Keeping Time

Listen to Keeping Time by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

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KEEPING TIME

Jamie sighed and blew a long, slow breath through his lips, sounding almost like a low whistle. January of the new year had begun without even the breath of a whisper. He hoped this year would be different, in a positive way, because 2011 didn’t end so good.
     The holidays got him down. If there had been no one in his life before this, no family, and lots of dudes in here didn’t have families, he wouldn’t expect anyone to care. But that was not his reality. His being here was too hard on them so they didn’t deal with it. Realizing no one cared if he was okay, physically or mentally, was hard. He missed his family very much. He didn’t stop loving THEM but he wasn’t sure if he mattered anymore.
     How could he know if they were silent? Did they miss him? It didn’t seem like it, he thought. Most of the time he could shove it into the back of his head, but Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and his birthday all came bang bang bang one after the other.
     Some of the dudes in here had family that constantly showed they weren’t forgotten. Of course, if they were far away it was hard to visit. Cards were passed around so others could see them. They were still connected to people outside. Their families helped them survive and helped them get some of the things they needed.
     The choice of clothing was limited at the commissary but he could get underwear, socks and shoes, long underwear for the winter, sweat pants, a jacket, T-Shirts. These things made a difference during cold winter nights. If he could get them on his own it would be different, but he can’t. Sonni helps as much as she can but she can’t do everything. Besides, right now she has bigger problems and she’s still there for him.
     Did anyone think it might be hard for him to get through holidays or his birthday, even Father’s Day because he might be depressed at not being able to see his son? Jamie never had a father he could tell, “Happy Fathers Day.” He knew by now hoping it would be different wouldn’t change anything, but the thought was still planted at the back of his brain just the same.
     He did receive a Christmas card from his brother. He usually sent one, and he was grateful for that, but he waited every day to see if anyone else would remember. No such luck. He should also forget about getting any cards for his birthday, too, which would come and go in little more than a week. Twenty-nine this year. His youth will not be worth remembering. Maybe he was expecting too much. Going to prison seemed about as far away as going to Mars. Mail couldn’t make it there, either.
     He would have so few good memories to think of when he thought about all these wasted years. He had a son, his only son, and he was special, even if he couldn’t spend time with him now. Someday he would be part of his life. Someday this would be over.
     Last year, and the year before, was the same as this year. He wouldn’t think any further back because he didn’t want to remember everything. Time wasn’t something that created good memories for him. It was a noose around his neck that became more painful with each passing year. His life was like a battered, rusty clock that wasn’t keeping time anymore because the batteries had long since died.
     It would only take a small effort to bring a little happiness into his life. It would be brief, but needed. A little something to look forward to. A simple card would do that for him; a present he could stare at on his shelf, with colorful happy things on the front.
     They were lies, of course, because there was no truth in wishing he would have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, Happy Valentines Day, Happy Easter and more. Happy. Happy. Happy. He forgot what happy felt like. Was he feeling sorry for himself? Probably. He was craving the feeling of still being loved.
     A card was a new decoration for his residence, like hanging a picture on a wall. Whenever he was feeling down he could pick it up and look at it in his hands. It would lift him up when he was depressed. That’s what a card could do for him to help him through.
     The closest thing he had to human touch was holding a card. He imagined the person who sent it had held it, signed it and hopefully wrote something good inside.
     Once, Morgan sprayed perfume on a letter. He woke one morning to this wonderful smell. He didn’t know how or when it had been delivered. It didn’t come at mail call, so who had it? He laid in bed with his eyes closed and breathed this intoxicating smell deep into his lungs. He thought it might be a dream so he didn’t want to open he eyes and break the spell – until some dude down the hall yelled out asking what smelled so good.
     Jamie jumped out of bed and searched his cell. He found a letter under a t-shirt he had thrown on the floor the night before. It was near the door. Someone had shoved it through the opening under the door and it slipped out of sight under his shirt. How come this person had his mail?
     Someone had enjoyed his card before he did. That was disturbing. Was it a guard? Did he smell the card and removed it until he was done with it? Had it been opened? Jamie searched the back of the envelope to see if it looked like someone had opened it and resealed it again. He couldn’t tell, and probably would never know.
     Jamie sat on the edge of the bed, holding the card up to his face, breathing it in for the longest time. It smelled like Morgan. She wore this scent all the time. What intense memories it brought to the surface.
     He smelled the card often through the next days. It took a long time to breath in all the perfume. A little kindness and thoughtfulness went a long way when you’re locked up. It was an unexpected thoughtfulness that brought him a lot of pleasure.
     The guards didn’t usually allow stuff like this to be delivered. He guessed he could add this to the small list of good things that happened over the years.

Jamie read his mail over and over, saving every one from the very beginning. They were his connection to the outside and were moved from cell to cell, prison to prison. At times they were taken from him as punishment but he got them back eventually. Taking away a man’s letters was one way to keep him in line. He felt their absence when he couldn’t open one and read.
     Letters and cards were his only connection to people and he felt lost when that connection wasn’t there. They didn’t understand. They were the most precious property a man owns when he is locked up. 
     If they did understand, maybe they’d try harder to be there for him once in awhile. In the rare times he did get a letter no one asked how he was. It was sent to tell him someone had recently died. He hated those letters because he was left to grieve on his own. He didn’t handle death very well. Never could.
     Hoping for a visit was pointless, too. He wouldn’t let his mind go there. He listened to names being called out when someone had a visitor, but it was never his name.
Why did everybody who said they loved him end all contact with him? The thought went around and around in his head. It made no sense.

<<< >>>

Jamiee stood near the cell door, leaning on the wall. His head was down and his eyes were closed. There was no reason to move. There was no reason to do anything. He stood slumped over like that for a long while. It was a wonder he didn’t fall down.
     “I’m here Jamie, I’m here,” a soft voice whispered from behind.” She didn’t want to scare him.
     Startled, he raised his head and whirled around. He didn’t know what to expect.
     “I’m so sorry,” he said, speaking softly. The words spilled out of his mouth. She was wearing a robe over a hospital gown. She looked tired.
     “I was being selfish, calling on you to come,” he said.
     “I needed to know you were okay. I hadn’t heard from you in awhile and there was nothing I could do about any of it.” He collapsed down, sat the floor and put his head in his hands.
     “My head is in a bad place,” he said as he rubbed his temples. “I don’t feel so good.”
     He quickly added, “I didn’t mean to drag you out of bed.”
     “I think I’m going nuts in here. I don’t know how to deal with this,” he said desperately, looking her in the eye. Sonni could see the glisten of tears. She wished she could put her arms around him, but she couldn’t. That was a barrier they couldn’t cross if they wanted to.
     

~END PARTIALCHAPTER~

 

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Who’s Taking Care of My Broken Heart?

Listen to Who’s Taking Care of My Broken Heart by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud

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This is the most recent music recorded for Jamie’s book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.

This chapter is in the middle of the book at time when he is trying to really understand that he needed to give up hope that he had no family to go home to when he got out. He had tried to imagine for so long there was someone waiting for him and his family would be there but the kids would be grown and would his son accept him? Would he want to know him? He could talk to him. Even though he knew this already a part of him didn’t want to give up. The grief he experiences when he thinks of everything he lost he can never get back it is overwhelming.

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Can Anybody Hear Me? ITFO Book Chapter

Anyone who is reading this chapter, I have favor ask you. I’d like feedback from you. I can tell how many times this post has been opened but I can’t tell if it as been read or what you think, except for just the wordpress bloggers who “like” it, but I don’t know why. I need good honest critique. What you like about my writing or about the story and what you don’t like. I spend a lot of time looking at it from every angle, but fresh eyes see things I don’t. When it is time to be read for professional editing, I want it in the best possible shape. If you can PLEASE comment. If you are coming from Facebook, leave a comment there if you want. Chapters are often shared with Facebook – tell me why. If you see it on my newsletter in April you can comment there. If you have read other chapters, tell me. If you think you might buy the book and music when it’s done, I’d love know. Are you a first time reader? Do you want to read more? Would you like to a beta reader and read everything? In your opinion, what can I do better?

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CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?

“Put your shirt back on,” a female guard barked at him. Jamie and other inmates were being led back inside after working in the fields. “You can’t walk around like that.”

     “I need to cool down. I’m on seizure medication,” Jamie tried to tell her so she would understand. She cut him off mid sentence.
     “I don’t give a crap what your excuse is,” she fired back. “Put your goddamn shirt back on,” then turned and started in on another inmate.
     “Yes ma’am,” he replied with all the respect he could muster. No point in pissing off a guard. He couldn’t win that fight. He was learning he had to show respect and not expect any in return.
     Jamie continued down the hall until he reached his cell and went inside hoping his cellmate wasn’t there. He wanted to get some rest. His cell door was unlocked during the day, but in the evening all the doors were locked at the same time after the guards did the count to make sure they weren’t missing anyone. They needed to know everyone was in their cell and no one was someplace they shouldn’t be.
     He knew there were inmates who sold drugs and hid it in places outside their cell so they couldn’t get caught with it. Sometimes it was the guards who smuggled it in for them. You could get any kind of drug you wanted. Hooch was made, too. They could distill just about anything and make it into alcohol. Most of it tasted pretty nasty, but if it got you drunk that was all that mattered.
     He tried it a couple times but it wasn’t for him. If they got caught making it, so what. They were already locked up. They might do some time in solitary, but it was worth the chance if they wanted to get a buzz.
     General population – gen pop – his classification, meant he wasn’t confined to his cell and had more liberties than other classifications. G2,G4, G5, ad seg and solitary got lower and lower with less and less liberties. Some of the dudes couldn’t even leave their cell to go to chow, and had to be cuffed and in leg chains if they went anywhere. That wasn’t fun. They had a food tray shoved through a slot in their door. He never wanted it to get that bad. He needed to be able to at least walk around.
     It could be dangerous outside his cell, but it could be dangerous in his cell, too, if someone had a beef with him and came looking for him. He could never let his guard down. Having eyes in the back of your head could save your life.
     Prison rules about how to show someone respect wasn’t the same in here as it was in the free world. Some of the dudes were lifers and had nothing to lose if they hurt you. He always had to be careful. Someone could be carrying a shank. There were lots of things that could be turned into a knife. Stabbings weren’t uncommon, especially among the gangs.
     He could go hang out in the day room if he wanted, but he was too tired to do that right now. Besides, he was really grungy and needed to clean up. It was hot and stuffy, but it was like that anywhere he went.
His cellmate wasn’t there and Jamie was glad. They pretty much ignored each other. It was easier that way. He didn’t want to get to know him or be friends. He was an asshole with a bad attitude most of the time. He did nothing but complain and Jamie was tired of hearing him blame everything that happened in his life on someone else.
     He stripped off his clothes and wet his towel in the sink. He did his best to wash down his body using a small piece of soap he had left. Not until after the first of the month would he be given the meager supplies the prison was obligated to give him.
     They gave him a small tube of toothpaste each month, and every three months they gave him a new cheap toothbrush with bristles that fell out. It only had a three inch handle so it would be hard to file down into a blade. Much too small for a man’s hand, too.
     He got three little soaps, smaller than the soap you got in a motel room. It was made here in the prison and had lard and lye in it. It could take your skin off if you left it on too long. These the bars had to take care of all his cleaning. His body, the clothing he handwashed or cleaning his cell. It didn’t last long. Right now he needed to clean up as best he could. His skin was sticky with sweat. He felt dirty.
     Jamie would sweat rivers down his chest when he was outside. In this heat and humidity he was always soaked. Working out in the fields was some of the worst heat he ever felt.
     It was back-breaking work even on a cool day. Constantly bending over and pulling up vegetables was hard as hell on his back. He was constantly bending backward and rubbing the muscles in the small of his back. He never got used to it.
      When he bent over and his head hung down, the sweat ran into his eyes, and it stung. He tied a piece of cloth around his forehead but once it was soaked the sweat dripped anyway. It was hot and humid in East Texas, but West Texas was a different kind of hot. It sure felt like the sun had to be closer to the earth. When it beat down on you, and you got fried crispy like piece of chicken.
     Jamie knew what the slaves must’ve gone through long ago when they were forced to work the fields. Prison guards, slave owners, they were probably the same.
   Funny, now that he thought about it. They had overseers that probably walked the fields with whips and dogs just like the guards, except the guards had guns. Slave owners wouldn’t shoot their slaves because they paid a lot of money for them, like cattle. They needed their money’s worth out of them.
     All of them here in this prison were owned, just like slaves were. There was little difference between now and then except the slaves had their women to go to at the end of the day for comfort and he didn’t, not that he’d want Morgan to be here. But he did wish he could see her and little Jamie once in a while.
      “Stop it,” he argued with himself under his breath. “Just stop it.” He tried not to think about her all the time because it made him depressed. He tried to push it out his head.
     Jamie rinsed out his towel and hung it to dry by putting it over the round metal stool bolted to floor near the toilet. He stretched out on the lower bunk with his feet hanging over the end.
      Because of his epilepsy he wasn’t supposed to work in the sun. There were side effects from the medicine that sometimes made him feel bad. When he was overheated it could bring on a seizure. He wanted to be able to go outside so he rarely talked about it. Outside he could pretend he wasn’t here. In his mind he was able to start walking and keep on going. For a short while he was free.
    Jamie had felt like he was about to keel over and needed to cool down. That was why he had taken off his shirt. And he wasn’t naked, neither, no matter what she thought. He still had on his tank which was completely soaked.
      Coming inside wasn’t much relief. There was no air conditioning. If it was 105° outside, it was going to be 95° inside. All he could do was sweat. Playing cards or watching TV made him sweat.
     He wrote to his mom to see if she would send some money so he could buy a fan, but he didn’t hear back. Maybe she’ll send a letter later, sometime next week. It was always next week. He gave her excuses why she didn’t write. He never gave up hope. He didn’t care if she sent any money or not, he just wanted to hear from her. Was she okay? He loved his mama whether she wrote or not. He wished she would write.
    The field he worked in was huge. They grew a lot of different vegetables. Guards rode around on horses holding rifles. It looked like a different time in history. They had attack dogs walking around with them, too, in case one of them tried to run, which would be really stupid. There was no place to run except across the field and no way could anyone outrun those dogs in this heat. They’d probably drop dead of heat stroke.
       Even though it was stifling hot he still liked to go outside. As long as he could see the sky he felt free. He knew Morgan was seeing the same sky he was. Maybe they were both looking up at the same time. That was a new thought. He’d have to ask her to look up at a certain time. It was one thing they could do together.
       He had been here now for close to two years. In a way it seemed the time had gone by fast, and other times it crawled in slow motion. He tried to stick to himself and stay out of trouble. All he had to break up the boredom were Morgan’s letters. He daydreamed a lot. He would picture walking out of the prison and walking up to her with open arms. She was his family, her and the kids. They were all he had. To be honest he felt unloved by his family. He felt they didn’t want anything to do with him and that made him depressed and stressed out.
    Now, maybe it was his imagination but it seemed Morgan wasn’t writing back as much, and was taking longer between letters. He knew she was busy and all, taking care of three kids wasn’t easy, but she used to always find time, even if it was just a few lines.
     Maybe he was reading too much into it. He was afraid of losing her. What if it was over between them and he was by himself. What if he had no one to go home to? Sometimes when he thought about the years ahead he wanted to give up, but he couldn’t. And he had to make it. No matter who leaves him he always had his son. He couldn’t give up on him.
     His head started to pound. It was rocking back and forth between his temples. With one hand on either side if his head, he pressed. Not knowing what was going on really screwed with his head. He curled over and put his head on his knees. The pounding blood only made his head hurt worse. This is why some dudes went batshit crazy when they were locked up.
     Was anybody out there? Did anyone think about him in here all alone with nobody? Did anybody care? If he screamed would anybody hear?
      Today was his son’s birthday. Jamie bit his lower lip to keep himself together. It was heartbreaking to not be there. He never got to hold him. He would never get this time back.
     Jamie managed a smile as he pictured his son in his head. But why hadn’t she written back yet? He was starting to get worried. He sent a birthday card and put a letter for her inside. This was probably the longest he had gone without hearing from her. Maybe she had something she wanted to tell him but didn’t want to say it. Maybe she was seeing someone.
     Even though it scared him to think he would lose her, he understand the reality of how many years he could be gone. He had a meeting with the parole board when he reached five years, but if he didn’t get it they would probably put him off for another five.
     Jamie couldn’t give up on the hope of being released. But if he wasn’t, he knew he would be locked up too long to expect anyone to wait for him. Why would anyone else commit to being alone if they didn’t need to? It was a long time to ask someone to wait. He told Morgan in a letter she could talk to him about anything. If she wanted to move forward with her life he would understand. They could still write to each other and she could tell him about Jamie. But to not at least write? He couldn’t stand that.
     He thought he was the type of man who would want the mother of his son to be happy, not depressed and stressing. He wanted her to leave the stressing to him. But if she did find someone else he wanted her to say goodbye, not just stop writing and make him worry.
     It was easy to let his mind go crazy with all the possibilities that could go wrong with him locked up. It was hard to stop thinking about it.
     He closed his eyes. He was all twisted up inside worrying about not knowing what was going on in the world outside. There was nothing he could do about it. Not even make a phone call to find out. He had no numbers to call. No one registered their phone because it was too expensive, he guessed. He just had to wait.
      He fell asleep. He let go of the worry. His brain stopped spinning and he relaxed.
   “Mail,” the sound bounced inside his head.  “Mail.” Jamie was suddenly wide awake, listening. He didn’t jump up, but he still hoped there was mail for him. His head felt better. The pressure was gone. He could hear the cart being wheeled down the hall and soon come to a stop at his cell door.
     “Cummings,” was called out. “James Cummings, here’s your mail.” The inmate who delivered the mail reached in and handed him a letter. Then he turned to continue walking down the hall.
     “Thanks,” Jamie called out after him and looked down at the letter. He had expected it to be from Morgan, but it wasn’t. It was from her mom. Her mom?
     He sat down on the bed and stared at it for a few seconds. Why did she write? She had never written to him before this. Was it bad news? It had to be bad news. Did Morgan get her mom to write and break up with him? It looked like a card, but it wasn’t a holiday or anything. Finally, he ran out of excuses and starting opening the envelope.
     At that moment, before he had a chance to finish opening it, his cellmate walked in, pissed off and cussing up a storm. Jamie didn’t know why and wasn’t interested in finding out. The sound of his voice was instantly bringing his headache back again. He had to get out of here.
     He got up and headed down to the day room, hoping to find an empty table. He wanted some privacy to read and think. There were two tvs tuned to separate sports stations. If it wasn’t sports it was soap operas. They loved the soaps. People got hurt if they tried to change the channel. It wasn’t worth it. The old timers always got first dibs.
       He found a table and set the envelope in front of him. He looked at it again, front and back. She sent it from Key West. It was a card. A generic one. Nothing special. Did she just sign her name or did she say anything? He opened the card to see she wrote up the whole inside. He settled back to read:

Dear Jamie,

I should have written before, but time flies so fast some days. I have been very busy at the store. I thought of you many times these last couple years. I should have written before now. Morgan fills me in with how you are when I ask her. I know it has been very rough for you and I’m sorry you were moved so far away from your family. It would be easier if you could see them.

I miss not have Morgan and the kids here. Little Jamie had only turned one year old when they left. One day they were here and the next day they were gone. I asked her for your address.

I know she wants to come see you but she can’t afford it. Traveling with the kids would be hard. I told her if she could find someone to go with her I would pay her expenses and also pay for a motel. She asked your mom to go with her and she said yes. I’m sure she will write and tell you the weekend they are coming. You will finally get to see your son.

Write back if you want and I’ll answer your letter.
Take care, Sonni

Jamie sat there not knowing what to think. He closed his eyes and one tear rolled down his cheek.

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There is No Place Like Home – Part 1

INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE

THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME  – part 1

 

      Standing here I can close my eyes, stretch out his arms and touch both walls of my cell. I can run my hands down the walls of my home. There has been so much unhappiness in this cell. I can feel it. I can smell the desperation of men who thought this might be the end of the road for them, the last place they will live. For some, it was. Will my desperation be added to it? The craving to leave this place gets so intense sometimes.   Knowing I have no control over my life makes me want to hit the walls and scream. But I won’t. I’ll stuff it down. If I listen hard I can hear the echos of their cries of anguish and loneliness, but no one listened back, just like they aren’t listening now. Not many people could withstand this kind of loneliness, when you have only yourself to talk to. This is why so many men go insane in prison. Its easy to crawl so far down inside your head that you get lost, and can’t find your way out again.
      These walls feel like they are part of me, like the skin on my bones. How small this cell is, the size of a small bathroom. It’s not the home I thought I would have. My home was supposed to have a family in it, but I guess it’s the home I chose by my actions. I was so stupid. There is nothing in here that belongs to me. Nothing personal. Nothing of comfort. I have my pictures, though, and I look at them every day. Maybe I should hang up a sign that says, “James lived here”. This way the next guy could see who he’s replacing and he can add his desperation to everyone else.
      I fight to not become that person, and it’s hard. I have to make it through years of this shit, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that. Mom tries so hard to help me and keep me encouraged. I knows she’s right. I will get out of here someday. But I’m not dealing with someday. I have to deal with right now, today. I try not to worry her and make her think I’m doing okay, but I’m not, and she knows it. I tell her some of the stuff I go through, but I’m afraid she would be upset with me if she knew how hard it really was. She wants for me to be okay. I doesn’t want to disappoint her. I want to be the person she wants me to be. Nobody ever expected me to be anything, but she does. I have to try to live up to that. I also know, no matter what happens, she will be there for me. She doesn’t judge me. Everyone makes mistakes. She always says we can start new the next day and try again. She encourages me over and over to keep trying. Everyone has problems and it is possible to turn them around, but sometimes I fall down and it’s hard to get up.
      In the beginning I tried hard to convince myself I could do this. This isn’t the way I wanted my life to be. I’m really not a bad person. I knows I have a problem with anger and that seems to get me into the most trouble, but everyone has something they need to overcome that gets in their way. The more I try to control it the harder it becomes. From the very beginning of my life its been hard and adding this to everything here made it worse. But can I say it is anyone’s fault but my own? Maybe that is what makes me the angriest, because I really can’t blame anyone else. Maybe if my family would have been there for me it would have been easier, but that isn’t the way it worked out. But my family isn’t there for me and Morgan won’t bring my son to see me. Year after year of this and it has made it harder for me and I admit, the things that go on in here do make me angry.
      The sad thing is that I don’t think anyone thinks about me or how I feel. I’m not important to the people who should be there for me – my family. Everything has been taken away from me. Am I not worth loving? Has no one else ever made any mistakes? I don’t have the answers to this because no one talks to me. If I didn’t have Sonni – mom – I would have no one. Well, what good is this doing me, feeling sorry for myself? Suck it up and find a way to turn this around or destroy myself. I will find the answers to this. It has to be happening for a reason. Is there something I’m supposed to learn from this?

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      After I accepted the plea for seventeen years they didn’t move me to a prison for a long time. At least a year and a half. Morgan had been living in Key West with her mom until a year after Jamie Jr was born. She came back for a visit and she brought the baby to see me. The visit was behind glass. It’s so hard to hear with the phones and the plexi-glass is all scratched up. I wanted so bad to be able to hold my son, to feel his skin and smell his baby smell, but I couldn’t. It tore me up inside. But at least I could see him. It broke my heart.
      By the time Morgan moved back to Texas for good, when little Jamie was a year old, I was already moved out to West Texas, the McConnell Unit in La Mesa. I couldn’t have sent me any farther away from my family and stay in Texas. In fact, it was the farthest I had ever been from home in my life.
      La Mesa was a small town in the middle of nowhere. Many prisons were in small towns to keep them away from large populated areas. I know now exactly how it feels to be a slave. I worked in the fields and was guarded by men on horseback with rifles and dogs. East Texas is hot, but it is nothing like West Texas with its flat, barren fields, and very few trees. My epileptic seizures were more frequent when I was overheated, and the physical stress made it even worse.
      I tried to tell that to a woman guard. She pretty much told me that no one cares. It didn’t matter to the prison. Medical problems are no excuse for not doing the work you are assigned to do. We weren’t paid anything because Texas doesn’t pay wages at any prison. Not even 20 cents an hour so I could buy deodorant. It was hell. But even so, being outside and able to breathe fresh air and see the sun was almost worth it.

*****************************

     In the beginning I was in Gen Pop – general population. It can be dangerous. Everyone kicks it with their own people for protection. It was safer to be with your own kind. I have to have eyes in the back of my head if I want to stay alive. For those who choose to join a gang, Your gang watches your back. But you have to be careful of the guards. Many of them are just as corrupt and dangerous as some of the gangs.
      Guards can get other inmates to jump people they didn’t like and trade it for favors. Contraband comes in with the guards and the staff of the corporations that run the businesses inside the prison. Illegal, but profitable items come in with supplies. Some guards bring in cell phones, drugs and cigarettes. That is a well known fact even the media reports, but they can’t stop it. The guards aren’t paid well enough to not be tempted by the money inmates pay them. There are so many cell phones in the prison. They can’t find them faster than they are brought in, no matter how often they sweep the cells to find them. If you want drugs, the easiest place to get them is inside a prison. In fact, you can get anything you want if you know the right people. I don’t go near that stuff. It’s the last thing I need. Besides, you can’t trust anyone. They own you once they find your weakness.
      I also never wanted to join any of the gangs in a prison. It’s an easy way to get killed, and you if were told to get revenge on some other inmate you have to do what you’re told, or someone else would get you. Blacks stayed with blacks, and Hispanics stayed with Hispanics. White people often joined the Aryans, even if they didn’t think white people were superior. You needed a gang to have your back. Instead, I joined the Muslims.
      The Muslims taught peace. They would try to negotiate when gangs wanted to go to war with each other. The prayers done throughout the day were a tough discipline, but I needed that. I tried to believe the things it taught, about praising Allah and all that. But in many ways it was a lot like Christianity – believing in a God outside yourself that had a thinking mind. other people interpreted what he supposedly meant so they could tell you what to do and what to think. I was looking for something that would help me make sense of my life and how I got myself into this mess. If I could understand things maybe I could have a better life when I got out. It also gave him friends; a social life of sorts. Eventually, though, when I was sent to a different prison I lost these connections. I couldn’t keep up the practice every day on my own because I didn’t have a support structure anymore.
      I had one visit while I was in that prison. I wasn’t expecting any visits because I was so far away from everyone, but one day Morgan, my mother and the kids drove across the state of Texas to see me. That is a hard trip. You drive for hours without even seeing a billboard. Megan asked my mother to come along because she needed help with the kids. My mother couldn’t have made the trip on her own, either.
      I started getting letters from Sonni the previous year, after I had been inside for a couple years. She helped them make the trip. She hadn’t yet become “mom” to me. I didn’t understand yet what it was she saw in me and why I mattered to her, but I was grateful for the things she did to help me. It was the first time I saw his son since he was a little baby. Now he was a toddler. He was laughing and running everywhere. He loved putting coins in the snack machine. Having my family there and being able to see my son was the best day I had in a long, long time. The feeling of happiness was overwhelming. That memory got me through some pretty tough days when I wanted to give up. All I have is my memories and I have worn them out, playing them in my head so many times. What I didn’t know then, it was going to be another five years before I saw any of them again.
      When I was moved from Le Mesa I was sent to a prison way down south in Beeville, near Brownsville, close to the Mexican border. It was another desolate place that was hot as hell. No matter what prison I was in there was no way around dealing with guards with bad attitudes. All I wanted was to be left alone. I was in a cell by myself, waiting out the time to get moved up to a better level. Often when you a guard puts on a uniform it brings out the worst in them. They have approval to abuse the inmates and if they want to physically hurt them no one is going to stop them. Inmates can’t fight back when they are in restraints. They don’t get in trouble. I’m sure they probably brag to the other guards to show what big men they are.
      I spent most of my time writing letters and waiting to get one back, that never came. That’s family for you. It was getting harder and harder to keep myself together. Depressing kept creeping over me. I only wanted to know my family cared. Dealing with the silence was hard. I spent most of my day laying on my bunk sleeping. Guards came by and woke me up to make sure I was okay. I was refusing to eat. There didn’t seem to be a reason to eat anymore. Maybe I could starve myself to death. Eventually the prison psyche doctor came to talk to me and I was transferred to another prison in Richmond, which was on the outskirts of Houston. I was only supposed to only stay there for a little while. Hopefully, since I was closer to my family maybe they would come to see me. I got his hopes up. Surely now Morgan would come to see me and bring Jamie I was only two hours from Morgan and my family so there could be no excuse not to come.
      I waited and waited. Every week I felt this was going to be the week I would get a visit. Sonni had long since became mom by now. I knew she was talking to Morgan to convince her to come visit but there were always excuses. I didn’t understand! Was Morgan punishing me by keeping my son away? Why? He’s my son, too! She didn’t have him by herself. I knew she had another man in her life, got married and even had another baby, but she couldn’t erase me from her life. Nothing could take away my son. Since no one would talk to me it left me to come up with my own explanations.
      My depression got worse. When I was still in juvy for those four years, depression hit me hard then, too, and they moved me to a detention hall for people with problems. Throughout my life I had trouble handling difficult things. But now I had turned twenty-one and they had no choice, They had to let me go.
      All these years locked up I had asked for so little. Wasn’t my sentence enough punishment? Did this have to be added to it? I knew life wasn’t easy for Morgan. She had to work a lot, sometimes two jobs, to take care of her children, but couldn’t she bring him at least once in awhile? Why did everyone care so little that I never had a chance to see my son? It was one thing that could make the difference of making it through this, yet no one cared? I am done now. I am going to let them go. I will give them two more weeks to answer my letters and if they don’t, I will cut them off and take them off my visitors list. Won’t they be surprised if they come to see me now and found out they can’t get in. Serves them right. It made me laugh in an odd kind of way. I know, what good would that do? They would never even know they were taken off the list. They weren’t going to come see me. If they were going to, they would have done it a long time ago.

2nd part to be continued . . .

I want to thank everyone who has been following this blog and those who have been reading the chapters of the book as I write and rewrite, finding my way. I’m very determined to do this, and do it right. Between writing the book and writing for my two blogs, and writing long letters to three inmates, and writing music, I write until my face hits the keyboard when I fall asleep. I have a band -aid on my nose. Every time you share something on your own SM, you help me tremendously. Every new address on the mailing list gives me more credibility for publishing. I hope you continue to give me pushes in the right direction.

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Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story
The Nightmare
A Roof Over My Head, Three Squares a Day and Free Medical
Sometimes They’ll Give You Candy

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The Fallen – The Battered

This music. was originally posted on my other blog Watch and Whirl You can also find it below at Sound Cloud. I wrote this during the Fall as I looked out the window watching the wind blow the leaves from the trees. Swirling around and gently falling to the ground, battered and torn with the color dying out of them.

This is for every person who has been abused by our injustice system. Every life who has been taken away. Every one caught up in the quest for mass incarceration. Every family who has been destroyed. Every child who has lost their parent. Every parent who has lost their child. I actually wrote a different post for this music because it makes me angry when people – or corporations – who profess to care about our country but who really do everything they can to line their own pockets and care nothing about the people they destroy. Enough said. The information is there for you to find if you choose to find it instead of listening to the choir sing to the choir. I will continue to try to make a difference and do what I can to help those I can.

This makes me so emotional. I get frustrated because I want to change things and I don’t know how or I don’t think it is enough. Prison has needlessly destroyed so many people that should not have been destroyed. Depression in prison for those who are caught in an unbelievably cruel and inhumane box is devastating. It needs to change. Massive prison reform is needed. Profit should not be the number one focus of the prison industrial corporations. There are bad people inside, but the majority are not. We need to help the ones who need to be let go. Prisoner mental health should not be destroyed. Reintegration into society is extremely difficult because it creates a fear to be near people.

THE FALLEN   by Sonni Quick.   copyright 2015

If you have heard my music before, you know I do not “compose” the music I record. There is no plan. It is not written down. I don’t think about it. I just play it. My fingers play what I feel. Everything is improvised. I couldn’t play it again. My fingers have a mind of their own. It is a language. When you speak, do you think about each word and put a sentence together before you speak it? Do you write down each word so you know what you said? Can you just make up sentence after sentence because you know the language? Of course you can. Most people, when they learn an instrument, they learn through method books that teach them how to read the notes and play it. Just like we learn the alphabet and learn how to make words. We learn to improvise with those words and it becomes a language that conveys thoughts and emotions. But most music teachers that are hired only teach their students how to play the written notes written by other people. They don’t learn how to play those notes as a language that conveys how they feel or how they think.

The piano changed from being an instrument to play, to an instrument that understood what I was feeling and I crawled inside it. I became a bystander and separated myself from the act of playing the piano and instead listened to the music as it played itself. What you hear today I can do for hours going up and down the piano keys playing the emotions I feel. If I try to manipulate it, it doesn’t work. My fingers know the piano keys, like an artist knows his paints and a dancer feels the music and his body know what it can do. It’s a wonderful feeling. I also know I haven’t reached the end. I’ve just begun.

Thanks for listening.

Jamie’s Facebook Page. . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Jamie Really Needs Your Help – Please

Credit source: Frtimmoyle.blogspot.com
Credit source:
Frtimmoyle.blogspot.com

I’ve been worried about him since he told me what the guards did to him. My gut feeling was telling me that mentally he was in trouble. This 3rd time of being put in solitary about 4 months ago was so discouraging for him, feeling as though he’s losing the fight. He lost all the progress he made. I don’t know how this will affect his parole hearing in 2016 because he can’t complete any programs in solitary.

I contacted a man I met a year or so ago, Melvin, who sometimes goes to see him and encourage him. He could easily be his father’s age. Finally, Jamie had a visitor. Melvin changed his plans today and drove to this prison. He called me after and told me how down he was. He is going next weekend, too, and I’m trying to get my daughter to let Melvin take their son in to see his father  It’s been nearly two years since he has seen him.

I could feel Jamie’s depression in his letters. If you haven’t read Jamie’s last letter, you should. A Story About Prison Guard Brutality

I need everyone who has read about Jamie to send him an email. Tell him who you are and tell him to be strong and to keep his eyes on the future or anything else. Let him know there are people who care. Send it to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com  I will paste these msgs into a jpay email that goes to the prison and he will get them all at once. If any msgs come in later I will send them, too. If you want him to write back to you then add your address, otherwise he will only get whatever name you leave.

This is important. Take a few minutes and do this. Share it if you  can.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Sonni

In Prison, Still Waiting For My Family To Care . . .

alone quote
April 1, 2011

Dear mom,

April fool’s day! Except I think it’s been me who has been the fool. But I pray that you’re okay, as well as Megan and the kids. Things have been real scary the past few weeks. I’ve been through a lot. It’s been hard because I feel as though everyone has given up on me. No one writes to check on me, or even to say hi. I’ve lost faith in them and myself as well. I have been so down.

I’ve been getting into trouble. I feel there’s no reason to try anymore. I feel this way because I don’t even know how my little Jamie is doing. The way things are going I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see or hear from him again. It hurts me to sit and think like this, but as time passes and I don’t hear anything, the worst comes to mind.

I’ve sat in my cell and cried so many times because my heart is telling me I’m losing him. Also, because the thought of my family giving up on me is really hard to take. I guess it was just a matter of time, really, to tell the truth. I don’t plan on making it home. It’s hard to not look for the worst of things in here. Lord knows, I want to make it home to everyone, but why go back to a place where no one loves or cares about you. Then I just know little Jamie will hate me for not being there for him. I felt the same way about my dad. It’s really going to hurt me to have my only child hate me.

But how are you? Is everything okay? I thought I would give you some time before I wrote again. I know you must be tired and have other things you’d like to do. However, as long as you are blessed and okay, then I am okay as well. How is Megan?. Tell her I miss her and I really would like to hear from her. Well, I’m out of time. I hope I hear from you real soon. Love you. Tell Megan and the kids I love them. Would you ask Megan if she would call my brother and see if he can send some money for hygiene products please.

Love, Son.

(Sonni’s note: Is there any question about why I am doing this? Writing this blog and book? I hope someday his family reads this and if it will even matter to them? I hope they feel bad for all the things they didn’t do. He has written so many unanswered letters. People get back what they give. If family can’t be there for you when you need it most what kind of family is that? If there is one thing I have learned well, it is to not expect your family to actually be there for you when you need them. You might be related by blood, but it doesn’t mean they love you enough to show it. When you need them the most, they have nothing to give.

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

Sonni Quick piano music complete list

Sometimes , in Prison, You Don’t Exist Anymore

(Sonni’s note:  This is an old letter, July 9, 2009.  Every inmate is somebody’s son This is to all the people who know me who wonder why I’ve spent these years writing to Jamie.  Maybe I should have done what everyone else has done and just let him sit there alone to wonder why his life doesn’t matter to the people who were supposed to love him.  Maybe I should have been too busy,as well.  Six years later and he is still waiting to get answers back from his letters.  he still writes them although sometimes he says he’s going to stop.  He makes up excuses because no one wants to think their family doesn’t care.  After 9 years he’s just removed from their daily thought.  maybe they are just thinking that they’ll wait till he gets out and then he can be part of the family again.  It makes me hurt for him.  I know, from my own experience that just because you have family, it doesn’t mean they have to love you. )

“Somebody’s Son”      by Sonni Quick copyright 2015

Someboy's son, sonely inmate, inmate family loss
source credit: ripten..com

To my dearest mom,

hello, how are you?  Busy, busy busy, I’m sure.  Every day I get to open my eyes and breathe fresh air in my lungs.  I’m blessed, thank God..  So mom, how’s things going with you?  Good I hope.  I thought you would have written back by now so i could see what key West looks like.  I’ve really been looking forward to the photos.  However, I understand that you are really busy with the store so I’ll just relax and wait on them.  Mom, I have a question . Is Megan okay?  She hasn’t wrote me in awhile.  I know I wrote her at least 3 or 4 letters.  however I’m not getting any response from her.  Is everything okay?  That’s all I want to know.  With me being here, most of the time I think the worst of a lot of things.  It’s only because my family holds things from me, even if it’s a death in the family.  I don’t understand.  Megan just stopped writing.  Why?  Is it something or is it just something personal?  Could you please let me know what’s wrong?

I understand that Alex’s dad is out and  home now.  However, I feel it shouldn’t stop her from letting me know how the family is doing.  Jamie’s birthday will probably be done past the time you get this letter.  Three years old already.  She still hasn’t wrote me or nothing.  I sent him my love on his special day as well as a card.  It’s been almost a month and I haven’t heard from her and it’s driving me crazy.  He’s my son, too.  Like I say mom, when I don’t hear from her I only think the worst.  It really hurts me not hearing from her for so long.

I wrote my mom and brother also.  I put my feelings in their letters, too,  just to let them know how I feel.  You know, about the way they are treating me, like I’m not here so there is no reason to bother telling me anything.  I let them know that’s bad.  It only takes five minutes to say I love you, I miss you or to even see how I’m doing.  I sometimes feel that if I’m not home then it’s like I don’t even matter to them.  So I felt, I’ll just let them know how I feel about their way of seeing things.  Right now I’m waiting to see if they are going to write back.  If they do, more than likely it will be a few weeks.  I’ll be blessed if I get that.  (He wasn’t very blessed after all.)  Well, I got to go, mom.  It’s after 10 PM.  I love you and thank you for keeping me strong!

An Inmate Only Has Old Memories

old memories, forgotten and alone, Jamie Cummings
photo credit: polyvore.com

(Sonni’s note: An inmate needs his memories of his family. Take that away and he begins a spiral down. That connection with his life outside is all he has to cling to. He spends his day reliving every touch, every shred of happiness and every sliver of hope, real and imagined that will help him get through one more day. One more day. One more day.

When that hope is dashed – with silence and with unanswered letters and no explanations, only his imagination is left to think the worst. Maybe someone is sick. Maybe something is wrong. What isn’t he being told? But the last thing he wants to imagine is that his family has no time to care about him anymore. Maybe they are just too busy to write? So he waits and waits and waits.

When the years start passing and there are no new memories to add to the old, the biggest enemy is depression. We need to be loved. We crave to be loved. We need human touch. We need to know people care. Life goes on for everyone else and Jamie spent these hours, days, weeks, months and years, alone trying to pretend to himself it was only because they were too busy that no one wrote or helped him. Occasionally Megan wrote but it was understandable why it became less and less. She had a family to care for and she knew that waiting for him was not an option because it was too long. I think she could have tried more to help him know his son, and for his son to know he had a daddy who loved him back. So i became the glue trying to hold it together and all it did was cause resentment from my daughter because she didn’t understand why I cared. Maybe if i had never written to him in the first place non of this would have happened, but I did, and this is what it became.

If Jamie had no interest in his son it would also be a different story but that isn’t the way it is. He has begged and begged to see his son, waiting on his birthday and father’s day in the hope that maybe this year will be different. It only takes minutes to put a stamp on an envelope and send a colored picture. The more attention I showed him the angrier she got. She doesn’t understand why I do what I do, and I’m not going to stop and become what everyone else is – too busy to care. She thinks it’s weird that Jamie and I developed a relationship. I saw a man going down because no one showed him they loved him anymore. He was just a forgotten, son, brother, father, boyfriend who had no lifeline. I became that lifeline and have never regretted it. If there continues to be failed understanding, i can’t change that but at least Jamie’s son will know the truth when he gets older about how much his father loves him and always has.

This letter was his only letter that expressed happiness – in spite of everything. In the midst of all these writings that are so painful, there is this one where he was happy. It was four more years before he saw Megan and his son again. Several times in a short period of time and one of them was with me when I went to Texas in 2013. It was almost two years ago. He has been living within driving distance of family and has yet to see his son again. It’s an unhappy situation. This is why I do what I do, in the hope of helping to make his life better when he gets out so he has the opportunity to be a father.

Sometimes an inmate has no family and has no memories to hold on to. This person will be forever lost to this system that will just eat him up with sentences that are too long and being treated with harsh inhumanity. When you wake and when you go to sleep and you know there is no one who cares if you’re alive, he has no reason to try. They give int to their demons. I couldn’t let that happen.

Jamie’s letter in this post is an old one. June, 2009 La Mesa,Texas. It’s a harsh part of Texas, too far away for family to easily visit. But when he was moved closer it wasn’t the distance that mattered. Taking time out of a busy day to show him he mattered – to anyone – became evident. No help financially even a little bit. Send a book? A magazine subscription? Anything? The effort has been so minimal and it mattered so much.

When he was incarcerated in La Mesa it took three days by car to drive back and forth across Texas, a long, boring, hot trip. The trip was made once because it was so hard. It seems as though the prisons make a special effort to try to separate inmates from their families as much as possible as another way they can punish them. There are more than 100 prisons in Texas and this one was the farthest one. It was a hard trip that also included the kids and his bio mom. This is the first time Jamie ever saw his son. He was just shy of two years old. It was also the last time he saw him for four years. This letter I received from Jamie was the happiest letter he ever wrote and it carried him through many bleak days and lonely nights.
================================================
June 1, 2009

Hello mom,

How are you? Fine I hope. As for me I am as happy as can be. Thanks to you I was able to see my wife and kids. ( Sonni’s note: He and Megan were not married but they did fill out a common law marriage form that never got filed, so in his mind he considered her to be his wife and she identified herself to any prison official as being his wife so they would talk to her.)

Thank you. I love you so much for helping to make this happen. We had fun. We talked and laughed and shared our love with one another. Me and the kids talked a lot. They were just as happy to see me as Megan, I think. We talked about how they were doing in school, also about the things they were going to do for the summer. I really enjoyed talking to them. It was like spending time with them at home. Me and Jamie had fun talking to each other, too. He’s a real good talker. Ha ha. That boy can run, too. He’s short, but fast. If there is one thing I know he loves, it’s money! Every few minutes he wanted to go to the machines. He also knows right from wrong. He kept running off but when he saw me get up and look at him he came right back every time. My little one, my son, he is is the most cute boy. Me and him, we tried to talk. (smile)

Me and my mom talked a while and then Megan and I spent the last hour talking, sharing our love for one another. I love her so much and my heart goes out to her. She is the best thing to ever happen to me. She is the most beautiful woman I ever met and she has the most beautiful voice! Without her and the kids there is no ‘me’. That is why I’m staying out of trouble and staying to myself so I can try to make my first parole ( didn’t happen). I want to be with my family so bad. Seeing them was so wonderful.

So how’s things in the Keys? Alyssa ( the second oldest) said she was ready to come visit. I told her to have fun. She said she couldn’t wait to help out at the store. Thank you again for all your help. I love you always.

(Sonni’s note: Two days later I got another letter and thought I would add it to this one.)

I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Alyssa got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right that they couldn’t have a contact visit.( without a glass partition and speaking through a phone) Me and Megan laughed! Alyssa is a very smart young lady. She told me she wants to be a doctor. I told her to stay positive and do good in school and she can do anything she sets her mind on doing. Alex told me I look different. I told him it’s because I have on my glasses. I didn’t wear them when I was at home. We talked about him going to visit his dad. I think it’s good Megan is giving him a chance to spend time with him. I feel that every man or woman should be given a second chance unless they don’t want to live the right path. I think it’s good she’s giving his dad another chance to get to know him. ( Things didn’t work out very well with that and his dad is back in San Quentin) Maybe they will build a better father-son relationship. I pray they will get along okay.

So, how are you mom, really? How is Mike doing? I can’t wait to come home so I can come and visit with you, mom. Maybe I could even help around the house or the store. Megan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, neither. I’ve been on a plane, though. To tell the truth I’ve never been outside Texas. So that is something I want to do with my family. Explore different states and sights. It would be fun I think. It would be fun to be a truck driver but I doubt that could happen. I would love to drive all over the country.

Well, mom, I’ve got to go. I love you, your son-in-law.

.

m

Prison Hunger Strike

hunger strike
(Sonni’s note: In the past few years entire prisons have gone on hunger strikes, the most notable in California during the summer of 2013. 33 of California’s prisons joined in with thousands of inmates from all over the country in protest of the way they were being treated. Families stood in protest outside the prisons as well.  A few inmates died as the result of a hunger strike that lasted 50 days, because they wouldn’t give in. Realizing that the inmates were willing to die for their cause,I am sure, had a lot to do with them relenting.  Why was it so impossible for the prison officials to see these people as people – as living breathing people, with some of them there unjustly as the evidence now shows.  Eventually they were granted a few small concessions but it was too little and they didn’t apply to the people who were the most confined – those on death row – Those in the SHU Secure Housing Unit.   Jamie spent a total of 4 years locked up in solitary.

I wasn’t going to print this yet, because I’m waiting for a letter.  He was able to get his privileges back and could call me for two weeks. He was able to have ONE contact visit with his natural mother on his 32nd  birthday. They found a way to throw him back in solitary last week. I knew it was going to happen.  I just knew it.  Their rules to stay out of solitary are hard to play by.  You can not argue with an officer even if you are right.  If they say the snow is black and you say it is white you are insubordinate.  He got to make one last phone call, and then was stripped him of all of his privileges and  is once again getting his food through a slot in the door.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/california-prison-hunger-strike-30000_n_3567639.html

Those on death row. Why would someone scheduled to be murdered by the state be interested in a class of education?  I’m sure that’s what the must have thought. Why would any of these concessions be of any importance to them, even though many of them had been locked up for decades and large portion of them were mentally or insane because of the deprivations? But there are many others that want to be able use the rest of their life, if they are still to killed, in a way that at least allows them to give some value to their own lives. Maybe they did something horrible. Maybe they are falsely accused. Maybe they are a victim of circumstance. It doesn’t matter. The are still human.  They are living out the worst things anyone can go through to pay for their transgressions – they are waiting to die. That is their sentence. That is their punishment.  So why the need to keep punishing by not allowing them some comfort while they wait.  Justice was served.  What is wrong with supplying them some art supplies so they can draw? They were promised that.  This next excerpt is credited to http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/25/pelican-bay-prison-hunger-strike where you can read the entire article.

Largely unrestrained by courts, legislatures or public opinion, solitary confinement has become routine – a punishment of first resort for all sorts of prison infractions. Today, a prisoner can be placed in solitary not only for violence, but for any form of “insubordination” towards prison officials, or for possession of contraband (which includes not only drugs but cell phones, cash or too many postage stamps). Some inmates are sent to solitary confinement for exhibiting the symptoms of untreated mental illness. Others, including juveniles in adult prisons, end up in isolation for their own “protection” because they are targets of prison rape. Many of the men in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit are there because they’ve been “validated” as gang members, based on their tattoos or on the say-so of other inmates, who are rewarded for “snitching”

(So this is the setting for this blog post.  Hunger strikes are a common thing when inmates are treated badly.  It is their only method of defense and a way to make a statement.  This isn’t the only time he stopped eating and he at one time stopped taking his meds because he thought he was being used as a lab rat – which is something the prisons do.  Who better to experiment a new drug on than a worthless inmate.  He was a pretty big guy when I first met him.  He was a real skinny guy when I saw him in Oct of 2013.  His clothing was falling off him – literally.  The Beeville prisons raises hogs. That is why everything they fed them was some kind of pork often made into loafs that were unrecognizable as anything he could identify.  The prisons do not like to pay medical bills, though they do everything in their power to cause ill health.  Why is this not being stopped?  Why are they allowed to commit crimes on those that are still human beings?  Isn’t this in itself also a crime?  If someone murders someone on the outside and it is a homicide and they get life in prison, should the person committing the same crime inside a prison get the same punishment? Why are there two sets of standards?)

This is a letter Jamie wrote on 8/28/12 when he was at the McConnell Unit in Beeville,Tx

Hi Mom, How is everything.  I know you are home from your surgery.  I hope everything is okay.  I have to take a lot of pills. Some are my seizure meds for epilepsy and also fluxotine for depression. I’ve taken off some pounds lately. I stopped eating because I’m on a hunger strike. They feed us pork every day and I’m tired of it. Sometimes they sub it with peanut butter or two slices of cheese.

This unit is getting really bad. They just had a riot in the chow hall and a dude got stabbed four times and died. Another one was stabbed 23 times but he lived. He was lucky. I’m losing it in here.

I’ve written lots of letters but nobody writes me back but you. I don’t understand why I keep writing but I do. Maybe I think it will change. I think this is one of the reasons why I get depressed. I can’t make sense of it. People don’t understand how important it is. I still have a year and a half before I come up for parole, in 2014, so there isn’t anything else I can do except sit here. It hurts because we are all suffering badly. There’s nothing I can do about these things. I want to just give up on everything. I’m trying. I really am. Everyone is so quick to judge me. It’s nothing new to me. I can be doing good but I’ll still be judged because of my past. I don’t know where things will end up. Again, I’m losing it. I had some crazy thoughts. The nurse asks me what’s wrong and I just look at them crazy. I know they can’t understand. I guess this is my life. Tomorrow I’m going on strike with my medication. Life is so painful. Why not add more. I have nothing. My fan broke and its August in Texas. It is so hot. And these people took my hot pot that I can cook in because of a loose wire. I can’t take this no more. So what I’m saying is that I’m giving up. Why not? It seems like everyone else has. I read because there’s nothing else I can do, sitting in this cell all day and night. This is where everyone wants me and it’s starting to feel as though this is where I belong. I love you, as well as everybody else, but I can’t take it. Please try to understand. I have fallen and have no reason to get up. I have a year left in ad seg, (solitary confinement – administrative segregation) maybe less. I’m trying, but it seems that nobody cares.

(note from Sonni – Jamie scared me with this letter. I could see how terribly depressed he was. I begged him to eat and take his meds but by then a couple more weeks had passed. Depression is something that runs rampant in the prisons. No one can live with that kind of solitude. What does it prove? What’s the purpose? He never did get out of ad seg. No human being can live through that. He is doing better psychologically. But it has been a challenge.)

( another note: this one written today.  He never did get out of solitary until this past November. Then he was moved to G4 and then G2.  G5 is actually the same as ad seg or solitary.  Then in December he made it to G2.  Finally.  Then in the middle of January he could make phone calls.  I was the only one who hooked up my phone so he could call.  No member of his family did.  Now it’s all taken away – again.  I don’t know for how long,)