There is No Justice For Inmates

 

wh jamie

No Justice For Inmates

This is a reprint of a post dated Feb 14, 2014

Four years ago. Four very long years. But at least they are past. Unless paroled, he has five to go.  I would like to be optimistic for him but the odds are not on his side. Not having a supportive family or a place to go provided, the book and music I am writing would need to be widely successful to make enough money to help him get started. Have you ever known when you just had to do something and it was the most important thing in your life to do? Everything you learned up to this point was so you could take care of that very thing? That is how I feel about my writing and my music or I could never spend the hours I do every day to do it.

The only thing that changed, is three years ago Jamie was moved from Wynne Unit in Huntsville to Allred Unit in Iowa Park. Both in Texas. He was physically abused and beat in Wynne Unit. They had put him in solitary for a bogus reason I won’t get into now. They took everything away from him including his mattress and he had staples in his head because they ran it into a wall. After talking to the warden, who told me the guards had filed thirteen sexual harassment cases against him, and his guards wouldn’t lie (choke), Jamie knew he needed to find a way to get transferred out of Wynne.

One step up from solitary confinement is Adseg. The added privilege is being taken to the commissary once a month. They had no open cells in G5 (which is another name for adseg) So he threatened a guard. It was the only way to get moved. I talked to Allred after he was moved because he didn’t get his property for a couple months. The woman I talked to said she understood he was moved for his safety and he will get his property when there are other inmates who need things moved, too. Some things were replaced with broken items or were missing entirely. Who was he going to complain to? Because he had to be moved, they said he would have to do one year in adseg – in a cell by himself where food is brought to you and it is rare to get out of your cell. Three years have gone by and he is still in adseg, always told twice a year he had to do another six months. In March there is another assessment. Will he get moved up?
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sc cell
Mom,
They are starving us. I don’t know how they get away with this but they do. We can’t do anything about it. They put us all on lockdown again. Not because we did anything but because they want to toss our cells looking for weapons and drugs. One time they planted a weapon in my cell. They put a homemade knife on the sink. I was really surprised and mad when they “found” it. Even if I had made the knife, would I have been stupid enough to leave it out on the sink when I knew they were going to toss my cell looking for weapons? It had to be a guard. They try to get you in trouble and keep you down. It doesn’t matter if you are guilty of doing something in here, they will make sure you are guilty. It’s your word against theirs, and you can’t win.

We’re on our second week of lockdown. This is the hardest one I’ve gone through. By law they are supposed to feed you a hot meal every three days but they do what they want to anyone in a white suit, which is us. They are feeding us what they call a peanut butter sandwich which is a half spoon of peanut butter on bread. They only give us a half spoon because they are trying to stretch it out to last longer. It saves them money. They stretch it more by adding some really nasty soup or applesauce that makes me gag. But I have no choice. I have to eat it or I get nothing. I’ve heard that it costs $40,000 a year for each inmate, to keep us here. Where does the money go because it sure isn’t spent on us. Once in a while we get a meat sandwich or cornbread. Sometimes prunes or raisins. In the morning we get two biscuits with a half spoon of peanut butter or maybe two pancakes.

This system is built for the inmates to lose. If we think we’re being treated wrong by the officers and they write up a case against us ( make up a case against us is more like it ), they tell us to write up an appeal. First they take away any privileges, like going to the commissary or rec,for 30-45 days. Guess how long it takes for the answer to the appeal to come back? 30 days. It’s crazy. The appeal will always be denied, too. It’s all for nothing. I lose my comm privileges for nothing. I get punished because I appealed the false charges against me. I lose because I tried to stand up to the bullshit. There is no way around the system. All the officer has to do is lie and the next one will back it up or say he didn’t see anything.

But I know now there are effects for every cause that is made. All the good ones and all the bad ones. These guards in here don’t get away with the things they do. It’s written into their own lives. They will have to face the effects of so many lies. They don’t get away with the things they do to other human beings. They may get off treating us like dogs, but we aren’t dogs. They may talk to each other about the things they do to us and laugh, thinking they are getting away with it. But we are people. I will do my best to change the part of me that caused this to happen to my life. I will find a way to make a difference. I will become a better person. I will someday leave here a better person. I will have hope.

It’s a new year and I’m going to do my best to stay out of trouble. I never try to make trouble. It’s always someone else who comes up to fight me. But no more fighting. Nothing. But when you don’t fight back then everyone feels they can run over you. But I’m not going to fight. I want to focus on coming home. I have to raise my level before they will consider me for parole. I’m level 3. I need to be level 1 before it’s even possible. Even then they could still turn me down. They well give me something called a set-off, which means I have to wait another five years before I can see the parole board again unless they want to bring me back up again. This system is built for our downfall. They don’t want us to survive in here. There is no justice for inmates at all.

 

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Waiting Months to See a Dentist

Medical Treatment behind bars

Waiting months to see a dentist is not unusual. knowing you are crying in pain doesn’t phase them. Prison staff should be locked up to find out how that feels.

This is a repost from three years ago.  I have written recently about what is going on with Jamie medically and how I am trying to get a Power of Attorney to have something legally I can use to get his medical records. This is a common problem I have heard about with many inmates. If the medical corporations don’t treat the inmates it means more profit.

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(Sonni’s Note: Solitary confinement is nowhere anyone wants to be.  You have to find a way to cope with real life issues pertaining to where you are, and normal issues liked a bad tooth and you have no one on your side.  No one cares.  It makes you angry. Pain makes you angry. It makes you depressed.  You miss your family and you know they are going on without you.  Where do you put all of that bottle up emotion?  It’s hard to keep it together.  People are kept in solitary, AdSeg, G-5 far more than what they should.  It’s place to put them to cage them, so they only have to do the minimal to take care of them.  Yes, I know there are bad people in Prison, but there are good people there as well and there is nothing to differentiate between the two and the are all treated badly.)

Dear Sonni,

There are things I want my son to understand. I wrote to Megan about it. I want her to drive it into little Jamie’s head. I want Megan to tell him that I never meant for this to happen. I don’t want him to ends up here like me. I hope she tells him often. I told her it would be hard for me to get through to him by her reading him my letters. Don’t get me wrong, my letters are a good thing and they won’t stop. However, I told Megan when the time is right I need to see Jamie. I want to see him. He’s at an age where he understands. He and I need to meet face to face again. It’s been over three years now since I’ve seen him. That’s a good long stretch. (Sonni’s note: It ended up being five years before he saw him again)

I sent a letter to Megan to give to my mom. I don’t have an address for her. She moves around a lot. I asked her a lot of questions. I told her that no one is writing to me but you. I’m not trying to make her angry. Just something to think about. I’m trying to see if I can get some help from her. And I asked about my family. I also told her I was sorry I made things hard on her in the past. And I told her how I was doing right now, which was not too good.

I’m waiting to have surgery on my wisdom tooth. It’s infected and it’s hurting really bad. It gives me headaches and everything. I’ve been waiting two months now. They keep pushing my appointment back. They don’t care. They want me to go off. I tell then about the pain every day.

It’s been crazy in here the past few weeks. Well, it’s crazy every day but I try not to pay attention to it. I do my best to take my days one at a time. They got me on anti depression medication because they say something is wrong with me. I don’t take it ’cause nothing is wrong with me. I go on hunger strikes off and on. The longest I’ve stayed on is a week and a half. I just have those kinds of days. I don’t want to do this or that. It causes trouble sometimes. Oh well, I I just have that I don’t care feeling at times.

Me and everyone else have been getting into it with the officers. We’ve been without hot water for over a month. We’re also back on lockdown for 30 days. Once again only peanut butter. I guess it’s part of the punishment that we, as humans, get treated in situations like this.

Then, on top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot – on purpose. That’s the thing they open when they give us our food. He cut it open. A really deep cut. I made them take me to medial where they took a picture of it. I had to get an x-ray a few days later because it wouldn’t close. He told the sergeant he did it but that it was an accident. He said he didn’t mean to do it and he didn’t see my fingers. He lied. It wasn’t the first time he had tried to do that. I told him I wanted to talk to the lieutenant. This guy is the kind of dude that doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. But the Lt. told me to tell them to call him about moving me to another cell because also, the cell I’m in leaks water from the shower. One night I fell getting up to use the rest room. I hurt my ankle and had to go to Medical.

They’re trying to hurt me. I know they are. The cell I’m also leaks bad when it rains and they know it because an officer told me the dude who was in here before got moved because of it. The want me to fall their trap but I won’t. I’m writing up this officer who hurt me because I feel he is a threat to me. I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out I’m writing his a** up. To go through this whole process will take 60-120 days. Long huh ?

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Prison Torture Never Ends

Heat in Texas prisons, no AC in prison in the summer
Wynne Unit, the prison Jamie is in. These fans are the only cooling system even when it is over 100 degrees. Since there are no open windows all it does is blow hot air around. Credit source: beaumontenterprises.compip

Jamie has been at the Allred unit in Texas for nearly three years. Before that, Wynne Unit. How much is an inmate supposed to tolerate from staff and guards? They can do anything they want to them and there is nothing an inmate can do. Why is that? Everyone knows it. Anyone with the power to stop it – doesn’t. They can file a grievance but the system is not set up where the inmate wins. When the medical unit and staff knowing screw around with someone’s health, aware of the consequences to the inmate, I wonder if they stand around and laugh about it in the break room? They push inmates to break them and so often succeed. Here is what is happening . . .

I received a letter from Jamie yesterday. He is close to getting out of adseg – administrative segregation – a fancy word for solitary. Locked up in a cell 23/7, except for Jamie it’s 24/7 because he’s trying to stay away from the guards by refusing showers and rec. He bathes using the sink. He knew they’d try to press his buttons to keep him down. He’s had no write ups in a long time.

He wrote to me that the nurse is refusing to give him his seizure medication for epilepsy. At his point of writing it had been three days. He keeps asking her for it and she refuses to bring it. Have you ever watched someone have a grand mal seizure? The prison won’t give him the medication that works best for him. I already went rounds with the medical unit over that and they wouldn’t budge. So he still has more seizures than he should. But not taking anything, and as any protection leaves his body it will induce more. Add to that the terrible heart in a closed cell with no ventilation makes me angry.

Guards work three 12 hour shifts. One of the guards put his hands in his food just to try to make Jamie angry so he could retaliate and write him up. He won’t eat now if this guard is on shift. He only eats breakfast, which is pitiful, but not lunch or dinner when this guard works. He’s close to losing it. I could feel it. I wrote to him today to turn away. Don’t let them take away your chance of getting out of adseg. He can’t study for his GED until he is classified G2. First he has to get to G4. This process could easily take another 1-2 years. At G4 he can leave his cell for chow and limited time in TV rec room. He’s been this route before. They can, and do, take it away in a heart beat and it takes years to climb back out. He’s had 11 years of this. If seems deliberate. The guards get a perverse pleasure from abusing people with permission. Jamie has been in adseg this time for almost 3 years because he needed to move prisons because of physical abuse that included beatings by guards at the Wynne Unit. They moved him – and gave him 3 years of adseg to go with it.

I also bought him food today. It’s like gas station convenience food. Not even one can of vegetables on the list. Snacks. But also tuna, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, coffee, Raman noodles and such. They only allow someone on the outside to purchase $20 a month or $60 a quarter. But I wasn’t due to buy him more until Oct. I sent it to another man, probably next to him, who doesn’t have anyone helping him. He’ll probably pay him in food. They go on lockdown soon – for 30 days – every 90 days. They cut food rations so without extra food and that guard who’s messing with his food he’d get hungry. There are so many inmates with no one on the outside. It’s easy to see why so many don’t make it when they get out

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Most of you who follow this blog know I put out a monthly newsletter called  ITFO NEWS. Each month I focus on a different prison issue. The one being published at the end of the week is on Incarcerating The Innocent. It’s an important topic because many lives are ruined even when there is no solid evidence to convict them. I’m having a book give-away this month. Each new person who wants to try ITFO NEWS can enter their name and email address HERE and 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. 

GRODZINSKY_Waiting 3D book_SMALL

This book is timely for what is happening today. It is a true story of a young man still in prison today who got involved in the KKK as a teenager, attracted to craziness, violence a drugs and couldn’t find away out. Young people are easily swayed. You need only to look at pictures in our media to see who the recruits are. Any mother who has lived with the fear of raising an out of control teenager will find this book hard to put down. Did it start when he was a child? This story shows you what unconditional love is. Will he make it now when he gets out? Will the KKK let him go? 

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In Ad Seg How Can You Deal With Loss?

January 16, 2016

     Hello mom, How are you?  Fine and in the best of health I hope.  As for me, so far,no trouble.  I have been staying to myself.  It’s okay here, just a little weird.  I have a neighbor who is really coo-coo.  He talks to himself and when gets mad he goes off on everyone around him.  So guess who gets the first verbal ass whippin’?  Lol, yep, me.
As of right now the unit is on lockdown, so there is not much going on.  I’m waiting to see the doctor.  I should see him this Friday or Monday.  They have charged me with a new co-pay of $100 so they will taking half of the money you send me until it is paid.

cellRight now now I’m a level 3.  I’m only allowed to have one visit per month.  I’ll receive my level 2 in 30 days only if I do not get any major cases.  I don’t plan on getting any. Life is life and no one knows the outcome of the future.  However I do know the causes and effects.  Only I can stop myself from being who I really want to be.  I’m going to let the past be the past.  I am in control.  I have just been allowing my anger to get the better half of me.  However, I also knew that half the time the guards at the Wynne Unit I had to deal with were the same ones all the time and I knew what their routine was going to be every day. They would spend time talking shit at me to pass the time.  I knew it would not be long before I blew my top and put my hands on one of them.

     You have no idea of the suffering I went through the last few weeks there.  Before I was moved to Allred Unit I was sprayed two days in a row with a big ass can of pepper spray.  then they tossed me back in the same cell with no water because they turned it off.  I also had all my stuff taken away from me again.  This takes the cake: Then they rammed my head into a glass window.   Now I will say that half of that was my fault, but it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t taken my property.  All of this happened because I tried to help someone else.  they don’t like it when you do that.  I always end up in deep shit because I try to help someone.  It’s the risk I take. I try to help people who are new when they don’t know the rules.  The officers get mad when I do that so they lash out at me. When I tried to talk to them with respect they looked at me like I got shit on my face.  It’s crazy.

     That way was the past.  New unit, new year.  I should only be here until I get out of ad seg.  I will then go to a program.  I can make parole from here in seg.  It’s going to take a little time but it’s worth a shot.  It takes a year to get my line class yet.  I have to do a year anyway in seg.  Well, really it’s a little more than a year.  I’ll be okay so don’t worry. So far everything is okay, besides the nut next to me.

     I’ve been sleeping better lately, which is good, because I haven’t slept good in awhile.  At night I do some chanting, exercise, deep breathing and meditation that I learned from a prison magazine called “Turn it up”.  It’s pretty good.  There are some websites I wrote down that I wrote down from it.  One of them is on a woman named M. Alexander.  If it is possible, could you order me a book called “New Jim Crow Organizing?”

(Sonni’s note: I have written about Michele Alexander.  The full title of this book is: The New Jim Crow.  Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. http://newjimcrow.com/  I recommend going to this website and reading about it.)

     You have come to know me so well, so you know pretty much when something is wrong.  Please call Wynne Unit and ask again about my property.  I am so afraid they won’t send it all to me.  They have all my letters and books and all of my pictures.  They have everything I own that is my life and much of it can’t be replaced.

antie
Jamie’s older brother, Antie

     I have so much mixed emotions about the truth.  Sad but true.  I have come to realize that my communication with my family has run out.  I think of them and it hurts me.  However, when I am just going about my day, I am fine.  The last visit I got from my mother she told me my brother was outside, but that he wouldn’t come in and see me.  Did he not want to see me? Was my mother telling me the truth?  Telling the truth may not be what she does, thinking about others things she said.  I was hurt when she said my brother didn’t want to see me, but I got over it.  I try to put it behind me but it pops up here and there and I would say to myself, fuck him.  But I can’t be mad at him, because I’m here because of me, not him, but it would help if I had my family.  As far as my mom, I just can’t bring myself to say anything bad about her.  Yeah, it hurts like hell that I have not had her support while I’ve been here these last ten years.  But there is nothing I can about that in here.

(Sonni’s note:  I have reasons to believe that his mother wasn’t telling the truth about his brother being outside but not wanting to come in. He loves his brother and was hurt thinking he came so close – outside the building – and wouldn’t come in.  something sounds wrong with that.  His mother has said other things that weren’t true, like telling him who his father is – he has never known – and saying that they got married and that he is an x-cop.  Jamie started writing letters to him that were never answered.  He even sent him a birthday card, so was that made up, too? I asked her once to help pay his medical fee, which has to be paid every year, and she blew me off.  She told him this exactly a year ago during a rare visit.  But funny, she lives alone and recently moved again.  She never got married to anyone.  Would someone in his family told him his mother got married – and to his father no less?  Wasn’t that supposed to be a happy thing? She gave him hope and broke his heart with it.  Why do you think he calls me mom? )

This letter is to be continued . . .

Jamie’s facebook page . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Chapter List for the Book I’m writing: Inside The Forbidden Outside
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story
The Nightmare

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There Are No Judges Here – And Some Things You Can’t Let Fly!

Medical treatment behind bars

Hello mom, October 7, 2015

I received your last two letters. It’s been a bumpy road for me and I’m doing what I can to control myself. However to tell you the truth I have developed a bad temper in this place. I try to control it but it gets the best of me. I win over it at times at keeping it under control, but I’m being provoked a lot – because of my temper. I’ve been trying hard to stay in control of myself. I’m going to stop going to chow just so I won’t have to interact in any way with the officers. I will eat in my cell. I’ve been in a few situations with officers to where I have written them up. It’s the route I’m taking so these people will see I am trying to handle things differently.

Thank you for the photos you sent of the boys. It put a smile on my face to know they were both doing something for a good cause. What is my son eating? He has gotten so big!

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

I’m sure you’re wanting to know about my trip to the hospital again. I spoke to the doctor. I do have around my heart. They never did do the MRI. They did an EKG and an ultra sound. They took pictures of my heart. The doctor told me he was going to give me something for the inflammation, however I was told it wasn’t in the paperwork so I haven’t been getting anything. I spoke with the doctor here on the unit and he said I have another appointment at the hospital in two months. So sometime next month I’ll be going back. I’m okay so don’t worry. I just have these off and on chest pains. I’ll be fine so don’t worry yourself.

Prison food
Source:brokenchains.us
I got into a fight with a dude, an inmate. He works in the kitchen with food. My cell is right in front of the kitchen. I can watch them do everything. Well one day I watched him put his bare hands on all the cornbread. We had a verbal conflict. Then I said, “Man have to eat that. Don’t nobody want to eat nothing you’re putting your nasty hands on.” I called a Stg. She gets on him about it. Well this dude goes around telling everyone I snitched on him. But he didn’t tell everybody that he put his hands all over everybody’s food. He just said I was snitching. So I told him he’s playing a dirty game and I was ginning to beat his ass when I caught up with him. It just so happened we bumped into each other when I was coming back from the hospital. It’s nothin so don’t worry about it. I was just locked down for a few days. Sorry, but things like that you can’t let fly. If I did, I’d have more than a lot of problems come my way. (There are no judges here)

I have to get this in the mail now. They will pick up soon. Could you send me some books? Thank you.

Love you, Son

(Sonni’s note: One of the best reasons to deny parole are the cases that are filed against inmates for disciplinary reasons, even though it is the Guards who push and provoke the inmates into reacting – and they know it. It is a rare human being who can continually turn away and ignore someone who mistreats and humiliates you. Keeping an inmate in the lower levels of restriction also keeps him from education – another reason to deny parole. Institutionalizing a man severely lessons his chances from making it on the outside after he finishes his extremely long and abusive sentence. I’m not talking about the seriously sick criminal. I’m talking about the man who pushed through the system and sentenced beyond common sense and used as slave labor.

What do you do when necessary medication is kept from these inmates, when life sustaining medication is withheld for a higher profit margin. The prison system gets away with mistreatment. Even if an inmate or x-inmate manages to file suit against the prison staff, the court will do everything it can to keep the prison from having to take responsibility. At the most, maybe they will buy off the inmate. But it is rare that the abusers have to take responsibility. 

Inmates are in prison because it was deemed that their crime demanded that they be locked up, often for decades. Why? Because they are supposed to be a danger to society. Many are – but not all. We all know the reasons now for our over full racist prisons and how it came about. Only someone fairly ignorant would actually believe anymore that black men are more dangerous. That is the white man’s propaganda. So where is the punishment for the legal criminals? Do you think these guards, who abuse prisoners, and get a kick out of it, change into different, respectful, compassionate people who go home and play with their kids and have loving relationships with their wives and friends? Can they forget their abuse of another human being who often does not deserve what was done to him. Can they just go on as if they did nothing? Does it matter if they use the excuse that the officer above him condones what he did? No. It doesn’t. Ultimately he doesn’t get away with it. The law of cause and effect or you reap what you sow – whatever you call it – is strict. These guards are damaged goods. They are criminals and they think their actions are okay. They are a danger to society. They. Are. Sick. And they get no help because they aren’t held accountable for their actions. This is not every guard,  just like not every inmate is guilty or innocent. But there has been enough reported incidents of prison guard abuse and brutality to know it is a serious problem. It is not a guard’s job to abuse whenever they feel like it. When an inmate dies because of abuse it is to late to change it for him. These murders don’t seem to count. Inmates don’t seem to have viable lives. When they die from lack of medical care it is still murder. I have heard the public sarcastically proclaim that inmates get 3 squares a day and free medical, because they believe the propaganda the media puts out. We could stop that guard from sadistically abusing another man, and we could stop the prison from allowing it to happen – but we don’t.

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Lockdown. Voice From Inside

lockdown,voice from inside

July 23, 2013 – nearly two years ago

I try my best to stay away from trouble. But I guess it’s my karma. I’m here in lockdown again and I don’t know why. All I know is my celly threatened me in front of an officer. They locked him up and came and got me the next day. My celly was trying to get away from another dude. He sold the dude his fan for 6 pictures of women and toothpaste!! However, he later tried to back out of the deal and the dude told him he was going to beat him up. So my celly did what we call ‘catch out’ cause he didn’t want to fight. But these people are now saying that I’m under investigation. I think my celly done lied on me about something. I don’t know what’s going on. The Security Threat Group Officer come and ask me if I was ok. However he said I have to be placed in tranzed (?) til I see UCC. ( Sonni’s note:UCC is the inprison court which is usually run by the warden. He hears so many claims about the same thing that not much attention is paid to what the inmate is saying most of the time.)

I seen my celly. He said the officer wrote him a case for a shank. He got G5 today. Could you call and see what’s going on please? I haven’t been given a case yet. There’s no telling what my celly done lied about. I tried to help him by talking to the dude but the dude didn’t want to hear it. So I left it alone and told my celly the dude didn’t want to hear it. So I left it alone and told my celly the dude said to sit the fan out. Like I said, it’s my karma for trouble. If you call just ask them, why am I being locked up? They won’t tell me nothing. Don’t say nothing bout my celly. Well, you know what? Just don’t say anything bout him getting G5. I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. I don’t think I’m in any trouble. Then again I’m looking at where I’m at. In lockdown. I think this time they’re trying to make sure I’m safe. I hope that’s what it is. Cause I ain’t did nothing. But if they try anything I’ll be going back to ad seg. I’d rather be by myself. Then I don’t have to worry about no inmates. Who am I kidding? Trouble is everywhere.

I don’t know why I’m worried. I’m fixing to get up and dance and sing! For awhile, and then chant. That’s what’s wrong with me. I worry too much. But you know what? I don’t forget anything! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Cause I would like to see just how good at dancing you are! ( drew a smiley face) I don’t know you just might win. Naw, I’m just playing. We’ll see one day.

Love Always, Son

(Sonni’s note: For those of you who are tuning in for the first time, I’m not his real mom, but I guess you could tell that by the pictures. If you’d like to continue reading and find out who Jamie is, which I hope you do, go to; My Name is Jamie, and then to Jamie’s Prison, and The Meaning of It All. This are pages at the top. It will give you his story. Then start at the beginning of the posts, the oldest ones, as there is a story that unfolds through the years. Follow me as I continue to write and reshare on your social media. I am sorting through older letters until I reach all the way back to 2006. I have a lot of letters to go through! They are sometimes funny, but mostly sad because he missed the birth of his only child, now 8 1/2. He’s never touched him or talked to him on the phone, but hopefully he will be able to do that real soon!

It’s All About The Free Labor in Texas Prisons

June 1, 2015

Hi mom, I’m doing better today. I got my World Tribune. ( Nichiren Buddhist weekly newspaper) for May 15th. I read the whole paper. There was a lot of good messages and words of encouragement inside.

SGI World Tribune ,Nichiren Buddhist
Nichiren Buddhist weekly newspaper. This is what has helped him stay sane and have hope.

You asked in your letter what I will do to stay busy. Well for starters I’m going to work hard on my temper. I have a lot to think about. I was thinking about what you asked me. You know, about talking to kids when I get out. I would love to do that. I could get on YouTube or Facebook and make videos using a web can and explain to the world what the prison system is like. Because if the families only knew how their family and other people were being treated inside they would understand why so many never make it home. If they make it home they are often in pretty bad shape if they have been abused. How is someone supposed to have a better life if they are scared to be around people?

Families should open their eyes and understand the pain, suffering and all the shit we have to put up with. All because these people have control of our lives more than they should. They have the power to abuse and humiliate us, starve and beat us, which is not part of our sentence. We should not have to live like this. There have been people in here for many years who have never had a case brought against them, but yet when they come up for parole they are still denied their freedom. Why? That’s a damn good question.

free labor at tdcj
photo credit:
tci.tdcj.state.tx.us Inmates can make no money in Texas prisons

But we all know it’s about free labor Texas gets from us. Texas don’t pay anyone no matter what job they do. Why would they want to lose that? They rest of us who can’t work they get paid just for us being here. The Texas prison system says they pay us with good time. However, anyone who comes into the system with aggravated time like me, don’t receive good time. Ain’t that something? For those that do receive it, it can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

Every officer is required to write up a certain amount of cases on inmates. the prison might say that isn’t true, but it is. If they don’t they will be written up by their supervisor. So they have to make stuff up to blame us for. The system is set up so that us inmates can’t win. And this is why so many men of color lose their lives or never make it home. We do have a way to write up officers. We can write a grievance. But get this. There is step one and a step two. There is no doubt that what we write up on step one will be looked over and denied. Every single time. For some odd reason it takes these people 40 days just to deny step one. The warden is the one who does this, of course. Step two goes to the main office in Huntsville. You’d think these people would look into this given that it is part two of a grievance and it has been filed for a reason. Yeah, right. Step two takes 45 days to be investigated. If you add the days together it is almost three months. 85 days which is the same amount of time you get for having a  case written up against you. So they will tell us to write up an appeal against the wrong punishment we were given, taking away our commissary, recreation or our property. No matter what, we will be on punishment that equals the same amount of days it takes to appeal it.

So why appeal it or write it up at all? Because even if we win the appeal we will still would have done the punishment already anyway. All they do is erase the case from our file, maybe. Anyway, I promise you that not too many people win their appeal. One last thing before I end. This is crazy. There is a black lady here who is a captain, and when I say she is dirty that is what  I mean. She’s crazy. She was born in the system. Yes, her mama was locked up when she had her. She told us this. She also has a brother locked up. You’d think she would understand. She said she didn’t give a damn. I wanted to give you something deep about this place. Ill write more later. I’m tired. I’ve been up all day. Also, on top of everything we’re on lockdown again, so I won’t be getting much food to eat.

Till next time, love, your son Jamie

(Sonni’s note: My advice to him is: go through the process any way. If there is a possibility that the case would be taken off his file when he comes up for parole, it might help. I realize that he said that most of the appeals aren’t won, but if you filed enough of them, and they were against the same person you would have your own paper trail that might be useful when it comes time for parole. Food for thought.)

(added later note:  The officer he gave the grievance form to, to file, must have just thrown them away.  He never got the denial so he could file the appeal.  I called the warden and there were no grievances on file from him – but he’ll check on it, he says.  “I can’t have my officers doing that sort of thing.”  He was supposed to get back with me about it, but of course he didn’t.)

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

Life is Not Always a Matter of Holding Good Cards

life is not a matter of holding good cards

November 3, 2011

Hello mom,

I’m sorry about just now writing back. Things have been crazy these past few weeks.  We’re on lockdown right now.  They’ve been looking for weapons, drugs and phones.  A lot of inmates have been tested for drugs and coming up dirty.  It’s crazy mom,  because so many different drugs come through this unit.  It’s the officers that’s bringing it in, but if someone tells on the officer they get punished.

Okay now, I got moved from E pod 76 cell to 49.  Now get this – 49 cell is in the corner. On top of that the dude next to me has seizures, too.  I don’t know if it’s from epilepsy like me.  Just yesterday, on the second I had a seizure.  It was in the morning when it happened.  Later that night, after I went to sleep I woke up to get a drink.  I called to him to check on him because there’s a hole in our wall we can talk through.  He never answered so I thought he must be asleep.  However, right when I went to lay back down I heard him fall and hit his head. I called for the officer and asked others to help.  We started kicking the doors asking for help.  When they came, his mouth was all busted up.  Blood was everywhere.  Like I said, it’s crazy right now.  Get this, mom – he called me through the hole.  He says to me, “look”.  When I looked I saw he done cut himself with a razor.  I got help again by kicking the door.  I don’t think he’s all there in the head.  I’ve only been in this cell one day and it’s stressful.  I can be asleep and then I’d get up to check on him,  or if I’m asleep he starts hitting the wall and I would get up just to make sure he’s okay or if I need to get him help again.

I’m really thankful that you tried to help me get a visit with you son.  I think I was just so looking forward to it.  But hey, it’s not the first time I didn’t get a visit I thought was coming so don’t worry about it okay.  It would have been nice to see him, but I understand why he couldn’t come.  At least he got some time to spend with Megan and the kids.  I’m really glad that Jamie got some time to spend with his uncle. It’s hard when work takes you out on the road so much and you can’t be home with your wife and kids.  I understand that a lot.  But he has to do what he has to do to take care of his family.

Sorry about what happened at home.  Wow, that was some cuss words you used!  That was very shocking.  Lets just say I never thought you would use words like that.  But then again when I sometimes imagine the way you said them, I laughed.  I remember the letter  when you wrote about someone putting something in the kool-aid because they were acting crazy.  lol.  Sorry, it was just funny.

Snow, I would love to see it!  Eight inches!  I’ve never seen snow before.  I’ve seen a little ice here and there.  I’d love to stay somewhere it snows.  I just know it’s a beautiful sight.

How is Megan doing?  I still haven’t heard anything from her.  I’m worried about her as well.  Please try once more to get her to write.  If she doesn’t I feel as she wants me to leave her alone.

I love the books, mom.  Thanks.  Here’s a few things from the book we both have:  (1)When the going gets tough – Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but of sometimes playing a poor hand well. (2) A way of action – Real understanding comes from doing.  Only action has the power to turn knowledge into wisdom. (3) We have seen the enemy and it is (with in) us. (4) Life has cycles.  whatever goes up comes down, and what falls can rise gain. (4) Riding the natural cycles – Some of us interpret rough times as divine justice – a punishment from God.  I’d like to say that it isn’t God that punishes us.  We get opportunities to balance our life and to learn.

I want you to know  how much I appreciate you being there.  I wouldn’t know anything about my son without you telling me.  Please ask Megan again to write.

I love you, Son

PS Tell Megan I understand if she’s too tired to write and if she needs more time.

(Sonni’s note:  It’s hard to wait and wait for people to write.  He gives them excuses because it’s hard to think they don’t want to write – that he doesn’t matter anymore.  It would take so little time to buy a card, write a few lines, slap a stamp on it and mail it.  Nothing has changed since then and it’s been another three years.  There are people in my life who don’t understand why I do this for him –  write this blog and now the book. It all began because no one was writing to him and I knew how much my letters meant to him.  It’s discouraging to write letters to your family and not hardly get anything in return.  Do they even wonder how he buys the stamps.  It grew into a relationship of each of us holding the other up when we needed it. 

I know when he gets out it will be like throwing him to the wolves.  How can he know how to do even the simple things in life if he’s never done it before? How does he live a successful.  There is much we take for granted. I want him to have the chance to find out what he can do.  Go to school. Support himself and help raise his son.   In that aspect, I am his mother.  That is what a mother does.  He doesn’t want much.  Who will be there for him?  His family? So I keep writing to him and writing the book “Inside the Forgotten Outside”.  I constantly strive to learn the things I need to do for this venture to be successful. It is mind boggling.  But like I tell Jamie,  it all starts with having a dream.  Then you work at it every day and visualize it being completed.  Don’t let doubt get in the way.  Believe in yourself.  Your mind is powerful.  It will find a way to make it happen.  You either think you can or you think you can’t, and either way you go is right, because that is the way it will happen.  Taking a positive direction will have a positive effect. 

I have several sayings I repeat often. Here is one of them.  “The only legacy we can leave behind at the end of our life is the affect we had on other people.”  Then they affect other people.  That is how we live on.  I live my life with that in mind.  If what I do helps this man, then he will be a better father to my grandson and teach him the things he needs to knowIf I were to do nothing, what do you think the end result of that would be?  That end result scares me.

Roller Coaster Ride With Prison Guards at The Controls

rollar coaster

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

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

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

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

“A Person Can Have More Than One Mom,” His Mother Tells Me.

(Sonni’s note: before you get to the end of this letter you will see evidence of what I have been saying about the lack of decent medical care. Simple procedures for people in pain. They will not do anything they can get away with not doing – and that is medical among other things. It screws up their profit margin)

Nov, 29, 2010
Hello Mom, Good Evening,

So how are you doing? Fine I hope. As for me, well, I’m a lot better now that I’m out of lockdown. As for the trouble part. I’m in a cell by myself. I could be here for two or three months before I get moved. So I’m not worried about the trouble part right now, mom. Only when the time comes for me to move. However, I’m sure I’ll know how to handle the situation when it comes, mom.

As for the phone privileges, yes ma’am, it’s the one thing I pray we could get around to.It would mean a lot to me to be able to speak to you, Megan and the kids. They will only do land lines. Cell phones they won’t let us call ( Sonni:s note: That rule was changed recently and they do allow cell phones, perhaps because many people no longer have land lines. ) Well, it’s been over two years not this has been going on. The system is crazy. Officers bring in all kinds of stuff. Yes, even cell phones. Anyway, two years ago one of the inmates called the governor. They sent him and his family threats. It may seem like it has nothing to do with outgoing calls, However the lady said they can’t keep up with all the cell calls. I think it’s because not all of them are contract lines. They can’t keep up with the prepaid phones. So I’m sure they’re not going to let it happen. The only way for me to call to Pa is to put your mother on my list. I don’t want to put you through that trouble. Oh, you’re on my visitors list. Actually, you’ve been on it over a year now. I was hoping you was going to come to the prison and visit one day when you come to visit Megan and the kids. ( Sonni: note: it was exactly three more years before I was able to make that visit. I am hoping to go back this coming Sept, two years after that visit. )

Yes, it would be nice to get transferred closer to home. The weather, it gets chilly down here. It has snowed a few times as well. This prison has no heat.

it's okay to have more than one mom,Jamie Cummings, prison visits
photo credit: bing.com

Family, well nothing has changed. I wrote my brother and mom the same time I wrote you. Neither one have yet to write back. So much for help. I guess I need to give them more time. If they don’t write this week I know they probably aren’t going to. Sometimes I think they won’t write me because they don’t want me to ask for help. however, I know they will help me if they can. So I’m really trying to find out why they don’t write. Maybe I’ll find out later. Right now I have to concentrate on getting home.

( Sonni’s note: he’s still waiting for that help to come. After nine years, I don’t think it’s going to happen. On the spur of the moment, before I lost my nerve, and because I didn’t want to make it worse for him, two days ago I wrote to his mother. It was a nice text. I didn’t have her address. I talked to her one time recently about Jamie’s early life for the book I’m writing and it was a good conversation. We talked for two hours. So I wrote to her and told her I was having trouble paying the prison medical fee this year, $100, so he can call for a doctor when he needs it, because of his medical problems. medical is not free. Everyone has to pay that $100, and since many people can’t, they don’t don’t ask to see a doctor even when they are really sick because going even one time cost $100. Once it is paid then he can use it for the rest of the year. But if you have no one to pay it for you, you’re up the crick without a paddle. I’m sure he has already told her this, so I don’t know if my asking will do any good. It’s not a lot of money, except that I only have a disability check and I also send a little money for commissary and maybe a couple books. I have covered all the things he has needed by myself. I thought, what can she do? Get angry because I asked her if she would help pay for something for her son? Feel guilty for allowing me to take care of something family should at the very least help pay? This is why he calls me “Mom”. Because I took over the role of being his mother. She knows he calls me mom and said it’s okay. “A person can have more than one mom.” she says. At least I got past that hurdle. I didn’t know how she would take it knowing he called me mom. I guess he wrote to her and told her himself because she already knew. I wasn’t trying to alienate her. I’ve been trying to fill a very big hole. She will always be his mother and will love her no matter what. It’s just hard on me to hear him be so despondent at times because I know how much he wants to hear from her, and waits and waits and waits. Every child, no matter how old he gets, at times, wants his mother. He wants her to say that it’s going to be okay and it helps him get through another day. Severe depression in prison is very common. I haven’t heard anything back from her yet. yet.)

About commissary – yes, there are a lot of people who are like me. Also there are people who trade and sell hygiene products for goods. There are some whose family cares and some that don’t. I want to thank you personally for caring mom (thank you). No, I didn’t have nobody to help me with my attorney. I was talking to some dude about my case. They said I could try to get a time cut. As I was talking to them I remember my brother saying something about ten years. The thing is I was never told nothing about ten years. So I’m going to try and get a time cut. They will help me in the law library. Hopefully it would help. If not there’s nothing wrong with trying.

I feel it’s always been hard. Not just for blacks but for everyone. There’s a lot that makes it hard for everyone. Things like school, family, work and society. It’s the way life is hard. and stressful. Life isn’t easy, you’re right. We all go through struggles. We’ll make it through it. I’ve been riding it out for five years now. I pray that things will change.

About my knee. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. When it swells up it stays swollen for like a month and a half. It goes down and then swells back up. it’s crazy. Sharp pain over my knee cap. It’s both knees but I have more problem with my right. I stretch it all the time. I told the doctor it needs to be drained. SHE SAID,”THEY WON’T DO IT.” ( caps are Sonni’s) Well, I need to get this in the door before they pick up mail.

Love always, Son
P.S. Thank you Mom