Plea bargains have been instrumental in filling our prisons, often forcing people to take a plea when they have been threatened with monstrous prison sentences. When you can’t afford to pay an attorney – and this is who our injustice system goes after – families end up losing a parent, son, daughter and friends. Worst of all, the person who may have actually committed the crime gets away with it.
We all know of the racial injustice in this country and the drive to incarcerate people of color – especially the men – which then also has the effect of most of them losing the right to vote to change the system, or the ability to raise and educate their children.
Jamie was offered a 45 year plea deal the first time around. When he insisted on going to court they lowered it to 17 years, (so he would feel grateful?) and if he didn’t take it he would end up with a sentence of 50-99 years. What would you do?
He has now almost completed 13 1/2 years. If you have followed along with any of the chapters I have posted of the book I am writing about his life inside – Inside The Forbidden Outside -you know how awful that can be, not only physically, but mentally. I received a letter three days ago about the prison he is housed in currently and I will be writing about what I learned. I promise you, if you had to live through this you would be working just as hard to try to change this system.
(Sonni’s note: This post was originally posted nearly two years ago, in April 2014. It could have been written today. At this time, Jamie has still not seen his son. No one in his family could spare even one day to let them see each other. That in itself will have long range effects, especially for his son who needs to know how much his father loves him. My daughter never had a father, either. When he left – he completely left. She never got one birthday card from him. She was angry at me for years because she believed I made him go away. There was a big hole in her life. She understands now, but she didn’t then. This karma she passed to her son. Doesn’t she remember the pain? Whatever her reasons are, a child wouldn’t understand. He wants his dad, and Jamie desperately wants to see his son. It would make so much difference in being able to make it through these years with less damage. Many people don’t realize what it does to the mind when you are locked up, deprived of all things human. Many inmates who are locked up 23/7 are affected so deeply the ability to function is severely affected. I want him to come out whole.
REMEMBER MY LIFE by Sonni Quick. Copyright 2015
It’s ok. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else. And I will chant for you, too, I promise I will.
I ask myself over and over, why won’t Megan bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Megan, I guess, feels different. Maybe I should try to get moved to another unit. I would probably have to get in trouble, though, to do that. That wouldn’t be good. But if I was moved father away from home then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away” or “I can’t afford the gas”. Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. Maybe Megan just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that but it’s hard not to.
If I knew people cared as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you I would know nothing. Megan has kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why would she want to hurt me like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. There are lots of people with lots on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.
I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. My (biological) mom came to visited me last year. First time in at least 6 years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple units that were far away. Clear across Texas. Too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. I was really glad to see her.
It would be good if I could get Megan to take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along too good right now. The person who misses out the most is Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. It gets me depressed just thinking about.
This is wishful thinking. I don’t think any of this will change.
Through no fault of their own, millions of children have been exposed to and affected by the criminal justice system by witnessing their parent being arrested, by seeing their parent in court, or by visiting their parent in jail or prison. Indeed, many of the thousands of adult men and women who are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated each year leave behind minor children who must grapple with their parent’s absence for days, months, or years. Although such exposure does not always result in negative outcomes for children, the extant research does suggest that parental involvement in the criminal justice system can put children at risk of residential instability, economic strain and financial hardship, mental health problems, poor academic performance, and antisocial and delinquent behavior. Parental involvement in the system can be traumatic for children and can hinder the quality of the relationship they have with their parent … This toolkit and the strategies and experiences described herein are intended for people who are interested in developing family-focused jail programs in their own jurisdictions, such as jail practitioners and community-based organizations working with jail administrators and jail detainees” (p. 1). Sections cover: family-focused jail programs; Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights; considerations for developing a comprehensive family-focused jail program—identify goals, ensure that the process is collaborative, determine what components should be in the program (parenting classes, coached phone calls, contact visits, and others), and implement the program (program structure and sequence, eligibility, and staff training); challenges and lessons learned (have adequate and appropriate space for the various program components, strike a balance between having fun and providing a service, minimize the trauma associated with visiting a parent in jail, account for high population turnover in jails, and secure adequate, sustainable funding); and conclusion.
Go to the link at the top to read the rest of the article.
There is not enough consideration given to the children of inmates and how our broken system effects them. I have recently dedicated other posts to the children. I know, through my grandson, who is only 9 1/2 years old that not having his father and trying to understand this will affect him for the rest of his life.