CIRCLES INSIDE CIRCLES – Chapter Rewrite

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Jamie was trying. He couldn’t try any harder. He wanted to understand how he could turn his life around and make it through these years in one piece. If he didn’t, the years would be wasted and he’d be a mess when he got out of prison. He couldn’t afford that. He had to make up for a lot of lost time.
     This is what happened when you felt you had endless time on your hands. It was hard to fill the empty spaces. Jamie sat on his bed. He stared at the wall and lost track of time. It had no meaning. He spaced out thinking about his life and what he could have done different. Sometimes he got tired of trying and wanted to melt into the wall and disappear.
    How was anyone supposed to live in conditions like this, then get out and have an okay life? How could he get over it as though it never happened and be happy? It was hard to remember what that was.
      Jamie never had a real chance to find out what he was good at. He wasn’t blaming anyone, the right circumstances were never there. No one taught him how to make something of himself. He just followed along with whatever happened at the moment. He didn’t know how to have a dream. He needed to figure out how to do that. All he knew for sure was the values he believed in didn’t seem to have the power to get him where he wanted to go.
     Maybe he needed to deepen his faith in God. Study more. Quite a few of the inmates also went to church. There were quite a few screwed up people who found religion after they were sentenced, and some went to church because it was something to do that got you out of your cell. Jamie really wanted to make it work but how were you supposed to know if it was making a difference in his life because nothing had changed for the better.
     He had the bible studies he sent for and was trying to study on his own. He hoped it would help. He had a lot of time to think about what he read. Still, it made no difference. He wasn’t giving up, but what could he do that would actually change things into a better direction instead of going in a circle that only went round and round? He wanted to learn something that would give him hope he was doing the right thing.

<<<>>>

Later that night, getting up for a drink, he fell and twisted his knee. It was swollen and hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. It was worse when he put his weight on it the next morning. It was so swollen he could hardly bend it. He put in for a medical call. A guard came get him with a wheelchair because there was no way he would be able to walk there.
     “What did you do?” the nurse asked after the guard helped him up onto the examining table.
     “Damn that hurts,” slipped out of Jamie’s mouth before he could stop it. He didn’t like to cuss around women.
     “I slipped on the carpeting,” he joked and tried to laugh.
     “No, really, my knee buckled. I went down and landed hard on the side of my knee and it twisted.” Jamie winced as he attempted to change position.
     “I’ve had problems with this knee before,” he told her.
     “I’ll have x- ray take a picture,” she concluded. “Make sure it isn’t fractured.
     The nurse pressed gently on different parts of the knee. “This feels like fluid, “she commented, “not just swelling from the damage caused by twisting it.”
     “Can the doctor do something? Could it be drained?” Jamie thought it would make his knee feel better if they were able to get the swelling down. Right now he could only bend it a couple inches.
     “No.” It only took a second for the nurse to answer.”The doctor won’t do it. The Medical Unit would never okay that kind of procedure.”
     The nurse stopped for a few seconds and thought carefully. “They’ll say it’s not medically necessary,” she finished saying, almost under her breath.
     She saw inmates all day long who had medical conditions that needed treatment, and she knew they would never receive it, or they would get the barest minimum care. She’d placate them making them think something would be done. Chronic illnesses with simple, effective treatments that could make their lives easier to bear would most likely be denied. Conditions got worse that could be fixed. Inmates paid precious dollars out of their accounts to be seen by a doctor and were usually given the runaround. They would receive token or incorrect treatments and blood tests might even be taken, but getting the right diagnoses and proper medication were much more difficult to get. This wasn’t the reason she became a nurse.
     Inmates coming into the prison with a known condition who had a history of medication had a better chance of receiving it, but if other conditions developed there was a good chance it wouldn’t be addressed. She did what she could.
     “Every day, try to work the knee by sitting on the edge of your bed and straightening your leg up and out and hold for a few seconds,” she instructed. “Then lower it down slowly.”
    “Its a simple exercise but it will help keep your knee muscles from locking up.”
     This was the reality of medical care in prisons and they got away with it. It didn’t matter what treatment would be best for him. It mattered what the medical corporation could provide without it costing them.
     The lack of quality care caused damage to those inside. Pain and suffering, mental and physical were common and it sometimes caused death. It was inhumane. Fluid on Jamie’s knee wouldn’t kill him, but it was painful moving around or standing, and would take a good while to heal itself.
     So why did they take an x-ray if they wouldn’t treat the problem? So they could show they provided adequate care? That was the law. The prisons had to provide care but they were never told what adequate care was, so they could do anything and say they treated him.
     The nurse would tell him to drink more water and take Tylenol and say in his file it was adequate medical care for anything that was wrong. It was the standard treatment for what he needed so it was a waste of money for most inmates to call and ask to go to the medical unit. If an inmate had the flu or anything catchy, the whole prison would get sick.
     Jamie was tired of being treated as though he didn’t matter, but what could he do about it? He did the best he could to win over his negative thoughts. Sometimes it wasn’t possible. He absolutely did the best he could, he thought to himself. He tried to keep the stress under control. Seizures were going to happen when they screwed up his medication or said he forgot to tell them to reorder it like that was his job. Sometimes they hit fast and he falls and gets banged up, and sometimes he falls off the bunk from thrashing about in his sleep.
     He laid down on his side and brought his knees up to his chest. He felt less vulnerable and less alone inside his circle of comfort.

<<<>>>

Day after day routines never changed. It was hard to remember what day it was. One of the hardest things about being in prison is the boredom. There wasn’t enough to do. Nothing new was added to think about, so his mind goes through the same circles of memory over and over again.
     Jamie was trying so hard to not let anything get to him where he would lash out in anger. He was feeling confident he had that under control. But if he couldn’t get out of his cell sometimes he knew he would go crazy.
     He needed to keep his privileges. He was feeling irritated today and he knew it, so he had to work harder to stay in control. It wouldn’t take much, so he stayed by himself.

Writing letters that were never answered was frustrating. It was a waste of precious stamps. He wrote because he thought people would want to know how he was doing, but he seldom got a letter back about how they were doing. He felt forgotten by everyone. There were probably new kids in his family he didn’t even know about. Children of cousins who probably didn’t have any idea about who he was. He was an outsider now. Not a happy thought.
     It had been almost three months since a letter came from anyone besides Sonni. She became his family so he usually called her Mom. She said he was like a son. She called him that because she said he needed family.
     Going to the day room was a good way to pass the time. He tried to enjoy it as best he could. Watching TV let him pretend he wasn’t here. It usually kept his mind off things for a short while. It worked sometimes and sometimes it didn’t. Time wasn’t exactly flying.
     It was summer, 2009, three and a half years since he was arrested. He was getting close to being one fourth through his sentence.
     Jamie decided to write to Sonni. She often asked him questions about what it was like in here. He opened his locker and took out a couple pieces of paper and sat down at the steel table that was connected to the toilet. He began drawing lines from top to bottom to look like lined tablet paper. 
     “Rec hours rotate,” he began writing. “We get four hours all total. Two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening between the hours of 6 -10 AM and 12- 4 PM. After that I’m in my cell the rest of the day.”
     He went on to explain that his custody level was G4 line 3. If he caught another case he would go down to G5 which was also adseg. He was almost to the point of being in 24 hour lockdown for a year if he didn’t cool it and control his anger. It was so hard to not get pissed off at things that went on in here, inmates and guards. But if he wanted to work his way back to population he needed to be G2 so he had to stay good with no new cases for seven more months.
     “There’s a lot more stuff I can do in population, like go to school and take trades,” he wrote. “I could also go to the library and have contact visits instead of visiting behind glass.” 
     Another reason he was trying hard to not get anymore write-ups was he wanted to apply for a hardship classification. Then he could ask to be moved closer to home because of a medical reason or a close family member who was sick.
     There was no reason for them to put him a prison that was a thousand miles away from home. He thought he was sent to West Texas as a way to punish him more by separating him from his family. But he would need their help to make it happen and that didn’t seem likely, at least not right now.
     It would be too easy to let depression take over if he thought too much about the free world and the things he’d like to see happen that were unlikely to happen. He needed to think of how to get through his time and not think about everything else he couldn’t change. He couldn’t even have a conversation with anyone to move it along.
     Jamie closed his eyes. Maybe he could go to sleep now so he didn’t have to think about any of this. He put his paper and pen aside until later. In a few minutes, as he felt himself drift off he heard, “James Cummings, mail.”

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Chapter – Looking Into The Crystal Ball

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(Sonni’s note:  It has been awhile since I posted any chapter edits so I thought for Christmas I would post one. This is fictionalized from the facts as I know them. The thoughts and descriptions are my own. Below is the music I posted earlier to go on the next album with this chapter. Subscribe to ITFO News to keep up with what is happening. Merry Christmas!)

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

Thoughts were racing through Jamie’s head. His court date was today and he didn’t have a clue what was going on. Didn’t he need an attorney? He couldn’t represent himself. What could they do to him? He had no idea but he had a feeling this was going to be a bad day. 
     A black man like him, born and raised in Texas would get as many years as they could give him. Racism is alive and well and Texas ranked with some of the worst. He had nothing to do but talk to other men waiting for their court date, too. Some had been waiting for years. He knew he was probably going to get locked up no matter what he said but he wanted a chance to tell the court his side of the story.
    Looking around the room at dozens of three tier bunks lined up across the floor it was easy to see there was more black skin than white. Maybe white men didn’t commit as many crimes in Harris county? That was a laugh.
     Jamie needed someone to talk to who would listen and help. He did not go out that night with his friends so he could rob a club. He went out to party and have a good time. He wasn’t the one who had a gun in his back pack. He didn’t even know this friend had a gun until he talked about it in the car. He thought it was a joke. He didn’t think the dude was serious. If only he had done something to stop him.
     Morgan wrote a while back and said she tried to get him a lawyer but it didn’t come through. She sent money to his brother who had a friend. He knew an attorney who would take a deposit and pay off what was owed. 
     It sounded kinda hokey to him. She they trust him or do nothing? They should have done nothing because the friend and the money disappeared. Morgan lost money she needed for herself and the kids. 
     He knew his mom didn’t have any money to help him, so Morgan sent money she earned working at her mom’s store.  He would feel better if he could at least see her. That wasn’t going to happen. She was too far away. 
     Jamie’s life was falling apart. He had no control over what happening. He wasn’t going to see his infant son when he was born. He wanted to be a father more than anything but he could kiss that goodbye. He wouldn’t be able to hold him or be the kind of dad he had wanted, too. He couldn’t break the cycle of being raised without a father.
     Life wasn’t supposed to be fair all the time, but he felt his life had never been fair from the time he was born. He grew up being told to believe in God. Everybody did, he guessed. It was the only thing to believe in and he didn’t know anyone who didn’t think  God was up there overseeing things. Have a blessed day and all that. He had no reason not to believe, but he didn’t think God had done much to bless him. He prayed desperately since this happened but it didn’t do no good. Tears began to well up in his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks. 

“Choke it down, Jamie,” he told himself. “Don’t let it show.” If he started to cry he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stop. 

“If anyone saw you they would gang up on you,” he whispered to himself. He wasn’t about to let that happen.
     Even though Jamie was supposed to be in court today nobody talked to him about it. He was scared. He could hear his heart beating in his head and it echoed in his ears. He leaned against the grate covering the window. Hooking his fingers into the metal he stared outside, looking down at the sidewalk where he saw Morgan that first day when she brought his meds. He watched the seconds and minutes of his life pass by. He could see people coming and going as if it was just a normal day. 
     Clouds were creeping across the blue sky. It wasn’t normal for Jamie. He wanted so bad to leave the building and walk out into the day and be free. Could he change what was happening? Not likely. It took all of his willpower not to hit the window with his fists.

<<< >>>

“Cummings, you have a visitor.” 
     Jamie was lost in his thoughts. He didn’t hear what was said. The guard raised his voice. “Cummings, wake up.” He almost yelled.
     Startled, Jamie whirled around to face him. He had a visitor? His first thought was of Morgan. Was she here?

“Your attorney is here. You have to come with me.”

“What attorney?” Jamie shot back.  “I don’t have no attorney.”

“You do now.”

     Jamie hesitated. Nobody told him someone was coming. Would he help him? There wasn’t much time. He had been in the jail for months, why was he coming to see him at the last minute? He slowly walked toward the guard.

“We don’t have all day.” The guard barked. “Get a move on it.” 

     Jamie turned around while he put cuffs on his wrists. There was no going anywhere outside this cell without cuffs.
     The guard gave him a small shove to get him walking. Looking down the hallway, the door to a small holding cell was standing open. When they walked inside, a man in a suit was waiting bedside a metal table bolted to the floor. Jamie didn’t remember ever seeing him before today.
     A skinny man with acne scars spread across his cheeks was waiting for him. He glared at Jamie with contempt in his eyes. His thinning hair combed over the top of his bald head was a poor attempt at looking like he had hair. Poor dude, it was no wonder he was a public defender.  Maybe this was the only job he could get. He didn’t seem too happy to be here.
     Jamie needed someone who could help him, but this man didn’t seem at all like he was in the helping mood. 
He swept his arm in a gesture over the table telling Jamie to sit down. 
     The man continued to stand and glare at him with his arms crossed over his chest with a ‘Don’t mess with me’ attitude. It was a power trip to show he was the authority in the room.
     The guard removed his cuffs. Jamie sat and waited for the man to talk. He was uncomfortable with the silence but he wasn’t  going to let it show. The attorney took his time, letting his gaze wonder from Jamie’s head to his hands as if he expected him to jump up any minute and attack him.
      It wasn’t the first time a white man looked at him like that, assuming all black man were born violent. Jamie wasn’t a little man, but that didn’t mean he went around attacking people.

“You’re in deep trouble, son.” the attorney began his practiced speech. “You don’t have many options.”

     Son? He called him son? Was he talking down at him? Before he could say anything else Jamie chimed in. “I want to explain what happened. I didn’t . . .” 

     It was all he managed to get out before this man, whatever his name was, put both fists on the table, leaned over and looked him dead in the eyes. 

“I am not interested in hearing your story. I don’t care what you did or didn’t do. 

“I need to . . .”

“You don’t need to do anything.” The attorney paused for a few seconds. “You need to listen to me.”

“Tell your story to someone else,” he continued.

“All you need to know is . . . the District Attorney has an airtight charge against you and if you’re smart you’ll listen to what I have to say.” 
     The attorney paused again after he drilled that statement into Jamie’s head. He broke eye contact to open his briefcase and take out a few papers. He laid them on the table in front of Jamie.

“You need to sign your name admitting to guilt.” He put his finger on the line where Jamie was supposed to sign.

“I’m here to offer you a plea of forty years. You will only be going to court to admit to the judge you are guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.”

     Jamie looked up and stared him, stunned. This man was trying to scare him and it worked. Was he serious? Forty years? No way would he agree to that.

“They have you dead to right. You ran out of a club after robbing it at gunpoint,” the attorney emphasized, rapping his knuckles on the table several times. 

“The money was found with your friend in the car you were driving. There is no defense for you.”

     Jamie stood. He could feel his anger rising. ” I am not going to agree to that.” It was hard to keep his voice from shaking. “I didn’t do it. I might have been there, but I did not have anything to do with what my friend did. That is why I ran.”

     He knew it didn’t matter. He had already been tried and found guilty. Nothing he said now would matter. Being there at the club made him an instant accomplice. But he couldn’t go down without a fight. Forty years would end his life.

“I want to go in front of the judge. I am not pleading guilty.” 

     The attorney put the unsigned papers back in his briefcase and closed it. Picking it up, he walked out. Jamie stared after him, speechless. 

“Now what?” he asked the guard who was leaning against the wall. He shrugged, but he didn’t make a move to take him back to the cell so Jamie sat down. There was no point trying to talk to the guard anyway. He didn’t know anything. They waited together in silence. The guard moved and stood at the open door. Twenty minutes later the attorney walked back in. 

“I have another option for you. I sincerely advise you to take it. It is the best you are going to get.” The attorney put his briefcase on the table, opened it and took out a different set of papers. “There won’t be another one,” he added.      
     It was obvious this attorney wasn’t going to waste anymore of his precious time. Most likely he had other inmates to intimidate. Jamie wondered if he got paid a flat fee for every signed plea deal he accomplished because he certainly wanted this signed and delivered as fast as he could. He didn’t care what was best for Jamie. His motivation was his paycheck.

“You’re lucky,” the man continued. “The DA must have a soft spot for you.” Sarcasm dripped from his words. Jamie took a second to wonder why he disliked him so bad, or did he talk like this to every client he was paid to intimidate?

“Seventeen years,” the attorney paused to let it sink in. “If you don’t take it, and insist on going to court and wasting everyone’s time and the state’s money, they will slap on extra charges. You’ll end up doing fifty to ninety-nine.”

“What charges?” Jamie demanded. The attorney ignored him.

Jamie was upset. “What about wasting years of my life?”
      He was being railroaded. He knew it and the attorney knew it. One case finished and on to the next sucker who couldn’t afford to pay a real attorney? Did he enjoy making sure every person assigned to him ended up pleading guilty?

“I need time to think about this,” Jamie told him. How could he agree to give up the rest of his youth in five minutes? He didn’t plan what his friend did at the club. Why should have to pay for it with so many years of his life? What would that prove? 
     There were four of them that went out to the club that night. If he had known what his friend planned to do he would not have gone. Yes, he and Morgan needed money but he just got out of juvenile detention that year after four years of being locked up. He didn’t want to get locked up again on a felony charge with a baby on the way. Did they offered all of them the same deal? He needed answers, but there was no one who was going to explain them.
     The dude who had the gun had been to prison before. He had a record so they probably went harder on him. Why did he go out that night? Why? If only he had stayed home.

“You have five minutes.” the attorney said. I’ll be back for your answer.”
      How was Jamie supposed to know what to do in five minutes? Where was the attorney going when he left the room? Who was he talking to? This was wrong. He didn’t know how to fight it. This man was the only attorney he had and it was obvious, defending him in court was something that was not going to happen no matter what he said in five minutes. Why? Wasn’t he supposed to defend him? Wasn’t that his job? He guessed not when the DA wanted it to end another way. This was justice?
     Right or wrong didn’t matter. No one was owed justice no matter what the wording said on the Bill of Rights. There was no way for him to come out of this without paying with many years of his life. He was screwed no matter what answer he gave. If he fights it, he loses more years.
      Jamie started to stand but the guard shook his head and glared at him with a look that said, ‘Don’t even try.’ He sat back down and waited for the attorney to return. His brain was going a hundred miles an hour. How long was seventeen years? He couldn’t imagine. It was almost as long as his whole life up till now.
     Should he take a chance and go to court? Maybe give up his whole life? At least he would know he tried. What other charges they could add? They could make up anything they wanted and knew he didn’t have an attorney who would fight them.
     Jamie closed his eyes and put his head back. He had no choice. His unborn son had no choice, either. He wouldn’t have a father. He would be giving up all thought of raising him. If he did all seventeen years he would be almost out of high school. They wouldn’t know each other, not really. 
     Morgan would go on and find someone else. It killed him to think about that. The pain ripped him in two. He couldn’t expect her to wait. Maybe he could get out early. Maybe he could get paroled. 
     So many unanswered questions were running through his head at the same time. His five minutes were over. He heard the heels of the attorney’s shoes as he neared the open door. As he walked back into the room he asked, “What’s your answer?”

Jamie looked down at the table, and at the same time reached out his hand for the papers. The attorney smiled.

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When You Know You Are Getting Old

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Lincoln Elementary School. People in my kindergarten class

You know you are getting old when you attend your 45th year high school class reunion. How did so much time go by? If I live another twenty years and become elderly, that time is going to whiz by faster than the rest. Knowing this I fill my life with as much as I can, never thinking I am too old. It’s easy think we are to old do things or it’s too risky. We wonder, “What will people think?” I have a motto I live by, (actually I have several of these) “If you don’t like what I’m doing, then don’t watch me do it.” I don’t care what people think about what I do. It’s my life and I’ll do what I want to do. If the fear is all in your head you’ll end up with regrets. Trying and failing isn’t nearly as bad as not trying at all.

It had been twenty five years since I went to a class reunion because I lived too far away. I moved closer to home in 2010 when I was sick and decided a few years ago I wasn’t going to miss this one. It wasn’t because I was such great friends with these classmates and we stayed in touch over the years – it was quite the opposite. I was a loner. I had a couple friends I hung around with and made no attempt to fit in. I suffered from low self esteem. If I didn’t make friends they couldn’t reject me.

As a very young child, music was the only thing important to me. It was the only music I listened to – the only albums I collected. A stack of classical piano albums was put on my record player at night and it played through the night. I was enthralled with Van Clyburn and Andre Previn. I knew current music because it was played on car radios when my boyfriend and I drove up and down the main street through town in the evenings, but I could rarely identify a song with the name of the band. I still can’t, even though I know all the songs.

In school I took every music class and sung in the chorus and yearly musicals but I never joined any other club. I think every school has their cliques and they are often divided by what part of town you live in and if your parents could buy you the latest fashions. I definitely wasn’t part of those groups of kids. I was part of the ARchie Bunker style streets. I always had what I needed, but what I wanted I didn’t ask for. My parents were young, struggling to raise three children.

We were not taught racism. Nothing negative was said, but neither was anything positive. We understood there was a clear line down the middle of town and black people lived on one side and whites on the other. Realtors wouldn’t sell a house to a black family on the white side of town because it brought down property values. That changed after I left home when homes were bought by realtors and broken up into apartments. Black people didn’t go to our church.  I remember wanting to touch a black person and see if their skin felt different. The elementary schools weren’t mixed. Kids went to the school in their own neighborhood. It wasn’t until Jr High that classes mixed because there were only two jr high schools, and only one high school. But even though we all went to the same school, black and white students generally stayed with those they grew up with. But still there was no racism. No name calling because someone was a negro, because the word black wasn’t used. Kids weren’t taught to hate. Were there problems – yes, sometimes – but not like today. Still, white kids didn’t walk through black neighborhoods. I did that – once. Children threw stones at me. There was an underlying fear. That is a story for another day.

There was bullying and I was on the receiving end. I honestly don’t know why. I was cornered in the restrooms, stairwells and the auditorium. I was threatened. I ran out the back door in the music room because I was afraid. That is yet another story. But kids have it much worse today with bullying because of the use of social media.

In many homes, kids today are not taught respect. Why? What happened? Suicides by kids who feel threatened are common. Kids in the 70’s still had respect for teachers and staff. The thought of cussing at a teacher was unheard of. It is much different today, and it shows in the behavior of the kids. We also had no cops at our school ready to handcuff us on school property and take us in the back of a police car and lock us up. The principal was the law. Black kids weren’t filling up juvenile detention facilities the way they do now. Now there is a lot of profit for locking up kids and preparing them for prison by destroying their education. It is so wrong – and that is another story.

Today, in 2017, I was now more than twice as old as I was when I graduated. I knew I was not the same person I was in the early 1970’s and I knew the students weren’t, either. Starting a few years ago I began connecting with people in my class through facebook. There can be a lot of drama and other crap on fb but the positive aspect is being able to connect with people. Some of these students I graduated with I also went to Kindergarten with as well.

If I was going to the reunion I didn’t want to walk into a large room with a lot of people who were strangers, so I used my time getting to know many of them. We “talked” about the things that separated us. It taught me a valuable lesson.
What we think about people – what we think is the truth – often isn’t. People put on faces of what we want others to believe. We hide things about ourselves  we don’t want other people to know.

We continue to do that even as adults. When someone asks us how we are, we say “fine” even when we aren’t. We assume people really don’t want to know so we don’t tell them. We don’t show people what is really going on in our lives. We think they will judge us.  We don’t get to know other people, either. Sometimes we also choose to not do things we want to do because, “What will people think?”

What I found over about three years is – all these kids grew up.  I’m not the same kid and neither are they. They had their own mountains to climb, kids to raise, careers grew and some were destroyed. Spouses died, kids died, health problems destroyed dreams. People moved. Some had wonderful experiences and some didn’t. No one had a perfect life with no problems. Our experiences shaped us. I enjoyed getting to know these same kids, now all around 63 years old.

Our reunion was over two evenings. Our class president and other students who stayed local put a lot of time into preparations so we could enjoy our time together. I saw many people who looked familiar but I had to look at their name tags to remember who they were. I honestly thought I had been so insignificant in school I didn’t think anyone would remember who I was.  But they did.  Part of me was dumbfounded. We hadn’t been “friends” in school so why? That was my low self esteem surfacing. Growing up I had to put on a tough exterior. I put on a face of confidence that wasn’t real, until I made it real. One student I didn’t remember walked up to me and said, “You always did dance to the beat of a different drummer.” What did she know about me that i didn’t? I have no idea what made her say that – but it was true. I always bucked the system.

One of the tables at the reunion held the pictures of all the classmates who had died since we graduated. Today that number is 39. About a half dozen of us stood there looking at those pictures and reading about how they died. A few died very soon after graduation, and the most recent one was in March of 2017. Looking at these pictures of people knowing I was still alive was overwhelming. I had come very close to dying of liver disease and cancer in 2012 but a liver became available in the nick of time.

“The Pain That Unites Us All” a book being published right now, has twenty-seven authors contributing their story – in short story or poetry. My story about my liver transplant and the emotional pain of being ignored by my immediate family while going through something so traumatic is published in that book. I had come home thinking they would support me.  I was dead wrong. That is also a story for another day. I’ll be posting a link to the book soon if you are interested.

We all have stories. Some people change for the good and some don’t.  I have more new/old friends because I took the time to listen and not judge. We can have value in other lives and they can have value in ours, but if we think we know it all and don’t need to take the time to listen, we lose that person in our life. It has taken a long time for me to find a place in my head to put the knowledge, realizing that coming home was a mistake. Except for patching it up with my mother, I have no value in the lives of the family I grew up with. I can’t even try anymore. But I have children and seven grandchildren and I am the head of my own family.  When I moved home, extremely sick, and was treated badly – I’m done with them and that is just the way it is. I had to teach myself to not care any more

I could have been in one of those photos of people who passed away. Anyone of us could have been up on that wall. At 63 we aren’t elderly, but more and more of us are reaching the end of our life. Many die due to illness. Some give up. My mother had her class reunion the week before mine. She graduated from the same high school. Her list of students who have died was a double column, front and back of two pages.

It is hard to look at your own mortality.  When I didn’t die of liver failure I had to make a choice. Wallow in my illness and give up – or push past it. I could say I’m getting too old to begin again. I live in a senior community and I see it all around me – those that give up and those that force themselves to live their lives completely until the end. I chose to give my live everything I can. It wasn’t time to give up.

That is when I started the blog My Name is Jamie – and everything else that followed – the writing of the book “Inside The Forbidden Outside” which I am still rewriting. I am heading to Texas next week to go to the Allred prison where Jamie is,  and to complete the stories that tie the chapters of the book together. I started writing the ITFO Newsletter which focuses on different issues concerning our prisons because many people really do not know the real reason for why we have more prisons than any other country. I also write about different people in prison with a story to tell. If you have one – contact me. My focus is to educate people and teach them there is no race that is better than another, no matter what mainstream media teaches you. We all need to work together to save our planet and our humanity.

This gives me the reason to write music as the soundtrack for the book. Helping others makes the cause to help my own life. I never sit around bored wondering what to do next. I spent most of my life creating music. Why stop when I am better at it now than I ever was in my life. Our senior years are when we have the most experience and wisdom to give the world. The youth has nice skin – but they lack life experience. We should strive to find a way to utilize it.

Sonni Quick improv pianoAfter I returned from my class reunion I sat at my piano and recorded a piece of music for all of the students who were no longer here – to honor them. When I play it I will think of them. They will not be forgotten. I’m hoping my friends – these past classmates will listen and remember and remember them, too.

I have a new album coming out that will soon be at CDBaby and Spotify named “Stories without Words”. This music will be part of that. I often give music as a gift. Writing music is a part of me I can give. It is all improvised. I feel, I play and record it. I can never play anything twice because I let it play me, not the other way around. I’ll be posting a link to the album soon.

Thanks for reading and thanks for listening. It is for everyone who graduated from Pottstown High in Pennsylvania in 1972. It is my gift to you.

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Have you ever been stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord? Customer service not refund your money? Your rights abused in any way? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) Click on the link below and see why you need this. Just knowing you have access to an attorney when you need one, especially with all the crap going on these days, it gives you some peace of mind. No one knows when the police car lights are going to go off when you are driving in your car. Who do you call? What happens when one of your kids or grandkids ends up in trouble whether they are guilty or not. Today, people are guilty until they are proven innocent and today even that doesn’t matter, or they lock you up for months because you can’t afford bail money. This is why I promote this. Our govt is looking for new ways to lock you up. Without an attorney to call there is little you can do. This is only good for the US and Canada. Click on the link below that says 101 reasons to use Legal Shield.  You owe it to yourself to find out what this is about.  Leave me a msg here – or if you want it to be private leave me a msg at Facebook through messenger or at itfonews@gmail.com. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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

You can also contact me here: Legal Shield

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Waiting On The Outside – Win a Free Copy

I’m having a book give-away this month. Each new person who registers for ITFO NEWS can enter their name and email address to have a chance of winning a signed copy (or ebook if you prefer) of  Waiting on the Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky If your name is randomly pulled by Sharron, you’ll receive one of ten free copies, shipped free. 

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ITFO NEWS  covers many issues about what happens to the people – the human beings incarcerated inside prison walls many with family and children. Some are dangerous criminals often with serious mental illness, and many are not. Some were incarcerated simply because they are undesired as citizens because they are Black, Hispanic, or any country that isn’t of European white descent. Many are locked up because they practice the “wrong” religion in a country that wants to be known as a Christian nation. Sadly it makes some of these people think they have the right to hurt people not like themselves which goes against the teachings of Christianity.

“Incarcerating the Innocent” is the focus for the next issue of ITFO NEWS.

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This book being given away is timely for the sad situation happening in America today, especially with so many young people jumping on the bandwagon proclaiming America needs to be white “again”. What happened to their education? Is it worse in the schools than I thought? Do these young people actually think America was EVER white? They don’t know the history of the country they were born in?

History can not be rewritten to suit some faction’s misguided agenda. European white settlers slaughtered many thousands of indigenous people in the attempt to make this country white – and failed. These young people today never learned this? They can’t change history, but they are doing a good job of ruining their lives by wanting to repeat the carnage.

What is truly scary is how easily young minds can be swayed to believe a fabricated history – and also come to think that a skin cold makes them a better person. Then they become parents and teach the same flawed theory to their children.

Yesterday I read about fourteen year old white teenagers, barely out of puberty, strung up an eight year black boy and hung him with a rope from a tree – and left him, not caring if they killed him. I was mortified that older children would do that to a young child. I sat stunned, tears running down my face. The damage done to all of them would affect the rest of their lives, and the lives of their families who have to endure the scrutiny of an unforgiving public who will likely blame the parents for the way their sons were raised, so cavalier about trying to take the life of a young black boy. 

The fact that one human being could do that to another shows that these 14 year old minds were already so warped that taking a young boy’s life was meaningless to them. They didn’t learn this on their own. I don’t know their consequences legally, but I do know they will never forget it; nor will the young boy with severe rope burns on his neck, the scars which will always be there. The friends and family of this boy are, most likely very angry – deservedly so. All this does is escalate a bad problem that won’t go away. They have a right to this anger.

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Young people, with no maturity, get swayed by the excitement of being part of a huge negative social issue. The man in the book “Waiting on the Outside” exhibited emotional problems since childhood. He, too, was swayed by others who took advantage of his immaturity.

He was adopted at a young age by a woman who sincerely loved him and did everything she could to create a positive life for him As he grew up he sabotaged every attempt. He got into drugs and pretty crime and fell under the influence of the local white supremacy gang. My impression from her story, it was the excitement of living life on the edge that attracted him, not the thought that he felt himself to be superior.

After being released from his first prison sentence he sincerely wanted to do better but was pulled back into it. His sense of right and wrong was distorted through drug use. Now he sits in prison again, with the look of being a white supremacist. Shaved head. Visible Aryan gang tattoos. But still inside is the young boy who loves his mother as she sits during visits with the broken heart a mother has for a child she could help change.

He now wants out of the Aryan Brotherhood, but the KKK retaliates against those who want out. Is he safest in a controlled environment? Can he make it on the outside? Can he control the mental impulses he hasn’t been able to control before? Can he be the man she envisioned when she adopted him? As a mother myself my heart breaks for her. This never affects one person. There may be 2.3 million people in prison, which is kept at that steady number. It affects many more millions of people on the outside.

This is devastating story was written by a mother who, for decades has lived with a fear for her son and for people in his life he was hurt – including his own children.

If you don’t want to see if you can win a free copy of this book you can go to Amazon and purchase it. The winners will be contacted at the close of the sweepstakes, ten days after the publication of the next issue.

This book was first published before Trump riled up racism in America. This book shows you that although white supremacy is making huge headlines today, it has always been lurking in the shadows waiting – as if it a pimple waiting for more infection to burst and leave a scar. All they needed was someone like Trump to give them the freedom to come out of hiding. America had ignored them until now not wanting to face the ugly truth of their existence. They aren’t hiding anymore and some of them are your neighbors. Will history repeat itself even more? Did this country not learn from the past? 

These new recruits don’t hide beneath hoods anymore. They are showing their faces taunting us to do something about so they feel justified hurting people. This will negatively affect the rest of their lives and warp the minds of their children.

 

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Crazy on the Home Front – Sonni Quick in High Gear

Sonni Quick

Ever try spinning seven plates at one time without letting any of them smash into tiny pieces on the floor?  That is my life today.  The fact that things are moving fast is a good thing, but it also means working from the time I wake until the very latest wee hours of the morning (sun-up). Two blogs, three fb pages or groups, other social media and connections, studying, writing – my work and editing others, and my The ITFO Newsletter which I am late getting out this month. Did I say seven plates?

Because I haven’t been able to post as often as I’d like because of this I thought it would be a good idea to tell you what is up.

The rewrite of the book, “Inside the Forbidden Outside”  I started two years ago is in full swing.  When it comes to learning a craft, you can really only learn it by making every possible mistake there is so you know how not to make it again.  I am far from learning all I need to know, but I have learned enough to realize that first draft is only usable as far as pulling out certain facts and scenes in it, but as a book that is publishable, if I had tried it would have been as big of a disaster as some of the free books self published books I download from Nook – just to study how badly most of them have been edited.

I took two writing classes this past year and worked closely with a story editor to get it on track. If you have ever thought about writing, the University of Iowa teaches free six week courses in all kinds of writing. – called The Power of The Pen Through that I met many other writers – some new, some published and 22 of us  have joined together in a separate writer’s group to continue to read and critique each other’s writing. Because I also write poetry I am starting another class this week on poetry and playwriting. There are also good resources at All Writer Workshops

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Most of you have heard at least one piece of piano music I have recorded.  It is on quite a few blog posts and 37 pieces can be found at SoundCloud.  I was contacted by the GM of London based SkunkRadioLive about submitting my music to be aired on their show.  They play an hour of instrumental music between 1 and 2 – their time or 8 AM EST.  The music submitted is called an “audition”.  They play it for a week.  If it gets good feedback – from people liking it then there is the possibility of it played on a regular basis and having a digital album cover done to be used for promotion.

I would use the same title and artwork and that will be created for the book to better create a sellable brand.  The attitude of “Write a book, put it on amazon and buyers will come” is a pipedream.  I haven’t spent all this time developing  something using hope to sell it with. I’m spending the hours to learn how to market my self, book and music together.  I might be getting close to being a dinosaur in music – but the decades, playing, teaching and composing brings out the best in a player.

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To pull this all together means I will have to get back out in the public and play gigs again.  I retired fifteen years ago.  My last gig was at La Te Da’s in Key West.  I later went through years of illness after illness never thinking I’d be able to play again.  It will still be a struggle, but I had to decide if I was still alive or dead – and being alive won the battle. Living on a disability check clinched the deal for me.  Broke is not fun.

So, hang in there with me.  I need your support.  Jamie needs your support – because he is on the cover for all of this.  I’m hoping to get down to the prison to see him after the worst of the Tx summer is over. I also plan on being back in the Keys this Winter.  My son is moving back in a couple weeks. I HATE WINTER!

Life is for the living – go live it instead of just thinking about it!

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Stay current on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build followers for Jamie with the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. It gives him a purpose when he gets out that he can help other lives. Much of the information is not on this blog and it’s important we reach people everywhere. We have a government now even more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years – making crimes out of things that were never crimes before to placate the prison corporations. It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself, because, yes, it can happen to you, too.

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord?  Customer not refund your money? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Call me, email me, msg me here or at FB. It’s that easy.

I can’t make you do this.  It is why you have car insurance even though you are a good driver – the other person who hit you, isn’t.  Then you call your insurance company.  That is why you NEED Legal Shield. If I didn’t think this was true I wouldn’t waste the space putting it here.

You can also contact me here: Legal Shield

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Jamie’s Mountain

Inside The Forbidden Outside

Chapter Three

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Jamie sat still on the edge of his cell bunk, lazily dozing off and on with his head in his hands, not aware of time passing. Time doesn’t matter? Why think? The future too far away to matter. Flashing thoughts and images pass through his mind quickly change to something else. Concentrate? What’s the point? This wasn’t one of his good days. He would have given long ago if it weren’t for his son. He didn’t want his son never know who was. It wouldn’t fair to him. It wouldn’t fair to Sonni, either. She has done so much help him. He couldn’t change anything about his life or affect it in any positive way. Anyway, it was too frigging hot to care. It is, what it is, what it is. While he thought he swung one hand back and forth like he was conducting an orchestra.

The only difference between existing and not existing was if he paid attention to the drama in his head, and only then if he wanted to latch onto any piece of it. It was easier to live in this non-reality space than the one his physical body lived in. It took too much effort to want to stand up and pee. There was nothing to bring relief. Nothing to break the monotony. . . nothing.

He hoped he’d hear his name at mail call. Maybe there would be a letter or book, maybe a magazine from a subscription Sonni had taken out for him. Anything to fill the time until this day was over and he could cross off it off.

He was hungry. They were on lockdown again. One month out of every three. Food rations were cut to the bone. Lots of peanut butter or plain meat sandwich. No mayo or mustard. Baloney and white bread.  The lockdown came early this time because there was a gang fight in some part of the prison. He had been waiting on a food box from Sonni. She could spend $20 a month at the main commissary, or $60 at one time every three months. They would deliver it to him. Now it won’t get through until lockdown was over. He smiled. She had a bookstore, approved the prison, send him three sexy lingerie magazines full of beautiful women. Eye candy, she wrote – to make him smile. It worked. She wrote he must be awful horny after all this time with only his left hand to keep him company. Yeah, he thought smiling, they could write about these kinds of things after all the years they been writing letters.

Not everyone was lucky enough to have someone like Sonni. He didn’t know what he would have done without her. He’d be pretty damn lonely that’s for sure. And he would have forgotten what a stick of deodorant looked like. Hygiene costs money. You do not want to be in this unit during the hot and humid summer months in Texas with a bunch of stinking men, aside from the unit always smelling like piss.

In her letters she kept asking him to dig in his memories and tell her things about his life growing up. That was hard to do. He didn’t want to remember any of these things he stuffed way down inside so long ago. Who wants to dig up things better left buried?

She’s writing a book about him. He would have never thought his life was worth writing about. The only thing he was good at was doing the wrong thing. She asked him if he had a happy childhood. Birthday parties, holidays, fun times? It made his head hurt. He doesn’t know what happy means, then or now. Did he have happy memories as a kid? If he did, he should be able to think of them. They should pop right up. He couldn’t keep putting her off.

He got off the bed, turned on the faucet and soaked a cloth called a Cold Pack. They sell ’em at the prison convenience store. Convenient my ass. A guard cuffs and shackles him once a month and leads him down to the commissary like a pet. He doesn’t always have money in his account to buy anything if she isn’t able to transfer a few bucks into it. She has money struggles and helps as much as she can.

These cold packs, he thought, must have some kinda chemical in them that gets activated when they get wet. It’s better than wetting a towel, which is what he usually does. When you lay them on the fan and the air blows, it creates cool air for a little while. He uses it sparingly because they only last so long, and it’s not like he can go to the comm whenever he feels like it and buy more. But today he needs a little relief.

He put the fan in place to blow on his face and laid down. Maybe he could fall asleep for awhile. Think back and try to remember things he could write about to Sonni. What is she thinking? His life is important? It’s depressing and it gets him down. If not for her he wouldn’t be able to even hope he got something when mail call came in. So, was he a happy kid? He sighed . . . .

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Everyone else had a dad, why didn’t he? His older brother and sister each had a dad. Even his younger brother, born a few years after him had a dad. They spent weekends and holidays with other family. Family who weren’t part of his life. Funny, not ha ha funny, but thinking back, he and his mom never talked about it. He never asked who his dad was and she never told him, at least not until he turned 32 a few years back. But he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself explaining anything. First things first.

Birthday parties? No. At least not the kind you think of when someone says it’s their birthday. No party invitations. No friends bringing presents. No balloons or party hats. No pictures of everyone yelling, ” Make a wish, Jamie. Blow out the candles!” with a camara flash going off in his face. What would he wish for? To be like everyone else? No. No parties like that. Nothing special. He remembered a few cakes, but if he ever had a party he sure forgot about it.

His mom had a rough time raising four kids by herself. The older they got the harder it got. She went to school to be a nursing assistant and after that she worked hard. Sometimes two jobs. When you’re a kid you don’t understand how much money it takes to raise kids. He did learn, you can’t work full time and stay home being a mom. Family was nearby but mostly they had to take care of themselves. The older kids took care of the younger kids.

He only had snatches of memory. Incomplete thoughts and pictures. He was a loner, even as a little kid. Because of his seizures he didn’t go outside and run around like other kids. He wasn’t sure if it was because they were afraid of him or if parents didn’t want their kids near him. Maybe they thought epilepsy could rub off. All he knew, he had very few friends and he always lost the ones he had

When he was six or seven his mom would take them to the park and have picnics and sometimes they went to the zoo in another town. We didn’t go many times but we made the best of it when we did. We also flew kites a few times. That was okay – more than okay. It was fun to run and watch the kites take off with the wind and dance around the sky. It would be fun to ride a kite and see the town from way up in the air and see the tiny people way down below. He’d feel so free without a care in the world. That was a good day.

He also loved fireworks, exploding into arcs of color, each one more beautiful than the next. One 4th of July they were ready to leave togo watch the fireworks. He was excited about going all day. He and his little brother were dressed in look-a-like outfits. At the last minute mama said they couldn’t go. He doesn’t remember why. All he remembers is hearing booms in the distance while wishing he could see them.

He didn’t have a bad childhood. He had ten aunts and uncles. He really loved his aunts. Two of them died, one when he was in juvenile detention. He flipped out with grief. He couldn’t handle knowing he’d never see her again.But was his childhood happy? No, he couldn’t call it that. He’s aware now he was mostly depressed. He felt invisible. The seizures were pretty bad. The kids were used to it happening. “Mama, Jamie’s having another seizure,” they’d yell.

When he was eight Jamie and his older brother ride to the store on their bikes. While in the store he stole a bag of skittles. Afterward, he showed his brother. He smiled and took it from him and tattled to his mother. He got sent to his room. His brother probably enjoyed getting him in trouble.

He had a friend, Brandon, who came over to play. When he found out he was grounded went to his window and asked what happened. He was upset he couldn’t play. A week later, playing together at Brandon’s uncle’s house, where he lived, Brandon’s mom came. He has never seen her before. His dad was there, too. The boys went outside to play basketball and left the grown ups inside. They found soon enough it would be the last time they’d ever see each other. They said goodbye and he watched them drive off. Jamie walked home mad and sad. In his mind the parents decided they couldn’t play together anymore because he stole a pack of skittles.That didn’t make sense. No one explained anything. Whatever, it was the last time he saw Brandon. He was the last real friend he ever had.

Jamie had to smile a bit at that memory. Kids understand so little. But at nine it was the end of his world.

Maybe his brother thought he got too much attention but he was only guessing. He doesn’t blame anyone for things they did as kids. Maybe it did look like he got too much attention. His brother kicked him into a ditch one time when he had a seizure and he didn’t help him get home. He let him lay there. A seizure knocked him out for hours. Muscles don’t work and his brain gets scrambled. He can’t get up and walk home like nothing happened. It was hard making it home that day.  He didn’t want to remember that, did he?

He doesn’t think his brother liked him much growing up. Still doesn’t. Maybe that’s why he ignored the letters he wrote. He could visit if he wanted, but he doesn’t. He lived close to this prison. He wasn’t always close. Sometimes he was in a prison far away.

Sonni called him once and asked him why he didn’t come. He said, in a so-what kind of voice, “It’s not my fault he’s in there.” Nobody said it was. Sonni sent him a video of the song ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother.’ Jamie wanted to see his brother. They aren’t kids anymore. Guess he doesn’t want to see him. He can’t change that, but it hurts. That’s life. He hadn’t seen his younger brother or sister, either. Every three or four years, one time five, his mom came, but she never answered any letters. He guessed she had her reasons. She’s still his mom. He loved her very much. He probably gave her too hard ‘a time growing up so she’s done spending time on him.
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When he was twelve he had brain surgery. It was scary being wheeled down the hallway on a stretcher. He was used to getting needles all the time having his blood tested. But it’s different when they’re going in and looking at his brain. What if they did something wrong? He knew his mom was there waiting for him. Having this thing wrong with him must’ve been really hard on her. They tried to stop as much of the brain bleeds as they could. It helped. It didn’t stop the seizures but it did slow them down.

His only friend growing up was Keithy. He was an older cousin, and he was sick, too. Sickle Cell anemia. They were the “sick ones” and were always together. One day when he was about fourteen he went over to his house. He had been away, visiting with his dad. When he came home he was sicker than usual. While they were playing a game he started to cry. His mom came in to help him and she called Jamie’s mom to come pick him up. While he waited Keithy’s pain got worse. He could hear his cries for help. It hurt so much to hear him in pain and there was nothing he could do. After that, he wasn’t allowed to see him very often.

Jamie became depressed and couldn’t pull out of it. He began disappearing in the middle of the night to go walking. He did it over and over. He couldn’t lay in his bed at night so he walked. He must’ve scared his mama. She checked him into a children’s hospital to get help. He hated it there and begged her over and over to please come take him home. One day she did, but she didn’t tell him why.

They talked on the way home, about everything except the most important thing. It was fairly long drive. When they pulled into town she drove to his cousin’s house. There were a lot of people there. He still didn’t know why she came for him. He realized a long time later, she knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it. She didn’t want him falling apart in the car. She took him by the hand and led him into the back room of the house. There he was. Keithy was laid out. He was dead.

This is the way Jamie found out his cousin had died. It was a crushing blow. His mother couldn’t find the words to tell him.  He reached out his hand that day and gently touched him. His skin was so cold. That is when it really hit him. He closed his eyes with tears swimming behind his eyelids. He tried to keep it together but he didn’t think he could. He was never going to see him again. His brother grabbed him by the shoulders and said, “Don’t cry!” Then they fell into each others arms, chests heaving with sobs. He cried for the loss of his friend’s life. Cried because his heart was broken for the boy he loved. Cried because his disease had killed him before he had a chance to live his life.

Then we buried him.

Jamie laid there, hands behind his head, staring at the gray ceiling of his cell. Tears were silently running down the sides of his face. He was glad Keithy never knew he ended up in prison. It would have broke his heart. He still thinks about him. Some pain never goes away.
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After Keithy died he began hanging out with the wrong kids. Even though he lived in a small town there were still dudes who thought of themselves as wanna-be gangsters. They weren’t like city gangs where kids were born into extreme violence and drive-by shootings, but there was buying and selling drugs and some carried guns and knives. They got in trouble doing stupid stuff. Jamie wanted to feel like he belonged somewhere. Excepted. Friends. He didn’t have that closeness anywhere else. He was more a follower than a leader. He starting getting into trouble and becoming defiant.

Sometimes for a few days he slept in other places instead of coming home,  He’d sneak home to eat, shower and take a nap when his mom was at work. She’d usually catch him. He never got too old for the belt.

He was found passed out in the middle of the street one day. A man who saw him thought he was on drugs and was going to call the cops. Before he could, another man who recognized Jamie realized he’d had a seizure and called an ambulance instead. He was lucky the cops weren’t called. There’s no telli what the cops would have done.

Because of trouble he got into, the court gave him one year probation. It was decided he’d live with an uncle near Dallas for one year and attend tenth grade there. He was strict with him. He was also a parole officer. It ended up being his last year of formal education. He kept Jamie on a short leash. When he wasn’t in school he couldn’t leave the house. The only time he could go anywhere was when he rode his bike to see his probation officer. He learned to enjoy the long ride.

He began community service at the local boys and girls club. One evening, riding his bike home, it started getting dark. He was being careful riding on the sidewalk. A man in a truck pulled out of an apartment complex driveway with his headlights off. He couldn’t see Jamie coming down the sidewalk. He hit the front side of the truck, flew over it, breaking his left leg when he landed. He was knocked unconscious and later woke up in the hospital.

When he completed probation his uncle asked him to stay and finish school. He was doing good, but Jamie was homesick. If he had stayed would he have finished high school? Would his life be different? It was only a few short months later his life changed for the worse when a cop forced his way into their house.

The choices we make matter. He grew up without anyone teaching him why certain things matter. He sees that now. His mom did the best she could. She took care of us, fed us, bought us clothes, had my medical problems to handle, and she did a great job. Her way of teaching was giving us rules to follow and if we didn’t we got the belt. She was fierce with that belt.

Most every kid he knew came from a broken home. A mother can’t do everything. It’s harder he thinks in black families because the goal is to keep their kid safe and at from the cops. We learn early as kids we are not supposed to reach as high as white kids. There is always that shadow hanging over you. Prison is the end for so many black men – women, too, especially in the South. If you can’t go to school and a good job how do you feed your kids? The doors that line this hallway? Behind almost all of them are black men.

In his family there were four broken relationships with four dads. He didn’t know his but he’s gotta be out there somewhere. He had no dad to teach him anything. He can’t go back and fix that. If he knew it before he might’ve made different choices. He let white society push him through the pipeline to prison because he didn’t really understand years before that it existed.

Now he’s given up seventeen years of his life to pay for it by going through hell. But he knows he can choose his future. This he knows after ten years. His story has to go through those years so you understand.

One important thing he learned is he can’t run away from his life. He has a mountain to climb, and that mountain will appear wherever he is, in some form or another. If there is something he needs to learn he can’t fool himself into thinking he can avoid it or walk around it. He is where he is because this is his mountain to climb. Win or lose.

But right now he’s gonna get up and re-wet his cold pact and maybe sit down and begin writing a letter . . .

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( Sonni’s note: The chapters of this book I’m writing is at the first rewrite stage. When it goes through a professional edit I’m sure there will be other changes and revisions. I have found, writing a book is a process.  You don’t just write it, edit it and publish it.  It takes time to put out something worth reading.  If you want to give me feedback – please do.)

 

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Subscribe to the newsletter on prison issues and inmate writings. As I build my mailing list for the book I’m writing about Jamie Cummings life, Inside The Forbidden Outside, keeping people informed along the way is important. Most of the information in the newsletter is not on this blog. We have a government now more gung-ho on locking up as many people as they can for even longer years. It is going to affect even more people who will get knocked sideways when they find themselves behind a steel door. Staying informed helps you protect yourself. Yes, it can happen to you, too.

If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

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

Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. Call me, email me, msg me at fb. It’s that easy. You can also contact me here: Legal Shield

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New ITFO Newletter – It’s All About The Positives

 

Sonni Quick April 2017

First of all – and this is not in the newsletter, I want to say thank you to all the people who have supported my efforts these past few years. I don’t do this for the money – because there is none.  I do this because it is the right thing to do. It’s for my family and Jamie is my family, with a child/ grandchild in between us. 

Thank you to those who have stuck with me through the learning curve of learning (still learning) how to put this publication together.  All of this is for Jamie – to write his book and have a mailing list to shout “It’s been published!! when I’m satisfied it is the best I can do. Self publish it the right way,  and learn the things I don’t know, so he will have a chance to do something positive with his life, too, when he gets out someday.  He’s heading into the summer months when the heat in Texas prisons kills and makes epileptic seizures worse.  I have met some wonderful people through this blog and connected social media. Thank you to all.  Sonni

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itfo newsletter

It’s hard to stay positive sometimes with all the garbage that is happening to make it harder on people of color and immigrants, but I will. This issue will bring out some of the positive things inmates are doing to express their talents and people who have allowed their talents to flourish. There are also people on the outside who try to make their lives better. There are also inmates and ex-felons who have blogs and they use them to tell their story and give space to others to tell their stories – so there are lots of good things to read today. Any support you can give would be a good cause to make. Do you know an artist in the pen?

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First on my list is a magazine that gives artists inside a locked facility a place to show their artwork. It branched out to offering prints on a throw for your bed or couch, artwork on a pillow and clothing. You will have to go to their website for costs and shipping – and be sure to subscribe to their mailing list.

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There is so much more.  Artists and the music video of Idalee’s “Heal” and more. In fact there is so much more there was not enough room so the rest will be in next month’s newsletter   Click on this link to take you to the newsletter.  Subscribe and share.  Too many people only hear the negative the media wants to portray about inmates without telling you about all the others.

Sharp Turn to the Left – Interview

SHARP TURN TO THE LEFT

Things happen in our lives that have the potential to change everything. We have the opportunity to make these turns or we can ignore them. Either decision makes a different cause that has a different effect and can send our life down a road that has a great impact on us. Some people are afraid of change, afraid of where it will send them and choose to not move. But some people relish the change and leap into the abyss, confident that wherever it goes they will be glad they went.

That is my life and it definitely has been interesting. There is a motto I’ve lived my life by. “If you don’t like what I’m doing, don’t watch me do it.” I’ve made choices the average person wouldn’t because they care too much about what other people would think, even though most people don’t care what you do because they are too busy trying to live their own lives. It gives people a reason from taking risks. My greatest fear was waking up and finding out I was a dental assistant, or some other “job” for an hourly wage, living in a planned cookie cutter community. That type of security may work for some, but not for me.

WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?

I started writing songs and song lyrics when I was about 18, in the early 70’s. Lyrics flowed easy for me. I still write a lot of poetry that has music to play behind it, but not sung to the music. Being young has many good points, but if you are creative it gets better with age and experience.

I started keeping a journal when I was in my 20’s, long before there were computers for blogging. What turned out to be the greatest values in keeping those journals was being able to sit and read about myself decades later, reliving my life and watching myself grow up; wincing at immature decisions and reliving my children when they were young. It’s quite an experience. Decades from now when I’m gone, my life will still be there to read. Jamie’s blog and letters will also be there for his son to read and learn about his life in prison. Without a doubt he will know how much he was loved. A child with a father who is gone for any reason needs to know that.  If the father is alive and coming back one day it is even more important.

Jamie Cummings
Jamie and his son July 7, 2013

I met Jamie before he went to prison, and writing to him happened more by chance than for the reason of writing to an inmate. I had never thought about writing to an inmate because I never knew anyone inside and nothing in my life put me anywhere near a prison. After years of writing these letters I saw Jamie’s life emerge through the words. I don’t think he ever had anyone who had shown much interest in what he thought, or how he felt. No one told him he could choose where his life could go instead of letting it slap him around. No one told him his life had value. He just went through each day as it came. His mother worked hard and raised her children by working two jobs. There was little guidance about having a future. He rarely has contact with her now. Her choice, not his. She makes no attempt to be there for him or help him with anything he might need. His family dumped him, as harsh as that sounds.

Jamie has been studying Nichiren Buddhism for the last 6 years, which is hard when you have no support inside and you are in a place that only wants to keep you down. Nichiren Buddhism is not Zen or Tibetan or anything to do with the Dalai Lama which are the only things most people think of when they hear the word Buddhism.. This isn’t the time to go into a lengthy explanation of what Buddhism means. It is simply the law of cause and effect. It is the same as the phrase, you reap what you sow, except we take that phrase very seriously. We are where we are because of the causes we make. To make a difference we have to change the causes we make. That takes a deeper understanding of your nature than you have now.

It took years of conversations and study for him to begin to understand himself. It is a fascinating process when you realize it is you, not an outside source, that controls what happens to your life. It can also be a painful process when you realize what you are going through is entirely because of the things you have done and not something that has been done to you.  It is always two steps forward and one, maybe two steps back as you take responsibility for your life. It takes perseverance to work through the obstacles that keep you down.

It was at this point that he began to leave the boy behind and the man began to emerge. Obstacles never stop, but he is learning to deal with them in a different way. It is a fight, with yourself, to not react to life the way you always have in the past. This will carry over when he gets out of prison. This is why so many people who get of prison end up back inside.  They want to change.  They want to do things in a different way but they don’t know how to do that consistently.

Being out will be harder, in a different way, than being inside because he’ll be walking into a different world he doesn’t know, needing products and services he has never heard of before. Because his family has had zero interest in how he is doing, I expect there will be little interest after he gets out. Besides, they have done enough damage.

In the beginning it took time to develop trust. He had been hurt by people he loved. Even now there are things that are very hard for him to talk about, such as his experience with epilepsy. He thought of himself as damaged. I had to learn this was very painful for him to write about. I didn’t understand it wasn’t just a medical condition. It affected how he was treated by others. He was lonely as a child which also caused fear and depression. Epilepsy is something you can’t fix, at least not yet.

It is easy for someone else to judge another person based on their own experiences. Sometimes I would write a letter and he would tell me what I wrote hurt him and at times made him cry because of the pain of having to live through it again in his mind. It made me feel bad for being insensitive.

He blames himself so thoroughly for not having the wisdom to make better choices in his life, but that would have taken wisdom he didn’t have. Everything happens for a reason, he has learned, and it is up to him now to put that wisdom to good use. Prison is teaching him something his life probably could not have taught him on it’s own on the outside. It’s up to him now to use that wisdom.

 WHY DID YOU START THE BLOG, “MY NAME IS JAMIE. MY LIFE IN PRISON”

We started writing letters in 2006 but it wasn’t until much later that I started the blog, when I realized he had a story to tell others needed to hear. There are millions of people incarcerated and many who are in the same situation as he is – without his family.  There are many millions of people; wives, mothers, husbands, partners and children whose lives are all affected. Losing a member of a family has long range affects, especially on the children who most often grow up in poor households run by mothers who don’t make enough to support a family and be both mother and father.  Sadly, many of these people were targeted because they were black, not because they were guilty.  If guilty, many were given sentences way out of proportion to whatever crime was committed.  This made a lot of money for the prison industrial corporation in an up to date slavery system.

I started  the blog My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prison  in mid 2014. If you want to understand Jamie go to the pages at the top of the website and the earliest posts listed by the month under the bottom of the post.

He is my grandson’s father.  We met six weeks before he was arrested when I went to Tx to visit my daughter. He wrote to me once before He was sentenced. But it was write awhile before I sent him a card. He was surprised to hear from me. That was the beginning of our letters. When I realized his family wasn’t there for him, I reached inside his head and grabbed hold. He wasn’t doing very well on his own.  He needed someone to be there, and he needed someone to care about as well.

I researched and read everything I could find about prisons. I was horrified about what I read. I had no idea. I was like many of the people who read something I wrote and have a sarcastic comment about him deserving every rotten thing they do to inmates, yet they have no idea about what they are thinking beyond the propaganda put out by the media. Our prison system is a very ugly part of our civilization. Surely this country didn’t treat it’s citizens like this, some people think . The amount of innocent people the government locked up, predominantly black, had to be wrong. But it wasn’t. I was so naive.

I had been like everyone else. My knowledge came from TV and movies, not realizing I only knew what I was allowed to know. The underbelly of the prison system, the involvement of our government and prison corporations shocked me. How could I live all these years and not know this?

There are many people like Jamie. His case isn’t special. The fact it is ordinary is frightening. He could be anyone; a member of your own family. The response people have had to this blog helped him realize the picture the media puts out of black people he is just a poor, black, uneducated man who is going nowhere, who some believe was born with the genetic inclination to be a criminal; the false picture many people believe about the black race, was not the picture he had to believe of himself. He is his own individual person. Jamie became real to many people all over the world in the past couple years. Many people have written to me about their own experiences, or experiences of people they care about who were also stuck in the profit motivated circumstance of prison.

For the first time in his life Jamie realized he did have value. His family still has very little contact with him, but he has made a few friends through the blog who write to him and have been very supportive of him – and me, too.

His family really don’t know him anymore. Jamie the man is different from Jamie the boy. For so long he was not important to anyone and it crushed him.  But he is important to me. I became his friend, his teacher and his mom; someonewho showed him love and caring. His family never noticed when he matured from a boy to a man – a man with a voice.

GOALS FOR THE BLOG

 

The first draft of the book on Jamie’s life is done, “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” There is still a lot of work to do.  I found out there was a lot I didn’t know about writing a book, too. One of those things is I need a mailing list.  Books that are listed at Amazon or Barnes and Noble and others don’t sell themselves. That is another skill set that needs to be learned if I want it to be successful.  I started a monthly publication called ITFO Newsletter. There is an update on the book and snippets of chapters to gain interest. The newsletter has a variety of articles about the prison system. People who subscribe will have the opportunity to downloading the ebook version for free when it is published.

There is a Facebook page, Jamie Life In Prison,   twitter and others. When the book is published my goal is to speak – at schools and communities to start, and when I get my feet wet I want to work as a paid speaker. It’s important to dream big.  Reach for the stars.  This way if you fall short you will at least land on the moon!

This book is only part one. Jamie will not be out of prison yet when I’m done. Groundwork must be laid for him to have a life. How does the book end? Part two will be awhile coming. It will be about what happens from here, the process of getting out and what happens when he does. A lot can happen in six years. He will not be going out into a welcoming society. In between I will write another book and am mulling over some different ideas.  Possibly a book of short stories of actual inmates or break away to a different idea?

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR FIRST TIME AUTHOR’S?

Where do I begin to answer that since I am also a first time author?  I can pass along the things I have learned up until now. A person says to himself, “I have a great idea for a book.” Not too many years ago it was almost impossible to publish a book unless you were already known or very lucky. But book publishing went the same way as music publishing. You don’t need a record contract to get your music out there anymore. There are ways through social media of gathering a following. There are many good musicians and many good authors that never had an alternative. Now there is.

A book publisher who offers you a contract owns your book and can change it, including the title, any way they see fit. It will then take another two years to see the light of day. You get less profit per book because the publisher needs their money, too. Also, they won’t touch a book without an agent, who also gets a cut of the sale. There is little or zero up front money unless you are a well known author and you are still expected to market your own book. Many good editors lost their jobs because the industry changed.

Self publishing companies began springing up all over the web and many ads also started appearing to teach people the ropes. If you ever click on one of these ads be prepared to have every book publishing business follow you around the internet forever. Be careful of these companies. They are like snake oil salesmen. If an author doesn’t do their homework they are going to pay through the noise and likely be disappointed with the product. They also realize they haven’t laid the groundwork to market their book and feel overwhelmed. They may not have the skills to learn the marketing that is required our they are tired and need a break. I’ve talked with people who at this point just took what sales they could get and crossed their fingers. The average self published book sells less than 100 copies

Many people who write a book get scammed by one of these companies who take your money, tell you how great your book is, then puts out a sub par product with lousy editing, charges you for things you don’t need, and when it’s done and you find problems, they won’t answer your calls. I talked to many of these salesmen and they are very convincing. There were several I wanted to go with because they sounded so good.  I researched them and was glad my internal scam meter was going off at full tilt.

This is the best piece of advice I can offer: Pay an editor; one for content (story) and a copy editor for grammar, phrasing and much more.. You can not edit your own writing no matter how good you think you are with the English language. There are things we can’t see in our own writing but other people will. Sometimes we make the same mistake over and over. I read a lot of samples at Amazon from self published and well known authors. Study what works and what doesn’t work. Find out what feels wrong when you read and don’t repeat it. It is a free way to study writing. Poorly edited books will only sell to people who love you and the rest you’ll give away for free.

WHAT PART DOES MUSIC PLAY IN MY LIFE?

I am first a piano player.  Not a pianist, because I equate that with classical. My dream from very early childhood was to compose the most beautiful music in the world. A childish dream but I one I have never forgotten. I didn’t play well at the age of 7, but I could hear it inside me. I didn’t know how to get it out. Even as an adult, through years of playing professionally and practicing every day it still wasn’t there yet. I have stacks of songs I’ve written with lyrics and piano arrangements but it still wasn’t what I heard inside.

white piano

Then I lost it all. I thought I was done. I ruined my vocal cords. My ego wouldn’t let me be someone’s side man. If I wasn’t gigging I had no reason to write music. I had nowhere to play it. No one to hear it. My piano gathered dust for 12 years except for a few students. I lost my identity. At least I thought I did. I didn’t know who I was. I had always known, “I am a musician.” If anyone asked what I did I felt I had lost the right to call myself a musician. A part of me had been amputated and it was a painful blow to my life.

Then Jamie entered my life – the man in prison I write about at My Name is Jamie.My Life in prison. Through years of knowing him, his pain struck a deep nerve inside me. In 2012 I nearly died in need of a liver transplant. That pain was like none I’d ever felt before. The recovery was very long and some of the damage done is repairable. Pain and I are good friends. It lets me know every morning I didn’t die in my sleep.

Something changed inside me. I needed a way to express the pain. I feel emotions deeply. Not only what I was feeling about me, but the pain I carried for Jamie – his pain and his loss. It was palpable. No one who should have been there for him treated him like a human being, recognizing his pain. It is a horrible pain when you realize the people who should be caring about you – don’t, and you are left to rot.

Without any love at all you begin to die inside. Family told him, “I don’t write to you because it hurts ME so much that you are in there.” That doesn’t make any more sense today than it did the first time I heard it. He and I understood each other. Even through the hell he lived in, he worried more about me than about himself. Where does a friend like that come from? How could I let him down, no matter what people thought?

It made me want to play music again. I can’t it explain, but instead of creating music from the outside by developing a chord structure and building a melody around it, I crawled inside the music and let it play itself. My fingers know what to do like a typist knows a keyboard. I knew what I was feeling so I mentally get out of the way and let my fingers express what I felt. Because what I feel is pain, physically and emotionally, there is pain in the music. I don’t listen while I play. I just play. I hear it in the background like it comes from somewhere else. I record everything. I sometimes don’t listen back for days so I can hear it as a stranger. I can never replay anything because it is all free style – I improvise. After that it is gone.

When I listen to music I recorded two years ago and those recorded recently, I can hear a change and it is getting closer to what is inside. I’m know I’m not done yet. Where is it going? I don’t know. The process and progress is exciting. There ARE advantages to aging – experience and wisdom. The more I immerse myself in the emotion I want to convey, the more that feeling emerges. Yes, there is, technically, an occasional wrong note – but are they really wrong notes or part of the process?

I enjoy sharing my music. You can find all of it at  Sound Cloud. There are a couple hours of recorded music.  Leave a comment. Add a like. Stats are the name of the game for anything online. Who says a 62 year old woman is too old to keep creating something new? I’ve had about 10,000 pieces listened to. If it went no farther I’d be happy, but I don’t think I’m done.

My favorite way to play is in a completely dark room or even blindfolded. When you listen, dim the lights and close your eyes. Put your head back. This is dream music. What does it make you feel? Play it again. Where does it take you? What do you hear? I have asked people these questions. Strangely, I often get the same answers. What do you hear? These two pieces are two of my favorites and completely different. Picking up Broken Pieces Brings Tears to my eyes. A newer piece is K’lee written for a man whose words affected my Life. On my other blog watchandwhirl.com is a post, “Talking to my Younger Self.” It was written because of him.

ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE MYSELF

I thought about this question and saved it for last. That one word for me is “passionate.” I do everything intensely. I often push myself through a wall of pain that is there every day. I could give in to it, but no one could ever understand what it means anyway. But it helps me see and understand the pain in others and it allows me to be there for them. That requires passion.

Some people want to leave a legacy when they are gone so they aren’t forgotten. They want to do something great or pass on a lot of money. But a true legacy is how you have affected other lives. Because of you, did you change someone’s life in a positive way, and then they, too, have affected other lives? This is how you live on. This is the only way we can truly change the world. If people can’t manage that on a small scale we will never see great change.

“The change in a single human being can change the world”

How Lonely is Your Prison Cell, Jamie

saying-472218_6401

Dear Jamie,

I was listening to some music on you tube last night and heard a singer who isn’t well known. Her voice was like silk, like running your fingers through honey. Lift your fingers and the words were pulled together. I don’t know if you recognize the words or can hear the melody in your head. It’s an old tune. I listened to it over and over and tears were running down my cheeks.

Sonni Quick   copyright 2017

This is not the music I was listening to that night. This is one of the first pieces I’ve recorded since the surgery on my arm from a fall in Oct. I was afraid I would be unable to play again. It’s painful and I can’t play for long but it should heal within a year. No gigs until then. Karma is a funny thing. It creates obstacles to overcome and it did a good job with this one. I had just decided to come out of retirement from playing professionally.  My last gig was 14 years ago. I decided age was not going to be a factor. I went in a new direction with my music and I liked where it was going. It was time to get back out there. I have not heard pianists be able to improvise the way I do and keep the continuity of a storyline going. It took the vivid emotions of what Jamie has been through to pull the music out of me this way.  The least I can do is play it for him. I destroyed my vocal cords and can’t sing anymore so I can’t use words to convey what I’m feeling. The music has to do that for me now.  I don’t really pay attention when I play. My fingers know what they are doing and play what I’m feeling. So Jamie, this is for you.

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I often think of you sitting in your cage with your life wasting away, not being able to choose for yourself how you want to spend your day. It makes me sad. Is this the result of a thousand years of justice for the black man? If it is America has nothing to be proud of and certainly can’t call itself a great nation.  Not with so much dirt on it’s hands. If you being in prison was going to do one positive thing for society, or if it was going to make you a better person, it could be different. But there is no value to what is happening to you.

Is the world safer with you locked up? Does it help anything anywhere? Have you “paid” for your crime and does paying with more years mean anything good anywhere? Are you ever done paying? Or are you just playing the part our society designated you should pay long before you were born? How would I feel knowing other people were getting rich by keeping me locked up like a caged animal and thought I had no worth. You should be the one to feel the benefit of being alive, because whether or not those in charge recognize your life has value, it does not mean it doesn’t. You, and so many like you were not born to be a slave for anyone to make a profit from. If they think the law of cause and effect doesn’t apply to them, and that their lives will escape the effect they deserve, they are sadly mistaken. No one escapes the causes they make. Their money will be no good and they will pay with their own lives instead.

I know there are many who are locked who are too far gone mentally to live outside those walls. Many were too damaged long before they lost their life to the system and can’t safely be let out. But that is only a percentage of those inside. The rest of you inside are only parts in their machine. But so little is done for you to make it possible to live on your own like free men. The adjustment between inside and outside is too great for many to make the transition no matter how badly someone wants it. They have no experience living the life they want and end up inside again where they want you. Where corporations get paid on the body count.

No matter how badly you want to be out here, the road blocks set up, keeping you from succeeding, are very high. Nobody gives a damn. In their eyes you are just another worthless, stupid, lazy, black man.  They don’t know you.  They don’t care if you have a chance or not.  All they know is you aren’t white, as though being white is all a person needs to have quality, as our top Republican racist, Paul Ryan, has been so pointed in telling us. All black people need is help from rich white men.  What a joke.

I don’t know what will happen before you get out in six years, but no one I have talked to has a positive feeling about the future of this country with the direction it is headed in.  Trump wants to make it easier to lock you up, easier for cops to kill you and lengthen the mandatory minimums. All I want is for things to be better by the time you get out. Good night. Sleep well. Meet me on the hill at 8 PM. I’ll bring a picnic dinner.

Meet you on the hill , riding bikes

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ITFO Newsletter

Subscribe to my newsletter about prison issues and inmate writings.  It would be a tremendous help as I build my mailing list for the book I’m editing.  Those who receive the newsletter will have the opportunity to download it for free when it is ready to publish.

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ITFO Newsletter #7 – Raping Female Inmates

Source: Michael Korchia on Flickr

ITFO Newsletter # 7  

For The Women and Their Struggles in Prison

Please Click on the above link to bring up current issue of the ITFO newsletter. Below is just a few snippets. Each issue follows different subjects that need changing and updates. I try to educate people on things they might not know.

It has been a learning experience putting a newsletter together. I hope you click on the subscribe button on the bottom and help me share it through social media. I have lots of plans and projects for this coming hear and it will take people everywhere to help make the changes we need in our prisons and all of the family and friends who are connected to them.

The prisons and our govt is finding new ways to fill our prisons and it starts with the children by making it a felony in some places for boys to even have an after school fight. A young girl was arrested for just baffling up her first at a cop. Cops aren’t there to help you anymore, they are to be feared. Of course fighting isn’t good behavior but boys have been doing it since the bidding of human beings and they weren’t imprisoned for it. It will cause years of prison time no matter how young while it destroys education. There is absolutely no reason for destroying a child’s life for something that should be between a principle and a parent. It will also be used to predominantly lock up kids who are white more than anyone. Kids expelled or suspended today are mostly black, which has been admitted by teachers.

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ITFO NEWSLETTER #7

The rape of men and women have no help from prison staff – and often it is done by them, goes on and is not reported. Women are at the mercy of men who use them at will. In addition, some women locked up are pregnant and don’t receive the medical care they need. Lack of prenatal care and vitamins during pregnancies. Often there are no check ups to make sure the baby is okay. Was this part of their sentencing? Shackling a woman to the bed during labor, and general lack of medical care for all female issues can lead to life long problems. In addition, Women often lose any other children to adoption because they are forced to give up their parental rights. When a judge reads a sentence, where does it state losing their children is included?If a woman is not capable of raising children that is one thing,but we know it isn’t always the case and each situation needs to be judged on it’s own merit. The problem is, CPS makes tens of thousands of dollars for each child it takes away and more if the child is adopted out. Did you know this?

In the rest of the newsletter I will give you stories and links to follow about incarcerated women in the hope of creating better understanding and empathy for women who don’t have the means to keep the children they gave birth to, or to stop being sexually assaulted by their jailers. Don’t judge them, help them. Our prison system is a racket which uses and misuses the people caught in it’s snare. Most of them do not deserve what happens to them inside but it will   continue as long as we allow it to happen. Cont . . .

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