Jamie’s Backstory For New Readers

Lately I have been getting questions about why Jamie is in prison and what happened. There are so many posts on this site it is hard to find the ones that explain his story. I fyou read the earliest posts by going to the archive you will find more of his early letters as he is trying to figure out how he is going to  make it through 17 years. So I thought I would write a synopsis that tells his story n a nutshell.  Thank you for reading. I have been writing this blog for him for nearly 4 years.

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earlyjamie
Last moments of being free

I met Jamie Cummings in November 2005 when I went to Texas to visit my daughter and her two children. She brought Jamie to meet me. We talked that evening and again the following morning when I took everyone to breakfast. A quiet, shy man who was very polite. The following month he was arrested and that started the incarceration he is completing now. He has been inside so far for 12 1/2  very hard years. Most of it has been spent in adseg, which is another name for solitary confinement. It has been over 5 years since I received a phone call.  I try to see him every year now, but it isn’t always possible because of the expense.

Jamie is the stereotype of a majority of those incarcerated. Black, no father – might be in prison himself. No communication with him. He lived in the lower income section of town in East Texas with a hardworking mother raising four children. No woman can be a mother and a father. I know that from raising my own children who had a deadbeat dad.

Black children and teenagers are harassed by the police just about everywhere in this country. Black children are more often suspended from school and have teachers who treat them differently than white kids.  More black kids than white kids are sent to juvenile detention for the same offenses in schoool. Jamie went through a typical time of many teenagers getting into minor trouble and pushing the limits. He also had to deal with having epilepsy. In 9th grade he spent a year living with an uncle because he was given probation for something – I don’t know what. He went back home to start 10th grade.

That year he and his older brother got into a fight outside his home which their mother broke up and made them go inside. Someone called the police and they ended up on their doorstep. When their mother answered the door she told the police (2) everything was under control and he could see the boys sitting on the couch. He insisted on going into the house. There was no probably cause. The boys had done nothing wrong. There was no crime. When she said again that everything was under control he pushed his way into the house, knocked her down and her wrist broke when she fell. The oldest boy made a move toward the police and got pepper sprayed. Jamie and his sister went to aid their mother. The little brother, a child, picked up a broom and swung it at one of the cops on the arm with the straw end and scratched it. The only thing he know was this cop had hurt his mother and he was going to defend her. Now, there was no longer an issue of illegal entry and causing a broken bone – it was now assaulting an officer of the law. Now the cops had a reason to arrest someone.

Jamie was the only one who went to jail. His older brother was over 18 and no crime was committed to charge him with. The little boy was too young and his sister was pregnant. Jamie was the only one left they could pin anything on, even though he had not done anything. In court the attorney asked Jamie to do his brothers time in juvenile detention. He could take care of himself. It was a 9 month sentence and the attorney promised him he’d be out and could go back to school. Jamie agreed to do it. But after nine months they wouldn’t let him go – for four years. Jamie became a very angry young man. When he was finally released, he was only home for a few hours and when returning home from a cousins house, he was arrested for walking and because he looked suspicious. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Three days later he was taken in front of the judge – who was the attorney who had told him he only had to do 9 months. He had been given a judgeship. He didn’t know Jamie had never been let out.  He dismissed the current charges.

A few months later he met my daughter. She became pregnant. One night he went out with friends to party, normal for a 21 year old man. He didn’t choose his friends wisely. One of them had a gun in his backpack and robbed the club they had gone to.  Jamie ran, but not fast enough.  He said, “Friends don’t leave friends,” although I’m sure he feels differently today. There is much wisdom he didn’t learn being locked up during his teen years.                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn’t matter if you are the one who commits the crime.  If you are there then you are associated with it and will get the same charges. He never saw these friends again.

My daughter went on with her life raising their son. For a variety of reasons she didn’t take their son to see his father except in the beginning. No one else took his son in to see him, either. It’s been years since anyone in his family has gone to see him   except when I fly to Texas. On a rare occasion he’ll get a letter from someone, but no one answers the letters he sends.

This is not uncommon.  Just like someone who is housebound dude to illness or disability, people don’t know what to say, so they say nothing. Although he has no way of getting any money to buy what he needs at the commissary – hygiene products, stamps, underwear or shoes or even paying the yearly medical fee of $100 that Texas demands. Because of his medical issues he needs to be under a dr’s care but the care he gets is a joke. They often withhold his seizure medication.

I can’t begin to explain in a paragraph the treatment he has gotten and the abuse he has taken. Being kept in adseg means she can’t go to school or use the library. He is in cell 23/7 and often 24/7.

I am the only person who has consistently been there for him trying to provide the necessary things he needed along with books. I have paid legal fees to have papers drawn up to get them to stop messing with his medication by getting a medical POA designed for the prisons. Here is where it gets tricky. I have only a disability check of $1009 a month because of a series of difficult medical issues.  I have worked hard in my life and working harder to get my life back.

This is why I am writing a book about Jamie’s life and his growth as a human being. It is why I write the music I do to go with the book, determined to make this successful. He is worth the effort.  Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take care of somethings that could make his life better.  50% of the profit will go to help him build his life – and to help mine as well. Jamie gave me a reason to fight for my life. Now he gives me a reason to write music. I get up every day thinking of what I will do to affect the lives around me in a better way.

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I had T-shirts made hoping that sales would help me provide for him. Thank you to those who have purchased. I need help to help him from people who are able to, who have followed Jamie’s story, or maybe read some of the chapters I’ve posted or listened to the music. I know how much this has encouraged him – and I know how much it has encouraged me to continue on.

In addition to the merchandise there is a donation button where you can donate from $1 and can change the donation to anything with the up and down arrows next to it. I don’t know how I can say thank you enough for any help you can give.

 

 

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Why America Needs a Slavery Museum

 

 

man's hands in handcuffsDoes America need a slavery museum? ( video at the bottom of the page) Do the people still not understand what happened – what is still happening? Apparently not enough – white people – because black people understand it quite well.

For ten years I have devoted my life to understanding racism and everything that the word means. It has stained America almost from its beginning. What gives any man the right to own and abuse human beings. The white children of that time were raised to believe they had that right to offset the guilt of their parents, who needed to believe they had the right to enslave people and they needed their children to believe it, too. Each generation taught the next. Their wealth and/or stature could only be passed on if parents could keep that belief going through the generations. It was, and is still, obscene. It didn’t matter that these fine upstanding white people professed to also be Christian.

Politicians who continue to this day to enslave the black man for their profit and to continue to believe in their superiority, they suppress their ability to get an education, while screaming loudly they are such fine Christians. They would like to use the bible as their rule of law, but only if it can be applied to kj them as superior, turning Christianity into a farce.

Today, in the prisons, using the 13th amendment from the time it was added, to legally enslave black people, it amazes me that our politicians, our Christian Politicians, continue with propaganda to sway people into believing black people need to be enslaved because they are dangerous and stupid and need to be controlled to keep America safe.

We know it’s not true. Anyone who doesn’t is ignorant.

While in prison Jamie has been beaten, medical care denied, locked up in a tiny cell deprived of human friendship, deprived of the warmth of human contact, deprived of an education for the sole purpose of making it difficult for him to survive when he gets out. Because they have denied him getting out of adseg for years he is not able to study for even his GED except for my providing a book. Will that get him a job when he is released in four years at the age of 39? Would he qualify for parole? Slaves were beaten if caught learning how to read and write. Keep a slave uneducated and they will always feel inferior.

Why would the prison and the corporations that control them do this? It is the same mentality of the slave owning plantations – to profit off a race of people they have determined to be inferior. The sick thing – in my own family, half my grandchildren are supposedly superior while the other half are inferior and will be subjected to the same harsh racism we see in the media today. From killings to being deprived service in a store. How can that be when they all come from me?

Do white people NEED to feel superior today, or is it inbred into their genes by now. I don’t understand why any person NEEDS to feel superior. Is it ::) already too late?

We DO NOT benefit from having a president whose ego is out of hand and thinks he is better than anyone at everything he does.  He has brought racism further into the light. He needs to be condemned for further ripping this country apart with our permission, because too many in this country turn a blind eye.

Slavery by incarceration needs to end.

 

 

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Destroying Human Life in Prison For Profit

illegal immigrant inmates, prison inmates

Do You Think Destroying The Lives of Prison Inmates Doesn’t Affect you?

Because I often receive negative comments about inmates – that they deserve every horrible thing the prisons do to them, you need to understand the impact on society. Almost all inmates will be released.

The quality of their lives affects society. So many people swallow the propaganda just like the government wants you to. Many people are less able today to think for themselves.

Some people think if they aren’t doing anything wrong the prison system doesn’t impact their lives. For that reason these people only read sensational headlines telling you inmates are dangerous criminals who need to be punished. Parents are often needlessly locked up for the entire childhoods of their children, making them unable to be a parent and their children with harder lives to bear. How many were un necessary? How many simply because they are black? Or Hispanic? Or anyone not Caucasian?

What good does it do to lock someone up for decades with fabricated evidence? And yes, the criminal “justice” system does that. Do you approve? Do you look the other way?  There are too many racists in this country, including our president. When you look at the fact that there are less Blacks in the US than Whites, there should be more white people in prison. Blacks do not commit more crimes or do more drugs than whites. That has been proven – over and over.

Since blacks and minorities are punished harder, the children in these families are severely affected by poverty and substandard education. Do you think that is fair? Their lives and later their children’s lives are affected while racism continues. Does that matter to you? This information isn’t new. Do you quietly turn your face away because after all they aren’t white? Do you speak up for those with no voice?

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A large percentage of people skim headlines without reading the articles and form opinions from that. Taking the time to read about a issue instead of being told what to believe by a newscaster is happening less and less.

Prisons and the corporations who profit from them do everything they can to keep your support – and your ignorance. Just like the tobacco companies tried so hard to convince you smoking wasn’t harmful, to get more people addicted and their profits rolling in. Propaganda you hear is meant to steer you into a precise mind frame.

People wrongly put in prison or given overly long sentences is done to create profit, not rehabilitation. This is wrong for a country that tries to convince itself it is a Christian nation. It makes me angry when some holier than thou comment is made by our leaders and politicians as they lie and cheat their way into wealth for their own kind not caring who they hurt. This is what I see today. It is shameful.

When I read what some people think about the way inmates are treated and that it should be worse, it makes me realize how little they actually know. What knowledge they have is spoonfed to them in soundbites.

They think they are safe. They wouldn’t commit a crime. Wake up. Many of the so – called criminals didn’t commit one, either. We would be closing down prisons if those people were freed, but the profit-motivated corporations couldn’t have that, could they? Does that bother you at all? Why do we have an average of 700 people per 100,000 when other countries are often in the 140-200. Why are Americans more often locked up? Are Americans more prone to being criminals, or is there too much profit in locking up citizens? Are they really guilty? Or are they money makers.

Even when it is proven an inmate is innocent the prisons and local government do everything they can to prevent them from being released. When a child is given life with no parole how does that help anyone? If they manage to get released after decades, is their life is in tatters becaus they have no life experiences to learn from? Does that make it better for you? Or him? Does that life matter as much as an unborn child? Can anyone answer that?

Many inmates are sick when they are released. They didn’t receive proper care for most medical conditions. They often lose decades of their life because the medical corporations don’t provide adequate healthcare. It hurts their profit. How does that affect you? Any part of our life that is taken over by corporations hurts us.

Chronic conditions worsen and mental care isn’t addressed properly. Inmates often aren’t given meds they were on when they arrive let alone for treatment caused by inhumane treatment. Those who suffer mental illness aren’t diagnosed and often left to die. Most inmates are released to the street with only a 30 day supply of any meds they were given, with no clear way to get more. Those who are released who need medical care can’t get it. If they are on the street they are locked up again. This often increases crime in the neighborhoods. It also increases trips to the ER which drives up medical costs for everyone.

Kids are being funneled into the school to prison pipeline at an alarming rate, in the hopes they will later fill a bed in an adult prison. The government has contracts with the prison corporations guaranteeing the prisons stay full or they have to pay them for empty beds. So increasing “crimes” to lock up people is the only thing that makes sense to the current Attorney General.

Why should the schools waste money on guidance counsellors, who rarely exist anymore except in high dollar neighborhoods, where many of the girls have eating disorders so the have prettier collar bones sticking out. They’d rather employ cops instead, to stand guard at the schools where at- risk kids go.

In many cases there is no more detention or being sent to the office. Children don’t see guidance counselors when they fall behind. Instead, kids get sent to juvenile detention. Education is extremely hard to get and when and if they are leased they have lost the social skills they need and are behind academically.

Most inmates come from foster care. They often end up committing the crimes they learned from boys who are older. Released into society these boys will utilise what the old timers taught them to survive. Could these kids have been saved? Many could have been if people cared have as much as they Do about abortion.

Prisons, and the human beings kept there are everyone’s responsibility. Changing the laws that create this is important.

 

 

There Are Two Sides to Every Story

white guy newsTHE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY

From the time we were born, the way we thought and the views we eventually held were drilled into us by family and friends in our community. We learned our truths by listening to the adults who cared for us. Their views about all aspects of life became our view8 until we were mature enough to form our own ideas.

Some people have a strong need to belong with a need for approval that can be stronger than the desire to think independently. Our personal ideas are pushed aside. Conforming to the people around you, reinforced by the news we read or the media we continually watched until it eventually gets imprinted on our brain as THE truth. The ONLY truth. It becomes safer to agree with those we are bonded to than to independently say, “But I read . . . and it makes sense that . . .”, because no one would have listened or thought our idea to be credible.

Is one truth right and the other wrong? Not necessarily, because many views about life are hypothetical, where realit only lives inside our mind. Our views are what we hope to be true. It gives us comfort. For example, is there such a place as heaven? How do you know one way or the other? You read about it in a book called the Bible, written by man? You have been told it is God’s word? Who says so? Man says it is God’s word. You believe it because you want to believe it, although there is no proof. You can believe it is true but that does not make it true. Other people who do not believe in God defend their right to believe something different. The have the right to their belief. If it goes against what some people think, it brings hostility, name calling, negative criticism and possibly the loss of family. Nothing is accomplished. No one has changed their mind.

Convincing someone to listen when they don’t want to hear your opinion can cause permanent rifts in your relationship. Inability to listen can keep you from developing your personality and stop you from openly exploring new ideas. What you think is only important to you and people who agree with you. It does not make you right nor give you right to impose what you believe on others.

What is right for one person might not be right for another. Problems emerge when parents or leaders of a community or country try to force people to accept only one truth and punish those who don’t adhere to that truth. Taking away someone’s individuality, or the freedom to decide what is right for them causes resentment and sometimes violence.

Raised with this attitude we often don’t learn there are two sides to every story. When we become convinced there is only one truth we don’t even want to learn there could be another possibility, because we think it couldn’t be true, so why hear it? If we begin to question what we believe to be true, we might have to ask questions from the people around us. It’s easier to go with the flow than rock the boat. There is often little respect or tolerance for people who don’t think the way we do, no matter whose “side” you are on.

This holds true for any idea that can be highly charged at the opposite ends of belief. When you think you are right; in fact, you know you are right, it leaves little room in your mind for discussion. You lose friends and alienate family members. How could they not believe everything you told them? How could you possibly sit at the same table and have a meal together if you both don’t believe the same thing?

Religion, politics, racial superiority or any controversial subject; no matter what we believe to be true, if confronted, we dig our heels in to uphold our truths, even at the risk of impacting our lives by losing people we love. But it’s their own fault, right? They could have listened to us and learned, we think, as we tell them how wrong they are.

If the media we watched or read only reinforced one side of the story over and over, not putting forth a balanced view, it becomes the only truth in our mind, whether it is true or not. Nothing else is worth hearing because we assume it is all lies. But if we don’t compare all sides of a story how can we discern the truth? Yet the person giving the other side is mocked and called names. Did they deserved that?

The people who originally left England, who later came by boat from Holland, left because of religious persecution. If you did not believe the truth of the Church of England you would be persecuted and likely killed. People believed out of fear and because they were avowed nothing else – until Martin Luther. People wanted the freedom to believe and practice what they chose to think of as truth, not be told what to believe or be burned at the stake as a heritic.

The Church of England used religion as a means of controlling the masses. It is disheartening to see America also use religion as a means of control, even to the point of some politicians wanting to instill biblical law over constitutional law. Do they actually know what they are proposing? Doubtful, but it sounds good to those who believe they follow God’s law. Imposing that on people who are not Christians is just as bad as what the politicians in England did trying to force everyone to follow the Church of England. It was horrible to hear a Republican Congressman say, during the Christmas season 2017, that he would gladly execute a homosexual.

Mistakes from the past have not been learned. Trying to force Christianity on the people by wanting to teach biblical ideas in schools regardless if the children come from homes who are Christian, is wrong. All other religions are not taught, yet all children are taught Christian ideas that is only right for Christians? Forcing it onto children for their own good? The push for Christianity through the government means it is not a government “For the People”. Only a segment of society is Christian and only a percentage of them do more than just say they believe in God but practice nothing. Most Christians couldn’t name the ten commandments. Religion is used by governments for control

People are taught and now think all Muslims are terrorists and many citizens have been harassed. Christians have terrorized and killed many but no one has implied all Christians are terrorists. When the media tells only one side of the story people think it is the whole truth. They buy the propaganda. People get hurt. Hate crimes increase – even by those who profess to be Christian.

There have always been Democrats and Republicans. People have always disagreed and believed only the party they were registered with. Taking an honest look at the other side instead of instantly believing only9 politicians of their party means they are not being loyal. Their own media presents only their side of the truth, which is usually not the while truth.

People won’t listen to anything except what sings to their own choir. Families are split. Friendships have been lost because emotionally, people are too angry over each other’s ignorance at not understanding the issues. Never in the history of America has there been as much violent disunity as in this Age of Trump.
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People are taught and have been taught for hundreds of years that black people are inferior. “White People” deserve more, based only on skin color. White people are smarter. They deserve a better education, the best jobs and they place higher on the social ladder, as if they are special people.

“Black People” they are taught, are prone to violence, commit more crimes, do more drugs and sell more drugs. All of this has been proven false white people are equally at fault for ask crimes, yet more black people are sentenced when they are innocent. Black people are scorned by many. Why? What are white people so afraid of? Many white people refuse to believe that and think black people are only in prison because they are guilty and only the guilty get sentenced – right? They refuse to believe racism against people of color exists or that black people are unfairly targeted.

Collectively, in families, neighborhoods and churches, people are taught to believe the same thing. Religion and politics are mashed together. Some preachers endorse politicians when they should be impartial What your preacher says is swallowed, hook, line and sinker. Anyone who doesn’t toe the line is ostracized.

Parents pass this way of thinking down to their children and instill it in them. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that white youth growing up today would embrace hurting black people for no other reason than the color of their skin. Young People join the KKK yet probably don’t understand it’s origins. Shame on the parents who teach this to their children. This way of thinking doesn’t make them superior, it makes them ignorant.

What is true is that white people have had the power and money to suppress anyone they wanted to, much the same way the rich feel they have the right to suppress anyone who doesn’t have the amont of money they have. Money is more important than humanity.

This power created an unequal social structure, which created an uneven educational system, which led to a prejudiced hiring market, which led to blacks having less money to purchase homes, and intentionally kept out of desirable housing markets that didn’t want black people living side by side with the so-called superior whites.

Police raided black communities and charged many with crimes they didn’t commit; suppressed evidence and filled the prisons, which made stock holders of prison corporations very rich. Making mone&y off the backs of black people had always been acceptable. Who was going too stop it? Elect more black politicians? It’s happening.?

Warping people’s minds into believing only one side of the truth is the whole truth has affected the pro choice/ no abortions allowed sensibility a well. It will never be solved or agreed upon. Forcing people to adhere to one side has never worked. Each side is absolutely right in their thinking. To sway an entire community means alternative reasons are never discussed. The entire country will never be swayed or made to obey. People will always find ways to have an abortion of needed, even if it kills them.

Politics and religion fights on their own side of the isle when it comes to LGBGT issues like there is only one right answer and everyone else is wrong. The emotion is high, so angry, that people are driven to commit hate crimes.

The truth is out there, but if you already believe you know the truth and believe certain people don’t deserve humanity or consideration, then society will continue on the path it is going – its own destruction. It will become too late to]0 change.

We all need to take a step back and realize we don’t have all the right answers. We need to question WHY we believe as we do? Who taught us what we believe to be right or wrong? Did we ever question it? Did we try to find the other side of the story?

 

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EJI’s New Museum on Slavery to Prison

 

Enslavement to Incarceration

Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative has been a strong figure in today’s fight for equal justice. In a society that proclaims all men are created equal, many white people have made a mockery of it’s meaning.

When all humans are born they are born with equal possibilities that are crushed through every step of life. If their skin isn’t white, there is no equality. All non European white people learn very early in life they are superior to others. Does that mean they ARE superior? No, but it is shoved down their throat with the same absolute sureness as when people thought the world was flat and they were scared they would fall off if they sailed their ships to close to the edge.

Even when it was proven there was no edge to fall from, many people wanted to believe that truth was wrong. They declared, regardless of the truth, the world was going to stay flat no matter what. They wanted their belief to hold true because they has believed it so long.

Far too many people don’t want to give up the believe they are special and privileged, with superior intelligence; more deserving in any way. Some, like Ben Carson, the “See, I have a token black man in my administration’s cabinet,”  man who was willing to speak aloud the words that tried to make a new truth by saying, “Slaves were really immigrants.” as if they voluntary came to America to start a new life volunteering to be slaves. The fact they were chained lying side by side in the belly of ships, kidnapped from their family and land, dying in their own filth didn’t matter.

Lost forever was any respect the white man thought he deserved over and above any other human of any  race and color. In fact it makes the skin of those white people who believe they deserve privilege,  a boring skin of non color because the ugliness of their nature shows in all aspects of the nature of their life.

I can say these things about my fellow man because I am white. I am ashamed of those people of my race. I am thankful not everyone of my race believes with the ignorance of those who do and that gives me hope.

We see many things of color and exclaim, “Oh, how beautiful. The richness, and warmth of the beauty of color can bring tears to our eyes. Like the opening of a flower, color can warm and melt our hearts. From the music and passion of cultures to the tastes of  exotic mixes of foods. The stories of centuries of history. The children, all with slightly different shades of color – and what do we white people want to do with that?

Kill, enslave, mutilate, rape and incarcerate. Hide it away and make ourselves believe that what we did was . . . okay. We had a right. We were superior in every way. We said it enough until we believed it until we could not see we were ultimately responsible for creating the cause that has led to the death and destruction of any race that challenged any people who dared make the white man understand they are NOT the superior race they think they are.

They are poor. They are lazy. They don’t want to work. They want to suck off the the government’s teat so they can produce more babies and rape us of our hard earned money. Feed them for free.  Clothe them with money from free government checks. They don’t want to go to school. They could rise up if    they wanted to even though our shoes are standing on the back of their necks, face down in the street with a gun aimed to kill if they move a muscle.

This white man has no depth of heart and soul. They have only fake happiness that  comes with acquiring “things” that make them look rich. How empty is that life?  There is no unshakeable, absolute happiness that comes with the sureness of knowing from where you come and who you are.

Too many plastic pale faces trying to ignore the pain the white man inflicted. They want to erase that from  and pretend they didn’t beat, enslave and rape stolen people. That will no longer stand. Later generations stand as new generation of white people still try to manipulate their lives and make it look as though the condition of their lives was caused by them.

Keep trying to put the supposed superior race at the to of the list if you can, but the only way respect can be regained is by embracing the truth of what was done. Elevate their history and make amends for pasts mistakes and apologize by treating each person with the respect they deserve simply for being human. Wipe the arrogant look off your face.

The black man is not yours to use as a tool to create wealth. Our country is failing on many levels because of greed that puts the wealth of the few above the lives of many. Our world can no longer support this way of thinking.

This needs to be a museum of PAST history not current daily life.

Dead Men Don’t Bleed – Ten Years Later

Jamie's letters

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Inside The Forbidden Outside. Over the past many months I have been writing this book. What a learning process it has been. Writing a book is not like writing a blog post. I had a lot to learn. My first draft of 90,000 was an accomplishment in itself.  You can do a search on the title and bring up chapters I posted during this time that are not going to be used, although some pieces of it might. I’ve talked to authors and editors and read and read and read to learn the craft of writing. No writing is ever wasted I was told because it takes time to find your “voice”. I also had to find the focus of the book/the story I was writing. My first manuscript was missing the continuity of the story and who was speaking it?  Many people want to write a book.  Some start but aren’t willing to put in the time it takes to learn how to write something of quality. It would be like saying you are going to paint a great picture. You can buy the paints, canvas and brushes but that doesn’t mean you can paint something that looks like what you what it to be. With books, crappy ebooks on Amazon are a dime a dozen and about a dime’s profit is all they will ever make.  But they can say they are a published author for whatever that is worth to their ego.

I’ve been working with a developmental editor to help me with options on finding what it is I want to accomplish with this book or no one except people who love me will read it to the end. I’d really like some feed back on this.  Either in comments or email or facebook messages. This is just the prologue, that has gone through 5 rewrites, begins with now, 11 years into a 17 year prison sentence. After this – Chapter one flips back to the day Jamie Cummings was born.


DEAD MEN DON’T BLEED

ten years later . . .

    

Sleep? On a humid night like this? Ungodly heat sucked every square inch of breathable air out of his 5ft by 9ft cement cell. He sat up. Soaked with sweat, the worn frayed sheet stuck to his skin. He could smell his own stink. Air conditioning doesn’t exist. Texas heat rose to over 110 degrees in the summer, for weeks at a time, sometimes, with no let up. There was AC in the medical unit but only an epileptic seizure got him through those doors.

Hunched over, face cupped in his hands, he took long deep breaths of hot air. Searing pain creeping up the back of his neck created a rhythmic pounding in his head. Pain forced his lips to press together as he tried to stop himself from crying. Every day he listened to men break down from insanity. He wanted to be stronger than them but some days were harder than others. He choked his sobs down his throat until he got his emotions under control.

He stood and paced, fists clenched by his sides. He screamed at the gray walls, “I can’t take this no more,” turned and smashed his right hand fist into the cinder block wall. He watched silently as bright red blood from his torn knuckles dripped down his fingers.

“At least I’m not dead.” Dead men don’t bleed.

He reached over the toilet and turned on the water to rinse the blood from his hand. The water in the ancient pipes sputtered out rusty brown liquid. That was worrisome. What was making the water brown? Rust? Would it eventually kill him? He had no choice. It was all he had to drink.

He wadded up a small piece of wet toilet paper to wipe the bleeding and held his hand under the fan to dry. He had to be careful how much toilet paper he used. He was only given one small roll a week. God forbid he got the runs or even worms from undercooked pork and spoiled food.

Even though it was night it was sweltering. Some nights cooled down some but not this night. His cheap plastic fan only stirred hot air and dust. He wet a towel and covered the fan to blow slightly cooler air through the material. It dried quickly so it didn’t help much when he tried to sleep. Some nights, if the roaches let him alone he spilled water on the floor and lay naked on the cement.

Five minute showers, three times a week, were all he was allowed. It was his only relief, standing under cold water. Closing his eyes he craved the feel of a cool breeze; the soothing sound it made as it ruffled the leaves of a tree. From a childhood memory he could smell the scent of freshly mowed grass. He loved that smell. His imagination breathed it in and filled his lungs. People on the outside couldn’t imagine what things they would miss the most if they were locked up like this. He let his breath in and out slowly, ignoring the smell of rancid bodies sweating in other cells.

It was hard to be here for what seemed to be forever with conversations only taking place in his head. “Can anybody hear me? Is anyone there?” He yelled to the wall so he could hear the sound of his voice. “Shut the fuck up. I’m trying to sleep,” a voice down the hall answered back. Voices with no faces. Oh well, they disturbed his sleep often enough.

Jamie sat at the edge of his bed with only a three inch foam mattress for comfort. When he laid  down he felt his hip bones grind into the cement slab beneath. It didn’t make for easy sleeping. He didn’t want to know how many men had used it before him. When the guards wanted to mess with him they took away his mattress and he had to earn it back. Jamie was tall and the bed was narrow. The thought of stretching out on a king sized comfortable bed was an impossible dream but he thought about it anyway.

It was hard not to sink into depression. Sometimes, so he could think, he crawled inside himself to cope with this ugliness. It was the constant going back and forth from this reality to hope that could drive a man crazy. It was easy to forget what was real and what wasn’t.

It would have been easier for him in here if he had his family. If they had shown they loved him, sometimes, but they didn’t. He was forgotten. Seventeen years was too long for them. He only had one person he could count on who taught him he had value. That was Sonni

She was all he had to make him feel loved. As a child he was pushed down a path meant to destroy the lives of black families. Slavery was illegal, but not in the prisons. They became the modern day slave plantations. Blacks would never be equal in the white man’s eyes. It was the biggest corporate racket in the US. The school to prison pipeline is real. Most kids and adults locked up were black, but most of the people in America are white.

Jamie sat in front of his fan, the stench of unwashed bodies in every breath he took. Without thinking he reached up and caressed the scar on top of his head. He needed nine staples to close the gap after being beaten by five guards and then sprayed in the face with burning chemicals.

Sounds from down the hall penetrated his thinking and jerked him back to reality. He glanced quickly toward the cell door. It was a food slot banging shut down the hall. It must be at 3 A.M. The guards were bringing breakfast trays. Peace and quiet was almost over. So many men in this unit were crazy from being locked up so long, and some were crazy when they got here. This was now the place to stack the mentally ill. He didn’t have to wonder what breakfast was going to be. A spoon of peanut butter and two biscuits or two small pancakes? No butter. No jelly and they’d be cold. Milk or juice. Not enough for a grown man.

Some people thought inmates had it good in here. “Three hots and a cot” and free medical careand a roof over their heads. They never spent time locked up. All illness is treated with water and Tylenol. If you are really sick with heart disease or diabetes you’ll probably die if you’re here too long. They don’t care. Treating you takes away their profit.

What would he be doing right now if he hadn’t been railroaded into juvy as a kid? Would he have ended up here? What if he had been able to finish school? He wasn’t a bad kid. He was just a black kid in a poor neighborhood where people like him were supposed to live. Would he fail when he got out? He’d be almost forty. What would he do? How would he live? What changed? He heard racism was worse than ever. Cops were ruthless and got away with murder. What if they came after him again? He worried about all these things and there was nothing he could do about it.

He wished he could take classes, but he couldn’t. He wanted his GED but he wasn’t allowed being in adseg, another name for solitary confinement. How far could he get with no education? He wanted to learn things. He knew he wasn’t stupid. But getting an education means he could rise up and be somebody and that was not on their agenda. It was important blacks be kept down We could one day get good enough to knock the white man off his privileged post. We weren’t supposed to be as good as they were. Slavery didn’t end, it just moved indoors.

Oh well, today’s another day. A long, hot, sweaty day. Maybe the guards would take him for a shower. That would feel good. Maybe he’ll write a letter or read for awhile and take his mind off things. He took a look at his smashed knuckles. They were gonna be sore for awhile – a reminder not to hit the wall. His body does still bleed.

     To tell his story so it makes sense, he needed to go back to the beginning, to January 10, 1983 . . .


 

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