Glimpse Into Book Two – Where is Jamie Today?

wh jamie2

This is not a book chapter. This time period takes place about the time book 1 of Inside The Forbidden Outside ends. Book 1 will not go to the end of his sentence. The sequel begins in 2016 and finishes his incarceration,  his experience of getting out and what happens next. Where does he go? How does he experience freedom and what is his relationship with his family, most of all his teenage son?

This is a glimpse into Book 2

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It was almost the end of 2018 and Jamie was glad to get out of Allred Unit. There had to be a better prison than this to finish his time in. It was okay at first. They seemed more respectful of the fact that they were human beings, but it didn’t last.

It was pretty clear they weren’t gonna to be letting him out of adseg.  He had never been in regular population, but they had classified him as a threat to other inmates. That was their last reason for not moving him out of adseg and he knew it was an excuse.

It was a desperate move he made to get transferred out of Wynne Unit in 2014. He felt the threat of constant physical violence from the guards and he had no protection from them. It was hard to keep his anger in check. The pushed and pushed, trying to get him to retaliate. Having five guards pick him up and slam his head into a wall was only one thing they did. Beating him up in the hall after being allowed to make an emergency call to his mother when she was in the hospital was another. The list was a long one.

He was in G5, (Adseg.) and that was nothing new. He had spent most of his time in state prison in this bottom rung of the prison. A majority of inmates stay in population. Their time is not fun, either, but it is not the hell of segregation. The loneliness alone will get you if the smell doesn’t choke you.

Before he was moved from Wynne he had done the required years of adseg, locked down 23/7 and allowed no freedom unless you considered being shackled and taken to commissary once a month, showers or being to go to the medical unit – if they took him – to be a benefit of freedom. But he wasn’t safe. He tried to stay clear of the guards. They were supposed to move him up to the level classification of G4 but was told there wasn’t an empty bed.

The best thing about G4 is he could walk to chow for his meals, but always with eyes open in the back of his head. All he had to do was look someone in the eye for a knife to get stuck in him somewhere by someone who was told to stick him. He had no friends – and he wanted no friends. You didn’t know who you could trust. He only wanted to get through his time in one piece.

He was in limbo, being kept in solitary confinement. They took away his property, sometimes even his mattress. He had a cellmate for awhile and he let him borrow his mattress if he wasn’t using it.

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You will read about this in more detail later in the book chapter of that year. Currently I am writing about 2012 and a lot happens in between then and now. Subscribe to ITFO NEWS below to read about the progress of the book and soundtrack.

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Jamie had to get out of Wynne and the only way to do that was to threaten a guard with harm. It worked. They moved him to Allred. The punishment he received was a year in adseg, but when he got there he was told he had to do two years. It was their protocol. The more men they had in adseg the less men they had to deal openly in other parts of the prison where the could congregate.

After two years they wouldn’t release him and said, “Next year we’ll let you out,” so he waited.

At three years they wouldn’t release him and said, “In six months we’ll let you out,” indicating if he could continue to have no write-ups in his file the would get moved – so he waited a little longer.

At three years and six months he had a hearing and was turned down again, but they said, “If there are no problems, for sure you’ll be getting out in six months.” Jamie felt good about that. It felt like a sure thing the way they said it – they were going to let him out. He wanted desperately for that to happen. He was at his breaking point. The next level above G4 was G2. Then he could get a job, probably janitorial, and he could apply for a class to study for his GED and possibly a trade.

Six months came around – the four year mark and he felt good about it. He didn’t allow anything to get in his way and screw things up. He kept a positive attitude. When he went to his meeting they told him, “We’re sorry, but we still aren’t going to let you out. We think you’re a threat to the population.”

Jamie was dumb-founded. He stood there, shocked and speechless. He wanted to show his anger. It took every ounce of self control he had to keep his not shut. They had to know he would be angry and were watching to see what he did. There was so much he wanted to say but he knew arguing with them or saying anything would look bad. He silently went back to his cell.

He wrote a letter to me and said, “You would have been so proud. I would not give them what they wanted.” How could they say he was a danger to population? He had never been in the general population since he got there four years ago. Population is G2.

Besides, Jamie wasn’t a trouble maker. He minded his own business. It was the guards who didn’t mind their own business. But there was a real danger in G2, too. A lot of dudes had weapons and they used them if they thought they needed to, or if they just didn’t like you. Maybe their mental illness got the best of them that day. There were also gangs and lots of drugs. But there was also the library and classes so he could prepare himself for the outside, so that is where he needed to be. He had made it to G2 once before but the guards set him up by planting a knife in his cell and back to adseg he went. He had applied to study for his GED but that is a far as it got.

One day he heard about a program at a different prison, Hughes Unit, between Austin and San Antonio. It was a 35 week program, 5 – 7 week steps of therapy. Talking about goals and anger management. It could good for him. It would get him around people, too. He was starved for people to talk to where he didn’t have to yell to another cell to talk. Maybe this could be the start of something good.

He was accepted and transferred – with only the clothes on his back. He had to leave his property behind. His books and letters and everything he saved would take a couple months to catch up to him. He really bored and had nothing to read. Was this was going to be worth it.?

He wrote to me and asked, “Books, could you please send me some books?”  I  have a favorite place where I buy books for him and I have used them for years. It’s book store in Texas  imailtoprizons.com that is approved by the TDCJ – The Texas department of criminal justice. They sell new books and used books, single books, and book lots. 3′ of books, about 30 books for $35. It’s good deal. But I can buy 1-3 books, too.

You can’t choose the books you want in the big lot of 30 books, but when you’re locked up, you don’t care what it is, you’ll read anything – over and over. You can barter the ones you don’t want to read again for things you need – if they don’t catch you because it is a punishable offense. These books come in grab bags. You can choose between women’s stories or just an odd collection of other books. Jamie likes westerns. These grab bags are more quantity than quality but there many good titles, too. It will give him a month of new reading. A book a day. They also sell game books like soduko crosswords and word search.

They also have women’s lingerie magazines. I’ve gotten him a few of these. They aren’t naked. No porn,  but it is pretty women in sexy lingerie and gives them something to use with their imagintion. Being locked up for years as a straight male in the prime hornyness years, it must be extremely frustrating. That is why men who are totally straight end up having sex with each other because the lack of sex drives them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It becomes normalized because they are so far outside normal society.

“And food, could you send me a food box? They are feeding me food loaf and it is made from spoiled food. I can’t eat it and I’m hungry.”

I was allowed to send a box, picked from a small selection of commissary food. $60 value every 90 days. About 60 cents a day. Raman noodles, instant rice, noodles, instant refried beans, oat meal, coffee. There was junk, but I tried to buy things to fill him up, mostly starches with empty calories which promote diabetes –  rampant in prisons.

To be continued. . .

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I went through earlier music I recorded, going back a few years, before I started recording for the book. I was back on my feet after a liver transplant and rewarded myself with a new piano. I hadn’t learned yet what it could do, and was only beginning to learn the style I play in now – improvisation. I had always structured and written music before this – wrote the chord charts and even hand charted piano arrangements ( before computers did it for you.) Improvising is as different as boogie woogie and Classical. To play improv, I believe you need a good understanding of music theory like you need to know the structure of language before you can write a book. They both have a learning process to go through to free your mind to write. If you don’t know music theory you’re flying blind and any good musician will hear, you don’t know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, most musicians who think they are free styling improv music sound like amateur musicians. I thought I would add one of those early piano pieces here. This was not recorded for the book:

Listen to One in a Million by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick/one-in-a-million

 

 

Watching The Inside World – ITFO Chapter

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WATCHING THE INSIDE WORLD

 

Jamie was laying naked on the cement floor. Summer hit in full force. Sweat was dripping down every crease in his skin. He didn’t know how he was going to make it through another summer, and there were many more to go.
     After midnight when heat trapped inside the walls began to cool, the cement floor seemed appealing. He stripped off his whites and stretched out hoping it would bring relief.
     He had already passed out twice so far this summer from the intense heat, and had one seizure. The only good thing that happened was being taken to the medical unit which had air conditioning. It was a small reprieve but it only made it worse when he was returned to his cell.
     He needed more water, good water. He was dehydrated and was afraid to drink too much of the water that came out of the faucet. There was an odor to it and sometimes it wasn’t exactly clear. There was a brown tint to it, some days were worse than others. Would it make him sick? He sweat so much he knew he needed to replace the minerals, like the ones in sports drinks, but he didn’t have any. They sell it at commissary but it was sometimes a month or more before he was taken there.
     There was no energy in him to move, and no reason to move. His body felt so heavy. His blood pressure was pounding in his head. How could the warden do this to everyone? He had to know how much they were suffering. Was this his way of rehabilitating them? Yeah, they were learning things; how to hate the prison and everyone in it.

How much anyone suffered depended on what level they were on. There were three levels in adseg. There was no power and no AC on level three. They even covered the vents to cut off any possibility of air circulation. That was a good punishment wasn’t it? If you owned one of the little fans they sell in the commissary you were out of luck because it didn’t work on level three.
     Jamie thought they were trying to teach them a lesson about how screwed they were. Whoever created these punishments had be masochistic.
     If he was level two he would have power and it would be cooler than level three, but not by much. That was the level he was on before the knife was planted. He had to do thirty days now to get back to level two and sixty days to get to level one. Three more months total. During summer that was a lifetime. He heard it took 90 days at level one to get moved to G4 where he could go to chow, but he wasn’t sure about that.
     He knew the guards didn’t like him. Not for any real reason. They hated most everyone in here. They didn’t take this job because they were interested in doing guard duty. There wasn’t much else in town for a steady job.
     They found a way to put him in adseg, but it wasn’t because of anything he did, he was set up. He did react back and that was his fault. If the guards didn’t like you they found a way to mess you up. It didn’t matter that he was trying to play by the rules, not if he didn’t get along with one of them. This one guard, Rodrigues* was an asshole, always making sarcastic remarks trying to piss him off, and sometimes succeeding. Then they’d write up a case on him. He needed to learn to keep his mouth shut.
     The unit went on lockdown. The guards were going from pod to pod ripping up everything. They tore apart the cells looking for weapons, drugs and cellphones.
     While the guards had fun destroying their property, the inmates were locked in cages barely bigger than a phone booth. There was a ledge they could sit on to wait until they were done. Then they had to go back and clean up the mess. Most of it was unnecessary. The guards destroyed things because they could.
     The guard who had consistently harassed Jamie “found” a homemade knife sitting on the edge of his sink. He tried to make it look like Jamie was stupid enough to leave a three inch piece of sharpened metal laying out in the open, even though he knew they were coming to toss the cells. If the sergeant believed that, then he must have been in on it. It was his word against theirs and there was no way he could win that argument.
     He had been fixing to get his level one. The weapons charge knocked him back down to level three. The main office for Texas prisons, TDCJ, in Huntsville, was contacted and the knife was sent to them. This was one way they added extra years to someone’s sentence. He only needed one more major offense for that to happen. At the least it would now take longer to get out of adseg.
     He didn’t even own a knife. It made sense now what the guard said when he was sitting in the cage. He walked by, then stopped and smiled at him.
     “What are you smiling at?” Jamie asked.
     “You’ll see,” he said, and laughed as he walked away.
     Jamie knew then he was the one who planted the knife. It wasn’t right. He didn’t do anything, but then he got angry defending himself. He played into their hands. He needed to stop reacting and think before he spoke.
     They sprayed him with chemicals. It was the first time. It felt like his skin was burning off. Three days he lived with it before it started wearing off. When he tried washing it off it made it worse. Being burned in a fire had to feel like this, only you couldn’t see anything on his skin except a little redness. Was it legal to use that kind of chemicals on people? Probably not, but who was going to stop them?
     No one would do that to an animal. The guards plotted a way to lower his level in adseg and then punished him with cruelty that was beyond inhumane. It was the guards who needed to be sprayed so they could feel what they we’re doing. There was nothing he could do about it now but someday they will get it back.

Today was July 12, 2011. Jamie’s son was five years old. He sat on his bunk and sang Happy Birthday to him with a heavy heart. He wished he could see him right now. He wanted to put his arms around him and hold him.
     “Morgan said he seems happier now,” Sonni said said as she sat down next to him. Little Jamie had been acting out with tantrums.
     “We all been mad at the world a few times,” he nodded in agreement as he glanced at her and smiled a sad smile.
     Jamie was still convinced he was losing his mind each time she came to talk. Sometimes it was days or weeks before he saw her again and thought maybe those were times when she, too, was feeling bad.
     Sonni was on the liver transplant list and had moved to Pa to be close to a good hospital and her family, but her family didn’t care about her. It was hard on a person when they realized they didn’t mean much to people who they thought loved them. This is why she understood how much it hurt when no one answered his letters or came to visit. It hits you from out of the blue. A lot of dudes in here had to go it alone for many reasons. It wasn’t easy and it made it hard to survive when they got out.
     She recently sent him some money for commissary and ordered a magazine subscription. He had nothing to read and was really bored. Time dragged. Every bit of kindness meant something to him. Nothing was taken for granted.
     “Once a week the guards are supposed to give us one hour of dayroom time,” he told her, “but they are too lazy.”
     “It’s easier to provoke someone and make him mad so they have a reason to not take them and call it a punishment,” Jamie added.
     “They do the same thing when it’s time to take us to shower. It’s crazy back here and that’s just half of it.”
     When he had passed out from the heat and had the seizure they took him to medical. Then they took money out of his commissary and paid themselves for the effort.
     “They cause the problem then take what little money I have because it made me sick.” He knows he doesn’t have to tell her everything. She seems to know what he’s thinking.
     “They probably look forward to the hot months,” she said back, “because of the extra money.”
     If he didn’t have any money in his account they would wait until she sent some, and then take it out.
     “To tell you the truth there is not a day goes by I’m not worried,” he continued.
     “I never know what’s going to happen or when it will happen,” he said starting to get an upset edge to his voice.
     “That is why I cry when I think about the visits.”
     “No one in my life knows what happens to me.” Jamie stood up and turned his back to her so she wouldn’t see his face.
     “And I don’t know what’s happening with them,” he sighed. “I worry about my mom and nobody tells me nothing.”
     “Do they think I don’t want to know?”
     “Since I’m big I’m supposed to be tough and take no shit from anyone,” he said, lowering his voice.
     “My family is not seeing this inside world the way I do,” he tried to explain. “They don’t have to watch it happening, so they don’t have to worry.”
     “Yeah, I know they are going through some stuff, too, but not like this.” Jamie paced back and forth.
     “They don’t understand how bad this is. They have never been through it and I wouldn’t want them to.”
     Jamie stopped talking to think for a minute. “I don’t think they care enough to even try to understand,” he frowned.
     “Not that I can tell.” He turned to face her again.
     “If I’m not sleeping, I’m day dreaming,” he said.
     “Playing old moments in my thoughts are like movies in my head, imagining where those movies would have taken my life if I wasn’t here.”
     “I know for a fact me and Morgan would live closer to you. I don’t know if she ever told you, but she tried to get me to fly down to visit you. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but I’ve never been on a plane. Driving there was too far. I’ve never left Texas. I didn’t know the freeways. I wish now I would’ve come to see you.”
     Sonni stood there silently listening.
     “I’m sure you got upset with me when I told you I was fixing to get locked down again,” Jamie began again.
     “Stop right there,” she said, putting her hand up to quiet him.
     “I am not upset with you, about anything,” she said softly, putting her arm back down by her side.
     “You have not done anything,” she explained. “These people have been determined to punish you. Some people enjoy causing others to feel pain.”
     “You have not been trying to hurt people, and I know there are people here who do, who think this is their castle and they are going to rule it.” She moved closer and looked him in the eye.
     “That would be different,” she told him. “But that is not you. I wouldn’t be here if I thought it was.
     “And I’m not going anywhere,” she added sternly.
     “I’m not going away. I am not everybody else.” she wanted him to believe it.
     “Even when you don’t see me, I’m not far away.”
     Jamie could feel tears behind his eyes so he closed them. When he opened them she was gone.

*Rodrigues – not the real name of the guard

<<< >>>

Almost everything in this  chapter was taken word for word from letters Jamie wrote in 2011, broken down to create dialogue. Background Description is added to better understand his environment. Some incorrect English is kept in the dialogue because it gives a more accurate feel for his state of mind. As years go by and he reads more his use of words and phrases improves. None that has anything to do with intelligence, but rather the lack of basic education.

Subscribers can ask for the rest of the chapter

squick@mynameisjamie.net

 

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David Snape Show 2 (4.4.16)

I did an internet radio show on the David Shape Show about the US prison system, Jamie Cummings and how he deals with epilepsy in a system that doesn’t care about medical care for the inmates.  When you go to the show it is quite long, a little over two hours. If you move the bar ahead one hour and twenty minutes it should be shortly before the interview starts.

We also talked about the youth in juvenile detention and how children are treated in schools using cops for discipline instead of detention, and putting handcuffs on them and seating them in the rear seat of a patrol car.

We talked about the book I’m writing about Jamie’s life, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. You can find chapters on the blog. It’s more than half done and the editing process has begun.

We also discussed the piano music I’m writing for the book which will be included inside the back cover. At the end of the show one of my more recent pieces will be played.

This is the first of hopefully more media I will be doing over time to advertise the book that I hope will lead to being able to lecture on the prison industry. When Jamie is finally released he will be able to join me. He wants to work with the youth using his life as an example, in hopes of being able to turn their lives around before they, too, end up in the system. One in three black males end up in prison. Contrary to racist belief it is not because crime is in their genes. It is because of government pushing the War of Drugs on to black men’s shoulders making you believe through the media that they are dangerous.

Kids don’t understand the ramification of their choices until it’s too late. When someone has been incarcerated for a long time, and Jamie has been locked up for 14 years counting time in juvenile detention. Unfortunately, the four years in juvy was not because he committed a crime. It was because he defended his mother from a cop who illegally entered their home. He injured his mother and she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He hit the cop with a broom. It cost him the rest of his high school years and four years of his life.

This story needs to be shared. Unfortunately, it happens far to often to too many black youth. I am asking for you to please share this on your own social media. The success of the book will be determined by how well this info gets pushed through sites on the web. It bring so much encouragement to Jamie as he sit in his cell 23 hours a day, working his way again, up through the levels. He has received letters from some of you. Knowing someone cares enough to write matters more than you know.

Thank you for tuning in to the show. Let me know what you think.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
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David Snape Show - Bourne and Beyond

On the show, we look back at the career of Ronnie Corbett. Why both the UK steel industry and Qatar’s World cup are in tatters. And can Rihanna make it 3 weeks in number 1 in the Itunes Power rankings?
All that plus this weeks post of the week: What Am i reflecting by Nancy Ruminski.
This weeks new artist showcase: The Ellipsis, Robyn Sherwell and Mt.Wolf
Two interviews: one with last week’s new artist showcase star, Salix Willow. And Sonni Quick with one of the most hardhitting interviews we have ever done, talking about the US prison system and Jamie Cummings who has epilepsy and how he’s been treated in there.

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There Is No Place Like Home – part 2

INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE

THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME – part 2

(Don’t forget to read part 1 before you read part 2)

     In 2012 I was moved to yet another Texas prison, the GIB Lewis Unit, in Woodville, Tx. Now I was even closer to everyone. I’m only forty-five minutes away from my mother. All I could do was wait – and hope.
      On September, 2013, I got a letter from mom. She was flying to Texas and was coming to see me. She had been sick for three years with a bad liver and had a liver transplant in the summer of 2012. She was sick for a lot longer than that, but the last years forced her to close her store in Key West and get on the transplant list. It was a difficult for her to give up everything and lose her health on top of it.  I was worried about her. The liver came through unexpectedly and she didn’t have time to tell me. Her sister wrote me a message through JPay, the prison email service. Mom knew it was going to be awhile before she would be able to write to me and she knew I’d be worried to death about what was happening.
      I was surprised when I got the letter saying she was coming to visit. It was only fifteen months since her surgery. She knows what it is like to have family who doesn’t care. When she moved to Pa to be near a transplant hospital she thought she’d have the support of her family, but she didn’t. They treated her with indifference. Even when she had the transplant no one called the hospital to see how she was. What kind of family is that? This is why she understands how I feel about my family. She knows how it feels when people don’t care. Even as sick as she was, she knew if I didn’t hear from her I’d worry because I knew how sick she was. This is what people do when they care. If someone says they care but their actions say something else, then they are not telling you the truth. They only say they care because it makes them feel less guilty. So she made sure I knew what was happening. Why is it that some people care about others and some people don’t? It’s not right. Maybe that is why Morgan’s mom and I hit it off so well. She wanted me to know important I was to her; important enough to make sure I knew what was going on.

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     In 2014 I was moved again to the Wynne Unit in Huntsville,Tx. In January 2016 I was moved to Allred Unit in Iowa Park, Tx. Moving people around like this keeps us from being able to make friends and keeps us in the frame of mind of always losing anything personal. The steal and break or property and we have no way of getting it back or replaced. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves, no recourse to take because they only deny doing it and we can’t prove it. Every time I’m moved more things are stolen from me. Tell me why i shouldn’t be mad

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     Some time passed and I was moved next was the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. A lot happened while I’ve been here. It took over a year, but my level was raised from ad seg to G4 and then to G2. While there I was able to make phone calls for a few weeks, I had a job in the laundry and was on the list for my GED. Because of actions by a guard it was stripped away and I lost it all. I was put back in lock up. It’s hard because I worked so hard to reach that point and in a matter of minutes it was all taken away. I became the punching bag of a few guards who had nothing better to do but throw their weight around and got angry. How could I not get angry? Anyone in my position would have gotten angry, too. I’ve been here awhile. I think this is the last stop before they ship me out to yet another prison, but I don’t know which one. There is no window in my cell, so I can’t see the sky. I haven’t seen it in months. I also haven’t breathed fresh air in all these months, either.
      The cell they locked me in is like living in purgatory. Will I go up or down? For awhile they took everything away; even my mattress. I have no books and no personal belongings. I was only allowed paper, pen and a few hygiene products. They took away my rec, too, unless you count the other little windowless cell they take me to a couple times a week. Later, they did give most of my stuff back. This was their way of showing me they are in control and I better deal with it or pay a price. Even when I were able to go outside for rec it is inside a cage, like an animal. They should parade the tourists by me and tell them, “See people, here is what an honest to goodness criminal looks like. Don’t get too close, he bites!” What kind of recreation am I supposed to do there? Jump up and down? Do push ups? That’s what most of the inmates do. The guards are trying to break me. If it weren’t for my son, knowing I have him to live for, they would succeed.
    I think they are trying to send me out west again. They’ve been shipping other inmates out there. It seems, all of a sudden, the prison is too full and there is no room for me in level G4. I admit, I’ve been on a downward cycle. But it didn’t help that I’ve been beaten up a few times and had my head rammed into a wall. It didn’t help that the guards filed thirteen sexual harassment charges against me that were false, just to make me look bad. It’s impossible to stand up for yourself when every single card in the deck is stacked against you. Whether I am right or wrong doesn’t make a damned bit of difference.
     I was only supposed to be here for thirty days and then I would be sent back to G4 but they said there was no room for me there. So they kept me in solitary for months. Then I noticed people were leaving. They were shipping inmates out west. I don’t want to go back to west Texas. I know I rarely get visits, but if I am out west there is no way anyone could come visit even if they wanted to. They only thing I could was to do something bad to break their rules, then they would put me in G5, or ad seg. There was room for me there. So I started yelling at the guards and threatening them. I was very abusive verbally. It wasn’t right but it worked. They lowered my level from G4 to G5. It could take a year to get out. I’ve already done 4 years in ad seg, so I know how to bide my time. At least in G4 I can leave my cell to go to chow. One benefit is I’d get more hot food, and I would have limited time in the rec room where there are two TVs and have the option to play cards.

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     Mom, tell me, why am I alive? I have your letter in my hand. Your letter tells me I am still alive and you are the only one who knows I am still here. Can you tell me, what was my purpose in being born? Was I destined to be here from the very beginning of my life? Is this the reason? Is this the space I was supposed to fill all along? Am I of value to anyone? Or is it because I have a dollar value attached to my head? Is that the reason? Or did I do something so bad long ago and this is the effect; I deserve to be here? You know, what goes around comes around. Is that what it means to reap what you sow? Cause and effect? Was each day of my life working up to this moment of understanding? I have all these questions I need to find the answers to. Does it have to be this way? Have I been kidding myself by thinking, when I get out of here, I can make up for all the sadness in my life, and it will be replaced with happiness? How am I supposed to know how to be happy? Is it possible this has all been a bad dream, because if it is, I wish I could wake up now.
      I wasn’t trying to get into trouble. I go back and forth in my head trying to understand the reason to keep trying. Sometimes I feel strong and sometimes I give in. If I could just know how my son is doing. He is all I have that gives value to my life and I couldn’t bear to lose him. The way things are going I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see or hear from him again. It’s hard not to think these thought. They scratch at the back of my head trying to get in.
      It hurts me to sit and think like this, but as time passes and I don’t hear anything, the worst always comes to mind. You have been my only way, mom, to know how he is and I appreciate that more than you know. Without that I would have lost it already. Morgan gets mad if you talk about me or even say my name. What did I do to deserve that? Is it because the man she is living with gets jealous of me? Is she trying to make herself believe she doesn’t care anymore? Does she have to punish me because of that? You only talk to her because I ask you to. Who else will tell her to write?
      Morgan has no way of understanding how alone I am and how hard it is. You see, I can’t figure out what I did to make Morgan want to punish me by not letting me know about my son. I don’t understand what I did. I have to stop thinking this way. If I didn’t have mom to remind me to stay focused on getting out of here I don’t know if I could do it. This is what happens to the inmates in here. They don’t have a reason to keep trying and they get in more and more trouble until they keep them locked up for good. Then they go nuts.
      Once in awhile, when I’m about to give up, Morgan writes. I think that’s when her mother pushes her. Maybe she feels guilty about waiting so long. She doesn’t have to sit and write me long letters. Sure, I want to know she’s okay. I want her to be happy. I think she needs to separate herself from me, she thinks she has to separate Jamie, too. This man she is living with probably doesn’t like her writing to me. Maybe he’s worried about what will happen when I get out. Nothing will happen. She chose him, not me. I wouldn’t want to mess that up. I only want time with my boy. Even if she just put pictures or schoolwork in an envelope and sent it I’d be happy. I’d feel part of his life and would have something from him. Wouldn’t she want that if the shoe were on the other foot? I’ve sat in my cell and cried so many times because my heart is feeling so much loss.
      I wonder if my family thinks life will go back to the way it was when I get out. I wonder if they have even thought of it at all? Will they help me get on my feet or help me get a job? I don’t think so. I’m not the child I was before. Besides, I don’t think we can just pick up the pieces and pretend the silence wasn’t there. That can’t happen. How could they look me in the eye and say they love me? There is no life to go back to. There is no home to go back to. Too many years have passed, and they aren’t done passing. But when I come up for parole I have to show I have a support system to help me. Where does that support come from?
      The thought of my family giving up on me is also really hard to take. I guess it was just a matter of time. It happens to other dudes in here, too. People go on with their lives and forget people who are locked up, especially the ones who are locked up for a long time. When someone isn’t around, how long does it take for people to forget about you? They don’t know you anymore and you don’t know them. They only know you until the time you go in and I have been gone for most of 14 years now, if you count the four years in Juvy. Sometimes, I don’t think I should plan on making it home. I see what they do to some of the inmates. Not everyone goes home.
      I want to make it home to everyone, but why go back to a place where no one loves or cares about me? They will have a party for me and everyone will be happy and give me big hugs. Then they will go on about their way thinking. I’m a man now and should figure everything out on my own. But I don’t know how to figure things out on my own. They won’t care. I’m not their responsibility. They have their own problems to deal with. I’m afraid because I don’t know if my son will hate me for not being there for him. I felt the same way about the dad I never had. You can’t love someone who was never there. Feelings don’t have a chance to grow. I’ll be a stranger to him. Maybe he’ll even be afraid of me. It’s would really hurt me if my only child hates me or doesn’t have interest in knowing me. Am I just feeling sorry for myself? Am I making a problem where there isn’t one?
      I look at what happened in my life and how it all led me to this very place. I look at all the things I did as a kid and the trouble I got into. I know I was a difficult kid. I gave my mama a hard time. She did the best she could. She did what she knew how. I wouldn’t listen to her. Does giving a kid the belt teach him anything? Because I got into trouble as a kid, is this why she never tries to help me in here or answer a letter? How can a mother never ever answer even one letter I send her? Is it my fault? Is it too much to ask? It’s rare for me to hear from anyone. Would it have been different if I had growing up if I had a dad? No sense thinking about that because i can’t go back andf change that now. I have so many unanswered questions. This is what happens when you have too much time on your hands. Time is all I have now.
      Will I always be judged by these years inside? Will people see me as a failure? Will being black make it extra hard? I feel I should know these answers but these are things you have to experience to know. I don’t think racism has changed since I got locked up. I’m in my thirties; I’m not a boy, but still I haven’t had a chance to learn these things on my own. I want to learn to be the father I never had. Maybe it’s too late for me, but I don’t think it is too late for my son. I want to change it for him so he doesn’t follow in my footsteps.

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

     My mama had to go through a lot with me being sick when I was growing up. I guess I used up all the worrying she had. After I got locked up she ended up raising my sister’s kids because she got locked up, too, and then my niece’s kids, so she’s been raising kids all her life. Maybe she thought that since I was over twenty-one I was an adult and an adult shouldn’t need his mother. Tough love; She let me go. But the thing is, I still needed her. I still do. Just because I am a man does not mean I don’t need to know my mother loves me and is still there when I need her.
      The world preys on boys like me. Black boys with no father. They’re locking up all the black men. It’s very deliberate. Mothers can’t be fathers. Mothers can’t be mothers, either, when they have to work all the time and be the only ones to discipline the kids because there is no one around to do that. Us kids were left to fend for ourselves most of the time. We weren’t little kids. But still, even teenagers need to have someone around to watch what they are doing and to try to teach them the things they need to learn.
      Mama worked two jobs to take care of us kids. She made sure we were fed and had clothes. We weren’t on welfare or food stamps. She worked hard, so I can’t fault her for that. I think that is why, when Sonni came into my life, she took over the role of mother. She knew I needed a mom, and she’s been there every year since then. She can’t really come to visit me because she’s so far away. She can’t send much money, but she sends enough so I can get my hygiene and stamps and extra stuff when I need it, and she pays my medical fee each year so I can call for medical help. This is what a mom does. But aside from doing these things, I know she does this because she loves me. She tells me she loves me and I believe her.
      All these years we’ve been writing, and with all the things we’ve shared, there is no way there isn’t love. Yes, she’s married and she loves her husband. I know she is twenty-nine years older than me and nine years older than my mother. But in prison, age, looks, race and anything else doesn’t matter. You could be an ugly dog, but it wouldn’t matter. Sometimes people love someone because they are beautiful and they are attracted to each other, but what happens when the beauty is gone? When all you do is write words, you get to know someone in a completely different way; from inside their mind. You end up loving the beauty of the person through the things they write to you. When those letters become hundreds of letters and you can reread all the way back to the first one, you can see how the caring grows.                                                                                                                     Above all, I don’t want to disappoint her or let her down. When I do things in here that I’m not proud of,  I don’t want her to know these things because I don’t want her to think less of me. I know that doesn’t really matter because she says there is nothing that would make her go away. I just get disappointed in myself. My real mom only knows me as this boy she raised, but she doesn’t really know who I am. She doesn’t understand what her silence does to me. I know I can’t change that, but it is part of is the reason why this is so hard to take some days.

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

     People on the outside have no idea what it’s like to live in a prison. They see TV shows and movies but they never tell it like it is. They don’t show the things that really happen. They don’t show guards beating the crap out of people or tasing and gassing them. I can’t change the channel and make it go away. There is no way to explain what it does to your head to be in here day after day, year after year. Growing up I had no common sense. No kid does. My wisdom was that of a boy. Yeah, I learned certain things in juvy but none it had anything to do with how to live your life and not screw it up.
      When I get out, when I am nearly forty, how am I supposed to know what the right thing is to do? I will have to be so careful.  The simplest thing could land me back in here again.  I don’t know how to do the things an adult would know. How can I rely on my own wisdom when I don’t have any? The only things I know, is how to survive in here. It’s scary to think about being on the outside when I don’t know how to the necessary things to take care of myself. Everything will be so changed. My family might have a welcome home party for me, but most of the people won’t even know me. After that they’ll say, “You’re an adult. Go take care of yourself.”
      When I get out of here half my life could be gone. How will I be able to pick up the pieces when I don’t know where the pieces are, or how to put them back together. I’m clueless. I have no experience how to live my life and be free to do what I want. I don’t remember what being free feels like. It is easy to see how inmates get institutionalized when they are in here too long. Some of them, when they get out, are only comfortable when they are in a tiny closed room.  it makes them feel safe. I don’t want it to be that way for me.
      Do you know what it feels like to have people look at you like you’re dirt, when they don’t even know who you are; just because your skin isn’t white? A white person can’t really know how that feels, to be looked at like that your entire life. In prison it’s even worse. What’s weird is even the black guards look down on me like I’m scum. But what can I do? They have control over my life and if I don’t kiss their ass they’ll lock me up in an even smaller room. Besides, they don’t care who I am. They get to bring out the bully part of their nature that gets off on hurting people.
      I sit here for awhile and the reel in my head starts all over again. I need to keep the determination to change this. I want my life to go right for a change. I made mistakes. I loved a woman. I didn’t have the sense to know the right thing to do. I know that sounds like I’m making excuses, but it’s the truth. Because I loved her and needed to provide for her , I went with my cousin to a gaming hall where he pulled out his gun and it ruined my life. I didn’t think I had any choice. I couldn’t leave. Friends don’t leave friends behind. In juvy, that’s what you learn; loyalty.
      “There is a baby on the way,” Morgan said one night, driving home the point that it takes money to have a baby. I was so happy but I didn’t know what to do. How was I supposed to get money to take care of her? I couldn’t get a job. I didn’t even have a GED.  I couldn’t drive a car because I can’t have a license with epilepsy. We are all capable of doing stupid things when we love someone and our back is up against the wall. I did something crazy, and I didn’t understand what the effects could be because all I thought of was Morgan so I didn’t stop it from happening, and I could have. So that makes me just as guilty. I hadn’t been out of juvy for long. I was just being stupid. Who did I have to teach me? We learn from the people around us. I feel my son has paid the highest price for my mistakes. What a mess I made of things. There is no place like home. I lost mine. If I could just go back and start all over again . . .

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 sometimes i fall to the right and almost land on the floor! 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.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards

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
There Is No Place Like Home – part one

Please fill out this form to be on the email list so you don’t miss any chapters I publish and to hear any new and exciting news in the world of a new author writing her first book. I’m also open to any constructive criticism you can think of that would help me put out a better book when it is time to actually publish it!

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?

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

      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.

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

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

Please fill out this form to be on the email list so you don’t miss any chapters I publish and to hear any new and exciting news in the world of a new author writing her first book. I’m also open to any constructive criticism you can think of that would help me put out a better book when it is time to actually publish it!

In Ad Seg How Can You Deal With Loss?

January 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

antie
Jamie’s older brother, Antie

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

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

This letter is to be continued . . .

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

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

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Inside The Forbidden Outside – chapter -The Nightmare

Sometimes I feel like I’m still at the beginning of this nightmare. I lose all track of time and I forget how long I’ve been here. Sometimes I don’t count the days and let them slip by, hoping I’ll wake up and they will all be over. My sentence is 5,875 days, so why count them? I get through one day and then do the next. Every day is pretty much the same. Don’t get me wrong: There have been quite a few changes over time, and it has taught me a lot about myself, but it’s also taught me things I never knew about prison wish I never had to learn. It’s brutal. Prisoners get treated as though it doesn’t matter that they are human. Animals get treated better than we do. The only difference is that it’s illegal to treat animals inhumanely, but it isn’t illegal to treat humans that way. Something I feel like I’ll never get out of here, like that day will never come, but slow and sure, the years are adding up.

It doesn’t matter how good I am or if I cause trouble, because the guards will write up a case on me about anything, whether I did it or not. The prison sees g­­uards as always being right and us convicted felons as always wrong, no matter what, so there is no point in fighting it. Even if guards witness you aren’t guilty, they won’t stand up for you. If they do, they will get in trouble, and they aren’t about to mess up their job and tell the truth; and if I try to stand up for myself, it gives them the right to hurt me by beating on me, spraying cans of pepper spray on me, or anything else they feel like doing. It always gets me in more trouble. It’s hard to let people walk all over you when you know it’s not true. It makes me angry and that gets me in more trouble.

But I’m not going to let them screw with my head. In a twisted way they would like to see that they beat me down. They might be able to get away with beating my body, but I won’t let them break me. I’ve seen how their inhumane treatment affects some of the men. They give in to it and it messes them up. When they get out: If they get out, and need to live on their own, they are too screwed up to make it, and end up back inside again, especially if they don’t have family outside to help them. They can’t handle the pressure of coping, and they certainly can’t work anymore. How do they survive?
Prisons are used as a place to dump crazy people. They need laws to protect them. This whole system is so screwed up. Even inmates that seem okay at first get institutionalized when they are in here too long. Even making the decision to leave the room and go pee without asking permission is impossible. Being in here is like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Sometimes, when I wake up, I’m not always too sure what is real and what isn’t. It is easy to slide into a bad place in your head and it takes hold of you. That’s where going crazy begins.

If this isn’t a nightmare, then I don’t know what is. If I could go back to sleep, maybe when I wake up again, I’ll find it was only a bad dream. Wouldn’t that be great? If I could choose, maybe the dream could belong to someone else. I have wanted so much for this whole thing to be a dream, because if it isn’t, I know for sure, I’m having the worst damn time in my life that I’ve ever had. I want to get off this roller coaster ride. People can’t possibly understand what this is like, and I know the kids out there who are messing up don’t realize what the stakes are. When you’re a kid, either you don’t think bad things will happen to you, or you don’t care what happens.

I know this is not a dream. It’s just a game I play with myself, because for a few minutes I can convince myself that I’ll wake up and walk out of here. I do what I need to do to survive. There are only two people in this cell. Me and myself, and we talk to each other, because there is no one else to talk to. On the outside, no one understands what it is truly like to be locked up alone with yourself 24/7, in a cell with no one to talk to. It will make you crazyy all by itself. But I have mom. She’s the only one I write to about what I’m going through and about what it’s like in here. She writes me back. If I didn’t have anyone, and had no communication with the outside, without a doubt, this really would be hell.

It scares me that I might do something bad and it would make her not want to write to me anymore. I don’t think I would survive this, if I didn’t have her encouragement. She also helps me get the things I need. It wouldn’t hurt me if I lost that, but if I lost her, and I knew I wasn’t going to hear from her again, that would be really hard. She may be almost thirty years older than me, but that doesn’t matter. She is the only one who truly cares about me, and about what happens to me. She see me for who I really am, and doesn’t judge me by what happened to put me here. Whatever it is she sees in me, I’m glad she sees it.

I let my mind wander from one thing to the next, wondering if I’m starting to lose it. I pace back and forth, and back and forth. Maybe this is the way it starts when you start going crazy. It will creep up on me real slow until it has me by the throat. So I have to be careful. I’ve watched men go crazy; It’s not fun. How did it start for them? Did they know they were losing their mind? Could they feel themselves starting to lose it? Did they have these crazy conversations like I do? There are lots of crazy people in here. It had to be caused by the whole experience of being in prison. Not all the crazies were like that before they got here. I suppose they might have had some problems already, but at least they were functioning. Spend enough time alone in a cell and it pushes you over the edge. It’s such a helpless feeling.

Many of the crazy inmates were put here because they are crazy and there is no place else to stick them. Some of the lifers beat up on them, and even gang rape them, so they are put in solitary for their own protection. But locking them up like that certainly doesn’t do them any favors. The real truth is, the prison staff doesn’t want to mess with them. Some of them are a real pain in the ass. When they lock them up they can forget about them. They don’t care if they get crazier. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if there weren’t so damn many of them, but there are. It’s a real problem. But some of them aren’t completely sick in the head when they come here. It is being here, and the way they are treated that finishes them off. Don’t the people who run this place see what is happening? Don’t they care? I guess not. They go home at the end of the day and forget about it.

No one sees the crimes the guards do, or the way they sometimes let inmates die, just for kicks*. Not unless a member of their own family is affected does anyone finally get it and want to help. Better late then never, I suppose. Most people think we have it good in here. But really, I don’t think they want to know the truth. They’d rather stick their head in the sand. They also don’t want to see what some of these guys do to themselves.  Suicides or attempted suicides happen all the time. They would gag if they could smell how bad it is. People don’t want to think about us. They want to pretend it’s not so bad. We get food and medical care and should be happy about that. We got it good. We aren’t anyone’s worry.

Some of these things now are getting out in the news, and people are starting to ask questions and demand change. Over the last few decades the justice system locked up a bunch of people on the ‘war on drugs’ who shouldn’t be locked up, or at least not for the length of time they gave them. Giving someone decades, or life without parole, goes beyond reason, especially if they didn’t hurt or kill anyone. What happens, when they get out, is they don’t know how to live anymore because they are all screwed up. They have been letting out more and more people because they found out they weren’t guilty. It’s great they were let out, but it doesn’t make up for the decades of life they lost. It doesn’t make up for the things they had to live through. How do they make up for that? Is money enough? Not a chance.

Mom tells me what’s in the news and what people say. Here in the US, this country by itself has more people locked up than most all the countries put together. America must have some pretty rotten people living here because so many have to be locked up*. The news tells people that black people have a gene that makes them prone to be criminals. They say we do and sell more drugs, and commit more crimes. The news says that over and over justify why they lock up so many of us. Everyone believes it and it keeps white people afraid of us. The women think we are going to grab their purses and run so they clutch them tightly if we walk by. They made people suspicious of anyone in a hoodie sweatshirt, like just wearing one will make you want to commit a crime. When people read this over and over they believe it. People suspect all blacks, but they don’t do the same thing to whites. Because of the centuries that black people were slaves, white people still think the have special privileges. Even if they don’t think they deserve it, over government, the justice system and police and organizations like treat them as if they do. Cops would never treat white people the way they treat us. Many white people still treat us as though we aren’t as good as them. I think that no matter how many years go by, we  will ever be looked at as equals. Of course, that isn’t everyone. Mom is about as white as they come. She’s always fighting racism.

It is the minorities that get locked up the most. Minorities are mostly poor and can’t pay an attorney. The are low income because society doesn’t give the same privileges that white people get. Everyone knows it is true. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t defend myself. If I had been white and had an attorney, I probably wouldn’t be in here, and if I was, I wouldn’t be in high security, and I’d be out by now. I don’t have any other offenses as an adult. I had no criminal record. I’m not saying I was innocent. I’m saying punishment is different if you are white. I have a juvy record but that is supposed to be sealed. I wouldn’t have gone to juvy if I had been white. I would have been giving a medal for trying to protect my mama from a bad person. But I’m black, so I’m not allowed to be right. I have to be seen as wrong, especially if a cop says I’m wrong. But it was the cop who did wrong. It didn’t matter. He was a white cop and I was a black teenager. Case closed.

Maybe I’m dead and this is hell. I have to laugh at that. I have to find amusement somehow. Now, If I were dead, and knew this is hell, I could probably deal with it better, because there wouldn’t be anymore questions about me being crazy. I wouldn’t have to think anymore about getting out. I would know that all eternity was going to be like this. It feels like an eternity already. Fire and brimstone, the preacher ranted on Sundays when I was a kid. it scared the daylights out of me. “Repent or you’ll go to hell,” he said, like I’m not in hell already and I haven’t even died yet. I would have a few things to say to that preacher today about the reality of hell. It’s right here and I’m living in it.

Maybe outside prison is the real hell. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get out of here and that scares me. I have no real experience being an adult. How am I going to take care of myself? I don’t know even the basic things, like filling out a job application, since I don’t have any experience. How do you open a checking account or turn on utilities? I have absolutely nothing to start a life with. I sure as hell, pardon the pun, don’t want to go back to Nacogdoches. There is nothing for me there except trouble. So much has changed since I got here. Not knowing these things is scary and it makes me look like an idiot, and I’m not one. I just don’t know anything about how things are done now. I can’t count on my family. They aren’t here for me now so I know I’ll get no help from them later.

What if I did something without even meaning to and the police picked me up again, not giving me a chance? I know what it is like out there. Cops don’t need a reason to pick up blacks, charge them, and make them guilty of things they didn’t do. If someone really wanted to be a criminal and get away with it, they should become a cop. It’s hard as hell to convict a cop with anything. Murder? Not a problem. Drug dealing? They have the best connections. If you are racist, you’d be in good company, because racism is just fine if you’re a cop, because they can’t prove why you shot some poor black kid in the back. They just have to say they felt threatened. The news finds it’s way inside. I hear guys talk when they come back in again, because they did something that broke their parole. Wanting to stay out of prison is no promise that you will. Coming back into prison through the back door is an easy way to keep the prisons full and it doesn’t cost money to do it.

Yeah, some dudes do get into trouble when they get out. They get back with their friends and get into trouble, so it’s their own fault. They don’t know any other life. They all say they want to get a job, but do some illegal things on the side. They don’t learn. They still think they can beat the system. I think sometimes, where would I be if I didn’t have you to keep setting me straight and keeping me on track. I’d be a mess when I get out and would have no way to make it right. This place wears on you and turns you into the people they say you are. I don’t want to be here. I will do anything it takes to turn my life around. It takes a strong person to change and start over. I don’t want any old friends to come knocking on my door and see that nothing changed in their life. I don’t want to be around people like that. I have to go somewhere where my old life can’t suck me back in again. I have no reason to go be around old friends. My home town is a dead end and I want no part of it. No, I know for sure I am never coming back here. My life will be different. Nothing will bring me back here again.

But sometimes, when they get out, they can’t get a job no matter how hard they try. Society doesn’t want them around. No matter how straight they want to be, they still gotta eat or take care of their family, so they take a chances. Then it’s only a matter of time untill they’re picked up again. But the cops don’t need a reason to pick you up. They do it just to harass you. If they see you and they know you, you’re going to jail: Do not pass go. Just like in here, where the guards are always right, no matter what happens, it’s the same out there. Cops don’t need a reason to cuff you and throw you in jail, and probably beat the crap out of you along the way. I am not going to get picked up and brought back here again – ever. Not on my son’s life will that ever happen. I’m determined. Mom says to make a determination and focus on doing them, and that is one of mine.

Crazy thoughts were always shooting through my brain like this. I have way too much time to think. It’s hard remembering a time when I could laugh and smile. It was a long time ago, like a fading dream that came to the surface but I can’t quite remember the ending.

Sometimes it feels like my life in prison is something that isn’t happening to me, but instead, I walked into a theater into the middle of a movie I never saw the beginning of, and fell asleep before it got to the end. It’s the kind of dream where you feel yourself falling and you know if you hit the ground you’re going to die, and wake up startled and afraid to go back to sleep again. I have this dream over and over, like it is a premonition of some sort. But there is a hazy part I can’t see clearly. I would lie there for hours and think about it, but it is no use. Maybe I’m not supposed to see it. I need to snap out of this.
I lived that movie in my head over and over, never knowing if it was going to have a good ending. I never felt hope, only despair. Every time I go to sleep I’m afraid I’ll see it again and I almost always do. I have no one I can talk to in here and it gets me more depressed every day. It’s hard to shake out of it. Some days I’m better than others, but it always comes back and grabs me.

Once, when I woke up, I was running really fast from my dream. My heart was beating hard because I knew I was in a place that was really bad. It was hell and I couldn’t change it. So many times I woke up crying from my dreams. Crying for the loss. Crying for everything. I felt like the dream was never, ever, going to be over. I was lost forever. It felt like forever. Was I going to make it out of here? I buried my head wept.


This is what drives men mad: Going back and forth between sane and insane. This is what solitary confinement does to the mind; It creates hopelessness. I know there are men who are kept in solitary sometimes for decades. My sentence is only seventeen years, if the word ‘only’ means anything. Seventeen years is still an awfully long time. Babies grow up and graduate highschool in that amount of time and that is where my son will be if I never make parole. It depresses me to think of this lost time. I want so much to be a father to my son.

I remember what it was like in solitary when I was in the juvy system. It was no picnic, and it wasn’t much different. Alone is alone, no matter where you are. It’s insane to put a kid through that. What did they think it was going to accomplish? They ruined a lot of kids locking them up like that. I got so depressed, they put me in a juvenile detention hospital. They let me out after that, but they had no choice because I turned twenty-one. A person can only take so much deprivation, and a kid can’t hardly take any at all. I have already been put through more than a person should have to. I am not a bad person. I was locked up when I was a kid for one reason. The prison corporations make money off blacks and minorities for than any other race. Greed is a nasty thing. What had I ever done as a kid to deserve this? Nothing. This was a cop out to get me, and nobody had the power or money to stop what was happening. I shut down mentally. I was lost. Would any kid be okay after four years of this? I was only sentenced to nine months, but they wouldn’t let me out until they were forced to when I turned twenty-one. When the courts get you, they aren’t going to let you go. There is too much money made from locking people up. My family didn’t support me then, either. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I didn’t know kids were being prepped kids for adult prison. My life was expendable. It got named, ‘The School to Prison Pipeline’. Many black kids got funneled through. My number got called.

When mom started writing to me I finally found someone I could count on. She has always been there for me and I wasn’t alone anymore; At least not in my head. She gave me the reason I needed to keep fighting for my life, and it really was a fight. She always tries to help me figure out why it was happening to me. It was hard to open up to her. I wasn’t used to talking about my life. She tells me it is up to me to change my life. No one else can do it. I can’t blame anyone for what has happened to me. How is that possible? I don’t understand it. But she is so confident I will be able to make sense of my life and turn it around, so I can’t give up hope now. She’s counting on me. She tells me there is a purpose to my life; if I want it bad enough. If she believes I can do it, she is seeing something I can’t see yet. I’ll have to trust her.

I have to learn to control my emotions. That is not so easy. People can’t change something about themselves just because they want to. I need to have a calmer way of dealing with these things because I get pissed off so easy. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong, they are in charge and I can’t do anything to change it by continuing to get angry. I have tried to show them the truth when guards write up cases on me that aren’t fair or outright lies and it doesn’t matter. The officers are going to believe the guards 100%. Even other guards will back up a guard in the wrong because it is part of their unwritten code. Guards can’t rat out a guard just like an inmate can’t rat out an inmate. If you do, your own kind will get back at you. Mom says, if I’m angry, I’m going to respond with anger. Anger is one of the hardest things for me to stop. I have a hot button and get angry fast. I don’t get angry just to be angry. I get angry when I see people doing the wrong thing and hurt people. I get in the most trouble because I try to help people here in the prison and the prison authorities don’t like that. When I do that I’m the one who ends up getting punished. There has to be a better way of dealing with these issues that don’t involve more punishment for myself.

If I can learn how to be in a better place in my head, I’ll react to things in a better way. That’s the key to this, mom says, and that comes from always being aware of how I’m feeling and the thoughts I’m having. Everyone has their own way of reacting. I know I react the same way all the time, and when I get angry, it’s hard for me to think about reacting a different way. In fact, it’s almost impossible. When I get angry, It pops out before I have time to think about it. Mom said, if it were easy to change, people would be doing it all the time, and they don’t, because they can’t. Its ingrained in them. It’s too easy to just give up. It’s easy to accept that it is the way they are. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not just me; it’s everyone. Mom said she’s been working on herself for a long time. It isn’t easy for her, either. She says we’re helping each other. I’m struggling to understand what she’s saying. I never knew any of these things before. But I keep listening because she says if I don’t change these things about myself, how will I be able to stop the anger when I get mad about something when I get out? She’s right. I haven’t been able to change this on my own so maybe she’s right. A good place to learn about it is where I am right now.

I know I don’t have to let these things be in control of my head anymore. I want to change, I really do. I don’t want to give up. I need a new dream. If I think about it real hard before I goes to sleep, maybe I can make a new dream happen that has a better ending. I think maybe I can do that if I try hard enough. I don’t have to believe my nightmare will come true.

There is nothing written in stone that says life has to go a certain way, so there sure isn’t anything written in stone that a dream has to happen. I don’t have to give in to despair. No one has ever talked to me about things like this, but mom seems so sure of the things she says. Much of it doesn’t make any sense to me and she says that’s okay. It will make sense if I keep trying to understand. That is what I’m going to do.

This is something else she tells me: If I think I can’t do something, then I can be sure I can’t, but if I think I CAN do something, then I will try harder to make it happen instead of giving up. It’s all about the way I think about it. Good thinking makes good things happen, but bad thinking can’t make good things happen. We are the way we think we are.

Cause and effect. Cause and effect. My life is my own doing. I know that already. But why does understanding that change anything? Because if I don’t learn from it, I’ll have to repeat it over and over until I do. I need to pay attention to the lessons my life is trying to show me. Stop making the same mistakes all over again. I’m tired of making the same mistakes. But it’s not easy to stop doing that. I get so mad sometimes. It takes every bit of control I have to not get mad. Sometimes I stays in control. But more often, I get too mad because of stupid things that happen, and that gets me into trouble.

I don’t get angry with the guards when I get into trouble for things I do that are wrong. That is my bad. but I shouldn’t get into trouble for things I don’t do. I think it makes you a man when you can own up to your own mistakes. Things are lopsided in here because the guards never have to own up to the things they do. This is supposed to be the justice system; When does it stop being a justice system when crimes are committed in here and the criminals in guard uniforms don’t have to be accountable. How does that get changed? I can’t change it, but someone needs to, because it isn’t right what is done to us in here. No one sticks up for us. Maybe some do, I don’t see it. I keep seeing them get away with murder, and that’s no pun. People shouldn’t be treated this way.

There is so much I don’t understand. Mom told me there is a reason for everything so I need to trust that. Life is so complicated; Really complicated. Why do I matter so much to her? So many questions. I have not mattered to anyone in a long time? People can say they love you, but most of the time it’s just a bunch of words because it’s never backed up by anything they do. Do they say they love me because they think they should. Are the words supposed to be enough? If they had any idea what it is like to be in here, maybe they would understand. I don’t see where anyone cares enough to find out how I am. Is that love?

I knows my mama loves me, in her own way. She gave birth to me. Is her responsibility over now because I’m grown? Could I treat my son this way? Never. This why Sonni told me to call her mom. She said I needed a mom. But why can I count on her, but I can’ t count on my family? Why is it so hard for my real mama to be there for me? She has no idea how bad it makes me feel. I’m always so happy to see her and I know she is happy to see me, but once she leaves the room on those rare times she comes to see me, it’s like, when she walks out of the room she forgets me. She’s done her duty and it’s time to go do something else. I’m tired of begging people write or to come to see me. I want to matter to my family once in awhile, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m just tired. I’m very, very tired of waiting for them to care. Mom says she understands. Her family never showed her they cared about her, either, when she moved home for a liver transplant. She told me I helped her, too. We help each other. That is what family does, right? If they care. I think we understand each other. We came into each others life for a reason. I can believe that.

All this thinking is starting to make my head hurt, or maybe I’m hungry. I’m always hungry. I think I’ll take a little nap and see if I can figure this out while I’m sleeping. I feel a little better now. I took a letter out of a book I’m reading, I’m using as a bookmark. It’s one of mom’s letters. I usually keep a favorite letter in whatever book I’m reading because I like to read them over and over. When I’m able to make phone calls, it sure will feel good to hear her voice.

Mom wrote some stuff in this letter that looks like gobbledy gook to me. She said it was Japanese. I sure don’t read that language! She wrote these words down: ‘nam myoho renge kyo’. That’s weird. I have no clue how to say it or what it meant. She said it didn’t matter, just try to say it the way it looked. I have no idea what it means but I’ll try it because I told her I would. She’ll tell me more about it later. Maybe she is crazy, too because she wrote, If I said it over and ever, I could be happy. “What do I have to lose?” I laughed to myself. I guess it can’t hurt.” I fell asleep thinking about all of these things in my head. I had a much better dream that night.

Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story

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Guards Are Always Right. Inmates Are Always Wrong

black hands on cell door, prison guard brutality
source credit: pittsburgurbanmedia.com

Today I started reading through old letters I sent Jamie. This one is six months old and it was written at the time after he had just lost his new privileges of being able to make phone calls and have contact visits – for three weeks. It was devastating to be sent back to lock up again after it took him another two years to reach a level where it was allowed. It happened because of lies by guards and no one would listen to you. The guards are always right and the inmates are always wrong – every time. If a guard does not back up whatever another guard says he, himself, will be retaliated against. When that happens it is hard to keep your anger from making you lash out.

nmrk0731
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of a lion, there what illness can be an obstacle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mention daimoku which is a Nichiren Buddhist chant – Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.  Like meditation it allows you to have better control of your mind, your thoughts. Practicing Buddhism has been very good for Jamie.  It has been part of my life for a very long time.  I started teaching Jamie Buddhist concepts and how to apply them at least 6 years ago.  Being in prison is more difficult than you can imagine, knowing the years you lose, you will never get back, and the abuse you will have to take will be humiliating, because it is wrong and there is nothing you can do about it.

Chanting, with the deep breathing you have to do, lowers your stress level.  High stress also makes his epileptic seizures  more frequent. This allows the person inside to shine. We have to understand the right thing to do, instead of responding emotionally.  But chanting doesn’t mean you will always do the right thing.  We are human.  We learn from our mistakes. Changing our habits and our reactions is a life long battle with ourselves. But I believe – asking someone or something outside ourselves to fix our problems that cause us unhappiness.  Change must come from within.  Chanting gives you time to think about your life and take responsibility for your actions.  It is about gaining the wisdom to make the right decisions to change your life – to see things in a different perspective.

Living in a prison is about as close to the concept as hell as you can get. Buddhism does not look at hell as a place you go to when you die, but rather a life condition you live in here on earth. What better describes that life condition than a maximum security prison.

This letter was sent using jpay.com, a system set up for most state prisons, not federal. I can type an email letter, or send money through them.  To send a letter costs one “stamp” per page.  To send a picture is one stamp.  Two pictures is two stamps.  The advantage is they get it faster, and my typing is easier to read than my handwriting!  I do write, though, because I know it is a more personal connection.

 
Date: 5/11/2015  5:18:10 PM
Sent To: JAMES CUMMINGS
Attachments:

Hello son,

Just a quick letter today. I wanted you to know that I did talk to Ms Johnson in classification. She said you had to go to the UCC (prison court) on May 12 for a case. She said she didn’t have anymore information. She said after that you would be released, but she didn’t say released to where. Jamie, you can’t fight them. I know this is so hard. You worked so hard and waited so long for your privileges but they always find a way to knock you down even if they have to lie to do it. I know they didn’t do you right. You need to keep the bigger picture in mind and put all the rest of the garbage out where it belongs – in the trash. I know it’s hard.

You probably won’t get this letter in time – but chant daimoku (Nichiren Buddhism) before you go to court.  Center your mind. Stay calm. You have grown so much and learned so much, but that doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes sometimes. The harder we try to change, life throws curve balls at us to keep us down. But if you remember there is something to learn from everything, you will be okay. This will  be over one day. It will be behind you and you will have a chance to live again. Have faith in that. You will have a life and it will be a life you will be proud of. All of this  you are going through is making you the person you are. A person with compassion. A person who will always know what it is like when the chips are down. You are learning things through all of this. I will be chanting for you tomorrow to be strong. Have no doubt, Jamie. Keep your dreams in the front of your head.

You might find this a bit funny. You REALLY upset Bill (my egotistic brother-in-law who uses his knowledge of the Bible as a way to feel important, but doesn’t apply any teachings inside the covers to his own life) with that plastic Christian remark you called him. If the shoe fits, wear it. My sister and family had a field day ripping you and me to shreds because of how much he “helped” you, and you had the nerve to expect him to follow through with the things he said he could do for you,.  I should have known better. You bruised his inflated ego. If it weren’t true it wouldn’t have bothered him so much. He knows what he did – he just didn’t want anyone else to find out about it. He said were ungrateful. It must have made him feel good to rip apart our relationship. Well, I hope he enjoyed himself. After all he is such a sincere Christian. You are a much better man than he is. The law of cause and effect applies to him as well. Hearing those words, “Cause and effect” makes him go berserk with rage.  But isn’t it the same as, “You reap what you sow”?

reap what you sow

My mom wants to have a happy family. It ain’t gonna happen any time soon. I wouldn’t go to any family affairs if they invited me, which I doubt they will – because I don’t like to be around plastic people either. I have other people in my life who know who I am and care about me. After almost 5 years of trying to have a family since I moved here – I give up. I just can’t live life they way they do. I can’t pretend.  But remember – the best revenge against people like that is to have a good, happy life. Live with the principles you know to be true. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

On that note – write me asap and let me know what’s up. What a mess this all is. I love you. Never forget that.

Your mom

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Why Solitary Confinement? What Did Jamie Do?

Solitary confinement Cell

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

(Sonni’s note: In my last post I was concerned because I found out Jamie was back in solitary confinement. After I posted it I found a letter from him in my mailbox. He explained what happened, but didn’t mention any cardiology appointments, so maybe it’s not time for it. He said it was “next month”, but the month has just started. He should not be going months without the necessary medications for his heart problems.)

10-28-15

HELLO MOM,

Sorry for the wait. I received the letters you sent. Please tell your mother I said hello. Tell her I’m sorry I haven’t written to her. I just didn’t know what to say. I don’t want to say nothing wrong. Well, not say nothing wrong, it’s just that I’m nervous, just like the first time you and I met. But please let her know I am very thankful for the encouragement that she sends to me, as well as the love.

So how are you doing? Well yes that really was a crazy question. It’s always good to know you’re doing better. I know you can’t stand being in bed all day. I’m glad the side effects from the Hep C drugs has lessened. Don’t worry about coming to see me this month. Your health always comes first.

I’m sure you want to know what’s happening with me. Remember the situation that happened with the dude who worked in the cafeteria who was putting his hands all over people’s food and didn’t wear gloves? https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/10/18/there-are-no-judges-here-and-some-things-you-cant-let-fly/

Well, it never ended until now. On October 15th, the officer this dude worked for retaliated against me. He walked up to me and started pushing and shoving me trying to provoke me. However I just smiled at him because there was another officer there. He was telling this officer to stop and trying to hold him back. Shit, that didn’t last long. because the officer tried to grab me by my shirt and slam me into the wall. However, I jerked away from him.

If he had managed to slam me into the wall it would have been face first. After that he reached out and put his arm around my throat. He told the other officer to take me down. He didn’t want to do it at first. I hadn’t done anything. But he ended up doing it. He grabbed my legs and I went down. The Officer  who started this had me around the neck. While I was on the floor he was choking me. Long story short I got an assault case and 15 days in solitary. I have 8 days left as of now.

The officers came up with a story and blamed everything on me. Even the officer who watched the other officer do all this blamed me – to cover his own ass. It’s against the rules, they say, for officers to side with inmates on anything. But he ended up getting into trouble anyway because he had me handcuffed in the front instead of the back. I was being moved to a different block at the time this all happened.

I told the Major warden that the officer did this because I beat up a  worker of his who jumped me when I reported his violations in the kitchen. I also told him that this officer had threatened to get me which he did. They are supposed to be doing an investigation but we both know how that will turn out. The Major even told me if everyone sticks to their story there is nothing he can do about it – even if he knows the truth he can’t prove it.

But get this – another officer – an African – told me he saw what was done to me. I write his name down and told the Major. I told him to question this officer because I didn’t trust the Sgt or the Capt-Lt. They don’t like me because I speak my mind and I speak up for others when their officers are in the wrong. Anyway, the Major goes and tells the Lt. Then the next thing I know they can’t get ahold of this officer to get his statement.

When he comes back to work the statement he gave me and the one he is saying now are completely different of course. He told them I pushed the officer. The next time I saw him I was hot. I aked him why he lied. He said, “Because”. I said, What the hell is, “Because?” But I know they probably threatened to give him probation or take away his job. The African officers here will kiss ass to keep their jobs. They come over here and take a lot out on blacks. Really. They are just about everywhere in the system. If only would work in the system to see how their families are being treated

(Sonni’s note: Jamie said something here I want to find out. He mentions Africans and blacks separately, like two different people. Are Africans being brought into the country to work as guards?)

Oh believe it or not two inmates died of heart attacks in the last two months. Medical is not here around the clock. They go home at 5:30 pm and don’t come back until 2:30 -3:00 am. There are too many sick people here to not have medical care available. If something bad happens the inmate has to be sent to another unit or the hospital depending on how bad the situation is. If I was having chest pains after 5:30 they would take me to a medical room with a computer and I would talk to a nurse in another unit at least 30 minutes away. She would tell me to drink water or some shit like, “You don’t looklike you’re in pain”, like she can tell by looking at me on a computer. (Sonni’s note: That is their answer for everything. Drink water. Does that work for you when you feel sick enough to need medical care?)Then she’ll send me back to my cell. They do that all the time.

http://www.fairwarning.org/2015/07/jail-medical-care/

(Sonni’s now: I still often hear people sarcastically talk about inmates getting free medical. They don’t understand what inmates have to go through to get treated and how often they don’t get it at all, or they aren’t given their meds. Often, medical conditions are left untreated until it’s too late. They die of “natural causes” when they often don’t need to die at all. Who cares except the families who often don’t have the money to pursue filing against the prison and proving negligence. Very very few times has an inmate won a medical suit against a prison. It also costs money to treat inmates and that cuts into their profit)

I need to get this in the mail . Love you
Love always, Son {{smile}}

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