’ve been moved to a different pod. I got my G4 so I’m waiting to be moved again to where the other G4’s are. I also had to find some paper.  I got this from an officer.  I was waiting on the paper you were going to send. Could you send me two pads of paper so it will last me for a while?

(Sonni’s note: Jamie did get a 12 pack of writing pads I sent before he was moved to another prison and an officer stole it from his belongings, along with books, letters and pictures.  He said there was no point in filing a claim because not only was he in a different prison, there was no proof he had these things in the first place.)

I read your letter a few times cause I wanted to understand everything. Yes, a lot of things happen in life. But who said we’re perfect?  We make mistakes.  It’s a part of life.  Learning from those mistakes is what counts. No, no one has a perfect life, but all we can do is try our best. A lot of people feel they have are supposed to have a perfect life only to find out later they don’t. Not everyone has the opportunity to live the life they want. but life, as some of us know is what hurt and kills them.  Challenges, we should try to overcome them.  Some do and some don’t.

When I found out about you being in the hospital I did something I really don’t do.  I prayed, but I didn’t know to who.  I was just doing it.  At the same time, I knew things would come out fine.  For you, and you are woman of faith.  Your faith in the teachings of Buddhism.  So yes, I worried,  just as the rest of the family did. The outcome of your surgery came out fine.  Don’t get me wrong, I chanted as well. Nam myoho renge kyo. Strange words but I try to understand the best I can what it means to practice with magazine and newspapers that come all the time. ( the World Tribune and Living Buddhism)  Try to keep faith. There’s a lot of people care and that’s what is good.  It hurts to know so many peoples lives are at stake because they have to wait a long time on a liver transplant.  It hurts to know so many people die, especially kids.  It’s not right.  You said you needed the confidence. Confidence comes from within., even during the surgery.  I wish I was out at that time.  I would have made sure to be there.  Everyone has challenges we all have to overcome.  This just happens to be your challenge.  This happens to be mine.

I haven’t overcome my challenges because I’m going up and down with my problems.  I’m waiting on the pieces in my life to come together.  You say, sometimes we really want something and it will make us happy.  I know if I can see my family, better yet, be with them, I’ll be happy.  But for some reason, I can’t have that.  I understand your situation.  Yes, it would be better if you only needed the transplant.  It hurts to know you are going through so much afterward.  The device sounds good if it will help with the pain. I know you are strong and independent as well. But I’ll do my best to stay away from the trouble.  I promise you.

Okay, here’s the difference between ad seg and G4.  In ad seg everything comes to you, like food.  You only come out of your cell for one hour a day or for medical, and you’re in hand cuffs everywhere you

chow in prison. Sanitary hair nets around food
Sanitary hair nets around food in the prisons

go.  In G4 they let us out to watch TV and go to rec with each other.  Say about 84 people. We get to walk to the chow hall, which is what I need to stretch my legs.  That’s really it, but now that I think of it, I don’t think I’m going to go.  There’s this lady feeding chow.  She’s mad cause I told her she needs to have a hair net on because it’s policy.  So, to cover her ass she told the Stg I threatened her.  So I might not go to chow.  But fuck it, I’m tired anyway.  I’m tired of starting over.

A couple days later – I went to the UCC today and talked to the warden.  He asked what happened and I told him.  He said he was going to give me another chance. Inmates are always wrong in every case.  There is no justice in prison. I thanked him and walked out.  It’s okay, as of right now I’m not in any trouble.  I’ll do my best to stay away from it. But as you know, I’m around a lot of other people (gangs).  From what I was told the officers trip about any small thing. Shoes not tied right.  Anything.

epileptic seisures,prison medical care, injustice system,prison letters
Epileptic seisures

I went to the doctor today. ( Sonni”s note:  I pay $100 a year for him to be able to see a doctor when he needs to, especially because of his epilepsy.  The quality of that medical is substandard.  I read of one doctor who wouldn’t get within 5 feet of any inmate for fear of “catching” something.  How can you diagnose anything with actually feeling the area that causes the symptom.  The remedy for chest pains is to drink more water.  medical care is costly and the more they spend on it the less money there is for the corporation supplying the care.  There are many lawsuits against these corporations like Corizon who owns many of the prissons across the country, but I suppose paying the lawsuit is less than what the care would have What little I can send him for commissary, they take half of it until it’s paid for. His family has never helped.) 

It’s my left leg and knee.  It swell up big.  It’s an up and down kinda thing.  The doctor says it’s my joints, Arthritis.  Would arthritis make my leg swell up, too? It hurts bad.  But I guess it’s just something I have to deal with.

Well, till next time, I love you.  Love always, Son

Inside The Forbidden Outside . . . I Have a Dream

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Inside the Forbidden Outside

I originally posted this a year ago.  When I see what is happening in America through the course of this presidential election year, I’m scared.  People who would have previously denied being racist are being led by the excitement of the pack and are punching people in the face, for no more reason than being black or because they have been given license to be hateful and proud of it.  The damage this is doing to our society will show up as effects in our near future because some things can’t be taken back.  I am so ashamed of people who now use hate as their motto.  The follow a hateful man who says he doesn’t promote hate while he tells his follows to hurt people – and they do.

All people are equal and racism is no more. Is that a dream we can turn into reality? I know it takes many people to make that dream come true. It being equal is against all odds, given our history, but do we have to give in to that? Do we have to continue what our ancestors started? Do we want to survive as a species with so much negativity in our hearts?

I have a dream, my book, that I pour my heart and life into: Inside the Forbidden Outside, will get published, will be a success, and will affect the minds of people who will begin to understand our Injustice System and the way it preys on minorities for profit. I spend  so much of my day a day writing, researching, learning the business of writing, blogging, social media, searching, praying, and focusing on my dream. It would be great if I made a lot of money from it, but that isn’t the purpose.  I don’t want to only say it is important to help change the views of people wh0  insist on being racist

I want to help do something about it.I want to help change the course of the life of this young man, Jamie Cummings, who I believe deserves the chance of a free life in the outside world. Freedom to love. Freedom to be a father to my grandson. Freedom to educate his mind and also freedom to discover his talents. He can use his experience to help other people who are going through what he has, and to help the families who are affected with the same circumstances of having been branded a slave by our society and not worthy of the freedoms we have. Why will all of this happen? Because it is my determination to find a way, and I have a dream.

Racism is alive and well. The branding of a slave and using him for profit started centuries to ago. Black people understand deeply the struggle they have had since the 1500’s to be seen of people with value, who bleed red blood, who have hopes and dreams for their children, who have great minds and have fought to be equal in a society with an ego who sees themselves as superior, and has yet to fully recognize them as equal human beings. This is because people in high places are still determined to use them as fodder. They know the average man is easily swayed to believe they are better because media continually tells them it is so.

So, I have a dream, of helping to make a difference; helping people understand. Trying to change hearts and minds that have been broken since birth to think the black man to be less of a man than the white man, who clearly has white privilege. I have white privilege. My son has white privilege. My son, walking down the street would not be looked at as suspicious of doing, wanting to do, or even thinking about doing a crime. He would not be pulled over, searched and humiliated – because HE IS WHITE.

I know these atrocities have been done to more than just the black man. Looking at what we have done to other people, the American Indians and Hispanics who are looked down as having lesser worth than white people and have to fight so hard for survival. There is little respect for their humanity or their heritage. They know when we, the white man, look at them with disdain, it is because they are not white – like us. They are lesser than us. They didn’t have the good fortune to be born in this free and wonderful society with streets paved of gold and the American dream (they thought) existed. They will never have have white privilege, as long as we think we are better than they are.

Here is a very telling video of a woman who accidentally had a black child and how it affected her selfish life in a negative way, because now what will her family and neighbors think? You can view the video here: The Value of Whiteness stating that her neighborhood is racially intolerant. She cries through the film because it’s unfair and doesn’t want other women to have to go through what she has. She “bonded easily with her daughter but she is obviously mixed race.” She’s going to have to face her daughter one day for that remark. Oh! The horror of what she had to go through now to raise her! Will she be able to take her out in public? Will her friends shun her now? I hope someone had to guts to slap her. Racism it’s most finest.

Most people will not admit they are racist in public because they don’t want to be looked at as a terrible person, but in their minds, they know they, too, are swayed by media and believe the stories that are slanted to make them believe the black man is dangerous, commits more crimes, and has a basic innate nature that wants to hurt people, much more than white people do. I see it on my facebook page on a continual basis. Jamie’s facebook page you can also follow, and read other articles about prisons and our injustice system.

You learn from the media that blacks do more drugs, collect more welfare than white people and  commit more crimes because that is exactly what the media wants you to believe.  It is by no means true.  This media is owned by very powerful white men in high places who benefit greatly by you keeping that mindset. They benefit greatly by the slave trade inside the prisons. So your racism is needed by them and is locked away in your mind when a black man comes toward you on the street and they have a hidden fear that he will want to hurt you. It allows cops to shoot them even if they aren’t armed and it allows the average citizen to kill them because of the racism and fear locked in his minds that he is doing something suspicious. The law allows you to “stand your ground” and kill without repercussion. You can’t stop that feeling because you have been indoctrinated in it since birth. Yes, racism is alive and well. And yes, black people are very angry over the negativity caused by the color of their skin.

I have a dream, that my grandsons, who are black and white and brown will have the chances in life that I have, that they won’t be judged by the color of their skin, and the possibilities of that happening frightens me. So I have to fight for my dream with everything I have. It drives me forward into the wee hours of the morning. It is my passion. It is my legacy. I don’t mean a money legacy – but a real legacy, because the only legacy I can leave behind that has real value, is the affect I have had on other people who carry on the change they learned.

I have a dream, that you will recognize the power you have to help me with this dream, and share my posts with other people. I have a dream that you will want to stay interested in the book I’m writing and add your name to my email list at the bottom of the post. I have a dream there are other people who believe as I do who want a book like this published. That growing list is what spurs me on. It shows me that people care enough and my words are not falling on deaf ears. I have had wonderful feedback from many people who have expressed caring for this man, so I know his story is one that needs to be told.

Because being outside of a prison, for many, is only a dream.  for some it will never be a reality.  We also hear frequently that many men, mostly black, are being let go because it has been found they really were innocent all along, after they have spent, 20, 30 or 40 years behind bars.  We, as a country should be ashamed for allowing that to happen.  The prosecutors and judges who have been so determine to lock up every black man they can find and force them to be guilty.

Speaking today, in 2016, a woman I have recently met online, Pamela

They never learned how to make it a reality. Why? Because the prison system is set up for failure and the outside world is very unforgiving and does it’s very best to make it hard for parolees and those who have lived out their sentences to get a job, rent an apartment and are looked down on as people to be feared and people of no value. They don’t want to take a chance because they think every person getting out of prison is a danger to them. Unfortunately, in some cases it is true, so it is understandable to have that fear. But there is little said or written that distinguishes these people, so all are feared. Our government has laws that makes it hard for any person who has paid his price to have a life on the outside. The laws work against it. Should there be help from the government who imposed harsher sentencing for the black man for the same crimes the white man committed, instead of making it harder to live and eat and feed his family? Help for the person who is trying to have a better life? Does anyone care? No, not anyone with power who profits from his failure.

There will be a second book written about the outside world after the day comes when Jamie is paroled, whenever that is.. We will see then what reality is.



Walking While Black

This is Jamie’s most recent letter. It was difficult for him to write and difficult for me to transcribe. Criminals need to be locked up. There is no question about that. There are some pretty screwed up people out there, but I also know there is a business structure to the prison system to make sure, once they have you, they plan on keeping you. Because sentences are incredibly long, far beyond the point of being necessary, it makes it impossible for 71% of parolees to assimilate back into society. Look at that percentage. After five years only 29% don’t go back. Quite often it is for breaking a rule, not for committing a crime. These 8 years I’ve been writing to Jamie, I have come to know his was a life, was a life unnecessarily destroyed – by many factors. Being black is the greatest factor. No father, little structure because it’s a single parent home, a cop the family had trouble with, who barges into their house when he was sixteen and hurt his mother, being sent to juvy for 9 months for hitting the cop with a broom, and not let out for 4 years. There are so many kids who are product of the community they are raised in, and when you are black, the odds against you and the odds that you will be put through this system is much greater than it is for white kids. That is a fact. Not an opinion. It set him on a course it was meant to go – to lead to prison. Jamie is guilty of being born black – walking while black – who had the possibility of an education taken away. He never knew we was allowed to have a dream for his future. Without having an education, what is the likelihood of working, especially being born with epilepsy? Where was his father? He is a retired cop who wanted nothing to do with him as a child. If he had helped to raise him could this story have turned out different? His mother and father are now married. It happened about a year ago. Jamie didn’t even know it happened when it did. He has reached out to his father and getting nothing in return. So now at age 32, the man Jamie is will have to be strong. Beat the system that is set up for him to fail. he went in a boy and has to come out a man, without having the benefit of life’s experiences to guide him – when he is paroled, whenever that is. This is why I write this blog and why I write the book, ‘inside out’. Type that in search and pull up the chapters I have posted. It will give you insight to solitary confinement. Is Jamie a bad man? Does he have the mind of a criminal? You judge for yourself.

Please comment, rate or leave your email information to know when “InsideOut” will be published

This is my new improvisation recorded march 22, 2015.  Title – “I’m Sorry”  by Sonni Quick  copyright 2015

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Walking While Black
photo credit:

Hello mom,

Everything happens for a reason. What the reason is for I don’t know. Even me. Look at my situation. Look at the roads I have been down these last nine years. It’s just life. You’re right, I’m not alone. I’m not lonely either because I have you on my side ((smile)) We have helped each other out.

I sit in my cell and think about many things. I think about it so much and so many different things confuse me. Crazy huh? I ask myself a lot of the questions you ask me. About my son. About my family and most of all about how come my dad has been with my mom for almost a year and he has not tried to contact me? Even when I took the first step and reached out to him. Not in so many words. But I did let him know I wanted to get to know him. His birthday was this month. I sent him a card. Nothing yet. Why? Why don’t he write to me? I have questions I’ve asked myself for years.

I’ll try to answer your questions the best I can. But it really hurts, growing up without a dad. Then I never really had much of a young life. I mean, I had one, but not one a kid would like. I love my mother. Always will, but growing up knowing everybody’s dad, but mine. All for of us. We each had our own dad. Being home while they went to stay at their dad’s and dad’s family – it hurt. I’m the only child who never knew his dad or his family. Why me? What did I do to deserve this?

Question for you. Why did I have to lose my life? When I was 16 going on 17 I was sent to TYC. Texas Youth Commission. I was told I had to do 9 months. However, I was a young black male and was lied to by the courts. I ended up doing 4 years. While locked up I lost an aunt. I only had one visit from my mom due to the distance and miles from home. At times I got so angry I used to give the people problems. I would fight. Make them chase after me, spray me with pepper spray and even place me on suicide watch because of my depression. I was placed on two (BMPs), Behavior Management Programs. The first, because of being in so much trouble. The second was because I broke an officers nose. He poked and poked at me and kept calling me nigger. I finally lost control and hit him. I know I had a problem with anger, and but I a teenager who was already angry at being here in the first place. I could only take so much of him trying to make me come back at him. He pushed me because he eventually knew I’d fight back. So who’s fault was it? Was it all mine? Was I supposed to be the better person and ignore this asshole? And since there was nobody else that witnessed it, of course his story was different from mine. I just hauled off and hit him for no reason? But no one believed me because their staff don’t treat the boys like that. The officer filed charges on me. He knew what he was doing. I was handcuffed and taken to the county jail in Brownwood, Tx.

I got there and lost it cause I knew what was ahead of me. They was trying to send me here to prison. They ended up having me see a doctor because I stopped eating and was real depressed. The doctor spoke to the judge I guess because of instead of sending me to prison I went to a state hospital for depression. This was in 2004. I was 21. I stayed there maybe a month at the most. I didn’t like it. I’d been away from home for so long it was killing me.Then to be placed in a state hospital near Oklahoma really hurt. There was no way anybody could come visit me even if the wanted to. It was too far away. My life had been upside down for so long.

When I got out I went home. My family was waiting for us with a party for me. However the drive was so long, when my mom and cousin came to pick me up, they both needed to rest. We stopped in Dallas. We finally made it to Nacogdoches, my hometown, about 10:00. Everybody had just about had left. There was a few cousins and an old friend I went to school with. So much for a party. Everything was gone. I really didn’t care. I was home.

But get this, I went to my cousin’s house that same night. I visited for awhile and and then started walking home. In the apartment complex my cousin lived, they had guards after 10:00. So, I’m on my way home and the officer stops me. I explained that I was visiting my cousin and was on my way home. They asked me to step into the office. I did, and the next thing I knew I was in the back seat of a police car for trespassing. I was ‘walking while black’. I wasn’t even home one day, but I spent the next two days in jail. For what? My mom came and got me out.

I went to court for the case and guess who I seen? I seen the lawyer that was my lawyer four years ago. Now he was a judge. He did not know who I was at first. He ask me my name and I told him. He asked me who my mama was. It hit him. He ask how I was doing. I told him that I had just now come back from TYC. He looked at me crazy, as if he didn’t know that the 9 months I was sentenced to lasted 4 years. I told him he lied to me. He looked shocked. He asked what I was doing in front of him. I told him about visiting my cousin and he dropped the case.

I was home for one year. I met a beautiful woman who I fell hard for. I enjoyed spending time with her as well as her kids. Then later in our little relationship I was told I had a child on the way. I was excited because I was having my first child, yet worried because I had no job to support this child. The money I was getting I was getting illegal. Life is full of choices. Sometimes we don’t learn to think ahead about our choices. I made a bad choice by leaving the house that night. She didn’t want me to leave home the night that situation happened. That was a bad choice I made that night, but I didn’t realize it was a bad choice. Now I have a son who is almost 9 years old, who I’ve only seen a handful of times. What makes this so difficult is that this places his mother in a difficult place, too. It makes me worry about her and the kids.

I’m going to to end this. I’ve been going and going. This has been hard to write. It hurts to bring it up and think about it all over again.

Love always, Son

I forgot a few things. I’m going to try and remember as much as I can. I don’t like the past. I got the box you sent me you ordered from commissary. You also asked what I meant when I said I get snacks. A snack is a peanut butter sandwich or some kind of meat sandwich. I get because at night I wake up with terrible headaches and I’m dizzy. One day , when I had a seizure because of my epilepsy I came to know my sugar is low. Since I’m in lockup I had to tell them I’m supposed to get these snacks. One of the officers here is young, maybe 22 at the most. He just started working here. They pick up bad habits quick. Anyway, I’m talking to him and another comes up with my snack. This young dude takes the sandwich and pulls it apart and spits in it. All I could see was red. He talked shit but another inmate called to him and told him a few things about me. Let’s just say he seen me in action a few times. I have to be able to defend myself in here when I need to.

Till next time, Love you.

Jamie Cummings Blog and Sonni Quick’s Piano Music

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In addition to being a writer, I am foremost a musician. My instrument is piano and I have played for 53 of my 60 years, and have taught for 42 years. I spent years singing and playing piano in piano bars and with various bands. I had to give that up 13 years ago due to health problems, but after that, my music changed. I no longer played what other people have written and play only what comes from me. I only improvise, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to have a way to record it when I’m playing at home. I still stop at every piano I see in any club or piano setting and play for free. Now I write music for this website. Music is on some of the posts. I like to close my eyes, preferably in a pitch dark room so I have no distractions and play whatever emotion I’m feeling. To me, it’s not only about the notes you hear being played, but also the spaces in between where the sound of the notes come together.

Then I don’t listen to it for a few days. When I play it back and I am sometimes amazed by what I hear because the emotion is there. I can’t repeat anything I record. I would just sit and play something else. Here is a link to the last post that has my most recent recording: There is a link at the menu button on the top of the main page that has a link that says piano music links. After that, the most important post to read starts with “I want to encourage you. . .” the entrance to the blog that tells you how to navigate it..

When my book, InsideOut, is released, I want to include with it, a CD of the music I have written and posted on this site. It is strange knowing that more people have heard the music of Sonni Quick this past year on the internet then they ever did before when I was playing live.  Maybe it is my second chance. For quite a long time, I thought my identity was gone. Not being able perform and spend time in recording studios anymore was a loss where I felt much grief, as if a leg had been cut off. For so many years my identity was that of a musician and I didn’t feel I had the right to call myself that anymore. Who was I? It was a difficult question to answer. It has taken awhile to realize that identity didn’t disappear, it was just hiding until I found it again.

After nearly losing my life due to liver disease and cancer, making the most of my life now has changed my perspective. Jamie helped me through that illness and recuperation and being confined to my bed for nearly three years. His letters of encouragements were something I looked forward to. As soon as I was well enough and I could type again. ( I had to relearn many things) I started writing and also My music has all been inspired by my feelings when I write about Jamie. Many are sad because it sometimes gets overwhelming when the writing gets heavy. That is when I go to the piano and play. Now I can just plug my piano into my computer instead of putting my Nook near the speaker, and the quality of the recording is better. The music and the blog go together.

Aren’t there sometimes people who come into your life and you feel like you’ve known them forever, and there is a bond there that feels different from the way you feel about other people you meet? You feel there is a reason they came into your life? People come and people go out of our lives.  Why is it that some people become special?

Please leave a response, and use the yellow stars. In a club people can clap and tell me personally what they think. Now your written response is all I have. All criticism is also welcome. If you want to join other people who want to know how the book, InsideOut, is coming along, with the possibility of future purchase, please fill out the comment form below.

And also, in advance, thanks, Sonni Quick

Prison is More Like Death Than Life

Moon from a prison window,solitary confinement, inmate mental health
Moon From a prison Window

(Sonni’s note: This is a re post. I wanted to bring it back into the picture. It was originally written early last year. It will help those who don’t know the story of Jamie and what happened in the year between being finally let out of juvy and ending up in prison. It was during this year he met my daughter and they had a baby who was born 7 months later. My daughter tried to be there for him but she was young and in her 20’s and knowing it would be a long time before he got out, she eventually went on to live her life. It left Jamie with no one. Because there was no one else to love, that last image of her he has carried with him as if it were yesterday. His own family has contacted him very infrequently and for a very long time it was just he and I, trying to get through his years of solitary confinement, also called ad seg or G5, as he was helping me get through years of extreme illness.

I found him to be a gentle soul, that due to circumstances, never had a chance to find out who he was. This is why I started the blog and why I started writing the book InsideOut, to validate his existence and try to turn these years from something negative to something positive. You can find two of the chapters of the book at the end of the paragraph. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you’d like to leave, and if you want to be on the mailing list for the book fill out the contact page at the bottom and state that it is for the book, as other contact forms are out there for other reasons.. and

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Ahhh. . . The moon. It was a beautiful sight. However, I’ve been moved to another cell. I can no longer see outside. But I can still see the moon in my mind. Such a beautiful sight to see, it is. Sometimes my memories are the only thing standing in the way to insanity. Today it is my memory of the moon. It makes me want to write a poem.

Being alone so much there isn’t anything else to do but just sit and think. It makes me think a lot about my past. You told me it is foolish to get upset when I think about my past, but I think otherwise. When I sit back and read over old things I’ve done or remember things I really don’t want to, it hurts. I don’t need anymore pain. I realize now that I’ve been locked up most my life.

I loved the year I was home. I really enjoyed it. The mistake I made is that I passed up an opportunity. It hurts. When I got out of juvy I went to stay with my uncle, and I know for a fact if I had stayed with him I would not be here now. But I wanted to go back to Nacogdoches. My home. I think so much about that chance I passed up and it hurts me. I know I had a chance for a better life. Foolish, yes, indeed. But would something else have happened in Dallas? Was it my karma to be locked up?

If a cause had been made for that to happen sometime in my life, even if I don’t remember what it was, wouldn’t the effect happen no matter where I was? A person can’t run away from the the causes they make. It follows them. There is always cause and effect for everything. Things don’t happen for no reason. There can’t be an effect without a cause, and we can’t go somewhere else and expect things to be different. There is something inside of us we have to change first. I have to understand what that is. But still, I think of my life and it makes me sad. Almost like I wasted it. I have to find a way to do better.

Life inside these walls are more like death than life. No one was ever meant to live like this. I know I did something wrong but this kind of punishment far exceeds the crime. What people don’t know is there is so much that goes on in here that the world doesn’t know about. I really don’t see how the guards can go about their life knowing what goes on in here and the things that happen and then go on about their day pretending that what they do is okay. I think a lot of them like having control over other people. It brings out the worst in them. Who knows, maybe they get off on it.

(Sonni’s note: In Nichiren Buddhism there are different life conditions that a person has and one is called “the world of animality”. It’s also called “kick the dog syndrome” That means that someone who is crapped on by their boss goes home and takes it out on his wife and kid who goes over and kicks the dog. Each person wants to get over on the person beneath him so that he can feel in control. But how can these guards go home to their families and pretend their life is okay? What do they tell their kids about what they did at work that day? Do they want anyone to know how they mistreat people? I don’t see how they would. I think in the beginning that many of people who work here start out okay. They applied for a job that pays good and has benefits. They were probably never inside a prison before. It changes them. They lose the ability to have compassion. They don’t see inmates as human beings who have value. I can’t imagine what they say to each other. They get mean. They start to enjoy causing misery. It may not happen to everyone who works here, but I think it happens to many.)

There is nothing I can do about it. I can’t get any help. If I try to say anything it just comes back on me so I stay quiet most of the time. There is no place I can complain where anyone would listen, that’s for sure, and if I could it would just get me in trouble. I can’t win in here.

Inside The Forbidden Outside chapter – Nightmares

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(Backstory: For those not familiar with the book it is a being written about Jamie Cummings, who is currently being held at Huntsville Prison in Texas. He has completed 9 of a 17 year sentence. This is a random chapter. This story is based on his life using hundreds of letters written to each other during these years. If you wish to read Chapter one you can find it here

If you would like to be on the mailing list to receive any other future posts or information about “Inside the Forbidden Outside” please fill out the comment form below.


In some ways Jamie feels like he’s back at the beginning and opening his eyes for the first time to this nightmare. He was trying to wake himself up, having that same dream again. He was having this same dream over and over and it was beginning to freak him out. If he could just go back to sleep and wake up again, maybe he’d be in a different place, in some other person’s dream. Anyone’s dream would do.

“Maybe all this really did just happened yesterday,” Jamie mused. ” Maybe he hasn’t been here forever, it just feels like forever. Wouldn’t that be something?”

“Or maybe I’ve been been here forever.” he thought, “It’s my own personal version of hell.”

Depressed1“Maybe that’s it. Everybody was really in a different kind of hell just for them. Everyone’s hell was different.” Now he’s beginning to think for real that he’s starting to go crazy. He didn’t believe in all that nonsense of heaven and hell, anyway. He thought all that got started just to scare people into believing it. It was just as nutty as his nightmares.

“That would be a really awful possibility,” he thought. A nightmare that just went round and round in circles like a merry-go-round, except, there was no way you could ever get off. The longer you were on it, the faster it would go, until you were hanging onto the neck of the horse with both arms wrapped around the head. Sometimes he felt like he was hanging onto that horse by a thread and the thread was starting to break.

“Sounds like that old time TV series, Twilight Zone,” he mumbled. He’d seen reruns of it as a kid and some of them really creeped him out.

Maybe this was the way being crazy started. The way your mind turned on you and made you think things in your head was real and you heard things you didn’t want to hear. Crept up on you real slow until it had you by the throat and wouldn’t let go. He needs to stop thinking this crap.

“Maybe I’m dead and this is hell.” He laughed, seriously a little crazy this time. “If I knew this was hell,” he thought. “I could probably deal with it better, knowing for sure this was it, I could stop wondering if I was ever going to get out. I wouldn’t have to worry no more about getting out of here.”

He wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. He’d just have to come up with a better plan for his days because right now he wasn’t dealing with this solitary crap very well. You’d think he’d know the ropes by now. No use about complaining. They’d only turn on him more if he did that.

“If eternity was going to be just like this, then accepting it is all anyone could do, or go crazy” he thought out loud.

“Problem is, it feels like an eternity already.” He was crazy for sure, having this dialogue with himself, but if he didn’t talk to himself, then he really wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Being alone is being alone. People don’t understand how alone, alone really is. The guards didn’t want to have conversations with you. Probably told not to. You know you’re in bad shape when even having a conversation with a guard sounds good. He got up and started pacing the floor. Three steps up and three steps back. Three steps up and three steps back. He really wished he could go outside and run. Just run until he was tired. Run until he was out of breath.

“Don’t make friends with the inmates.” That’s what they probably taught the guards, although they most likely don’t use as nice a word as calling them inmates.

“Make them as miserable as you can, they were taught.” I think they take that part of their job really seriously.

One of guards said to them, “If any of you have a smile on your face then I’m not doing a good job.” They probably laughed with each other as they talked about the ways they had fun making them as miserable as they could.

He knew they tried to make people on the outside think it was all the inmates who do wrong and the guards would never did anything really bad, but he knew better. There was good guards and there was bad guards. To him it seemed the bad guards outnumbered the good guards. Only when one really slipped up and someone died did it bring any notice to the prison, but they always managed to find a way not to take responsibility. If a dude has a heart attack from the torture they did, then the heart attack was how he died, and the torture never becomes a part of it. He knew it was worse in some states than others. There were lots worse places than Texas, so maybe he should be glad he was here and not in a state like Alabama. That was worse.

“How long is an eternity supposed to feel like?” he thought, looking up at the ceiling, as if looking toward heaven was going to give him any answers.

“Probably the guys on death row have a better answer because they know there is no way, for any reason, they were ever going to get out of there.” They might keep them there for decades until they died, but they ain’t ever getting out of their one man cell.

“At least I know I’m going to get out someday,” he hoped. “Someday”

Besides, maybe outside was the real hell. He had no idea what he was going to do. It scared him. How did he know how he was going to be able to take care of himself? He didn’t even know how to do anything to take care of himself like most people already knew at his age. He didn’t even know how to get his lights turned on in a new apartment.

What if he did something without even meaning to and they picked him up again, not even giving him a chance? They wanted to make sure they got the inmates back. They owned you.

He knew, even when you’re on parole, they still own you. You’re still on paper. You still belong to them and they controlled your life. They really don’t want you to make it out there and they set you up to fail. Nine years inside and they make it so he can’t even get his GED. If he makes parole in 2016 they know he doesn’t have any way to take care of himself. Why else would he see the same people coming back again after they left?

It’s just their way of filling the prison through the back door. Pretend they were all for you getting out of there and having a life, and it’s all bullshit. No one is honest with you here about that. If he got caught walking crooked they’d probably say he was on drugs and lock him up, even if there was no drugs in him, it would be his words against theirs. They’d be the one to make it true.

Just like it was in here. People lie an getting people wrote up that wasn’t guilty of anything at all just so they could have someone owe them a favor. The truth doesn’t matter much in here, or out there. And he knew what it was like out there. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick up blacks and charge them with things and try to make them guilty of something they didn’t even do. He heard the stories. He heard the guys when they were brought back in again because they did something that broke their parole.

But it makes you think, “What’s the truth? Nobody knows what the truth is and nobody seems to care, neither.” He pressed the palm of his hand against his forehead, pressing on the tightening of his skin that was turning into a headache. He was getting himself worked up about things he couldn’t do nothing about.

“Damn, it’s depressing,” he said out loud. “Or it’s enough to make you depressed if you thought about it enough.”

Yeah, some of them that got paroled got into things they shouldn’t, so it was their own fault. He wasn’t going to do that. He had his son to think about. But the cops didn’t need a reason. And just like in here, where the guards are always right, no matter what happens, he was sure it was the same out there. He needed to get out of Texas. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick you up and put cuffs on you and throw you in jail. He wasn’t going to be like all the others and get picked up and brought back here again.

But how could he leave Texas with his son here? He’ll have to think about that later. First things first. He had to get to prove he didn’t belong here. Not on his son’s life would he do anything to end up back in here again.

“I have to keep my eye on the end game,” he determined. ” Maybe other people didn’t have a reason to change things, but he did, and he needed to remember that and not get all caught up on maybes and what ifs.”

Crazy thoughts were always shooting through his brain like this. He had way too much time to think. He had trouble remembering a time when he could laugh and smile. It was forever ago, like some repressed dream that came to the surface and he found himself inside a nightmare he couldn’t get out of. Bits and pieces of things he could make whole stories out of, if he wanted to. But he needed something positive to do.

Sometimes it seemed as if the dream was something that didn’t happened ‘to’ him, but instead he walked into a theatre into the middle of a movie where he never saw the beginning, and fell asleep before he got to the end. It was the kind of dream where you could feel yourself falling and you knew if you hit the ground you were going to die, and woke up startled and scared and afraid to go back to sleep again. When he was little and had bad dreams he used to think of cartoons and tried to stay awake. There were no cartoons in here.

Sometimes he had this dream over and over. Like it was a premonition of some sort making him feel like it was going to come true. But there was a hazy part he just couldn’t see quite clear. He would lay there for hours and think about it, but it was no use.

“I have to snap myself out of this,” he thought. “I have to write a letter or something and get my head together.” He’s been here long enough, and has been through other times like this, and he knew it was easy to spiral out of control.

He lived that movie in his head over and over, never knowing if he was going to die at the end. It never felt like it was okay. He never felt any hope, only despair. Every time he went to sleep he was afraid he would see it again and most always, he did. He had no one he could talk to about it and he just got more depressed every day.

When he woke in his dream he was running. Running so fast. His heart was beating so fast, knowing without a doubt that he was in a place that felt so wrong. It was hell. It was hell and he couldn’t change it. So many times he woke up crying. Crying for the loss. Crying for everything. And it was never, ever, going to be over. He was lost forever. It felt like forever. He was never going home. He buried his head in his pillow and he wept.


This is what drove men mad. This is what solitary confinement did to the mind. He spent more than 4 years in here. He should be crazy, too, and probably would be if it weren’t for Mom. She held on and wouldn’t let go. Two years each time. All for lies. The hopelessness. He knew there were men who were kept in places like this sometimes for decades. His sentence was only seventeen years, if the word ‘only’ means anything.


There are men here only because they’re mentally ill and there is nowhere else to put them so they lock them up in prison. They can’t survive around other people and being in solitary made it even worse. They lock them up for their own protection, they say, but that only gives them the right to abuse them, and to laugh at them and to do things to them that would be a crime on the outside. Sometimes they die because of the way they are treated. Out there these guards would be locked up because sane men didn’t do the things they did to people in here. In this place, people don’t have the rights of a dog. In fact, dogs have more rights because they’d haul you off to jail for torturing animals.

They torture the men. In the real sense. Physically torture them and some of them die. Because these men couldn’t stand being locked up, they would do things to themselves. He heard the stories. No one deserved to end up like the men in solitary confinement.

They would try to kill themselves by cutting their veins and smearing the blood all over the window in their door, and all over their walls and floor, trying to bleed out. They would take these men to medical and sew them up and instead of getting them help, they would double their time in solitary and it would happen all over again. They make them crazier and then punish them more because they got crazier.

Does that make sense to you? Now they just don’t know what to do with these men. They can’t let them out of their cell because they would probably try to kill someone. They’re completely loony. Maybe they should’ve thought of that before they destroyed the rest of their minds.

He remembers what it was like in solitary when he was in the juvy system. It was no picnic then, either. It wasn’t any different now. Alone is alone, no matter what age you are. A person can only take so much. He was so young then. Just seventeen. What did he know about being locked up like that? He got mad. They said he could go home after he did nine months and when he was packed, they wouldn’t let him go home.

They said “No, you can’t leave. You didn’t make your line class.”

“What line class?” He said. “You never told me about nothing about no line class” They lied to him! He got mad. He went to his room and started punching the walls. They were the liars! They put him in solitary for that. It was no picnic then, neither. It wasn’t any different now.

Oh, he didn’t want to think about this right now. He had taken so much already for too long. What had he ever done in his life to deserve this? They put him on antidepressants. Every time they saw him he was sleeping. Clearly depressed. Who wouldn’t be? All he wanted to do was sleep now.
All this thinking was starting to make his head hurt. Either that or maybe he was hungry. He was always hungry. Maybe he could pretend his peanut butter tonight was a piece of apple pie!

“Maybe I can dream about apple pie tonight,” he laughed and cried, and lay down on his bed.

“I’ll take a nap and see if I can figure all this out while I’m sleeping.” Even that bit of laughter made him feel little better. He has to be careful… It’s so easy to get your head in a funk and it drags down the whole day.

He pulled a letter out of a book. It was one of mom’s letters. He was using it as a bookmark. He kept it in the book he was reading so he could take it out and read it when he wanted. He read lots of her letters over and over. When he’s finally able to make phone calls it sure will be nice to talk to her.

She had written some stuff in this letter that looked like gobbledy gook to him. She said it was Japanese. She wrote these letters down ‘nam myoho renge kyo’ Weird. He had no clue how to say it or what it meant. She said it didn’t matter, just try to say it the way it looked. He had no idea what it meant but he tried anyway because he said he would. She’ll tell him more about it later. Maybe she was crazy, too, because she told him if he said it over and over he could be happy.

“What do I have to lose?” he laughed again. “Nobody else had any better suggestion, so I guess it can’t hurt.” He fell asleep thinking about all of these things in his head. He even had a dream about apple pie, but tasted just like peanut butter, what they give him every day for meals.

Prison Email Through

emailWhen I write to Jamie I often write to him through an email system I can send him an email letter or send him money. I also buy the “stamps” it takes to send the letter that are the same cost of a regular stamp and it costs the same as a regular stamp cost and changes when stamp costs changes, although none of this money goes to the government. You can buy books of stamps of just a few up to 40 stamps. If anyone were to want to send him an email his prison number is #1368189 and he is in Texas. I know he would be very surprised, and when other people have written to at different occassions, he has written back.

I was going through old letter that I wrote him and I came upon this one written 3 1/2 years ago. i thought it was interesting because it was the first time I talked to him about writing a book. The idea of this blog hadn’t entered my head yet, but at this point we did have five years of of letters accumulated. i haven’t even gone back into these letters yet because they are in a box in my garage and it is way too freezing cold to go look for them. Besides, I still have letters I haven’t gone through. It don’t think when I took it on how much work it was going to be. I also didn’t know what a labor of love it was going to be, or the possible impact it was going to have on his life. I don’t regret a minute of it.

I will be going through more of my letters to him to find ones that are relevant to letters He wrote to me – since these are letters “shared” between us as the tag line goes. It took a lot to get him to start opening up more and talking about things that are private. He also wasn’t used to anyone thinking his life was special in any way. he was more embarrassed or ashamed of being there. That has been awhile back now. he’s dome a long way and has grown into a person I am proud to know.

From: Sonni Quick
Date: 7/18/2011 7:27:19 PM

Hello my son. I just wanted to make sure that you knew I put more money in your acct. Also, I ordered the mag sub and bought you a new book from Amazon. It’s being sent from Texas by a company that sells new books, but I just thought of something. Even though it is new the box won’t say Amazon. So you might not get it. Will they let you know at least? If they won’t let you have it then I’ll get another one for you from Amazon.

I have an idea that I want to do so let me know what you think. It will take a lot of work from you. I want to write the story of your life – from as far back as you remember. All the details of who you are and what it was like growing up. All the truth. If you give me the facts I will write the story. You might not think you have anything worth saying, but I do. You’ve had a hard life. I’ve done some research and there isn’t much out there that explains how someone gets to where you are. I think we could write an interesting book ( The beginning of Inside Out) and who knows where it might lead to. I have someone who is going to help me because there are lots of rules to writing. Maybe it could help your parole. It would also give you something to do with your time. Think about it and tell me what you think. There are some things I know about you but there is a lot I don’t know. Take care. Love, Mom


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InsideOut now changed to “Inside the Forbidden Outside”

“Inside The Forbidden Outside” This is the new working title of the book I am writing about Jamie Cummings.  At first I wanted to write a book because he has a story to tell, but decided to first write a blog.  I needed a way to categorize his letters. He talked about the same issue sometimes in different letters and I still have many letters and I haven’t had a chance  yet to add. I realized there was enough for me to begin writing this book. Sometimes you will read incorrect grammar and phrasing. Jamie has had little education and has been unable to even take a GED course. In many cases I keep it true to his thinking and writing although I often correct things that might be confusing.  I also change the names of some people and leave out passage here and there if it may be confusing.

I want to present this book to the parole board  It may help in their determination. I am then determined to have it published by the time he is released. I believe his story about his life and the state of the inhumanity at the juvenile detention institutes as well as the prisons, has value for those who are going through the system, and if they don’t change, they will end up where he is. There are inmates in other prisons who also have set up ways to help and mentor the kids. Jamie was part of the “school to prison pipeline”, a phrase that was coined in the past year or so to represent the kids who, often unjustly, get caught up in the system.  Solitary Watch is a very good website to read about about the lives of other men who have been in solitary confinement and also has many good resource links.

I understand many of these men have done horrible things, but there are just as many men who haven’t, and many who are locked up simply because they are mentally ill and there is nowhere to put them.  They are in solitary for “their own protection.” Regardless, the inhumane conditions they live in were not part of the sentence the judge passed down

Jamie still has 8 out of 17 years of his sentence left and prisons do not like to give parole. The owners of the private prisons have not hid the fact that they have given millions of dollars to politicians for their campaigns on the condition that they keep the prisons 90-100% full and vote with their best interests in mind.  Money talks.  Politics is all about money and power.  It is a battle to fight the slave state set up for profit. It is an expansion of the southern plantations whose owners thought they had the right to own a person of color for fincial gain. White privilege.  The fact that there are six times more blacks and minorities in prison does not mean that these people did more crimes, it  means there are more things that are a crime, if you are black

Please read this and tell me what you think. Please fill out the form below to keep up on the progress, even if you are following this blog, because this will be the reader list I show to agents to prove this book has value.  The sale of this book could be what gives him the monetary advantage to succeed when he is released into a very unwelcoming society. You will also to receive notice of any other chapters I post here. Your info will remain private. You can also leave a comment for other readers or follow the entire blog through WordPress or email as each post is added.   Don’t forget to check the yellow stars and rate it Any and all criticism is welcomed and lets other people know what you think. Who better to ask than the readers?  Will you do that for me – for Jamie? Will you share this on your own social media?  Your help would be so greatly appreciated.  If you have taken the time to read this . . . please add your voice. If you want to read another random chapter go to Nightmares
Inside The Forbidden Outside


Dear mom,

Sorry for taking so long to write. I hope all is well with you. Is been a rough day today. Sometimes I want to give up.  Ill try to tell you what is happening.I remember taking a deep breath before I even opened my eyes. Something woke me up. That happens a lot, day or night. It was probably someone down the hall. There’s lots of people here with major problems in the head. Some can’t cope with being here anymore, when all forms of human contact are taken away. Dudes start crying and banging on the door with their fists and feet. Sometimes they find ways to cut themselves or even commit suicide because they can’t stand it anymore. Being alone inside a solitary cell will suck the life out of even the strongest man.

I know the craving to feel the skin of another human being touching you, and holding you with kindness. It’s worse than withdraw from addiction to drugs. This is the hell of incessant suffering. Sometimes I wish I could die, but I can’t. Some men claw at themselves and make themselves bleed. They talk to the voices in their heads that laugh at them, taunting them. Sometimes they’ll open a vein, capture the blood and pour it on their head.  These are the  things that can happen when you are more alone than a human is supposed to.  How can I keep it together when so many people around me are losing it? There is a man down the hall who thinks he can’t possibly stay in here one . . more . . minute, so he screams and screams and nobody hears him. He’s not screaming loud enough for anyone to do anything about it. He doesn’t exist anymore.

I’ve heard the stories. I heard about the guards who would get feces and piss thrown on them because someone had been saving it up, waiting for him to come close enough so he could throw it on him. Word gets around. It gets pretty noisy during the day when everyone starts talking and yelling. We can’t see each other, but we can talk to each other..

photo credit:
photo credit:

A person can only take so much deprivation before it gets to him. He gets disoriented because he don’t know what time of day it is. Sometimes, once that happens, paranoia sets in. He’s used to hearing it. No one will go in and help these men who are losing their minds. No one wants to go inside those cells. There could be shit smeared on the walls and everywhere else. And lord knows the last time he might have showered. But if he won’t put his hands out the slot in the door so they could cuff  him, the guards put on their riot gear and get the tear gas and the tasers ready to subdue him.

Guards are often rougher than they need to be.  Most of them are bullies?  Well, let’s just say this is the perfect job for people like them.  The inmates here aren’t dogs. We’re still human beings, but we aren’t treated like we are. The guards are brutal. So, unless an inmate threatens to hurt himself, they’ll just walk on, continuing their babysitting job, not caring that the person on the other side of the prison cell door is actually a man.

The prisons created this problem. Now they don’t like how it takes so much money to take care of the dudes with medical problems, so they don’t. They ignore calls for help. Sometimes, they just let them die. A lot of these men in lockup shouldn’t even be here. They were crazy to start with but there was no place for them to go.  Mental hospitals closed and they were kicked to the curb. They ended up homeless and cops picked them up. I try not to think about it too much.  I have to put it out of my head, or it’ll start to drive me crazy, too. I know you don’t want to hear about this stuff but I have to tell someone.

I’m not sleeping too good. Most nights I don’t. I Toss and turn all night most of the time because I’m freezing. Right now I ache so much because I’m tired. Not only am I skinny because because they don’t give us enough food, I’m losing muscle from not moving around much.  My knee and leg are all swelled up again.  It goes up and down.  It’s been like this for over a month now.  I asked the doctor if it was fluid on his knee because it really hurts to touch it.  I asked if maybe it needed to be drained.  She said no.  It would never get approved.  Things like costs them money.  Who cares if I’m in pain. So lay down and try to sleep. I try to remember the good parts of my life and play it over and over in my head.

Sometimes I can make myself believe I’m not here. I’m back home with Morgan and my son is there. It makes me want to cry. I messed things up so bad. It would be so easy to lose myself, give up and join the people in this hell they are in. Sometimes, the mistakes I made, come back to me every day. It’s hard to keep it away when the brain has so much time to think.

It’s easy to lay here and think of how much I love her. I’ve never loved anyone the way I love her. I have no memories of anyone else. I wasn’t out in the real world long enough, since he was a kid, so how am I supposed to know if what I’m feeling is real or not?  When I met her I fell hard.  I didn’t have anything to compare it to, except loving my mama,  or my aunts and I don’t think that’s the same thing. I need to keep my love for her alive in my mind to save my sanity. She has no idea how much my love for her keeps me from losing it.

He couldn’t lose it. There’s no way coming back from that. They’d never let him go then. He had to stay focused on getting out of here some day. The only way he could that was to make himself believe she still loved him as much as he loved her.  Yeah, times change.  They aren’t the same people anymore.  At least in his dreams he could pretend it was real. Time stopped.  It was still 2006.  Reality, he knew,  was proving to be another matter altogether.

Pulling his hand out from under the one thin blanket he had to cover himself, he tried it cover his face with it and breath warm air. It was cold in here and it was the only thing he had to stay warm. The blanket was thin and worn. How many other inmates had used it before it was given to him? The thought of getting under a nice warm comforter was almost to much to bear.

Jamie rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his vision enough to see if it was close to sun up.  He put on his glasses.  He turned his head to look out the window. He wasn’t sure. The window was pretty grimy. He opened his mouth into a big yawn, trying to wake up. He read somewhere, when you yawn, your body is trying to get more oxygen. All he knew is that the oxygen in this room was pretty damn cold. He thought he could almost see his breath. Anything to torture the tortured.

prison windowBut at least he had a window in this cell. He was moved around a lot. Different levels on different blocks in different prisons. He couldn’t count how many times he’d been told to pack up his shit. And he’d been in … trying to count on his fingers, naming off six different prison units they’d transferred him to, all over the state. When they transfer you, you can’t trust the guards. One time a whole bunch of his stuff had been stolen. Pictures, books, letters and a new stack of writing tablets he’d just been sent. He tried put in a complaint but he knew it would come to nothing. How was he supposed to prove his stuff was gone when now he was in another prison and there was no proof he owned it in the first place?

He was still tired but he knew he wouldn’t go back to sleep. It wouldn’t really matter anyway. He slept off and on all day. Sometimes, if he slept too much they’d send someone around to make sure he was still breathing.  Most days he was so depressed it didn’t matter if he was asleep or awake. It was the best way he knew to pass the time. He has a few books. He’s read each of them several times. He’ll probably read them a few more times, too.

Sometimes, in his dreams  he could see his son as if he were standing right here beside him. God, he missed him so much. The thought of putting his arms around him and feeling his body against his, a deep wrenching pain started in his chest as he tried to fight back the tears. He didn’t want anyone to hear him crying. He heard crying often enough as men lost control and despair spilled out their guts.

He pulled a worn picture out from under his pillow. He kept it close. He lightly touched the picture with the tips of his fingers, caressing her face. She was beautiful. He closed his eyes and sighed. He could still feel her warmth as he pictured her lying next to him. And his son? It still amazed him that this boy came from him. It was the one good thing he had done that gave his life value.

Holding the picture made him feel as if his family were right there next to him. He wondered if his son ever dreamed about him? Six years old now and growing up without a dad, just like he did. He wondered if Morgan even thought about him at all. He hoped so, even though she did go on with her life. He couldn’t expect her to wait for him all these years, even though, in the beginning she said she would.

After awhile her letters came less and less and she had excuses why she couldn’t write. Her boyfriend always found the letters and threw them away, was her main excuse. He couldn’t blame her. She wanted a man in her life who was going to be there, and he was definitely not there, that’s for sure. But he was going to make it up to them some day, if he could. If they let him. So much time has gone by he could never get back again. He was sorry. He was so, so sorry. He had really screwed things up. He didn’t mean to.

He looked over toward the window again. It was still pretty dark outside, that much he could tell. They kept the lights on all the time to screw you up. Made you crazy not knowing what time it was. Daytime, nighttime, those lights were always on. The lights made it damn hard to go to sleep. What was the point of that anyway? There was no point, that’s the point. They just wanted to fuck with you. The lights, though, seemed to affect a lot of dudes here. Especially the ones who were on the edge.

Most of the meals were the same, too, so you couldn’t judge by that, neither. Two busquits and tablespoon of peanut butter, or two little pancakes with peanut butter. All he knew was he was never, ever, going to eat peanut butter again, for the rest of his life, once he got out of here.

Once you got disoriented and didn’t know what time it was it became it harder and harder to pull your mind together. The harder you try the worse it gets, and it will make you nuts. He’s heard it happen. You can tell when someone starting to lose it. It starts out with threats to the guards and threats of what they’ll do to themselves. then they started screaming to be let out. Yelling and screaming they can’t take it anymore, with an insane edge to it. He was not going to let them screw him up. He had to admit, though, he had hard days, too. Days that would be easy to just crawl up inside himself and not come out.

He sat up in his bed, thinking, he had to find a way to get through this even though there days he didn’t want to get off his bed because there really was no reason to. some days he held on by the skin of his teeth. “One more day. Just one more day”, he spoke out loud as he sat there, rocking back and forth with the rhythm of repeating it over and over..

“I’m going to have to get up and pee,” he said to no one in particular. “No way around that.”solitary cell

He moved his feet around in circles trying to get the blood flowing, and slowly stretched out his legs. He carefully put the picture back under his pillow and swung his legs off the side of the thin mattress and put his feet on the floor. He was glad he had socks on because the cement floor sure was cold. He reached his hand out and grabbed the sink to help him stand up. He could hear his joints creak, when he tried to move, from laying in one place for too long, protesting at being made to move. If he wanted to, he could stretch his arms out from his sides and easily touch both walls of his 5X8 feet cement box. The toilet was connected to the sink, really close to the edge of his bed, with a piece of metal sticking out to the side that served as his table. There was a little stool connected to it that couldn’t be moved.

He was wearing every stitch of clothing he owned, which wasn’t much, just a white jumpsuit, trying to stay warm. In the summer, during the intense Texas heat, he sometimes took off his clothes in the evening and lay down on that same cement floor trying to feel a little coolness. There were only a few months out of the year that either weren’t too hot or too cold. He was wearing white. Everything he owned was white. It got dirty so fast but he guessed that being white they could bleach the hell out of it to get out the stench of an unwashed body who was out of deodorant.

Jamie looked down at himself. He really needed to get him some new clothes. But that costs money so he was stuck with what they gave him. He had lost so much weight with them starving him half to death that and had trouble keeping his pants up. He used to be a pretty big guy. He definitely used to have some meat on his bones, but not anymore. Not that he looked bad, but he didn’t like often he had to hear his stomach growl because they only gave him enough food to barely keep him alive. What he wouldn’t give for a big plate of bacon and eggs with home fries, and a big glass of orange juice. Maybe two. That was one of his dreams, he thought, as he laughed out loud. Dreaming about food.

He stretched and reached over and grabbed hold of the sink to steady himself, which was above the toilet bowl, so he could relieve himself. He washed his face with the little piece of soap he had left and drank a little water out of the sink. He was real hesitant to do that because the water had a brownish tint to it, so who knows where it came from or what the pipes were like it had to travel through. He didn’t have much choice. It was the only water there was. This prison was pretty old.

People on the outside had no clue what it was like in here. All they know is what they see on TV and that never really showed it like it was. Once the channel changes they don’t think about it, unless they find themselves in here, or until someone they know or love gets caught in the system. When the system gets you they don’t like to let you go unless they have to, and even then they make it hard for you to make it out there. They make too much money off you. They own you.

He knew it must still must be pretty early because there weren’t too many sounds yet coming from down the hall. It won’t be for long though. All that banging on the walls and people yelling, upset at something or nothing at all would start pretty soon. He couldn’t blame them. It was the only way to get their pain out. Some cried just to make sure they were still alive. If someone were to describe hell, it would look and sound an awful lot like this place.

This day would end up being exactly like thousands before it. He walked the few steps to the window to see if he could tell yet what kind of day it was going to be. At least he had window. Not all the cells had windows. There were small things to be thankful for.