Waiting Months to See a Dentist

Medical Treatment behind bars

Waiting months to see a dentist is not unusual. knowing you are crying in pain doesn’t phase them. Prison staff should be locked up to find out how that feels.

This is a repost from three years ago.  I have written recently about what is going on with Jamie medically and how I am trying to get a Power of Attorney to have something legally I can use to get his medical records. This is a common problem I have heard about with many inmates. If the medical corporations don’t treat the inmates it means more profit.

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(Sonni’s Note: Solitary confinement is nowhere anyone wants to be.  You have to find a way to cope with real life issues pertaining to where you are, and normal issues liked a bad tooth and you have no one on your side.  No one cares.  It makes you angry. Pain makes you angry. It makes you depressed.  You miss your family and you know they are going on without you.  Where do you put all of that bottle up emotion?  It’s hard to keep it together.  People are kept in solitary, AdSeg, G-5 far more than what they should.  It’s place to put them to cage them, so they only have to do the minimal to take care of them.  Yes, I know there are bad people in Prison, but there are good people there as well and there is nothing to differentiate between the two and the are all treated badly.)

Dear Sonni,

There are things I want my son to understand. I wrote to Megan about it. I want her to drive it into little Jamie’s head. I want Megan to tell him that I never meant for this to happen. I don’t want him to ends up here like me. I hope she tells him often. I told her it would be hard for me to get through to him by her reading him my letters. Don’t get me wrong, my letters are a good thing and they won’t stop. However, I told Megan when the time is right I need to see Jamie. I want to see him. He’s at an age where he understands. He and I need to meet face to face again. It’s been over three years now since I’ve seen him. That’s a good long stretch. (Sonni’s note: It ended up being five years before he saw him again)

I sent a letter to Megan to give to my mom. I don’t have an address for her. She moves around a lot. I asked her a lot of questions. I told her that no one is writing to me but you. I’m not trying to make her angry. Just something to think about. I’m trying to see if I can get some help from her. And I asked about my family. I also told her I was sorry I made things hard on her in the past. And I told her how I was doing right now, which was not too good.

I’m waiting to have surgery on my wisdom tooth. It’s infected and it’s hurting really bad. It gives me headaches and everything. I’ve been waiting two months now. They keep pushing my appointment back. They don’t care. They want me to go off. I tell then about the pain every day.

It’s been crazy in here the past few weeks. Well, it’s crazy every day but I try not to pay attention to it. I do my best to take my days one at a time. They got me on anti depression medication because they say something is wrong with me. I don’t take it ’cause nothing is wrong with me. I go on hunger strikes off and on. The longest I’ve stayed on is a week and a half. I just have those kinds of days. I don’t want to do this or that. It causes trouble sometimes. Oh well, I I just have that I don’t care feeling at times.

Me and everyone else have been getting into it with the officers. We’ve been without hot water for over a month. We’re also back on lockdown for 30 days. Once again only peanut butter. I guess it’s part of the punishment that we, as humans, get treated in situations like this.

Then, on top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot – on purpose. That’s the thing they open when they give us our food. He cut it open. A really deep cut. I made them take me to medial where they took a picture of it. I had to get an x-ray a few days later because it wouldn’t close. He told the sergeant he did it but that it was an accident. He said he didn’t mean to do it and he didn’t see my fingers. He lied. It wasn’t the first time he had tried to do that. I told him I wanted to talk to the lieutenant. This guy is the kind of dude that doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. But the Lt. told me to tell them to call him about moving me to another cell because also, the cell I’m in leaks water from the shower. One night I fell getting up to use the rest room. I hurt my ankle and had to go to Medical.

They’re trying to hurt me. I know they are. The cell I’m also leaks bad when it rains and they know it because an officer told me the dude who was in here before got moved because of it. The want me to fall their trap but I won’t. I’m writing up this officer who hurt me because I feel he is a threat to me. I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out I’m writing his a** up. To go through this whole process will take 60-120 days. Long huh ?

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“Palpable Irony” Written by Inmate, Martin Lockett

palpable irony

Several months ago I read a book by Martin Lockett, “Palpable Irony: Losing My Freedom To Find My Purpose”  You can purchase it here

While I was reading the book I thought so much of Jamie.  Everything happens for a reason.  I think I was meant to know this young man. There are things about their lives that seem to run parallel.  They are within a year of the same age and they received the same sentence, seventeen years.  They went in almost at the same time and both still inside.

Where Jamie has used Buddhist study to learn about life and change the things that have caused him unhappiness, Martin turned to Christianity.  But instead of just saying he is a Christian but not applying what he learned to his life, he worked hard to be the man he knew he could be.  It was his second time in prison.  When he got out the first time he couldn’t maintain his Christian beliefs and within a year, his old life sucked him back in and smacked him across the face. It wasn’t being a criminal that landed him back in prison, it was poor judgement and a lack of being honest with himself.  As with Jamie, a year after he was released from Juvenile detention he went out to party one night with a cousin who had recently gotten out of prison, again.  Hindsight is 20/20. Being with him at all was a lapse in judgement and it cost him seventeen years of his life and being able to raise his son.

Sometimes though, when it looks like everything has gone wrong; you lose the woman you love and you lose years of your life you aren’t able to get back, you aren’t yet able to see what you have gained because you aren’t far enough to look back with that 20/20 hindsight.

I think Martin has gained much more than he lost and it will bring more to his life than if he had never gone in.  So which way would have been better?  Not go in, and continue to scam your way through life feeling lucky if don’t get caught, and maybe never have anything to be proud of?  Maybe never going to school or finding the right woman to love? Or is it better being forced to take the time to evaluate your life, change it, and then be a good influence on the people around you and help them change their life, too?  Read the book and decide for yourself.

Below is a letter I just received from Martin

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 Dear SonniQ,

Thank you very much for your interest, thoughts, and response to my book. It always humbles me to hear how people I’ve never met read my story and was moved in some way. It’s encouraging to hear you say, “He was a success story when it could have easily gone the other way.” I attribute that to God and a lot of people who love and support me and what I aspire to do. Thank you for recommending the book on your blog as well — I appreciate that very much.

It sounds like you are Jamie’s primary support system. I commend you for that as I know it is not easy on you to do that. I pray that he is released soon. I think it’s tragic that he is not able to have any type of relationship with his son, especially since I have no doubt that his son is yearning for a relationship with his daddy. Unfortunately prison robs countless children of the opportunity to have meaningful relationships with their fathers. Obviously I don’t know the circumstances of your daughter and Jamie’s relationship, but my heart goes out to your grandson who is being deprived of bonding with his father. It nearly brought a tear to my eye hearing how his son wanted to give his daddy $2 to buy a soda. Kids are always the innocent bystanders harmed through this situation. I pray he and his son are able to reconcile when this is over. But in the meantime you are his angel, keeping him going in every way. I’m sure he tells you often as possible how much he appreciates you.

To personally answer your question, yes, I DO know how fortunate and “lucky” I am to be where I am, receiving the kind of services I am while incarcerated. Indeed, medium security and maximum security are worlds apart, and many inmates in maximum security prisons are treated worse than even unruly animals. It’s a disgrace that we allow such inhumane treatment of humans in our penal system, but we do. People are not outraged enough because it hasn’t happened to their family members directly. It’s a shame and my heart goes out to you, Jamie, and his son who has no idea how his father is being treated in that cold, dark place. Where is he? Texas? Yeah, I’m not surprised. I’ve heard enough horror stories about Texas prisons to last two lifetimes. How come Jamie can’t apply for medium custody? Is he in trouble a lot? That tends to happen more in prisons that lack any type of rehabilitative opportunities — not that I’m making excuses for misconduct because it still comes down to an individual choice. But certainly there’s more understanding in those horrid conditions why someone may act out.

You asked if I’m writing another book — yes. Actually, Adopt an Inmate will be helping me with the publishing process. I’m extremely grateful for their care, compassion, and willingness to help make prisoners’ lives more meaningful and manageable. My second book is actually a collection of a year’s worth of blogs that I wrote in 2014 that were dedicated to the important topics of how prison affects inmates and our families and loved ones. I wholeheartedly believe Jamie (and you) would enjoy it and find it worth your while. Oh, and we’ll see to it that the editing in this one is more consistent. 😉

It sounds like you are currently working on a book of Jamie’s life? Is Jamie contributing to it too? How far along are you? I hope you’re enjoying the process — I certainly did! It was cathartic in many ways. I assume you’ll be looking to publish it, no? When do you project it will be available for purchase? Keep Adopt an Inmate informed because I’d like to buy one of the first copies.

Thank you again for taking an interest in the things I write, SonniQ. You sound like a great person with a big heart and Jamie is fortunate to have someone like you in his corner. It’s unfortunate I can’t follow your blog and comment the way you do on mine, but I will someday! 🙂 In the meantime, continue to do the good work you’re doing and making a difference in the lives of people who need it the most. Take care, SonniQ.

Sincerely,

Martin Lockett

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Soon I will have a button that will take you to my newsletter sign up but until then I am using the one from WordPress. The next newsletter will be out in about two weeks.  I will have progress about the book which is about 4 weeks shy of being written and the first chapters are off an editor I really like.  ( I’ll see if she likes me, too!)  But I want to write about topics of our justice system that isn’t here at my blog.  It won’t be repetitious. Many of my readers are not bloggers here at WP. To be able to reach them it is very important for you to share what I do with your own social media. It is harder to sell a book if you don’t have anyone to tell.  I want sales to be put to good use for Jamie.  Just like Martin, when they get out they need to be able to start a new life.

You can use the form below, or you can send your email address to my new address at sonni@mynameisjamie.net

Sonni’s Side of The Story – part two

INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE

SONNI’S SIDE OF THE STORY – part two

 

     One day I asked Morgan for Jamie’s address. I wanted to send him a card. I don’t remember if it was a holiday or even why I wanted to do it.  He popped into my mind one day and hoped he was doing okay.

     Prisons were in a different world than anything I had experienced. I thought prisons were supposed to provide the essential things the prisoners needed. I was totally clueless about the US prison system. It didn’t take much research to find out how wrong I was.

     Not long after I sent the card I got an answer back. He was surprised to hear from me, but it was a welcome surprise. It started a relationship through letters that became much more than I thought it would when we started. For the most part, the art of letter writing all but died when sending emails became easier than finding an envelope and stamp. Reading a letter by hand says much more than just what the words say. Jamie has many different styles of handwriting and I can immediately sends his mood by the way he writes. My handwriting is the same as it was when I was twenty and is quite illegible, so I type and print out about half the letters I send.

      There is nothing interesting in the mail these days. It is all junk mail or bills. When I see I have a letter to read, I dump everything on the table and go get comfortable to read his letter, or other letters from other inmates I write to. When Jamie’s son gets older, if he wants his son to read the letters, he will get to know his father in ways he would never otherwise understand.  Over the years these letters made me realize he had a story that should be told.
      I not only learned about what kind of man he was, but I learned the true story about what happens in the prison system. When I have other inmates telling me the same thing it makes it hard to have respect for the system.  Finding out about how inmates are treated – abused- made me angry. I became frustrated because I wanted to do something to help him. 

      Because of propaganda, many people have the attitude of, “If you do the crime, you gotta do the time.” It’s not that easy to use that phrase in a general sense about all inmates. It’s not just about doing the time. It isn’t that cut and dried. Although there are many people locked up who should never be let out on the street, there are even more people being given sentences that don’t fit their crime, if they are even guilty in the first place. These people are valuable to the Prison Industrial Complex. They have a contract that stipulates their prison will be kept full, whether the people in it are guilty or not.
      Much of what is written about prisons in the media only tell a partial story. It doesn’t say enough about the extreme abuse prisoners have to endure, the same way it is hard to convict a cop. There is an image the system wants to preserve as cops and guards being people who uphold the law are in the right and have reasons to abuse people. If people believed otherwise they would lose control. Stories get twisted about how people were hurt to make people believe they only hurt people when it is justified. We know that isn’t true, but how many murder convictions have their been of cops and guards? Almost none. They are more likely to only get a short suspension, if even that, but they don’t end up in solitary confinement being treated the way they have treated others.
      There has been a lot of inhumane treatment and torture inside those walls for hundreds of years. The pain of knowing that, and personally knowing someone who was experiencing it started ripping me up inside, telling me I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. If you realize evil is taking place and you look in the other direction, you are condoning what is happening and that makes you guilty, too. From the warden on down, everyone who works in the prison knows what is happening, but there are seldom repercussions.

     Inmates can’t fight back against what is done to them. It took until mid 2013, after receiving hundreds of letters, to realize this was a story that needed to be told. Not just for Jamie’s sake, but for all people, men and women, who were given unjust sentences so the prison corporations could fill beds at ‘for profit’ prisons. I watched a video* of an auction of a new prison to the highest bidder when the auctioneer, as a selling point, explained there would be a never ending supply of inmates to fill it. This was a prison built to hold illegal immigrants coming over the border. Instead of deporting them, it was financially in their favor to lock them up, even though they had committed no crime other than trying to find a better life. They didn’t deserve prison if the only motivation was profit. The bidding started at five million. These were men who were in the business of buying people for profit, and then denying them medicine and medical for even now profit.

      Prisoners are a commodity; and they are expendable. They are just criminals, lower than the lowest. Drug companies us them to test new drugs, without their knowledge. Manufacturing companies bid on them as nearly free labor to make their products. Inmates purchase commissary items from companies who make a step profit selling to inmates. Prisons do not want to pay for medical tests and costly drugs unless they absolutely have no choice. There are different laws for inmates than there are for free people. I want to think the public wouldn’t tolerate it if they knew, but I’m not so sure anymore. But I do know there is an outrage if animals kept in cages are treated inhumanely so I have to have hope they would also be outraged if they knew what did to people.

     There seems to be an abundance of hate in the world in the world. The call for justice is dim in the background of the noise of people screaming about the injustice done to them. How are they supposed to care about injustice done to people they loathe; convicted criminals. There are fights against this injustice but it isn’t loud enough. It may never be loud enough. Corporations have the money resources to fight change and they won’t give up their profit easily.

      I began to put my thoughts on paper, writing and rewriting, encouraging Jamie to write to me about what happened earlier in his life. I needed to see if there was something I could do to make a difference. First I started a blog and began publishing some of his letters. I wanted to do more and began writing this book.
      Our letter writing began in 2008 when little Jamie was about between 1 1/2. My only intention was to hopefully brighten his day and let him know someone was thinking about him. I knew letters were often the only communication an inmate has with the outside. What I didn’t know then – I was the only person writing to Jamie, except for an occasional letter and pictures from my daughter that soon slowed from a trickle to a barely existent drop.
      Morgan soon met another man, got married, and had another baby boy. After that she turned off the baby making machine. She didn’t stay with the fourth baby’s father, either, and life was hard. She was working two jobs was so tired all the time. I wished I was closer to her so I could help more and even though she rarely asked me for money, I sent it to her anyway because I knew she needed it.
    Jamie was hurt because no one in his family answered his letters. I couldn’t stop writing to him. He needed me. I told him I adopted him so should call me mom. He needed someone to know what was happening to him and he needed someone to write to he could encourage, too. The letters weren’t just about him, they were also about me when I needed to talk about my day. He wanted to hear about my life. We needed each other to talk to. I can’t understand how a mother could not want to know how her son is, knowing how hard it was for him. How can you go for years and not want to see how your son was? I could understand if he was far away, but he wasn’t. I think I was more upset about that than he was. He had already given up.
      He spent years in ad seg – which is short for administrative segregation – which means you were locked up in a cell 23 hours a day. If you were lucky and were taken for a shower or in the cage to exercise. The human mind can’t take that kind of deprivation and stay sane. I knew he was desperately unhappy. Right before this he spent four years in juvenile detention on a charge that should not have happened. He had spent very little time on the outside since he was sixteen years old.
      A few years after he went inside they started charging inmates $100 a year if they wanted to be able to call for medical help, even if it was only one time in the year. Inmates went without help when they needed it and infections spread easily. Many couldn’t afford it. They could still ask for medical help but they would often be ignored. I started paying his fee every year because some of his epileptic seizures were pretty bad. There were times he needed to be taken to the hospital. No one was going to help me pay it even though I asked his family for help. The question was ignored.
      When I realized there was no one else but me to keep him going, I mentally reached inside his cell, grabbed hold of him. He became my son. I would joke and say he took after his father because he is as black as I am white. On prison forums on the internet, like M.I.S.S. – Mom’s With Incarcerated Sons Society, it is a place for moms to talk with each other and get support. There were a few with daughters. Men in prison have mothers, wives, girlfriends and children and many of them stick by their loved one and want to talk to other women who are going through the same thing.  I told them he was my “adopted” son, but also told the truth and said he is the father of one of my grandsons.  Jamie desperately needed someone to care about him. I could have never stopped writing to him. It was too important. I wasn’t going to be another person who made him think he didn’t matter, because he did matter. He needed someone he talk to about Morgan and his son until he could find the right place to put it. He was grieving.
      Through the years I connected him with his son through pictures and stories Morgan would tell me. Morgan started resenting me because I would ask her to write to him. She didn’t want me to talk about him anymore. She had let him go and didn’t want me telling her she should write. She couldn’t understand why he was so important to me. I could understand that, but I wasn’t going to stop writing.
Jamie and I had each had each been given a prison sentence. We held each other up with encouragement and caring. I slowly began teaching him the life philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. I knew how much benefit I gained from what I had learn over the years, and the wisdom I gained from many hours of chanting daimoku, which is the chantin of nam-myoho-renge-kyo. It got me through many crisis points in my life. I don’t think I would be alive today had I not made the continued effort to change the negative parts of my life.
      He needed to understand why his life was happening the way it was. Why him? What did he need to learn? Learning about the law of cause and effect and how the decisions we make in our lives affects our future, doesn’t allow us to stay in the victim mentality and think what happens to us is not our fault. We make the causes for our life to go in the direction it does. We can learn how to make different causes and gradually pull our life out of the tailspin we sometimes find ourselves in.
      Having so much alone time, sitting in a prison cell, is the perfect time to reflect about those causes we made in our life that put us where we are. We are the only ones who can change our destiny by making better causes and getting better effects. In Buddhism, prayers are not answered by someone or something outside yourself who has personal plans laid out for you. Only when you look inside yourself and change will it reflect in the outside world around you. Each person has the freedom to decide for themselves what they want to believe in. Does your faith show proof in your life, or is it blind faith with no results?
      I have tried to keep Jamie centered on being positive. Trying to stay on an even keel when there are other people trying to make him lose control of his anger isn’t easy. At times he has been ready to give up. I try to keep him thinking about his future. It wasn’t going to be successful unless he made the effort – the causes – for it to be that way. He needed know how to respond in a different way to his environment than with anger.
      Trying to keep his head together, while living in a single cell with no one to talk to, separated from humanity, is probably the hardest thing anyone could be expected to do. People are not meant for such solitude. It is why the percentage of inmates going insane and committing suicide is so high. It is living in hell. The fact that he has done as well as he has is incredible. It is not the same as telling some they need to have better behavior and expecting them to do it. There are so many other influences that make it hard to do. I try to keep him supplied with books and magazines, so he can imagine another world. It is the only way to escape reality.
      These years in prison he has endured so far is only the first half of his experience. Getting out and staying out is the second half. The recidivism percentage, the rate people end up back in prison is in the high 70%, so the chance of staying free is against you and not in your favor – especially if you don’t have emotional support. Almost every inmate wants to do better when he is free, but staying free does not happen by accident. He needs a plan and he has to have discipline. When he gets out and enters a society he doesn’t recognize, the going gets tough. This society won’t care if he makes it or not. Racism didn’t end while he’s been inside.
      Because we are human, we usually take two steps forward and one and a half steps back That makes it hard to see our progress. It’s been very hard, for both of us. It’s easy to get your legs yanked out from beneath you and react to things that cause even more negativity in your life, but if you learn how to get back up again and redetermine, there is hope. He is not a victim. He can change his life into a positive one. It can and will be a benefit to his life and will strengthen him as a human being, even if it is hard for him to see that right this minute.
      Everything happens for a reason. There is no such thing as luck and there are no miracles. There are only affects of causes, even if you don’t understand what they are. The phrases, “You reap what you sow”, “What goes around comes around.”, “You get back what you dish out”, holds true in all circumstances, not just once in awhile. Teaching someone in prison to understand this is difficult, but he has come a long way. Without understanding this he doesn’t have a chance of ever getting out of there and have his mind in one piece. If he understands this and puts it into practice he will turn this experience around to have a positive meaning in his life. There are those who think they can, and those who think they can’t, and they are both right. This will affect my grandson and what he teaches him about his life when he gets out. Black men have a one in three chance of ending up in prison because that is the way our justice system, through racism, has forced it to go. I have two half black grandsons and I fear for the racism that will come their way after they are not under the total control of the mother. White men don’t have to worry about prison the way black men does. White men aren’t accosted and harassed on the street just for being white.
      There are many people who live his story. There are many family members who are faced with this same thing when the men in their lives are locked up. Yes, some of it justified. Some of it is because neighborhoods have been so ground down they lost hope a long time ago. A prison sentence for one person is a prison sentence for the entire family and everyone suffers. Families don’t know how to help someone in prison and because most are low income they don’t have the money to visit, accept phone calls or hire attorneys who aren’t only trying to force a plea deal.
      Toward the end of 2013 I started his blog, mynameisjamie.net and began posting his letters. Slowly his story emerged. I also have copies of my letters to him. The responses I received kept me writing, and kept Jamie encouraged. today there are other people who write to him that let him know his life is important. There were even men who wrote to me and said his story made them cry. He began touching people’s hearts. I began searching for other blogs about people in prison, like I was doing, because I wanted to learn what was happening in other prisons.
      I started reading and learning. I began researching all aspects of the prison industry, from the juveniles to the elderly. What I learned was often shocking. I was appalled and angry. Some blogs or books published were about ex-gang members who turned their lives around. Other inmates were never going to get out and were trying to make sense of how they were going to survive a life sentence. Many went through years of searching, looking for answers. Some found God, some turned to the Muslim faith and some turned to Buddhism. And there are those who turned to negative ways of dealing with life such as white supremacy and other gangs to give them a sense of brotherhood.
      All Buddhism is not the same just like there are many sects of Christian religions, from Pentecostal to Jehovah Witness. Jamie is learning about Nichiren Buddhism. Most inmates join some kind of group, often for protection, and most stay within their own race. But Jamie has spent little time in the general population. He has spent years of his time in the lower levels * of prison, often in a cell by himself, locked up 23 hours a day. He is only let out to shower a few times a week and maybe to go to chow – maybe. No programs – no education – nothing in ten years. How would you be doing if you had to live like that?
      In 2015 I began to write this book with the hope of not only validating his life, but to also help people understand what this country has done to millions of people; how the combination of racism and greed flourished in the prisons. Nothing is going to change until people force it to change. We can’t continue to ignore what is happening. In order for anyone to say America is a great nation, it has to be earned. We have to care about the people, not just ‘say’ we care.
    I hope you learn something from this writing you can pass it on to someone else. This story is about creating an indomitable spirit that learns to never give up, no matter how bad it gets. You need to have no doubt you will get to the other side of whatever problem you face. There is something to learn from everything we go through. Jamie, today, at this moment is still sitting in a cell by himself, hopefully studying and planning for his future. Will he make parole someday? What will it take? It will depend on his determination. The parole board is not going to want to parole him, so it will be a fight. They do not like to parole black people. They usually get turned down, no matter what is recommended.
      Maybe, by the time I get to the end there will be better answers. Politicians are now saying they want to change the system and also release more people, but then why are they still building more prisons? The numbers don’t add up. It never will. It’s politics.

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When your determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success. On the other hand, if you think, “This is never going to work out,” then at that instant every cell in your being will be deflated and give up the fight.

— Daisaku Ikeda

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.  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 (forward)
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
There Is No Place Like Home – part two
Sonni’s Side of The Story – part one

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feel the rain               

 

This piece was written for the book I’m writing of the same title. It is the longing of being on the inside looking out. You can find first draft copies of some of the chapters written in the blog post written before this. I would honestly like your opinion of what has been written.

Inside The Forbidden Outside      by Sonni Quick  copyright 2016

INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE

Inside the forbidden outside
Looking out through only one side
Never feel the sun through the other side
Never feel it on my skin
I want to feel the breeze of the wind
Feel the grass beneath my feet
See the sunset when the light meets
the earth and sinks beneath

Inside the forbidden outside
Where nothing is for real
I have to close my eyes and think
To remember how life feels
I’ll never take for granted
That things, like rain, are free
I’ll never lose another day
When freedom comes to me

Outside looking inside
Looking through the other side
Never see the world through my eyes
Never live your life like me
Don’t take your life for granted
Don’t take the chance to lose
The touch of grass beneath your feet
or the freedom . . .to choose


 

Jamie’s Facebook
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latest chapter for Inside the Forbidden Outside with a list of previous chapters inside. Sonni’s Side Of The Story – part one

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The Only Good Things in Prison Are Your Memories

Jamie Cummings jr

memories

Hello mom,

July 7, 2015

How are you? Fine I hope. As for me I’m okay. I’m waiting for this lady to come on. So I can send Jamie his birthday present. Wow, 9 years old. Time is flying by fast. I have been away too long and it really hurts bad. I have missed so much of his life. I remember just like it was yesterday. I was in Austin and Megan came to visit. Jamie had just started to walk. We were walking all over the visitation room. I was behind him. He had hold of both my index fingers. We walked everywhere in there. Lol. I loved it. Now he’s fixing to be 9 years old on the 12th, running and jumping everywhere. I just hope he never tells me I’m not his dad. I would lose it.

Yes, you and I are just alike. Crazy as hell. Both of us! We’re not to be messed with!  Also, I completed Melvin’s challenge to chant  nam myoho renge kyo every morning and evening.

August 10

Hello beautiful, I received your letter. So how are you feeling? That was a crazy question. You’re still hurting from the surgery. Give it time, you’ll be fine.

Butternut squash, red bell peppers, onions and raisins. Chicken vegetable soup. Cucumber, tomato and onion salad, with a side of peaches, apples, butter and brown sugar. Hmm, getting sticky are we? lol. I love it, it all sounds good. However you got me with the squash. I don’t eat that. (Sonni’s note: He hasn’t had my squash!) I’ll take a Reese’s peanut Butter Cup instead! speaking of Reese’s, Melvin bought one at our last visit. They was good. They don’t have that at the commissary, only in the vending machines in the visitors room.

Man, wait, you mean to tell me you went out for a massage? What is wrong with Mike’s hands? What is going on with that, that he won’t give you a massage? lol. If there is one thing I know about a woman it is that she likes to get massages. I don’t mean that sexually. I think it’s important to any relationship to have that to look forward to. A lack of these things cause lots of women to feel like their mate has lost interest in them.

Yes, I got everything you sent. I have paper and stamps and I’ve been writing. I’m still on restriction so I’m only able to go to commissary once a month. It is hot 98 degrees, but it feels like 104 or 105. I’ll lay on the floor at night and sometimes during the day. Depends on the roaches.

I tell these people about my foot every day and they still ain’t tryin’ to do shit. these stitches have been in my foot 18 days and they haven’t helped nothing because the wound is still open.

All those weird letters you typed you didn’t take out when you fell asleep when you were typing ym ymymymyyyy …ymmumuuum. I think we both need sleep!

What are the dudes in here for who are around me? They are in for everything. Murder even. I, myself, have run into dudes with the same time and charge as me. They only separate us if they say we are a threat to the officers and other inmates or if they were put on death row.

A long time ago we started sharing our personal lives with each other. If I didn’t have you to care about me I wouldn’t have anyone. Making me think about taking walks or riding bikes to the top of the hill, making me imagine being out of here and somewhere else, has been the one thing that has helped me keep it together. I don’t know if I would have. I know you care about me. And I care about you. I’m not trying to disrespect you and Mike. It’s not like that. I just wanted you to know how much it means to me having your letters to look forward to and having someone who helps me when I need it. It makes me think that someday everything is going to be okay.

jamie cummings

I got the picture you made of me and little Jamie at the same age. We both had a lazy eye at that age. I laughed when I saw it. I laughed hard. The short set I had on was taken the day we were supposed to go to the baseball park and watch the fireworks and we ended up not going. Ain’t that something.

It’s late so I better go. Til next time. Love to you. Get well soon.

(Sonni’s note: It was good to get a letter of just chit chat and not another bad thing that happened. He seems in good spirits)

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Sonni Quick piano music complete list

Prison Medical – We’re Lucky They Don’t Kill Us

 

May 2013

I think my head is screwed on better these days, but it doesn’t take much to send it in another direction. It’s easy to get a thought in my head that I can’t get out and it just goes round and round. Many times I write letters and send them but nobody answers. Then I try to figure out why and it usually isn’t good. This is how

I wrote to an address I have for my mother and it was a “return to sender”. It wasn’t the only one. I sent one to my brother and one to my sister. I got both of them back, too. I don’t understand. Things are crazy. I’ve also been trying to stay away from trouble, however it follows me no matter what I do. I feel I won’t be coming home anytime soon. I’m being pressured and I can only take so much. Stress is building up on me and it hurts. My head inside just wants to explode. I had two more seizures back to back due to all the worrying. I have had so many seizures in here. I feel like I’ve been backed into a corner. I think the stress brings them on. I don’t trust the mess they give me. Sometimes I think they use inmates as guinea pigs trying out different meds to see how they work. I’m never sure what I’m taking.

I don’t think anyone in here would really care if the seizures killed me or turned me into a vegetable. If it was someone in their own family they would rush them to a hospital. But we don’t matter. We’re just convicts. Just because I got railroaded into taking a plea bargain doesn’t mean that I deserve to be treated like this.

Epilepsy,epileptic seizure
Photo credit:
stemcellmd.org

I don’t usually have seizures close together. I saw the doctor once and he took some blood and my level was in the toxic range. He took my meds down to 500 mg. It didn’t help so she put me on a different med. So now I’m on two different meds. So now I’m not having the seizures quite as often. It’s not unusual, though, to have one or two a week. I had one today and I when I got to see medical they told me my sugar was real low, 66. It’s supposed to be at least 70-100. It used to cost $3 to see someone but they changed all that. Now it costs $100 a year and when you send money they will take half of that until it’s paid for and then next year it starts all over. Some people think we get medical care for free in here but that’s not true. $3 might not seem like much to some people but when you don’t have money it’s a lot.

I know you told me that I have choices. I could let this place turn me in to bitter person. I could become a hardened criminal. But I have tried so hard. I have. It seems no one cares.  I told my real mom about you a few years ago. I told her about all the letters we wrote, but I don’t think she knows how close we have become. You have been there for me. Thank you so much. It’s not supposed to be that way, but I am really grateful that. I gave my mom a hard time as a teenager. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t want to see me now. And I can’t see my son. Megan doesn’t keep me up with him. I don’t understand that, either. He is my son, too. It wouldn’t take much effort and it would make me happy and would make it easier to go on. Sometimes, though, I feel like I want to give up. Since I don’t have any answers to these things, it just goes round and round in my head, and I think that is what is causing the seizures.

I need some help this month. I don’t have any toothpaste and only one bar of soap. I don’t have any deodorant, either. I hate to have to ask, but I need a little money. I know your money is tight because of your medical bills and I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you do for me. I don’t know what I would do without you. The books and magazines you send help me get through my day. I love you very much for that. Thank you. There are so many people in here who don’t have anyone.

I got a new cellie. I’m glad my old one got moved because all he did was cry and whine. That got a little hard to take after a while. But my new cellie. He’s gay. I don’t have any problem with him being my cellie, but I let him know, don’t play no crazy games with me! I told him I didn’t have any problem with him and what he chooses to do. Bad thing is, he got into a fight and got his head split open. The thing about that is I can get in trouble for it. I can get blamed. They will say that I have been beating on him and extorting him for his things. That happens a lot in here. I told him he needed to tell on the dude who did it to him if the officers ask how his head got split open. I sure don’t need to get blamed for something I didn’t do, and it would be easy for that to happen.

The road I’ve lived on has been hard. Only because I chose to make it that way most of the time. My life has had sharp turns in it. Quite a story it is. However, I’m trying to turn that story around. More stuff will happen Life can be hard for anybody. There are good days and bad days. I have a lot of bad days because of what I put myself in. I hate this shit. But I know I can make it, no matter how long it takes to get up that hill and over a mountain. Being unhappy is my setback. I wish I could say I’ve been better at fixing that. The things that happen that make me unhappy? Well, it just hurts my mind.

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Senior Center

appreciation,

…..I was surprised at the end. I didn’t know it was going there. This is the writing of another man in prison, transcribed by his brother. I have met quite a few other bloggers in prison. You can find a few of them on the right in links section for prison blogs.

Fire and Forgiveness

The sun rose, embracing its duty to scorch the high desert between the Humbolt and Trinity Ranges. The leather seats of my dreamed-of ’51 Riley saloon burned as I sat for the short drive to the Senior Center to visit the one who raised me, Hope.

I try to visit her every day and when I can laugh, when the cascading blues part for a period, I am amused to allow her to see me as who she imagines I am. Shifting into third as I enter I-80 at Rye Patch, I wonder if today she will recognize me. Wednesday she knew my name and asked if I finished the book report on Of Mice and Men. I had finished it, before Nixon resigned.

Thursday she was so glad to see “me.” She spoke with great joy of “our” years at Gonzaga. This had happened before so I no longer…

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A Little Prison Life History . . . Why it Matters

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

Jamie cummings before prison
Jamie, the day I met him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for Testimonials of people who have been through the Justice System

open prison door in jail or prison
I want to start a new section that is about the stories of other people who have been through this. Justified, Not justified. Guilty or not guilty. This isn’t a place to pass judgement, just a place to let people know what you know about these things I write about. This is space to air how you feel and maybe talk with other people who understand. Write to me and tell me if you’d like me to tell your story.

It could be a story of life before prison, prison life or life after prison and everything in between. I invite any other prison bloggers to add their story here as well.

Prison Life and Gen Pop

phonecallFor the past couple weeks Jamie and I have been able to talk by phone, which is a new thing for us. It’s been great. I waited nine years to do that. I think the newness hasn’t worn off so he’s been calling me fairly often. How much we take for granted when we’re able to pick up the phone and talk to someone whenever we want. He’s been alone for so long, craving the sound of another voice.

(update 1/7/16 – these privileges only lasted a few weeks. Long enough to get a visit from his mother on his 32 birthday that wasn’t behind glass. He had never had a visit where he could touch his family. It breaks my heart.  When guards have a vendetta and you are a target they will make sure they cut you down to size. They have control. They don’t like people who stand their ground our report those who treat others badly. Most people are not aware of the prison guard brutality inflicted on inmates. An inmate can’t win. They are set up to lose every time. If he could keep his mouth shut it would be better – but how do you tell someone to allow abuse? How do you stay quiet when you witness crimes that are only legal because they are inside a prison. He is in ad seg – again – and probably will be for a long time.  But as awful as that is it is safer.  Lonely and depressing – but safer.)

Getting out of Ad Seg was great.(administrative segregation) It sounded better than the words, solitary confinement. There is a link on the right under the heading “solitary confinement and mass incarceration” It’s an animated video, 5 minutes long and explains the effect of that kind of intense deprivation. You can also find it in the actual post I wrote in the category heading on the right for ‘solitary confinement.’ Now Jamie is level G2 which is ‘gen pop’ or general population. Inmates have to learn to live together or stay out of each others way.

I was worried when he got out of Ad Seg and needing to adjust to being around people again after so long. Even though he had been alone, he was safe from other inmates who have nothing to lose and can easily be violent just by looking at them wrong. In Ad seg he was mostly safe from the guards, too, who get off on pushing your buttons to make you react so they have more reason to kick you around and show off that they have power over you, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. I know there are two sides to every story and there have been many guards who have been seriously hurt by inmates, too. Many guards, have a hard time dealing with the emotional stress of working in a prison. Some inmates are not strong mentally and some guards aren’t either.

I recently began what will be a series about the relationship between guards and inmates. You can read the first installment, located at the top of the website, “Looking from the Other Side of the Prison Cell Door”.

But today, since all the newest things from Jamie didn’t come in a letter,  I thought I’d write about our conversation instead .

“You have a collect called from an inmate at the Wynne Unit at Huntsville Prison.” I then heard Jamie’s voice saying, “James Cummings”. To accept this call, please press #1. If you don’t want to accept this call press #2,” from the automated, mechanical voice at the other end of the line. I have his name programmed into that number so I know it’s him before I pick up the phone.

“I just got off work and boy am I tired.” Hearing him even say the words, ‘just got off work’ shows how much has changed in this short amount of time. He’s had no time to be depressed. He’s working and sleeping. If he

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