Surviving After-Inside the Forbidden Outside-GoFundMe

 

Click on the link below to go to the actual Gofundme campaign page. 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/surviving-after-quotinside-the-forbidden-outsidequot&rcid=r01-156113009536-8d936ff586f5470e&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_m

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I need help to help someone else. For twelve years I was the only one who cared enough to help this man. It has taken a lot for me to ask for it. But I can’t do what I need to do without it. Here is my story:

The video explains who Jamie Cummings is and the book I am writing, Inside the Forbidden Outside, along with recording a music soundtrack of original piano improvisations for each chapter as well as music videos you can find on Youtube. This music aids the journey just as music accompanies a movie. I may be naive but I can see this story as a Hulu or Netflix series as the chapters go through quite a few prisons he was sent to around Texas. The feedback I have gotten from many people who have experienced even part of what I have written has been overwelming. There have been hundreds of comments.

The book and music take the reader inside Jamie’s head to experience the emotional trauma living quite a number of the 13 years inside a solitary cell in adseg, administrative segregation, a fancy word for solitary where he spent most of the years. I am 2/3 through the second draft as I have finetuned the story. You can read chapters at mynameisjame.net .

The music soundtrack makes this book unique. You can stream it at sonniquick.net  The book cover is done and is at the beginning of of every post at the blog that is a chapter. I also opened an online store to make money, but it is new and it takes awhile to cultivate a customer base. It is only for the continental US so far.  You can see it at Watch and Whirl Shop

This story needs to be told. It isn’t unique. It is the story of many people locked up who couldn’t afford an attorney. I wanted this to be complete before he got out, but he was unexpectedly paroled 2 weeks ago and had to go stay with family who had done little for him through the years. The proceeds from the book will help him be able to start his life. 36 years old with the life experiences of a teenager.

It tells the story of what severe deprivation can do to a human being. It goes through medical crises in prison caused by inadequate medical care and having epilepsy. You can feel the depth of his depression at not being able to see his only child, born after he was incarcerated, and his loneliness waiting for someone to visit who rarely came.

No one would take his son to see him. He was afraid he would hate him because he was locked up. I went to Texas every couple years, but I couldn’t go enough. So we wrote many hundreds of letters, his diary of sorts. As I near completion I have no way to pay a professional editor to look it over.

I can’t let him down. I promised I’d be there – to help him get an education, help guide him, help him find a way to survive. To help write the sequel, have him help with the business end, get him a computer and teach him how to make money online, and learn how to help others. He is the father of my grandson. He is family more than most of my own family. We have been there for each others through letters and they would break your heart.

I am on disability and have been recently fighting cancer – again. The video you saw was made early this year before I started treatment again. I have been unable to get to Texas to see him since 10/17. I have been determined to finish the book, but I have read too many self-edited books to take a chance with its success because I couldn’t see something wrong.

A couple months ago I went online to the TDCJ website – Texas Department of Criminal Justice – and found out he was approved for parole. They hadn’t even told him. 2 weeks ago he walked out the doors, with an ankle monitor. There was no one there to meet him. I had known no one would be there for him. I wanted so much to be there but it happened so fast I couldn’t. He was parole to the outside without any preparation. He made his way by bus to his brother’s house who had only visited him once in ten years.

The money I want to raise isn’t for me. I have tried to do this on my own.  A friend recommended I try this site to raise the money.  I want to go to Texas to go over the manuscript with him. He needs a laptop to work with me as I write the last chapters before editing. I have 70,000 words. I estimate it will end at 95,000 words. Writing through the years I am at 2012. It ends at 2016. The sequel picks up from there and goes through re-entry and all of its issues.

Thank you for any help you can give. I make this promise. The names of every single person who helps will be listed in the book. With any donation of $15 I will send you a free ebook and music when it is published and with $25 or more I will send you a signed copy of the book and downloadable copy of the album. I will give anyone who asks, a record of how the money was spent.

 

I’m Someone Time Forgot – Chapter From ITFO

 

Listen to I’m Someone Time Forgot by Sonni Quick #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick/im-someone-time-forgot

 

I’m Someone Time Forgot 

 

Jamie was stressed. It created a restlessness inside him he couldn’t get under control. He craved the feeling of walking. To go outside in the fresh air and push his legs to walk his full stride, and feel his arms swinging by his side. He wanted to walk with purpose because there was someplace he wanted to be.
     He wanted to walk and breathe deep until his body was exhausted. He couldn’t do that in his cell with only two full steps of walking space before he had to stop and turn around. If he was outside the cell, walking down the hallway, he could walk in a slow, shuffling stride of about twelve inches, the length of the chain between his ankles. If he went any faster he would fall on his face. Since his hands were cuffed behind his back it would be a pretty nasty fall. Even so, the more he craved walking, and couldn’t, the more stress he felt.
     He knew what Sonni would say, “Chant about it.”
Taking in deep breaths to chant was like meditating and it had a calming effect. But right now he felt too hopeless to chant because everything in his life was out of control. It was so hot and that made it hard to concentrate. How was he going to make it through the remaining years he had when he could barely make it through the day?

Earlier, Jamie asked to be taken to see the doctor because he was having bad dizzy spells. All the doctor did was tell him to get some rest. Beyond that there was nothing he could do for him. What did that fool think he did all day in a segregated cell?
     Jamie was afraid of falling. He had a couple bad falls during seisures and there were only hard things to fall on. He had some bad cuts and around here cuts got infected. The nurse always let injuries get infected before they did anything about it because they didn’t think there was any need to keep it from getting infected. Then, getting it treated by the doctor took time. Nothing ever happened fast. Infections could be prevented but they didn’t see it that way.
     The doctor don’t treat nothing until it’s about ready to kill you. He seemed to hate his job, especially the inmates, like they weren’t worth helping. He never even said hello, or anything like he hoped you would feel better soon. A smile of friendliness? Forget that. It was part of his job to make you feel like shit because you were in here.
     He didn’t like treating inmates. There were some scary ones he wouldn’t want to be around either, but he didn’t need to make sure everyone who needed to see him knew you were inferior to him because he was a doctor.
This job at the prison was probably the only job he could get. Why would you be a doctor in here if you could get a job a somewhere else? Did they even have a valid license that hadn’t been revoked?
     Jamie was lightheaded and passed out a couple times and now this fool told him that to fix it he was to go rest? Wasn’t it part of his job as a doctor to find out why it was happening, especially because of his epilepsy? Was it too far above what the prison allowed for the “adequate” medical care the law dictated. Ordering rest as a treatment didn’t cost the prison a cent. Running blood tests does. That ate into the profit they made off the inmates being here. They were kept alive with minimal food and care like other caged animals.
     Sleep was beyond him at night because all he did was toss and turn. When he finally did fall asleep he would jerk himself awake. He was sure it had a lot to do with not knowing what was happening with his family on the outside.
     He constantly thought about them, especially when he was trying not to. He hadn’t heard from no one in his family for a long time. Maybe no news was good news but he still needed to know. How was his son? Morgan wrote sometimes but she often put a lot of time between her letters.

Jamie lay on his bunk thinking about everyone he knew, one at a time. He didn’t have the mental strength to stop. When he got depressed this always pushed him further down the hole, and then he wanted to let it all go, but he couldn’t stop himself. He felt he was someone time forgot.
Out of sight, out of mind. He didn’t exist for them anymore, until he got out. No one thought about the effect it was having on him right now as he lived it.
     During these times of depression he always said he was going to give up, cut them off and never write to nobody again. He said that over and over through the years. He needed to hear from the people in his life who knew he was in here and that rarely happened. Almost no one took the time to do that to let him know they cared or write to tell him what was going on out there. No one cared that little Jamie needed him. Being in prison made it doubly hard for his son. He needed a relationship with his dad. All this made him terribly lonely.
     He was worried about Morgan. She was working two jobs. She had no choice with kids to take care of. He needed to be able to do his part and couldn’t, and that made him feel guilty.
     Sonni was sick and that was probably why she hadn’t written or come to see him in her dreams. Maybe she was saving her strength. Not knowing, he could only guess when it was time for her to get the liver transplant she was waiting for. She wouldn’t know until the last minute, so there wouldn’t be time to tell him.
     When too much time passed between letters he always worried the time had finally come, that she was in the hospital and no one would be there with her except her husband. No blood family. A time when family should be there to wait for her to wake up and know she was okay – to support her and make her feel loved. He knew deep down that this was going to happen. No matter what differences there were, her family should be there. They didn’t live too far away. The writing was on the wall and he felt bad about that. He knew what it felt like and would there if he could. He knew he would.

This was the worst thing that kept him awake at night, tossing and turning. It seemed to him that family thought they had the right to hurt you the most. It was important to him and important to Sonni to be there for each other. It’s hard to go through things like this and be alone. It messes up your head and makes you feel helpless to not be able to help. If only he could shut off the thoughts.
     He liked calling her Mom. She knew he needed family and because she was his son’s grandmother they really were connected like they were family. It meant a lot to him because she stuck by someone like him the way she did. Some people look down on people in prison and treat them bad even after they get out like they weren’t already punished enough. She didn’t see him as a bad person. She never tried to make him feel bad. If she wanted, she could be angry at him because he did something that made her daughter’s life hard, but she didn’t. Now she was the only connection he could count on who always remembered he was here.
     Now she needed him to be there and he wasn’t good for nothing and was letting her down, too. He loved her because she took the time to be good to him. He wanted to do the same for her.
     It wasn’t unusual to hear this same story in here. He heard it plenty of times. Family stopped writing or visiting, or the drive was too long, or they got tired of being asked for money, like somehow the inmates found a way to get the things they needed without doing something that could have far reaching consequences. So they stopped answering letters. Maybe they didn’t want to know what was happening inside. Maybe they couldn’t scrape together twenty bucks between them to put on his account. A lot of dudes were on their own with no help. He had Sonni. He would never forget that.
     Jamie knew his family hadn’t stopped loving him. They just didn’t know how to show it. Maybe they took his love for granted. He would love them no matter if they wrote. And he would, he always would, but it was hard to keep making excuses their absence. He knew they had their own problems to deal with. He wanted to know what was going on in their lives and they didn’t tell him. But he knew what was going on Sonni’s life because they wrote to each other. He could pray for her about that and feel like he did something to help because he needed to do something besides sit here.
     Whether someone prayed to God or simply prayed and put it out there, it was the focus of the prayer and the mental energy that went into it that mattered the most. So he prayed urgently that she was okay. He needed her to be okay. He didn’t want to be without her. She was all he had.

Jamie looked up at the sound of banging on the cell doors. It broke into his thoughts and he stood up to go stand at the door. It was time for the meal cart to bring dinner. It had lots of shelves with trays stacked on top of trays. He was hungry tonight. There hadn’t been much for the mid day meal except two baloney sandwiches with nothing but a slice of meat and cheap bread. That wasn’t enough for a man his size.
     He thought about a real sandwich. Lots of meat, tomato and lettuce, two slices of cheddar cheese with lots of mayo and pickles, too – and chips. That made him hungry. He laughed a little. He shouldn’t torture himself like that.
It had been a good while since he had a hot meal. No matter what they brought to eat it was always cold when it was put through the slot. Sometimes he thought they never heated the meals at all.
     The trays were prepared ahead of time and kept frozen in big freezers in the kitchen and were brought to them just as they were. They couldn’t prepare them at mealtime. How were they going to serve hot food to all the inmates? Were they going to heat them up in microwaves, or prepare trays one at a time like they would at a hospital? Fat was congealed on the meat like it hadn’t been heated again. It was bland, no seasoning of any kind. It was horrible food and he was always afraid of getting sick eating it.
     The dudes in gen pop ate hot meals because they walked to where it was served. He was trying to get back to G4 so he could walk to chow. In the chow hall it was important to have eyes in the back of your head because you never knew who was gong to start trouble with you, but it was worth it for a hot meal. It wasn’t exactly fine dining but it was better than what was slid through the food slot.
     Jamie had lost a lot of weight since he was locked up because he couldn’t choke down a lot of what was given to him to eat because it was so bad. No use complaining about it, though. It wouldn’t change anything. Jamie looked down at himself. It was getting hard to keep his pants up. He hadn’t been this skinny since he was a kid, and he was chubby then, too.
     He heard laughing and the bang of a food slot slamming shut a few cells down.
     “Oh, you thought you was gettin’ food tonight?” he heard one of guards say, laughing.
     “I’m sorry,” he added sarcastically, drawing out the words. “I guess they forgot about you in the kitchen.”
     A few seconds later he heard, “Too bad if you’re hungry. It’s not my fault. It’s too late to go get more. I’m not your servant and I’m not going to make a trip to the kitchen just for you.”
     The guard’s voice started to get a threatening edge to it because the dude in the cell wouldn’t quit talking and getting louder, too. The guard only worked here. He didn’t make the rules. If he wanted to keep his job he did what he was told, and he was told to bring food to only some of the inmates. Was he supposed to care if they were hungry? They were fucking criminals. They should be glad he brought them anything at all. Sometimes he felt like a goddam babysitter.
     “So I guess it’s no dinner for you tonight,” the guard sneered as he turned to walk away. “You’ll have to wait until morning. Deal with it,” and continued on to the next cell.
     His drawn out Texas twang had a nasally sound like he had a marble stuck up his nose. It grated on Jamie’s nerves like hearing fingers scraping up a chalkboard.
He could hear the dude in the cell raise his voice, calling him every name he could think of, but that only made the guard laugh. He turned around and stood there, far enough away from the door, hands on his hips where he couldn’t be reached through the bars. What a dick.

Jacking their food happened at at least for one meal a getting food. There was no reason for this. Messing with the inmates might feel like a sport to the guards but it would end up causing a lot of problems for all of them. You can only push people just so far before they come back at you.
     The guards were finding ways to make the segregation inmates miserable. No one was going to stop them. They were probably encouraged to do it. Even if they all filed a grievance about it nothing would come of it.
     It didn’t do it at every meal, but it happened enough times to make them all worried about being hungry. The food might not be worth feeding a dog, but it was the only food they had. Sometimes, when they brought a tray half the food was missing when they put it through the slot.
Some of the dudes planned to get even with the guards because they had nothing to lose if they got in more trouble. Some were going to be here for most, if not all of their lives anyway. They didn’t care.
     The day before, an inmate cut an officer pretty bad when he didn’t get his food. A lot of these dudes had a weapon of some sort they had made. They could get creative when finding materials they could sharpen and turn into a something they could stab into someone. This dude was waiting for just the right time and he cut him. He was lucky he didn’t kill him. What did the guards expect? They thought they could be assholes and no one would try to get even? These dudes had all the time in the world to plan what they were going to do.
     Fires were set inside the cells and there were no fires extinguishers anywhere to put them out. It caused a lot of chaos and it was a mess to clean up. Others flooded the halls by stopping up the toilets and overflowing the sinks. It stank in here. The heat made it worse. Imagine breathing in that stink with every breath you take and you can’t get away from it.
     Jamie didn’t want to be included when the officers retaliated so he drank a lot of water when they passed him by with no food and didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to react emotionally. It wouldn’t do no good. It wouldn’t make them bring him food, so he was better off in the long run if he just let it pass.
     Joining in when they started getting crazy wasn’t a good idea, either. He tried to stay cool. The last thing he wanted was to do something stupid he would later regret that could get him written up or have more time added to his sentence.
     That is where this was headed if it didn’t stop. He guessed that was what Sonni meant when she wrote about cause and effect. What he chose to do right now could affect his future and he needed to make the right choices.
     The officers were taking it out on everyone on account of that guard getting cut. It wasn’t right, making all of them pay because of what one dude did, but that is the way they did things in here. There is no justice on the outside and there is damn sure no justice on the inside.
     Jamie tried to do his best to cope with everything, but sooner or later he knew something would happen. Things got crazier every day as it got hotter. Tempers rose. Days went by. Hopefully things wouldn’t get any worse.

The next month didn’t get any better. Each day was like the one before it. When the heat started rising in March everyone knew it was fixin’ to be a long, bad summer. No way they were going to spend the money for AC unless they were made to do it legally.
     Money the prisons paid out to families 11 people died was less than the cost of installing an AC or heating system. The winners cold get pretty cold, too. There were a few articles written each year but nothing was done and when it got hot the next year they wondered if would be bad enough to make the prisons fix it. The newer prisons were built with it, but not the older ones.
     Jamie passed out from the heat one year. When someone gets that hot, and they haven’t been given their meds every day, it puts those people in danger who have high blood pressure or diabetes and other illnesses like him with epilepsy. But it keeps happening.
     This year bad heatwaves were happening everywhere in the country, even up north. It seemed like it was getting worse every year. It was up over a hundred for weeks. That meant it was doubly hot for inmates in the south.

It was mid July and Jamie hadn’t heard from Sonni in more than a month. She had been saying the doctors told her to expect July would be her turn for a transplant because she was getting close to the top of the transplant list, but there wasn’t an exact day and all kinds of things could go wrong.
     The reason she moved up the list so fast is because two cancer tumors were growing in her liver. If one more developed they would take her off the list because her chance of surviving the transplant would be less. If one got out of the liver it would over, too.
     He wished he knew why she hadn’t written. If something happened, what if no one told him? The more he thought about it the more he worried. Add to it that it was so hot breathing was an effort and the water that came out of the faucet was rank. Terrible as it was he couldn’t drink enough of it. He couldn’t drink enough of it because he was so dehydrated.
     There was nothing to do and nothing new to read. He didn’t feel like re-reading his books again or more time so he took out his letters and began reading them from the beginning. They were in order by the date so it was almost like reading a book. Some of the letters were almost memorized. He knew all the good parts. He held the images they created in his mind and tried to imagine living inside the stories.
     He laid back down on his bed and had almost fallen asleep when he heard the mail cart outside his door along with his name being called.
     “Cummings. Mail.”
     Jamie jumped off his bunk and moved the few feet to the door. A Jpay letter was pushed through the slot. He thought it was from Sonni until he looked closer. It was from her sister, but she must have used Sonni’s Jpay account. He recognized her first name.
     The waiting was over. It was finally over. The relief was overwhelming. She had the liver transplant two weeks ago and was home now. She hadn’t been able to write or type, that is why he didn’t hear from her. He was right in feeling so unsettled. He had been worried about her because he didn’t go this long without hearing from her, but she was okay. The stress of waiting was finally over. They had talked about the transplant happening for a long time.
     The letter was dated, July 17th, 2012 and this is what her sister wrote:

“Sonni has asked me to write to you. She finally had her liver transplant on Sunday July 1. The six-hour surgery went well. She spent 10 days in the hospital and they have finally sent her home to start the slow healing process. Her recovery is amazing. She wants a normal life so bad.
When I visited her on Saturday she told me she had received a letter from you. It will be some time before she can sit at her computer but she wanted you to know her long wait and surgery were finally over. She looks like my sister again, not a puffed up marshmallow. I know from our talks she cares alot about you and she didn’t want you to worry.

Take care and I know she will write herself as soon as she is able.”

On August 6, he got his first letter from her. He could tell it wasn’t easy for her to type. He was relieved to finally hear from her. Life was going to be rough for her for awhile but she made it this far and the transplant was over now.

” dear jamie-im getting a little better every day. slow and hard. i tried 2 send u money but my card was out of date. i have 2 call 4 a replacement. im learning how to walk n talk all over again. i am bored we each have a cell but i know that yours is much worse. i chanted nam myoho renge kyo so hard in my head-screamed it. pain meds dont work on me and i have felt everything they did 2 me.but ive turned a corner n its a little better. i think of u every day hoping u werent 2 worried. everyone has their own choices and does things that cause unhappy things to happen. my grandfather taught me from childhood – To thine OWN SELF be true. no one can know u really. some think once a loser always a loser. that isn’t true because i guess that would makes me a loser 2 – former drug addict and all that comes with it. i just didnt get caught. u arent a loser. neither am i. i have to go. nurse is here. be good! Mom”

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To help support the editing and publishing of this book and music with much needed funding please patronize the new e-commerce store which is growing with leaps and bounds!

WATCH AND WHIRL SHOP at watchandwhirl.ecwid.com

Am I Too Broken To Mend?

Yamaha DGX 650

This is the latest music written for my book. The chapter is being written today, largely focuses on Jamie have to live with epilepsy from birth. Any time you have more than one seizure for any reason you are considered to have epilepsy.

It can begin at any age, often developing  from trauma to the brain that may have happened many years earlier. But Jamie had a seisure as he was born so he has never known life free of the possibility of a seizure at any moment.

While rereading hundreds of letters in a short period of time, preparing to write the book, I was amazed at how many times the prison withheld his medication for preventing seizures for days at a time. He was never seizure-free but it did cut down on the frequency. Receiving the letters over a ten year period made it less  obvious how often it was.

Withholding medications and medical care in general is one of the main points prisoners wanted addressed in this latest prison protest. They are dying young from diseases they don’t need to die from. No matter what you think about prisoners, this was never part of their sentence – this comes from the greed of the corporations with the co-operation of the government, no matter what they say to try to convince you they want prison reform. Trump has tried this tactic recently. But releasing someone here and there does nothing to alleviate the problem. It just creates good PR for them.

Politicians receive a great deal of campaign money to vote in the best interest of the prison corporations. States let corporations run the prisons so the money doesn’t come out of their budgets. They promise they Will keep the prisons full so they can maximize their profit. Does that sound like prison reform to you. Inmate are worthless For any other reason, right? WRONG.

Sonni Quick

http://sonniquick.net

I Don’t Write About Happy Things

 

males-2091701_640It is easy to write about happy things. Some people want to be entertained and read things that takes them away from daily life. Some look for new ways to do things hoping they find that magic bullet that will hold their interest for more than thirty days. Some are trying to improve themselves so they read every article on nutrition or exercise or mental well being. I don’t think we can be happy or well when so many in our population are being abused. Not every inmate is guilty. Many prisoners are innocent. My writing focuses on these points:

1. People are housed out of sight so we don’t have to think about them. We blame these people for all the ills of society. We turn a blind eye. We don’t want to let them back into our neighborhoods because media has taught us these people are to be feared because they want to hurt you in some way. We want to believe these people deserve what is happening to them and there are no  exceptions in our mind.

2. Incarceration, and for many it is not what you think. People develop their own ideas about the millions of peoples who are locked up. The government and the media have you brainwashed at this moment that all immigrants are criminals, drug dealers and lowlifes who deserve to have our wrath because we believe they are taking something valuable from us. It is a fallacy. Your life will not be one bit better with a 50 ft wall. We think it is true because that is what the media and government have told us day after day to justify what they do.

3. Understanding the role of the prison corporations in the lives of all incarcerated people – which affect you also. Very few understand the amount of money that is made or the importance you that the people remaining ignorant, No one wants to  know these things – until it affects them, and sometimes they contact me. “What do I do,” they ask? “You won’t believe what they are doing to my son. He needs insulin. They are refusing to give it to him.” Or, “My husband has a heart problem, and his cell is over 105 degrees, everyday. He has passed out twice and they won’t let him see the doctor.”  In my case it is the refusal to give seizure medication for epilepsy – and this is just medical.

The book I am writing is centered around the life of a man, Jamie Cummings, whose life has been taken from him since he was 16.  He is now thirty-five. My book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside” is about his life and his fight to survive until he is released – in 2023, if they don’t find a way to keep him and add years.  Yes, that happens.

14 million people are incarcerated every year to find permanent replacements for the 2.3 million who constantly fill the prisons, not counting the immigrant prisons.  That is a lot of people.  It is more than any country in the world yet we have only 5% of the world’s population – and 25% of the prisoners.  Incarceration makes some people very rich. The quality and strength of a society can be seen in the way they treat the incarcerated, the poor, minorities and the elderly. The US is sadly lacking in compassion on all fronts, because people won’t turn around and look.

I write to educate people because nothing will change until people stand up and treat each other the way each of us wants to be treated, if we were down.

You can easily find individual chapters to my book on this website.  Here are a couple to get you interested. They are not the 1st and 2nd chapter, but you will understand. Click the subscribe button to get on my monthly newsletter. Share it with your friends.  In it are articles, chapters and new music that has been written for the soundtrack of the book.

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

What Does It Mean T Be Alone

 

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CIRCLES INSIDE CIRCLES – Chapter Rewrite

Last Note 2 sm

 

Jamie was trying. He couldn’t try any harder. He wanted to understand how he could turn his life around and make it through these years in one piece. If he didn’t, the years would be wasted and he’d be a mess when he got out of prison. He couldn’t afford that. He had to make up for a lot of lost time.
     This is what happened when you felt you had endless time on your hands. It was hard to fill the empty spaces. Jamie sat on his bed. He stared at the wall and lost track of time. It had no meaning. He spaced out thinking about his life and what he could have done different. Sometimes he got tired of trying and wanted to melt into the wall and disappear.
    How was anyone supposed to live in conditions like this, then get out and have an okay life? How could he get over it as though it never happened and be happy? It was hard to remember what that was.
      Jamie never had a real chance to find out what he was good at. He wasn’t blaming anyone, the right circumstances were never there. No one taught him how to make something of himself. He just followed along with whatever happened at the moment. He didn’t know how to have a dream. He needed to figure out how to do that. All he knew for sure was the values he believed in didn’t seem to have the power to get him where he wanted to go.
     Maybe he needed to deepen his faith in God. Study more. Quite a few of the inmates also went to church. There were quite a few screwed up people who found religion after they were sentenced, and some went to church because it was something to do that got you out of your cell. Jamie really wanted to make it work but how were you supposed to know if it was making a difference in his life because nothing had changed for the better.
     He had the bible studies he sent for and was trying to study on his own. He hoped it would help. He had a lot of time to think about what he read. Still, it made no difference. He wasn’t giving up, but what could he do that would actually change things into a better direction instead of going in a circle that only went round and round? He wanted to learn something that would give him hope he was doing the right thing.

<<<>>>

Later that night, getting up for a drink, he fell and twisted his knee. It was swollen and hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. It was worse when he put his weight on it the next morning. It was so swollen he could hardly bend it. He put in for a medical call. A guard came get him with a wheelchair because there was no way he would be able to walk there.
     “What did you do?” the nurse asked after the guard helped him up onto the examining table.
     “Damn that hurts,” slipped out of Jamie’s mouth before he could stop it. He didn’t like to cuss around women.
     “I slipped on the carpeting,” he joked and tried to laugh.
     “No, really, my knee buckled. I went down and landed hard on the side of my knee and it twisted.” Jamie winced as he attempted to change position.
     “I’ve had problems with this knee before,” he told her.
     “I’ll have x- ray take a picture,” she concluded. “Make sure it isn’t fractured.
     The nurse pressed gently on different parts of the knee. “This feels like fluid, “she commented, “not just swelling from the damage caused by twisting it.”
     “Can the doctor do something? Could it be drained?” Jamie thought it would make his knee feel better if they were able to get the swelling down. Right now he could only bend it a couple inches.
     “No.” It only took a second for the nurse to answer.”The doctor won’t do it. The Medical Unit would never okay that kind of procedure.”
     The nurse stopped for a few seconds and thought carefully. “They’ll say it’s not medically necessary,” she finished saying, almost under her breath.
     She saw inmates all day long who had medical conditions that needed treatment, and she knew they would never receive it, or they would get the barest minimum care. She’d placate them making them think something would be done. Chronic illnesses with simple, effective treatments that could make their lives easier to bear would most likely be denied. Conditions got worse that could be fixed. Inmates paid precious dollars out of their accounts to be seen by a doctor and were usually given the runaround. They would receive token or incorrect treatments and blood tests might even be taken, but getting the right diagnoses and proper medication were much more difficult to get. This wasn’t the reason she became a nurse.
     Inmates coming into the prison with a known condition who had a history of medication had a better chance of receiving it, but if other conditions developed there was a good chance it wouldn’t be addressed. She did what she could.
     “Every day, try to work the knee by sitting on the edge of your bed and straightening your leg up and out and hold for a few seconds,” she instructed. “Then lower it down slowly.”
    “Its a simple exercise but it will help keep your knee muscles from locking up.”
     This was the reality of medical care in prisons and they got away with it. It didn’t matter what treatment would be best for him. It mattered what the medical corporation could provide without it costing them.
     The lack of quality care caused damage to those inside. Pain and suffering, mental and physical were common and it sometimes caused death. It was inhumane. Fluid on Jamie’s knee wouldn’t kill him, but it was painful moving around or standing, and would take a good while to heal itself.
     So why did they take an x-ray if they wouldn’t treat the problem? So they could show they provided adequate care? That was the law. The prisons had to provide care but they were never told what adequate care was, so they could do anything and say they treated him.
     The nurse would tell him to drink more water and take Tylenol and say in his file it was adequate medical care for anything that was wrong. It was the standard treatment for what he needed so it was a waste of money for most inmates to call and ask to go to the medical unit. If an inmate had the flu or anything catchy, the whole prison would get sick.
     Jamie was tired of being treated as though he didn’t matter, but what could he do about it? He did the best he could to win over his negative thoughts. Sometimes it wasn’t possible. He absolutely did the best he could, he thought to himself. He tried to keep the stress under control. Seizures were going to happen when they screwed up his medication or said he forgot to tell them to reorder it like that was his job. Sometimes they hit fast and he falls and gets banged up, and sometimes he falls off the bunk from thrashing about in his sleep.
     He laid down on his side and brought his knees up to his chest. He felt less vulnerable and less alone inside his circle of comfort.

<<<>>>

Day after day routines never changed. It was hard to remember what day it was. One of the hardest things about being in prison is the boredom. There wasn’t enough to do. Nothing new was added to think about, so his mind goes through the same circles of memory over and over again.
     Jamie was trying so hard to not let anything get to him where he would lash out in anger. He was feeling confident he had that under control. But if he couldn’t get out of his cell sometimes he knew he would go crazy.
     He needed to keep his privileges. He was feeling irritated today and he knew it, so he had to work harder to stay in control. It wouldn’t take much, so he stayed by himself.

Writing letters that were never answered was frustrating. It was a waste of precious stamps. He wrote because he thought people would want to know how he was doing, but he seldom got a letter back about how they were doing. He felt forgotten by everyone. There were probably new kids in his family he didn’t even know about. Children of cousins who probably didn’t have any idea about who he was. He was an outsider now. Not a happy thought.
     It had been almost three months since a letter came from anyone besides Sonni. She became his family so he usually called her Mom. She said he was like a son. She called him that because she said he needed family.
     Going to the day room was a good way to pass the time. He tried to enjoy it as best he could. Watching TV let him pretend he wasn’t here. It usually kept his mind off things for a short while. It worked sometimes and sometimes it didn’t. Time wasn’t exactly flying.
     It was summer, 2009, three and a half years since he was arrested. He was getting close to being one fourth through his sentence.
     Jamie decided to write to Sonni. She often asked him questions about what it was like in here. He opened his locker and took out a couple pieces of paper and sat down at the steel table that was connected to the toilet. He began drawing lines from top to bottom to look like lined tablet paper. 
     “Rec hours rotate,” he began writing. “We get four hours all total. Two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening between the hours of 6 -10 AM and 12- 4 PM. After that I’m in my cell the rest of the day.”
     He went on to explain that his custody level was G4 line 3. If he caught another case he would go down to G5 which was also adseg. He was almost to the point of being in 24 hour lockdown for a year if he didn’t cool it and control his anger. It was so hard to not get pissed off at things that went on in here, inmates and guards. But if he wanted to work his way back to population he needed to be G2 so he had to stay good with no new cases for seven more months.
     “There’s a lot more stuff I can do in population, like go to school and take trades,” he wrote. “I could also go to the library and have contact visits instead of visiting behind glass.” 
     Another reason he was trying hard to not get anymore write-ups was he wanted to apply for a hardship classification. Then he could ask to be moved closer to home because of a medical reason or a close family member who was sick.
     There was no reason for them to put him a prison that was a thousand miles away from home. He thought he was sent to West Texas as a way to punish him more by separating him from his family. But he would need their help to make it happen and that didn’t seem likely, at least not right now.
     It would be too easy to let depression take over if he thought too much about the free world and the things he’d like to see happen that were unlikely to happen. He needed to think of how to get through his time and not think about everything else he couldn’t change. He couldn’t even have a conversation with anyone to move it along.
     Jamie closed his eyes. Maybe he could go to sleep now so he didn’t have to think about any of this. He put his paper and pen aside until later. In a few minutes, as he felt himself drift off he heard, “James Cummings, mail.”

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Waiting Months To See a Dentist – Medical Care in Prisom

This is a repost from Nov 2012. It is still relevant today because medical care in prison hadn’t improved. Now that I have a medical POA ( power of attorney) on file in Huntsville, ( each state has their own Burough of Prisons where inmates complete files are kept.) In Texas it is the TDCJ – Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Allowing someone to lay in their bunk with extreme teeth pain for months is abusive to the extreme. In 2012 I had no idea what I could about. I was intimidated by the prison system.

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

( Jamie’s letter)

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 them about the pain every day.

These people don’t know what the hell they are doing.  They are just here.  The first doctor I seen told me about my infection as I told her about my pain.  Then I seen another doctor and he told me I didn’t have an infection. and that nothing was wrong with me.  I asked him if he thought I was lying about my pain, and I told him that another doctor said it was an infection.  I asked him if that lady was lying and he said, ” I didn’t say that.”  I told him that somebody was lying and I know it wasn’t me.  I could tell by his face he was mad.  Who gives a shit?  He don’t care about me. He’s here to waste time and get paid.

It got worse because I had to have my wisdom tooth pulled.  I was told after about the nerve that goes around the ear.  Fun huh? Remember I told you about having to wait to have my wisdom tooth pulled?  Well, on the first week of this month I left on what they the call medical chain,  to a unit in Huntsville that has a hospital on it.  It took two days to get to the unit.  It takes so long because they pick up and drop off to other units at the same time.  Oh, we sometimes ride on a bus the call a Blue Bird or a van.  I rode on both.  That van is so uncomfortable.  They really make it hard on us.  They have us elbow to elbow in the van.  On the bus if you’re not from Ad Seg you are cuffed to someone else.  Yes, they pair everyone up.  I’m sure you might be wondering about having to relieve ourselves.  There’s a toilet  so that means if someone has to go the other has to go too.  Crazy huh?  Sorry, I wondered off.

When I got to the hospital I had to wait because there was others in front of me.  So I had to wait two more days.  When I went in for the surgery they did x-rays.  The photos showed up on the computer.  The one I was going to get pulled was growing sideways and was cutting my gums.  The dentist saw the top back left one and was like wow.  I asked what was wrong and he showed me the photo.  You could see all my teeth perfect and he showed me and it was flat!  The word he used was, deformed.  So he asked if I wanted it removed.  I was going to ask him if he would anyway.  They don’t allow them to pout us to sleep.  they just numb it.  Mom, he was on it for two hours!  When he finally got it out the tooth had four roots!  It came out in five different pieces,  All that pulling and pushing and drilling.  I held on but I almost passed out.  Then bottom one hurt as well.  He had to do a little more cutting. I felt it too.  We had to stop.  Mom, I’m in so much pain.  It took me four days to get back because of the weekend.  The first five days the hospital was giving me Tylenol with codeine for pain before and during the surgery.  Now I’m back in my own unit and their best meds are Ibuprophen.  They think that  and water helps everything.

So I’ve been sleeping a lot to try and get away from the pain. ( Not helping ) This is the bad part here, mom.  It hurts to chew and drink  because my tongue is swollen.  However they have me eating solid food when I’m supposed to be on a soft diet but the doctors here won’t give it to me.  I’ll eat sometimes and sometimes I won’t.  I try not to give these people what they want so I just deal with it the best I can.  Just know that if the pain becomes too much I’m gonna try the right way first to get help.  If I don’t get help there is only one other way.

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 here.

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. The officer told the sargent 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 ask 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.

They 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. They make it so long so you’ll give up. If you’ve tried to file a grievance before and couldn’t, you wouldn’t try again. The officer might try to get back at you to show They are in control. So They win either way

I’m gonna go for now. But not before I say Love You Always, Jamie

 

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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.

<<< >>>

(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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Jamie’s Letters on Prison medical Care

Below are Jamie’s letters over the years on bad prison medical care. I wrote this a couple years ago taking excerpts from letters over at least six years.  It is part of the first draft of the book I’m writing.  It has taken me longer than I anticipating because of having to take care of so many other things that need writing – including my music. But when it is done it will all be worth it. When I read this today it reminded me how long Jamie has been dealing with bad medical care at the prisons. I sent him forms to sign to give me POA  and I’m not surprised it didn’t reach him, although it is against the law to mess with mail – even in the prisons. So I resent the forms certified, return receipt. That way I can verify that the prison received it.  They can’t open it unless it is in front of him.  If they stop it from being mailed back then that is an issue I will take up with the warden. There are laws the prisons have to follow.  They can’t make up their own. the problem is – people don’t know how to make them bide by the law.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

JAMIE’S LETTERS

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 put me on anti-depression meds because they say something is wrong with me.  I don’t take it because nothing is wrong with me.  I think they want to keep me doped up.   I’ve gone on a few hunger strikes, off and on.  The longest I’ve stayed on one 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 just have that ‘I don’t care’ feeling at times.

     All of us 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, the only thing they feed us is peanut butter.  I guess treating us like this is part of the punishment,  But I don’t remember being allowed to starve us was part of the sentence.  No one stops them.  There is no oversight.  The officers do what they want and get away with it.

     On top of everything, an officer slammed my finger in the tray slot on the door – on purpose.  It was a really deep cut.  I made them take me to medical 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 sargent he did it.  He said he didn’t mean to do it because he didn’t see my fingers.  That was a lie.  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 who doesn’t like to be overruled by anyone. 

     The lieutenant told me to tell the officers to call him about moving me to another cell. lt  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 about that, too.  They are trying to hurt me.  I know they are.  This cell 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. I’m writing up a grievance on this officer because I feel he is a threat to me.  I also feel he will try to retaliate once he finds out what I’m doing.  To go through this process will take 60-120 days. They make it long to discourage anyone from filing a complaint.  It goes into the guard’s file and keeps them from getting promoted.  Then the guard retaliates and makes life miserable.  Even if the inmates feel threatened it keeps a lot of them from trying to do anything about it.

     I’ve also been getting into it again with these people about my medications. They are trying to give me something and I don’t know what it is. Hell, they don’t even know what it is.  Two different nurses are telling me it is two different medications.  I’ve asked to speak to the doctor, but they won’t let me.  The pills are the same dosage, but they are two different colors.  Not only that, one has powder in the capsule and the other one is a hard pill.  Something is not right about this.  One of the nurses told me Huntsville uses us as lab rats to test medications from pharmaceutical companies.  Since this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that, I stopped taking the ones that I’m not sure what they are.  I’m not going to be a guinea pig.

     Then they put me on a different anti-depressant.  A lot of people in here are taking them. They’ve had me on so many different meds it’s crazy.  I’ve been on about four or five different ones.  Now they have me on Thorazine.  I had to stop taking it.  It makes me dizzy, lightheaded.  I asked once if we could have a book on medications. The doctors are quick to put us on something and not tell us anything about it, except to say, “See if this helps.  If not, put in a sick call.” They are in such a rush to get us out of their office. These meds they put me on?  if it isn’t upsetting my stomach, it gives me terrible headaches.  One had me where I couldn’t use the bathroom.  I’m feeling bad all the time.  I recently had a bad ear infection and all they would give me was a Tylenol.  I laid on my bunk with my head and my ear hurting so bad, but they wouldn’t give me anything to help with the infection. 

     Sonni looked up one of the medications they gave me.  I asked the nurse how to spell it.   It’s a little brown pill.  I had already stopped taking it.  Some medications make you worse. The side effects make you sicker than you already are. That’s why I don’t take something they give me anymore if I don’t know what it is.  If I feel they are giving me too much of my seizure meds I won’t take them.  Too much will hurt me.  I don’t trust them to know what they are doing.  I go by how it makes me feel.

<<< >>>

     The people who work in the medical unit don’t know what the hell they are doing.  I have such a bad pain in my tooth I can’t think straight.  The first doctor I saw told me I had an infection when I told her about my pain.  Then I saw another doctor, and he told me I not only didn’t have an infection, he told me there was nothing was wrong with me!  I asked him if he thought I was lying about my pain because the pain had to be coming from somewhere.  I also told him the other doctor told me I had an infection.  I asked him if that lady was lying, and he said, ” I didn’t say that.”  So I told him that somebody was lying, and I knew it wasn’t me.  I could tell by his face he was mad.  Who gives a shit?  I’m in pain.  He didn’t care about that.  He just wanted to send me back to my cell. He’s here to waste time and get paid.

     The pain kept getting worse.  I had to wait two months before they decided it was okay to take me to a dentist to maybe have my wisdom tooth pulled.   Since they knew it had to be done, making me wait for two months was their way of torturing me.  They wanted me to be in pain.  No matter how many times I told them they ignored me. Later I was told there is a nerve that goes around the ear.  I wasn’t kidding about being in pain.  The dentist who tried to tell me there was nothing wrong with me had to know that or he wasn’t a real dentist.  That wouldn’t surprise me.  I think they only hire medical people who agree to not help people.  I wonder if they even have a license to practice. Maybe this dentist couldn’t get hired anywhere else because he was so bad. 

     The first week of this month I left on something called a medical chain.  I needed  to go to a unit in Huntsville that has a hospital.  It took two days to get there, even though it is only a couple hours away.  It takes that long because they pick up and drop off other inmates to different units along the way.  Texas has over a hundred and ten prisons. Sometimes we ride on a bus they call a Blue Bird, and sometimes we ride in a van.  I’ve ridden on both.  This time the trip was in the van.  It is so damned uncomfortable.  They make the trip as hard on us as possible.  We sit elbow to elbow in the van.  On the bus we are cuffed to someone else.  They pair everyone up.  If we have to relieve ourselves there is a toilet, but if someone has to go, the other one has to go.  So much for privacy if you have to do something other than pee.

     When I finally got to the hospital, I had to wait.  There was others in front of me.   It took two more days of waiting until it was my turn.  Now it’s been four days since we left and the pain was bad.  The gave me Tylenol with codeine and it helped some, but not enough. I’ve had about all I can take.  I wanted to lay down and cry. 

     Before I went in for the surgery they did x-rays.  The photos showed up on the computer so I could see it.  The one I was getting pulled was growing sideways and it was cutting my gums.  It was the top left tooth in the back.  When the dentist saw it he said, “Wow.” I asked what was wrong and he showed me the photo.  You could see all my teeth perfectly. He showed me the bad one, and it was flat!  The word he used was deformed.  He asked if I wanted it removed.  Of course I wanted it removed.  It was killing me.  I couldn’t keep it the way it was.  They don’t allow dentists to put us to sleep, even though this was a lot more than just pulling a tooth.  He was going to have to cut it out.  He was only allowed to numb it.  He was digging at it for two hours.  When he finally got it out, the tooth had four roots!  It came out in five different sized pieces.  All that pulling, pushing and drilling was bad.  I held on, but I almost passed out.  One of the bottom teeth needed work, too.  He had to do a little more cutting. I felt every minute of it.  He had to stop.  I was in so much pain and still am.  It took four days to get back to the unit I’m in.  The hospital gave me Tylenol with codeine during the surgery.  Now that I’m back in my own unit, their best med is Tylenol which isn’t doing much for the pain. 

     I’ve been sleeping a lot to get away from the pain. It hurts like hell to chew or drink because my tongue is swollen. I’m supposed to be on a soft diet, but the doctors here won’t give it to me.  The guards only bring me solid food, which sometimes I can eat and sometimes I can’t.   I try not to give these fools what they want so I just deal with it the best I can.  If the pain becomes too much I’m gonna try the right way first, to get help.  If I don’t get help, there is only one other way.

     On a brighter note, I think of the beautiful the days outside.  I imagine the sun, and taking a walk, and that really sounds good.  In my mind I can meet mom on the hill.  We both will walk until we ache too much.  Its cold down this way, as well.  A jacket would be nice.

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Sept  2012

     The unit is on the second week of lockdown. This is the hardest one I’ve gone through.  I’m hungry.  They are supposed to feed us a hot meal every three days but they do what they want to anyone wearing prison whites.  They feed us  a peanut butter sandwich with only a half spoon of peanut butter.  We are supposed to get a full spoon but on lockdown they only give us a half spoon.  It saves them money. 

     The food they serve is nasty.  They stretch it more by  also adding some really horrible soup or applesauce that makes me gag. I have to eat it or I get nothing.  I’ve heard  it costs $40,000 a year to keep each inmate in prison. Where does the money go?  It sure isn’t spent on food.  Once in a while we get a meat sandwich or cornbread, and sometimes prunes or raisins.  In the morning we get two biscuits with a half spoon of peanut butter or maybe two pancakes.  That’s why I have lost so much weight.  The food is worse when we are on lockdown.

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     It’s hard dealing with this.  It’s 2013 but it could be any year.  Nothing changes. Stress builds up inside me and it hurts. My head wants to explode into a million pieces. I had two more seizures, back to back, because of all the worrying.  I have had so many seizures in here.  Sometimes I feel like I’m being backed into a corner. Stress brings them on.  The people who work in the medical unit don’t know what they are doing. Why are they working here, instead of a real doctor’s office? Maybe it’s the only job they could get.  Everyone is always in a bad mood.  There is never a comforting touch or even a smile.

     I don’t think anyone in here would give a damn if the seizures killed me. If it happened to someone in their own family, they would be rushed to a hospital.  But I don’t matter.  I’m only a convict.

     The scary thing is, I don’t usually have seizures close together. I saw the doctor and she took some blood and said my level of seizure medication was in the toxic range. Did the last doctor give me too much? She took my meds down to a lower dose. It didn’t help, so she put me on a different one. I’m on two different meds. I’m not having the seizures as often but it’s not unusual to still have one or two a week.

     I had another seizure today. When I went to the medical unit I was told my sugar was low, 66. It’s supposed to be between 70-100.  I know I need to see the doctor a lot.  There is nothing I can do about that.  It’s not my fault.  It is the way it is.  Some inmates rarely have to go to medical.  It used to cost $3 to see the doctor or a nurse, but they changed all that. Now it costs $100 a year, whether you see a doctor one time or fifty times.  When I get money they take half until it’s paid.  Next year it starts all over.  Someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, if he need to see the doctor he probably won’t go.  Sometimes they get sicker and it spreads to other inmates. 

     Some people think we get medical care for free, but that’s not true.  This small amount of money might not seem like much to some people but to me its a lot.  I also wouldn’t call this medical care.  They won’t help so they don’t have to pay for anything.  Even things they can treat they won’t, and it gets worse until people die.  Diabetes, heart disease, cancer.  People die because they are left untreated.  They don’t care. The public doesn’t care.  They think we deserve it.  No one cares if we’re in pain.  They just ignore us.

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Can You Stop Prison Abuse?

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Can you stop prisons abuse? On a whole – no. But can you help the person you support? I believe you can. I’m not going to sit by with crossed fingers hoping they won’t succeed in hurting or possibly killing him. They crossed a line. 

I’m on a plane, headed home from a three week trip to Texas to see family and visit with Jamie. It was a hard trip but much was accomplished. I was able to go to Allred Prison three times for a total of 10 hours. It was good to see Jamie and the smile on his face told me he was looking forward to this visit, his only visit since my last trip in Sept ’16. One sad note – his son refused to go with me. More on that another time.

I have learned things. If someone you care about is locked up and you seriously want to help them, read this post through to the end. If you are writing to an inmate you met as a pen pal you probably aren’t invested enough to go to bat for him/her against the prison system, although taking the time to communicate with someone who needs the support of someone in the free world is no small thing.

I learned things about the prison system. How they get away with doing things that put inmates in danger. The prisons and staff should be held accountable and made to do the right thing but how is that possible? Who makes them? Does your call to the warden make them? If it doesn’t, can you just sit at home and worry while you wait for a letter or a call to know they are okay, if they even have phone privileges, which Jamie doesn’t?

Every politician, whose job is to create policies that are supposed to be for the good of the people, KNOWS how corrupt the system is. So why aren’t the prisons made to change and treat human beings kept inside the cages and cement closets as something other than a commodity they can beat and misuse any time they want?

Many people, due to lack of education about the prisons believe only the guilty are prosecuted and they deserve whatever torture they receive. The guilty inside lose the right to be human. There is abroad spectrum of guilt. Not everyone inside is a child abuser, murderer, rapist or the like. There are people inside because they couldn’t pay a court ordered fine or they were with someone who committed a crime and are guilty by association. Some are guilty but why are there different sentences for the same crime if you are white instead of black. Some are innocent left with no option but to take a plea deal because there is no one to fight for them. 17 years or 50-99. Would you plead guilty if you are innocent and risk never getting out?

New crimes are being decided this year to fill the gap left by less personal drug use arrests. They are prosecuting people who dare to protest. They are arresting kids as young as seven for fighting. They are handcuffing kids at school. Detention isn’t good enough anymore if money could be made for the prison system. Ruin them young, destroy their education and it later becomes a filled bed in an adult prison. Why do you think they want to lock up kids? Read Jamie’s story in the links at the to of the page and learn what they did to destroy him at 16 even though the only crime committed was by a cop who busted into his families home.

Many of the “guilty” inside are there because they couldn’t afford an attorney. It doesn’t matter how guilty someone is, they are treated the same. They lose the right to live as though their life matters. No one is going to make the prison system do the right thing, especially if you base it on the concept of actual right and wrong. Even the politicians who outright say the prison system needs changing don’t have the power to make that happen. There is too much money to be made. The corporations involved need to be fed. It doesn’t matter – at all – if thousands of people across the country die from abuse if it pads their bottom line. No family or friend on the outside who learns about the abuse of their loved one is going to change that.

We do the best we can to help our husband/wife/ son/daughter or other family/friend. We call the prison/medical unit/warden/mail room when things go wrong or we just need answers. An inmate files a grievance that gets lost. A guard can retaliate in many ways. The warden looks the other way. He lies to you and says, “My guards would never do that.” Medications are withheld that can cause death – heart/seizure /cholesterol/insulin/ depression and psych meds and others. Medical problems can easily be erased out of records. Wrong medications can be substituted. Dental problems not addressed. An abcess? Who cares? Pain? Too bad. The list of what they can do is long.

Let’s say your son has been sentenced to 10-20 years. Does he have a Medical issue? What if he is beat – by guards or inmates, how will you intervene? The prison staff is trained to lie to you. Do you know when they are lying? Do they sympathize with you while they lie? What can you do about it? Are we helpless to help?

The list of things done to Jamie over the years is long. Incomprehensible and cruel acts that are often life threatening. Judging by the comments guards and medical personnel say to him it seems as though they take pleasure in hurting people. Are they paid to be this way? Do they get satisfaction knowing their actions caused someone to possibly die? Many death certificates in prisons say, “Died of natural causes,” but it doesn’t say they withheld necessary medications that caused this natural death. Do you think an autopsy will be done to understand the cause of death? Absolutely nothing would be done that indicated the prison was responsible. You’d be lucky to even find out the whereabouts of the body.

If you have a loved one who is locked up you probably have been through some of what I am saying. There is no rule book. Where do you go to find out what to do? Who will help you? Who has the answers? Even if you talked to an attorney, does that person understand how the prison corporations operate? Probably not. That is field not practiced by the average attorney.

If anyone wants to know where hell is located, it is in the prison system and any entity associated with it. It mentally ruins anyone who works within it, including those who look the other way because they want to keep their job. At the end of the day they go home to the free world knowing what they witnessed and knowing they went along with being cruel to human beings way beyond what their sentence dictated. Inmates are sentenced to time, not abuse. All prison staff have to live with that. What goes around comes around.

At any given time there are millions of people in the system. Every year they lock up at least as many people as they let out. The prisons stay full – per the contracts the prison corporations have with the government. Since they can’t easily fill the prisons anymore with people caught with a personal stash of weed, they have had to make new crimes. Jeff Sessions has vowed to increase mandatory minimums. Why do you think he would want to do that? Because these people are too dangerous to be free? Or died he own prison stock? The major push of immigrant detention has made these corporations very happy and even more rich. Why else would you lock up women and children when they seek medical care or go to church? Are these the bad hombres? The prison corporations love Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions to pieces, they are so damn happy.

The next issue of ITFO NEWS will focus on this issue to help you understand how to fight for someone who is inside. No one knows what to do. You can subscribe below to make sure it is delivered to your inbox. I can’t stress how important this is if you have someone you care about inside, especially if you are already aware of wrongdoing. You will want to keep this issue as a resource. Share it with a friend you know who has someone inside.

If you have read my blog you know Jamie has epilepsy. I’ve been worried, even more so since they upped their game messing with his meds on a regular basic and giving him excuses why they wouldn’t give him his seizure meds. He had a seizure and they let him lay on his cell floor untreated. They lied to me when I called and said he didn’t have a seizure. I was also told I couldn’t call back to check on him because I was only “allowed” to call once a month. Is that true? How do I find out? This isn’t the first time they refused his meds but I didn’t know what I could do about it. I thought, “Why would they do that? Isn’t it wrong? How can I find out if he is okay?”

After my first visit his ID came up missing. Three days the following week he was again denied his meds because he had no ID, even though a new one was requested and they know they know him. A week later and he still had no ID. He knows his number and they can look it up. It was deliberate. They most likely took his ID. How else could it disappear into thin air? I am fighting this now.

You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” This is one of those times. We can’t force the system to change. That isn’t going to happen. But you can learn what to do to keep your loved one safe and fight back. You CAN force that horse to drink when you learn how to play their game. Knowledge is power.

 

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Prison Torture Never Ends

Heat in Texas prisons, no AC in prison in the summer
Wynne Unit, the prison Jamie is in. These fans are the only cooling system even when it is over 100 degrees. Since there are no open windows all it does is blow hot air around. Credit source: beaumontenterprises.compip

Jamie has been at the Allred unit in Texas for nearly three years. Before that, Wynne Unit. How much is an inmate supposed to tolerate from staff and guards? They can do anything they want to them and there is nothing an inmate can do. Why is that? Everyone knows it. Anyone with the power to stop it – doesn’t. They can file a grievance but the system is not set up where the inmate wins. When the medical unit and staff knowing screw around with someone’s health, aware of the consequences to the inmate, I wonder if they stand around and laugh about it in the break room? They push inmates to break them and so often succeed. Here is what is happening . . .

I received a letter from Jamie yesterday. He is close to getting out of adseg – administrative segregation – a fancy word for solitary. Locked up in a cell 23/7, except for Jamie it’s 24/7 because he’s trying to stay away from the guards by refusing showers and rec. He bathes using the sink. He knew they’d try to press his buttons to keep him down. He’s had no write ups in a long time.

He wrote to me that the nurse is refusing to give him his seizure medication for epilepsy. At his point of writing it had been three days. He keeps asking her for it and she refuses to bring it. Have you ever watched someone have a grand mal seizure? The prison won’t give him the medication that works best for him. I already went rounds with the medical unit over that and they wouldn’t budge. So he still has more seizures than he should. But not taking anything, and as any protection leaves his body it will induce more. Add to that the terrible heart in a closed cell with no ventilation makes me angry.

Guards work three 12 hour shifts. One of the guards put his hands in his food just to try to make Jamie angry so he could retaliate and write him up. He won’t eat now if this guard is on shift. He only eats breakfast, which is pitiful, but not lunch or dinner when this guard works. He’s close to losing it. I could feel it. I wrote to him today to turn away. Don’t let them take away your chance of getting out of adseg. He can’t study for his GED until he is classified G2. First he has to get to G4. This process could easily take another 1-2 years. At G4 he can leave his cell for chow and limited time in TV rec room. He’s been this route before. They can, and do, take it away in a heart beat and it takes years to climb back out. He’s had 11 years of this. If seems deliberate. The guards get a perverse pleasure from abusing people with permission. Jamie has been in adseg this time for almost 3 years because he needed to move prisons because of physical abuse that included beatings by guards at the Wynne Unit. They moved him – and gave him 3 years of adseg to go with it.

I also bought him food today. It’s like gas station convenience food. Not even one can of vegetables on the list. Snacks. But also tuna, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, coffee, Raman noodles and such. They only allow someone on the outside to purchase $20 a month or $60 a quarter. But I wasn’t due to buy him more until Oct. I sent it to another man, probably next to him, who doesn’t have anyone helping him. He’ll probably pay him in food. They go on lockdown soon – for 30 days – every 90 days. They cut food rations so without extra food and that guard who’s messing with his food he’d get hungry. There are so many inmates with no one on the outside. It’s easy to see why so many don’t make it when they get out

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Most of you who follow this blog know I put out a monthly newsletter called  ITFO NEWS. Each month I focus on a different prison issue. The one being published at the end of the week is on Incarcerating The Innocent. It’s an important topic because many lives are ruined even when there is no solid evidence to convict them. I’m having a book give-away this month. Each new person who wants to try ITFO NEWS can enter their name and email address HERE and have a chance of winning a signed copy (or ebook if you prefer) of “Waiting on the Outside” by Sharron Grodzinsky. If your name is randomly pulled by Sharron, you’ll receive one of ten free copies, shipped free. 

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This book is timely for what is happening today. It is a true story of a young man still in prison today who got involved in the KKK as a teenager, attracted to craziness, violence a drugs and couldn’t find away out. Young people are easily swayed. You need only to look at pictures in our media to see who the recruits are. Any mother who has lived with the fear of raising an out of control teenager will find this book hard to put down. Did it start when he was a child? This story shows you what unconditional love is. Will he make it now when he gets out? Will the KKK let him go? 

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