Dr. Angela Davis – Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex

Angela Davis
(Sonni’s note: I read this article today. Look at the date. It was written seventeen years ago. Do you think there has been any positive change or has the problem has only got worse? There are so many people who don’t pay attention because they don’t think it affects them. But it does. It affects everyone. It affects the job market, it adds to the greedy nature of many of our leaders in government. It affects our communities and the way we think about those people. The media brainwashes people into thinking that somehow black people has less quality than white people and they deserve to be locked up because they are a danger to society. If you, or anyone you know has that attitude, be sure to send this article to them. Post it on your social media pages and reblog it onto your own blogs. If you go to the pages section near the top of this blog tap on the menu button. You will find a YouTube video of a more recent TED talk of Angela Davis.

Read this entire article. It’s worth it. It says everything I’ve been trying to explain over and over.  We need more people who think this change is important to our society and to our country.

 Dr. angela davis

by Angela Davis

Thu, Sep 10, 1998 12:00 PM EDT

What is the Prison Industrial Complex? Why does it matter?  Angela Y. Davis tells us.

Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.

Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business.

The seeming effortlessness of magic always conceals an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work. When prisons disappear human beings in order to convey the illusion of solving social problems, penal infrastructures must be created to accommodate a rapidly swelling population of caged people. Goods and services must be provided to keep imprisoned populations alive. Sometimes these populations must be kept busy and at other times — particularly in repressive super-maximum prisons and in INS detention centers — they must be deprived of virtually all meaningful activity. Vast numbers of handcuffed and shackled people are moved across state borders as they are transferred from one state or federal prison to another.

All this work, which used to be the primary province of government, is now also performed by private corporations, whose links to government in the field of what is euphemistically called “corrections” resonate dangerously with the military industrial complex. The dividends that accrue from investment in the punishment industry, like those that accrue from investment in weapons production, only amount to social destruction. Taking into account the structural similarities and profitability of business-government linkages in the realms of military production and public punishment, the expanding penal system can now be characterized as a “prison industrial complex.”

The Color of Imprisonment

Almost two million people are currently locked up in the immense network of U.S. prisons and jails. More than 70 percent of the imprisoned population are people of color. It is rarely acknowledged that the fastest growing group of prisoners are black women and that Native American prisoners are the largest group per capita. Approximately five million people — including those on probation and parole — are directly under the surveillance of the criminal justice system.

Three decades ago, the imprisoned population was approximately one-eighth its current size. While women still constitute a relatively small percentage of people behind bars, today the number of incarcerated women in California alone is almost twice what the nationwide women’s prison population was in 1970. According to Elliott Currie, “[t]he prison has become a looming presence in our society to an extent unparalleled in our history — or that of any other industrial democracy. Short of major wars, mass incarceration has been the most thoroughly implemented government social program of our time.”

To deliver up bodies destined for profitable punishment, the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality — such as images of black welfare mothers reproducing criminal children — and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns. Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problems of our time. Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias, and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit. The prison industrial system materially and morally impoverishes its inhabitants and devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiraling numbers of prisoners.

As prisons take up more and more space on the social landscape, other government programs that have previously sought to respond to social needs — such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families — are being squeezed out of existence. The deterioration of public education, including prioritizing discipline and security over learning in public schools located in poor communities, is directly related to the prison “solution.”

Profiting from Prisoners

As prisons proliferate in U.S. society, private capital has become enmeshed in the punishment industry. And precisely because of their profit potential, prisons are becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy. If the notion of punishment as a source of potentially stupendous profits is disturbing by itself, then the strategic dependence on racist structures and ideologies to render mass punishment palatable and profitable is even more troubling.

Prison privatization is the most obvious instance of capital’s current movement toward the prison industry. While government-run prisons are often in gross violation of international human rights standards, private prisons are even less accountable. In March of this year, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest U.S. private prison company, claimed 54,944 beds in 68 facilities under contract or development in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Following the global trend of subjecting more women to public punishment, CCA recently opened a women’s prison outside Melbourne. The company recently identified California as its “new frontier.”

Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (WCC), the second largest U.S. prison company, claimed contracts and awards to manage 46 facilities in North America, U.K., and Australia. It boasts a total of 30,424 beds as well as contracts for prisoner health care services, transportation, and security.

Currently, the stocks of both CCA and WCC are doing extremely well. Between 1996 and 1997, CCA’s revenues increased by 58 percent, from $293 million to $462 million. Its net profit grew from $30.9 million to $53.9 million. WCC raised its revenues from $138 million in 1996 to $210 million in 1997. Unlike public correctional facilities, the vast profits of these private facilities rely on the employment of non-union labor.

The Prison Industrial Complex

But private prison companies are only the most visible component of the increasing corporatization of punishment. Government contracts to build prisons have bolstered the construction industry. The architectural community has identified prison design as a major new niche. Technology developed for the military by companies like Westinghouse is being marketed for use in law enforcement and punishment.

Moreover, corporations that appear to be far removed from the business of punishment are intimately involved in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. Prison construction bonds are one of the many sources of profitable investment for leading financiers such as Merrill Lynch. MCI charges prisoners and their families outrageous prices for the precious telephone calls which are often the only contact prisoners have with the free world.

Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor power can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by U.S.-based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as “Prison Blues,” as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is “made on the inside to be worn on the outside.” Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners.

“For private business,” write Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans (a political prisoner inside the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California) “prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. New leviathan prisons are being built on thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria’s Secret — all at a fraction of the cost of ‘free labor.’”

Devouring the Social Wealth

Although prison labor — which ultimately is compensated at a rate far below the minimum wage — is hugely profitable for the private companies that use it, the penal system as a whole does not produce wealth. It devours the social wealth that could be used to subsidize housing for the homeless, to ameliorate public education for poor and racially marginalized communities, to open free drug rehabilitation programs for people who wish to kick their habits, to create a national health care system, to expand programs to combat HIV, to eradicate domestic abuse — and, in the process, to create well-paying jobs for the unemployed.

Since 1984 more than twenty new prisons have opened in California, while only one new campus was added to the California State University system and none to the University of California system. In 1996-97, higher education received only 8.7 percent of the State’s General Fund while corrections received 9.6 percent. Now that affirmative action has been declared illegal in California, it is obvious that education is increasingly reserved for certain people, while prisons are reserved for others. Five times as many black men are presently in prison as in four-year colleges and universities. This new segregation has dangerous implications for the entire country.By segregating people labeled as criminals, prison simultaneously fortifies and conceals the structural racism of the U.S. economy. Claims of low unemployment rates — even in black communities — make sense only if one assumes that the vast numbers of people in prison have really disappeared and thus have no legitimate claims to jobs. The numbers of black and Latino men currently incarcerated amount to two percent of the male labor force. According to criminologist David Downes, “[t]reating incarceration as a type of hidden unemployment may raise the jobless rate for men by about one-third, to 8 percent. The effect on the black labor force is greater still, raising the [black] male unemployment rate from 11 percent to 19 percent.”

Hidden Agenda

Mass incarceration is not a solution to unemployment, nor is it a solution to the vast array of social problems that are hidden away in a rapidly growing network of prisons and jails. However, the great majority of people have been tricked into believing in the efficacy of imprisonment, even though the historical record clearly demonstrates that prisons do not work. Racism has undermined our ability to create a popular critical discourse to contest the ideological trickery that posits imprisonment as key to public safety. The focus of state policy is rapidly shifting from social welfare to social control.

Black, Latino, Native American, and many Asian youth are portrayed as the purveyors of violence, traffickers of drugs, and as envious of commodities that they have no right to possess. Young black and Latina women are represented as sexually promiscuous and as indiscriminately propagating babies and poverty. Criminality and deviance are racialized. Surveillance is thus focused on communities of color, immigrants, the unemployed, the undereducated, the homeless, and in general on those who have a diminishing claim to social resources. Their claim to social resources continues to diminish in large part because law enforcement and penal measures increasingly devour these resources. The prison industrial complex has thus created a vicious cycle of punishment which only further impoverishes those whose impoverishment is supposedly “solved” by imprisonment.

Therefore, as the emphasis of government policy shifts from social welfare to crime control, racism sinks more deeply into the economic and ideological structures of U.S. society. Meanwhile, conservative crusaders against affirmative action and bilingual education proclaim the end of racism, while their opponents suggest that racism’s remnants can be dispelled through dialogue and conversation. But conversations about “race relations” will hardly dismantle a prison industrial complex that thrives on and nourishes the racism hidden within the deep structures of our society.

The emergence of a U.S. prison industrial complex within a context of cascading conservatism marks a new historical moment, whose dangers are unprecedented. But so are its opportunities. Considering the impressive number of grassroots projects that continue to resist the expansion of the punishment industry, it ought to be possible to bring these efforts together to create radical and nationally visible movements that can legitimize anti-capitalist critiques of the prison industrial complex. It ought to be possible to build movements in defense of prisoners’ human rights and movements that persuasively argue that what we need is not new prisons, but new health care, housing, education, drug programs, jobs, and education. To safeguard a democratic future, it is possible and necessary to weave together the many and increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.

Angela Davis is a former political prisoner, long-time activist, educator, and author who has devoted her life to struggles for social justice.

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

Earlier written post: Upfront and Personal About the the Prison Industrial Complex

In The Beginning I thought He was Safe in The Hole – Part One

world map of inmates

We have more people locked up in America than any other country in the world,  The US is in purple which means we lock up over 600 people per one hundred thousand people. This map is a few years old. It is actually closer to 700 now. That might no even seem like a lot.  We have states were there a lower percentage, and then there are states that have towns where half the residents are either locked up now or they have been locked up. There is a reason for that.  Many people are now only beginning to see what is going on.  It’s now no longer hidden away.  More and more it’s making it’s way into our headlines.  Do we have more criminals?  Do Americans  have a greater tendency for crime?  No.  It’s just business, that’s all.  Just like the south had plantations and needed slavery to continue because without it the plantation owners would have a money problem.  Who cares if people were tortured, women and girls were raped, men were whipped and families were turn apart?  It’s just the cost of doing business.   They weren’t white so what was the big deal?

Most people really don’t understand the business of prisons.  Aren’t they for locking up bad people?  Well . . . yes.  Some of them.  People don’t thank that for many of the human beings living inside it is a living hell. The sentence they receive in the courtroom is only part of sentence they get. That sentence starts when they get inside and deal with their captors. Those people have the license to be as cruel as they want to be, and their bosses will just turn a blind eye, even if a person dies from the abuse. Prison conditions are not safe for inmates. There is no justice in prison.

I used to think if Jamie was locked up away from other inmates at least he would be safe. I know being out in the general population, or gen pop as it’s known, can be dangerous. There is wide variety of people locked up and many of them are people with nothing to lose. You can’t turn your back on anyone, or trust anyone at any time. It worried me when he said he was making it up the levels from G5, which is also called Adseg or administrative segregation. I suppose it is a nicer sounding word than calling it solitary confinement, or the hole. When you are locked up there you have no human contact with anyone unless it’s a guard grabbing hold of you either to cuff you or hurt you.

In adseg the guards are supposed to take you to shower three times a week, but that doesn’t mean they will. If you are in a prison in the south, like Texas, there is no air conditioning. It’s like living in an oven. If you have someone who puts money on your books, and if you allowed to go to the commissary once a month, you can buy deodorant. If not, you stink. Being able to take a shower is the only way to get a little relief from the relentless heat and humidity. Taking away your shower is one way they punish you. Taking away food is another. They may substitute it with something called food loaf your dog wouldn’t eat. Or they will take away being able to go to the commissary. Sometimes they even take away all of your property – everything, even your mattress.

Your food comes in through the food slot. Jamie has seen his food spit on before it was given to him, with a smirk on the guard’s face. You are supposed to be allowed outside your cell one hour a day to walk, while shackled, to another slightly larger cage. This is supposed to be your one hour allotment of being “outside”. In this tiny cage is where you are supposed to exercise, if you choose. You are in that cage alone. Sometimes that cage is indoors and you don’t even get to see the sky or breathe fresh air for months at a time. Even the strongest person can easily lose their mind. It has been proven that any more than fifteen days in these conditions like this can begin to alter the mind in negative, often irreversible ways that make it even harder for inmates to reintegrate back into society when they are finally let out.

mentally ill inmates
photo credit:
photos.pds.org

Inmates lose the ability to tell if it is night or day. Lights are left on twenty four hours a day. There is no way of keeping time. Meals are often the same so you don’t know if you are being given breakfast or lunch. Paranoia easily sets in and conversations with people not really there are often the only ones to talk to. Many in solitary confinement will harm themselves physically, either to see if they are still alive or to kill themselves. If they don’t have something that will cut through the skin they might bite themselves to open a vein. If their mind is gone they might smear feces on themselves and on the walls and floor. Living every day in solitude with no one but yourself and your imagination can be pretty rough. Sometimes your imagination is not your friend, but instead preys on your fears, your loneliness and tears down your will to live along with your self esteem.

The effects of living in solitary are worse than most people can imagine. The isolation and deprivation are more than most people can handle. Often the people in solitary are those who are already insane. The mental hospitals were closed down. Law enforcement doesn’t know what to do with these vagrants they find. They can’t keep them at the jail. They can’t keep them in the hospitals. The only thing to do is lock them up. They won’t get the treatment they need and looking them up in isolation only makes them sicker. They can’t let them out in to the general population at this point because they would likely end up hurting someone. So the general thought was to put them in isolation because it is safer for them there. Doing that finishes off what is left of their sanity. There is no thought put into a prisoners mental health. It doesn’t matter. They don’t care.

What does it do to a guard’s mind after witnessing this day after day? Guards also have to work in these units without benefit of AC, wearing heavy uniforms and often protective gear for when they have to move an inmate from one location to another. They don’t care if an inmate are sick. Taking them to medical means more paperwork to fill out. It’s doubtful medical will do anything about it, anyway. So what if the inmate has a seizure from epilepsy? Medical care in prison is only given when they have no choice, and even then it’s substandard. They’ll just let the next guard on duty to take him to medical. Is that how people are cared for when they have a seizure? Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? What happened to the guards ability to care about them because they are human beings? How can they clock out after their shift and go on and have a normal day? Guards don’t care if you get your shower, or if you have edible food or water. Mess with them and just shut your water off for days. If you die because of it there aren’t any repercussions, except maybe they’ll give you a job in another prison. If it’s bad enough you might get fired. But you won’t get convicted and go to prison just because your actions killed a few inmates.

Tempers run high on both sides. The inmates get angry, but they aren’t allowed to get angry. If they do the guards will write up a case on them. No one, not even the warden will do anything about it. They hear complaints all day long about the same thing. Instead of fixing the problems, they just let the officers and the supervisors do what they want. After all, they are just inmates. This needs to change. There is much about our prison system that needs to change, from locking up kids, straight through to solitary confinement. It’s big business and a lot of money is at stake in keeping the status quo.
Many guards, like our police, who have been in the news more often as the people get angrier and angrier at having their family and neighbors locked up. When you ask a child now what he wants to be when he grows up I doubt you will hear the words “I want to be a policeman” anymore. The police used to be a friend of the people who helped them. That changed a long time ago. There is so much corruption in our police force that many of them need to be locked up with the bad guys. I think many begin their jobs with the best of intention to do a good job, but it doesn’t take long to find out that being able to be a good cop is very hard to do. The nature of the job changes people.

Police, and prison guards, like their position of authority. It’s addicting. They take advantage of being able to make people do what they want them to do. Prison guard crimes don’t carry the same weight when it happens inside a prison instead of in society. But does that make them any safer to be around?Many think they are above the law because their superiors look the other way, condone their actions and make excuses for them when people die. They don’t have to live through the consequences of their actions. At least until now. Times may be changing. But as long as your superiors are telling you that inhumane treatment is acceptable, and people have no way to retaliate, it brings out the worst in their nature. Many people, men and women who get this job of authority are put into the position of being able to hurt people indiscriminately. Many people end up dead or at least seriously injured. What a perfect job for a sick mind.

Does that mean all guards or police are like that? Of course not. I believe the guards who work with the general population have a dangerous job. They are around many inmates who would rather see them dead. Guards have to worry about these inmates when they get released. Will any of them hunt down where they live and hurt their families? For all the inmates who shouldn’t be there with sentences that were too harsh, there are just as many very dangerous criminals who have life sentences and have nothing to lose if they hurt the people around them. That is why I was concerned when Jamie made it to G2 level, because you have to have eyes on the back of your head. There are gangs who would think nothing of sticking something sharp in you. Sometimes the guards get hurt, too.

The guards who work in the lower level units are different. That fear of being hurt by an inmate is pretty low, and they seem to enjoy provoking them to the point the inmate can’t take anymore and they lash out. If it is your nature, being able to hurt people you control is much more fun and amusing because there is nothing the inmate can do about it. The guards are always in the right and the inmate is always in the wrong.

Sometimes they are put into “The Hole” for only a small infraction of a rule, or for talking back. Sometimes they are put there for their own protection because their life is in danger. Because of the lack of mental hospitals there is no place to put people when they can’t live in society. It doesn’t mean they are criminal. It means they need to be in a hospital, not punished. When they keep them in isolation it furthers their psychosis. If they do harm themselves, they will be taken to medical to be stitched up and then put back in solitary with an increased sentence. It’s inhumane, and the inhumane guards who guard them develop their own psychosis that tells them it is okay to torture and harm the people locked up, and do it with a wink in their eye, knowing they have full power over the inmates, so they better get used to it.

End part one

Why Loved Ones Are Lost In The Prison System – Letter To Maesha

(Sonni’s note: A couple weeks ago I asked for people to write messages of encouragement to Jamie and send them to his email address at mynameisjamie2@gmail.com. He had just had a really hard time with the officers at the prison. They poked and prodded and lied to him until he finally lost his temper, which gave them the excuse to bring him out of his cell. Five guards kicked the crap out of him and rammed his head into a wall and split it open.

The abuse continued for days –  because he fought back. You can’t fight back. He couldn’t win that one. They set him up and he fell right into it. I could tell by his letter he had hit bottom.

How often can you go through that and still stay encouraged you’ll live to get out of there,  and not be so affected by it that you can’t have a normal life? It’s like coming home from a war.  yes, inmates get PTSD. When you have lost all your freedoms and it lasts for years, knowing that you can walk out the door into the sunshine whenever you want to is hard.  That is why caged animals have a hard time leaving their cage.  Fear of the unknown. Some people were kind enough to send really great emails. I’m sending them one at a time and stretching it out. Hearing from people on the outside mean more than you can imagine.

When someone has been locked up for a long time, family and friends usually have less and less to do with you. Inmates lose their identity.  I write to him often and talk about what is going on in my day. We discuss things that are happening. This is often the only communication he gets from the outside for long stretches of time. So every single letter is a big deal. If you want – you can still send an email at any time to the above email address and I’ll make sure he gets it, even if it only a line or two. Thanks.

(First the message Maesha sent to him  and then his reply.)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Dear Jamie,

My Name is Maesha. I’m a Canadian and I live in Toronto, Ontario. I’ve just recently ‘met’  your ‘mom’ Sonni online through blogging. I have to tell you that immediately I felt her deep and loving kindred spirit. It’s easy to see that she loves you a great deal. The effort she is making to bring your story to others is inspiring and noble. I wish you could see it. What she is doing would give you so much hope!
I can’t say I’m enjoying reading about the experience you are having in life, where you are at this very moment. My world was so vastly different than yours, so much so that I have a difficult time understanding sometimes. It does make me sad. It’s difficult to learn what I’m learning about the system. And when Sonni writes a post, I feel your pain.
There’s a part of me that hopes that by taking on some of that sorrow less of it will find its way to you. Sonni is doing that for you. You may not see her directly, but she is your very own tiny piece of heaven.
Jamie, you are still a young man. And when you get out, you will still be young enough with a lot of time to bring to the world all the beautiful human worth you possess. There are sources of strength deep within you. You are a survivor. I suppose we are all survivors in some capacity. We must continuously search for strength and the courage to go on, to become stronger and stronger.
Sending strength and hope, with a side dish of love.
Mae
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Dear Maesha,

I will try to keep this as short as I can. First I would like to thank you for your words of encouragement. Mom sent me your post from the blog. I must say when i first saw your your name I thought you were my cousin. Lol her name is Maesha as well. However, as I read I noticed you said you were from Canada. First person that came to my mind was Drake. One of the best rappers. He’s real gifted. Sorry for getting sidetracked.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my story. I tell it, not just to try to get the world to understand how the system treats us, but to try to get the families to understand why their their loved one’s are lost in the system. I’m in Texas and we who are incarcerated there, there is a good chance, 50/50 that we won’t make parole. Why? Money, as well as slavery. We are worked without pay. If we don’t work it stops us from going home. But even if we work we still don’t have a chance of making parole. We are kept incarcerated and away from our families to support these people’s greed. That’s just half of it Maesha. We are treated badly and provoked by the officers. These people speak of changing our life but the way they act and treat us is crazy.

The system is really made to destroy us, and turn us into someone we are not. They are successful with that with a lot of people, and a few they are not. As long as these people get as much money out of us they can, whether it’s from working us, commissary products we buy, and overcharging  the phone system, and even bringing in drugs and cell phones to sell. They don’t care. These want us to stay criminals, even while they call for us to change. However, they are the ones who bring in the drugs and cellphones. Crazy, huh?

cxonfiscated cell phones in prison
Confiscated cell phones in prison. People visiting can’t bring them in. They are patted down and searched. They can bring nothing in quarters for the vending machine.It has to be the guards.

Well, I’m going to go for now. I hope you get this. Thanks again for reading my story.
Always, your friend, Jamie

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.)

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A Story About Extreme Prison Guard Brutality

May 15,2015

black hands omn cell door, prison guard brutality
sourd credit:
pittsburgurbanmedia.com

First and foremost, Happy Mother’s Day. I received your letters. However, things have gone downhill for me.  I’m G5, but I did that so I can stay close to home. I didn’t want them to move me to west Texas.  I’m stressed out to tell you the truth. It’s all too much. I’m losing it in here. I got a letter from Megan  and she’s talking about our relationship as if we still had one. Believe it or not I still love her and care for her. Why? Because she’s my son’s mother. I love and care for you, too, because you are a very understanding woman. Also, you have been here for me at times when no one else has been. She has been better about writing back to me. One for one letters. I’ve gone a long time sometimes without any word from her about my son so I’m glad.

Now let me give you the scoop on me. I’m still in the same place. I might be moved around to different blocks, but not off the unit. If I do get moved I’ll write and let you know. I wouldn’t say that I’m doing too good because I’ve been through a lot the past week. I’ve been getting cases. I’m fine now but I wanted you to know this. 

I want you to write about what I’m going to tell you.  Put it on the blog.  This is about what the guards do to us they aren’t supposed to be allowed to do.  An officer wasn’t going to let me shower. I asked to speak to the other officer working the block.  I explained to her the situation and she told me I would get my shower.  The whole time I am talking to this officer, I’ve got my arm in the food slot to where she can’t close it.  However, she promised me I would get my shower. 

(Sonni’s note:  remember, this is summer in Texas in a building with no AC. It’s very uncomfortable and very sweaty.  A shower is the only relief they have.)

I asked her again and she said she doesn’t lie. I gave her the slot because she gave me her word.  Of course, she lied.  So at chow time, the ranking  officer  Lt Rodrigues was on the block feeding chow.  I call and call and call but she doesn’t answer me.  Even when chow was over I call her but she blows me off.  So when the female officer brings juice I take over the slot and tell her to call her ranking officer.  When she arrives she doesn’t want to talk or hear me out.  All she wants is the slot.  I know if I give it to her she’ll walk off.  So I try to explain.  She tells me she’s going to get a five man team spray me with gas and so on and so on.  It’s what they do.  They spray and send five dudes with helmets and body armor to run in and jump on us.  But get this, She comes with the team and asks for the slot.  I give it to her cause if I don’t she’s got the right to spray me.  So I give it to her.  She has the officers place me in handcuffs BEHIND MY BACK. They put me out of my cell and up against the wall.  They pack up ALL my stuff and take it.

This is why you haven’t gotten a letter from me. They aren’t supposed to do this.  When I gave her the slot she and her team were supposed to leave.  Instead, she violates policy by taking my stuff. I ask her why she’s taking my stuff and she just winks at me. So now I’m upset.  She tells the two dudes that’s holding me on the wall to put me back in the cell. While doing this I’m being pulled and yanked on. This is the second time.  The first was right when I got off the phone after I talked to my mom when she got home from the hospital. The officers do this so they can slam us on the floor while we’re handcuffed behind our backs.

prison guard brutality
source credit:
a.w.i.p.com

Anyway,The Lt sees them pulling and yanking on me and even though I am the one who is handcuffed she tells me to stop resisting.  Then she tells her officers to put me down. One grabbed me by my arm, one by my neck and my right leg. The other two jumped on me causing me to fall head first into the wall and busting my head open.  I felt the blood pouring down from my head.  My face was covered as well as the floor.  I was on the floor with all the officers on me. 

That was another violation. Nothing was supposed to happen without medical, because of things like this.  But medical wasn’t here.  Another violation.  But they don’t care.  So neither do I and I made sure they all heard the threat I made to each and every one of them – because they were in the wrong! Do you know these muthafuckas tried to put me back in the cell with my head busted open?  I wouldn’t let them put me back in so they called medical. At medical they cleaned the blood off me and sent me to my cell.

A little later my head starts bleeding again. I went back to medical. Now I got to see the doctor. Nothing was hurting at the time but now my head and back has been giving me problems. They left me with nothing in my cell. Nothing. I had to set fires and flood my cell just to get these people to talk to me. I told them I will burn this bitch down with me in it if I have to.

They turned my water off for two days. They couldn’t stop me from setting fires with help from other inmates.  I set fires for two days straight only because they ignored me when I tried to talk to them with respect.  I asked, “Is this what I got to do just to get ya’lls attention?”  “I called ya’ll with respect and you ignored me.”  Guess what?  The Lt came down and talked to me and said she was giving all my stuff back that she took.  Well not all, but most of it.  I told her, “If you want to play games then okay, I’ll make you look bad.” They have too many important people that come here from Huntsville.

I have been hurting though lately. Why does life have to be so difficult? I don’t know what the outcome to this will be. I’m sorry.
With love, Jamie

P.S.BTW They have me on what they call food loaf for 16 days. Look it up. It’s some nasty shit. It’s like molded cat food. It’s what I get for all three meals. They are only allowed to do it for 7 days. I’m on a hunger strike.

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Starvation For The Inmates On Lockdown

prison guard at max security prison
photo source: theonion.com

This is a reblog from February 2014.

Dear mom,

Prison conditions are bad. 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. There is no  justice in prison.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 raisens. 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 that 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 is prison guard brutality at it’s worst. 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 all the things they do to us and laugh about it, thinking they are getting away with it. But we are people. I will do my best to change the parts 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.

A Little Prison Life History . . . Why it Matters

I recently found letters from Jamie going back to early 2009. There are older ones, but I haven’t unpacked them yet from when I moved to Pa almost 5 years ago. Jamie had been inside for 3 1/2 years by now, staring at the inside of a concrete cell, the days slowly ticking by, reading and rereading the same books and letters, waiting every day for a letter to come from someone. Anyone. I was still living in Key West at the time waiting for my liver to totally crap out on me, a ticking time. I still had my retail store catering to tourists coming off the cruise ships. Looking out the store door I could beautiful turquoise water, palm trees and beautiful sunsets. I rode a bicycle for transportation because why drive anywhere for just a few blocks? I loved my life there.

Jamie cummings before prison
Jamie, the day I met him

Thanksgiving, 2006 I met my daughter’s boyfriend, Jamie, while visiting Texas. he was a very nice, shy young man. There was no way of knowing that in just a few months the world would come crashing in for him and my daughter’s since she was pregnant by him at this time, although she didn’t tell me. When Jamie got busted she moved to the Keys and stayed with me until the baby was a year old and then moved back to Texas. One day the thought crossed my mind to write to him and ask him how he was.

I didn’t know anything about prisons or prison life. Like anyone else, my knowledge came from TV and the movies. I didn’t actually know anyone inside. I’ve learned a great deal since then. This put my life into a direction I didn’t know it was going to go in. It was because he had no one else and his family wasn’t answering his letters nor giving him any help in any way. Help didn’t mean that it had to be money, although I’ve helped him enough to get hygiene products, some books, stamps and magazines. The real help was being his friend. Taking the time to let him know that someone cared. The longer the time passed the less and less he heard from anyone and no would send him even a nickle. I became “Mom”. He became “Son” I have never regretted one moment of it. I can honestly say I haven’t gotten much of any encouragement from my own family. he had been written off as a lost cause, or the term, “Once a loser, always a loser” was used. But I don’t buy that. I gotten to know him well enough to know there is a good person in there who with the right encouragement can have a life of value. So I refuse to give up. I want what I write to go wide and go deep. I know there is a way to turn a negative into a positive if that is what you want.

Since 2006 his life has changed little. Mine changed rapidly, because outside prison life doesn’t stop. He hasn’t even been allowed to see daylight for three months. So far he has spent well over 4 years in lockup with only his letters and books to keep his sanity. Many people in solitary lose their sanity . And if you have read any other chapters excerpts at Inside The Forbidden Outside then you have read about the effects of solitary confinement.

If you are in gen pop ( general population) with the rest of the inmates, it’s a very unsafe place to be. There are many who have nothing to lose and they have a law they abide that belongs to them. There are short times he made it up the levels – Ad seg, which is solitary or G5, then G4 then G2. He made it once to G2 for a short tyouime and could make phone calls for the first time, but that didn’t last long. He wanted to study for his GED and maybe learn a trade, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would find a way to knock him down again, and they did. When the prison owns you, they own you. You can trust no one. The guards can often as bad as the criminals only they get away with. They have their own kind of prison politics and I can promise you there is no justice in prison. Their special kind of crime is legal in there and torture is common. No, prison is not a place you want to be in.

What happens when he comes up for parole again in Oct of 2016? What happens when they ask him what he has done to “better” himself? He could say, “Gee whiz? What exactly could I do when you keep me locked in a 5’x 8′ cell, allowing guards to file false cases against me that i can’t fight and I can never win?”

Am I naive to think that I can write a book and somehow it will make a difference? That it will allow him to rise above the rest and they will see he should be let out? They will see he is a real person who only wants to go home and be a dad to a boy that no one will take to take him to visit with him? He is his reason for living. Can I make enough money from the book that it will help him be able to have a life? There is a prejudice against x-felons. it’s a life that society won’t want him to have because he will be someone people will be afraid of. His son is the only good thing he has to look forward to in his life, and that boy is my grandson, one of seven grandchildren. So I keep writing and I keep my determination high that I can do something for him that will make a difference.

Through these years of writing, in almost every single letter, he is waiting, constantly waiting to get the letters answered he wrote to all the people who were supposed to love him. Always waiting. Surely they will write back soon. Maybe they were working too hard or just busy. So after hundreds of letters he and I have written – he’s still waiting – and giving excuses because he wants to believe he matters.

I decided to give a little background history because I know many new readers don’t know his story and may not go back to the beginning. I hope you do take the time to read and I hope you go to the menu at the top and read the pages there as well as the posts. There is also a page of piano music links that has all the music I have written that are scattered on these posts. Music that expresses the emotions I feel when I write his story. I hope you take the time to listen.

Thanks for reading my rant. Sometimes I just have to get it off my chest. Follow the blog and keep up with his story and share it with people you know. The more readers I get, the more possible books I will sell. Help me help him. Thanks.

F**k it. I’m Tired of Starting Over

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

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

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

Written 6/18/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Seg is Solitary confinement – The Prison keeps us here

prison rules,prison politics,solotitary confinement,ad seg,jamie cummings,lockup, no justice in prosion
photo credit: Bing.com/Pinterest

(Sonni’s note:  This is a repost from an early post a year ago with some catchups.  To get it into the right social media channels because i knew so little about it then, if you had read the earlier version and wondered why it is here again.  It is a compilation of things he wrote about in several letters that were written in 2012. It is now 2015. They had found a way to send him back again. Hopefully this will be a shorter time, but still they took away everything he worked for, swallowing his pride and letting them say what they wanted – to be “good” but you can never be good enough. They find a way, and if they don’t they make it up. So you understand, Ad Seg is about as low as you can go. It’s also called G5, administrative segregation and solitary confinement. It’s the hole. It’s a place where you have no privileges. You never touch another human being. You are behind glass if you have a visitor. You learn to love peanut butter because it’s a large portion of your diet. You will be treated as though you are worthless. You will be called names. You will be degraded. People will want to hurt you if you give them the opportunity. You are alone. Really alone with yourself. If you don’t have anyone who cares, or if you don’t like yourself very much, you’re going to have a hard time making it. Depression sets in. Many hear voices and hurt themselves. Some speak so little they lose the ability to talk. They get paranoid. Jamie knew, when they threw him back in there in 2012, all because of the lie from a guard who wanted to prove he could mess with him, that it was going to take at least another couple years before they’d let him out. He was right.

The only good thing about solitary, also called “the hole” is that he was safe from other inmates. But it doesn’t take much to break prison rules. There is no justice in prison. In addition to the guards, you have to be careful, there are violent prisoners who have nothing to lose who are going to try to mess with your life. How do you deal with it when someone comes up and puts themselves in your face and challenges you? It could be someone who wants be granted prison favors. Someone claims that your space belongs to them and they will try to take it from you. If they get away with it and you don’t try to stop them you are going to be in a whole different world of hurt from other inmates.)
————————————————————————————————————————

solitary confinement, jamie cummings,ad seg,prison rules prison politics, lockup,violent prisoners,prison torture
photo credit: Bing.com

Hello mom,

No matter what I do, they always find a way to send me back. It took a couple years to get up to G4 the last time when I could to go to rec and watch TV and go to chow. But being allowed out of here means there’s gonna to be people, even guards who want to mess with me. But being allowed out of my cell is a kind of freedom. I can’t get out of here if I don’t get into a program.

It is so hard sitting in my cell day after day, trying to find ways to make the hours go by. I write letters but mostly I throw them away. It’s how I get my feelings out. But hardly anyone writes back but you. Once in awhile I get a letter from my sister or my cousin but not my mom. When I make it to G2 I can have contact visit. I can hug my son. At G2 I can make a phone call and I’ve never been able to make one. I would be able to take classes and learn things. I can be with people. I don’t think they want me to be able to do that. I will never be able to make parole unless I can show I’ve taken classes. But they won’t let me do that now. They don’t like to give black people parole. The longer they keep me here the more they make off me. They don’t care one bit if I am ever “rehabilitated”. Use ’em up, throw ’em out and pick ’em up again. You’re never free.

The last time I only made it to G4 for a short time. It took years to get that far. I was jumped and the officer even saw it, but I still caught a case for it. She even wrote that she saw the other dude hit me first, but there is a rule that if you swing at all, even if it is defending yourself, you get a case. I tried to avoid him twice but he was right on me and I was next to the fence and had nowhere to go. He was coming from breakfast really early one day and I had a chance to get him back, but I let it go. I wrote an appeal to try and get the case turned over and get my G4 rating back again, but I never heard anything back. So I’m playing the waiting game again. I wanted to cry. I have been going through this for so long it just hurts. Maybe in six months to a year I can get it back. ( Sonni’s note: It took until August 2014 to get out of solitary confinement, Ad Seg, G5)

But it doesn’t matter how hard I try. There is always something waiting to drag me back down again. I know that’s gonna happen. I have to see it and not react. I have to try harder not to let anyone make me do something I know will get me in trouble. I have a temper. Push me enough and I lose control. But I don’t have anything to prove to these people. I don’t have to prove I’m tough. If I don’t fight back next time it doesn’t mean that I’m a pussy. It means I have more to lose than they do. I have to do what is good for me. I have to remember that the next time someone gets in my face.

There is No Such Thing as Justice in Prison

no justice in prison,prison guard lies, lockup,inmate loss of privileges
photo credit: adwart.com

( For the inmates in white jumpsuits, no matter what you do, you can’t win. There is no such thing as justice in prison. The inmate is always wrong and the guards are always right. If someone wants you locked up for their own petty reasons, you can’t stop them. Officers lie for each other, and make things up they say an inmate does, and uses the inmates, often just to get back at someone they don’t like. There is nothing an inmate can do about it. They can tell whatever lie they want, and get you thrown in lockup because you disagreed with them. Arguing with an officer is a rule you’re not allowed to break, even if you’re in the right. The reason doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that you argued, is the rule breaker. You can’t defend yourself in any way. A guard will push and push to try and make an inmate lose his cool. In this case, you’ll see they’ll hold a hearing and it isn’t necessary for you to be there. Someone who wasn’t there will stand in your place and say whatever someone else wants him to say. Since you aren’t allowed in the room you have no idea what’s been said, they just escort you to lockup. If this was the first time this happened maybe there would be room for doubt, but it isn’t, and has cost years of a life.  In between the two hearings he was able to get to a phone call to me before they cut off his ability to make a phone call, to tell me they were going to revoke all of his privileges. The brand new privileges that he finally got for the first time in years. We had two weeks where he was able to call me. Then after the 2nd case was heard and I didn’t hear from him again so I knew knew, for sure, I wasn’t going to hear from him again.  He’ll have to work his way back up to level G2 again. The hard part is that it stopped his application for his GED or for any other kind of classes. How are the inmates supposed to work to better themselves so they have a chance of survival when they get out if they don’t allow them the possibility of take any classes.  It sounds deliberate to me. Don’t you think, after more than 4 years of solitary so far, and the first two times were cases completely fabricated, and now this one, because verbally he defended himself over something he felt in the right to discuss, it is a bit too harsh. They do this to everyone.  Set them up for failure. They don’t want the inmates to make it on the outside. They want that revolving door to have greased wheels. Send them out and kick them back in. Well seasoned inmates who know the ropes. Keep the money coming in for the sake of the corporations that own them.

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Feb 27 2015
Hello Mom, How are you? In the best of health I pray. Right now it’s 12:08 and I’ve been placed in lockup. I’m not sure for how long, but probably not as long as the other times. I’m sorry, mom. I’m not going to keep nothing from you. I tried hard. I did, but I let my anger get the best of me.  I broke a prison rule.  I defended myself against lies from guards. I fought so long to keep my temper in check, but I let it get the best of me and spit fire at the officers, only to get two cases. I can understand you being angry with me cause I’m angry at myself right now, too. I’m not allowed to have nothing, not even visits I don’t think.  My visits were revoked and I don’t know for how long. I got a letter from Melvin yesterday saying he was going to come and visit this weekend. ( Sonni’s note: Melvin is Buddhist friend from Onalaska,Texas who makes the drive to see him every month or two to help keep him encouraged. He’s been visiting for about a year now and has been a good friend and mentor.) Please call him and tell him to call the prison and make sure he can visit before he makes the drive.

I’m writing the captain up. She denied me the right to attend the hearing with the officers I had the problem with. Her and her boyfriend. They tried for three days to contact her at home. She never picked up the phone. So I was going to ask for the case to be dismissed. Instead, the captain told me to leave. She ran the case without me. She denied me the right to question the charging officer about the case as well. If you are in white (jumpsuit) this is what they do.

Right now they have 26 guys locked up because two dudes was fighting. They locked them up and put a riot case on them all. They go to their hearing and all, but get their case dismissed, because an officer tells the captain what happens. However, the Major makes them rewrite the cases all over and makes the officer be a witness on the case and he has no idea what happened. This is how they work at keeping us in here. Don’t get me wrong. I messed up, but how can someone just do people that way? They have inmates writing request forms on other inmates saying their life is in danger. The name they put on the form, they will lock them up for months, even though they didn’t do anything. They also write them up saying people are trying to escape, and of course these people lock them up, too, and place them under investigation. Crazy. huh? This is just a bit of what’s going on. They would let an inmate tell them anything just to lock up another inmate. A lot of these inmates make up lies and tell the major in return for some kind of favor. Yes, these things are going on. This place is almost the3 same as being in the free world. All of the things that goes on out there goes on in here as far as bullshit.

Oh, I got the books you and Melvin sent. I haven’t started reading them but I will tomorrow. I promise I will.

Just remember, I love you, Son

(Sonni’s note:  the following day, as I was reading i came across this article I put at Google+.  I decided to put it here as well because this woman, Keri Blakinger who you can follow on twitter, talks about the same think, from a white woman’s perspective.  Since there are many white people who STILL think there are more black people in prison because they do more crimes, and white people are just better people I decided to add  this article for you to read.