For 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