Scrambled eggs, tortillas, and salsa

This is a new blog (for me) I found today so I wanted to give him some space. I have been writing about the medical issues in prison lately and this fits right in with it. But best of it brings out the human element of what it means to care about even when it puts your life at risk. When you make the right cause you get the right effect to go along with it. Unfortunately his Cellie was too sick. The prison or prison corporation that ran the medical unit, combined with apathy from the prison warden and staff allowed him to deteriorate to a point there was no possibility of quality of life.

Did it have to happen like this? No, it didn’t. It happened because there is no respect for the lives of people incarcerated. I mean everyone. From the falsely accused and those forced into plea deals, to pretty crimes, mentally ill, immigrants, murderers and everything in between. No one cares. People die with easily treatable illnesses, but because they are there their life has absolutely NO value. And that is a crime. It needs to be changed. Corporations should not be allowed to put their bottom line before human life. Period.

hahnscratch

Mike was sentenced to fifty years to life for stealing $200 from a convenience store.  Mike was a Jehovah’s witness.  Mike was my cellee.  And Mike was sick.

When I first moved into the cell with Mike, I wasn’t sure what to think.  He was old, at least he looked it.  He walked with a cane and slept with a CPAP strapped to his face.  Other than his apnea, Mike didn’t really know what was wrong with him and the prison doctors certainly didn’t know either.  What he did know was that it was getting progressively harder for him to walk each day.

When I moved in, Mike had already been waiting six months for the “emergency” transfer he so desperately needed which would house him in a medical facility where he might get better treatment. A bed had been made available at a medical prison a few months earlier…

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Why Do Prisons Get Away With Sloppy Medical Care?

no justice in prison,prison guard lies, lockup,inmate loss of privileges
photo credit: adwart.com

Why do the prisons get away with providing sloppy and inadequate medical care? Everyone knows it’s subpar. Everyone knows inmates die, simply because the prisons don’t want to pay the cost. This way they have more profit to spread around. But my question is why? Why do they get away with it? This past election year nearly every politician made a statement that he would be the one to clean up the prisons but it’s all bullshit. For years from now nothing will have changed. There is one good thing, though. This is the first election positive prison reform was even put on the table.

There are so many deaths inside the walls. From Nov 2015 to May 2016 in Mississippi State Correctional there were 14 deaths. One suicide, one murder, a couple with illnesses, worse than necessary because of lack of care, and the rest? The cause of death is still pending. After six months they still have not determined why they died? Why is that acceptable? Are family members asking what happened and they are stonewalling them until they get tired of asking and they have no money to fight it? We have rules and laws for the some stupid things but no enforceable protocol for to prevent deaths in a prison? Over the years I have read so many articles along this line.

Health care in prison

A couple weeks ago I called the medical unit at Allred about Jamie. He had a seizure. The prison staff won’t give him ground floor cell. So they cuff his hands behind his back, along with his ankles, and four men carried him face down, down a flight of stairs by looping their arms through his cuffs. Imagine being carried like that yanking your arms up behind you. He so easily could have been dropped. The nurse I spoke to was so nice. She said it was their standard way of carrying people down the stairs; they do it all the time. They said they won’t give him a ground floor cell because they need those for people in wheels chairs or the elderly. They also have over 300 seizure prone inmates. They can’t all have a ground floor cells. That makes sense, doesn’t? This prison is also denying him the seizure medication that works best for him, and instead give him an earlier developed drug with bad side effects.

Later I got to thinking. Almost 10% of the inmates have seizures? Isn’t that a bit on the high side? Here is reality. If they have to take an inmate down a flight of stairs they are to be taken down on a wooden litter and he should be strapped down on his left side. If he has a seizure while being carried face they would drop him; they wouldn’t be about to hold him. Also, in the wing he is in there are no elderly. No one older than their 30’s and no wheel chairs or walkers. They are all segregated into their own wing. The drug issue is a profit issue.

The bottom line – they do as little as possible as cheaply as possible. The guards are too lazy to get the proper equipment they need to move people, guards will let inmates lay there needing medical care and wait until the next shift comes on because they don’t feel like doing the paperwork.  All the nurse usually says – for every illness and condition; drink more water, because, after all water is the known cure all for everything, right? The staff is trained to lie sweetly when people inquire about the inmates inside – and they lie very well. I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of those lies more than once. This is the result of letting the Prison Industrial Complex run the prisons.

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The Value Of a Prison Letter

        Jamie sent hundreds of letters during his incarceration, explaining the wounded grief he lives with on a daily basis, because of the separation from his family. He is a parent who has never had the chance to touch his ten year old son.  That is a pain too hard for me to imagine. I have children.   If I could see them, but was unable to reach through the glass and hold them even one time in their lives it would break me. He has a right to his grief.

       If he doesn’t learn how to deal with that, what kind of man will be walking out the door when his sentence is over? Will he be angry at life, still uneducated, inexperienced about everything, low self esteem, and with no way to understand how to put his life back together because his family hasn’t cared enough to even answer his letters? How could he trust them to be there for him? Alone, what do you think his chances of survival will be?  Everything happens for a reason. This is why I came into his life.

       The first letter I have listed here was sent June 1, 2009, three years into his sentence. His son was two and a half. We had been writing for about a year by then. Morgan took the kids to see him. It wasn’t an easy trip for her to make because it was about fifteen hours of driving across the state of Texas, which is like driving through hell. The sight of an occasional billboard is the only thing to remind you there is civilization somewhere beyond the horizon. It is hot and humid. Driving through that with a full carload of bored children would test the patience of anyone. After an emotional visit there is another fifteen hour drive back, with many stops the kids needed for food and bathroom breaks. Jamie’s mother went with them to help with the kids. Jamie had seen his son only one time before this when he was a baby, still in a carrier. This was also the last time he saw his mother for more than five years

       I don’t think I received a happier letter than this one. On this visit, he could see his son running around. That vision carried him through many bleak days and lonely nights when he only had himself to talk to. This was one of five times he saw him in ten years, as of 2016, and at each visit there was plexiglass between them. The craving to hold his son made his punishment complete.  Even so, this visit created a memory he has relived a thousand times. It was also the last time he saw his son until 2013. This separation caused him to feel so much guilt because he felt he had let his son down. He wasn’t there when he should have been. He had countless hours of time alone with nothing to do but think about this. These thoughts went around in his head on an endless loop.

       Frustration was high for Jamie because there was nothing he could do to change anything.   Being a parent from prison is almost impossible.  Morgan made it even more difficult for him because her communication slowed to a trickle. But there are two sides to every story. This was not about her deliberately making life hard for him. For her, it was about survival and trying to make a life for herself and four children, often working two jobs to support them. She married and had another child. She was exhausted all the time because she rarely had a day off. Eventually, as time went by she went on with her life. Jamie couldn’t go on with his, and he became bitter and angry. He couldn’t understand why she couldn’t or wouldn’t bring his son to see him. Seeing his son has been the only thing that mattered to him.  It should have happened, but it couldn’t happen. Life got in the way.

       It just wasn’t his son he wanted to see. He wanted to see his family, but after the initial time after his incarceration, his family didn’t seem to care enough to be there for him. Since it was rare to get a visit what else could he think? He felt forgotten. Letters were never answered. No one helped him get the basic things he needed the prison doesn’t supply.  No one would help pay the medical fee each year so he could call for a nurse when he had a seizure.  These things aren’t free.  Many inmates don’t have the money to pay that fee, so when they are sick, they have to be dying to maybe get help. Because of Jamie having epilepsy he needed to be able to make that call.  Even I asked his family for help, but I ended up paying it myself.  It was hard for him to see it any other way than what it was. He was alone and was on his own. All he had was me.

       Morgan had to prioritize what was important so she could take care of her children. She didn’t stop writing to Jamie because she stopped caring that he was the father of their son. She stopped because of the emotional overload dealing with it. She couldn’t be responsible for Jamie’s happiness while working seventy hours a week taking care of the needs of her children. Was it right or wrong? It is not for anyone else to judge. It is only unfortunate that sometimes our decisions end up hurting other people. It will be up to both of them at a later date, after he is released from prison, to see what puzzle pieces still fit together so they can both be parents to their son.

AN INMATE ONLY HAS MEMORIES

June 1, 2009

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

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

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

Two days later . . .

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

       I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Morgan’s daughter got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right that we couldn’t have a contact visit, and had to  have plexi-glass between us.

      She is a very smart young lady. She told me she wants to be a doctor. I told her to stay positive and do good in school and she can do anything she sets her mind on doing. Alex told me I look different. I told him it’s because I have glasses. I didn’t wear them when I was at home. We talked about him going to visit his dad. I think it’s good Morgan is giving him a chance to spend time with him. I feel that every man or woman should be given a second chance unless they don’t want to live the right path. I think it’s good she’s giving his dad another chance to get to know him. Maybe they will build a better father-son relationship. I pray they will get along okay.

       So, how are you mom, really? How is Mike doing? I can’t wait to come home so I can come and visit with you, mom. Maybe I could even help around the house or the store you have in Key West. Morgan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, either. I’ve been on a plane, though. To tell the truth I’ve never been outside Texas. So that is something I want to do with my family. Explore different states and sights. It would be fun I think. It would be fun to be a truck driver but I doubt that could happen with my epilepsy. I would love to drive all over the country.

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

IN PRISON STILL WAITING FOR MY FAMILY TO CARE

April 1, 2011

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

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

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

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

Love, Son.

PRISON SENTENCES ARE JUST AS LONG FOR THE CHILDREN

July 2012

Dear mom,

       I’m just lonely and it hurts. I miss everyone so much. It seems as if no one cares at all how I’m doing. It’s so hard not to think about it. It bothers me that the woman I care so much for isn’t worried about my health or well being. No one stays in touch with me at all. It hurts that Morgan is treating me as if I’m not Jamie’s dad. What I mean is, she don’t tell me anything about how he’s doing. Everything I know comes from you. I’m very thankful for that. I would love to hear from Morgan once or twice a month. What’s so hard about that? I get mad and try to write to let her know I’m mad but I end up throwing the letter away. I tell myself it’s all my fault I’m here. Then again, it’s no reason for her to not stay in touch. If not for her then for the kids. I do love them and miss them so much.

       It hurts so much not being there for Jamie. I’ve missed out on so much. I’m trying. I’m staying clear of trouble. I come up for parole on July 27, 2014. That’s one reason why I try to stay in touch with everyone. If these people decided to give me parole and they can’t get in touch with nobody I will have to wait for them to find me a half way house. I’m being treated like an unknown person by them.

       So, if it stays like this, why should I try? My son is young and he has dyslexia. It’s hard for him to write. But still, Megan could give him some paper and let him color a picture for me. EVERY little thing touches my heart. I miss him so much. I sit here trying to read and my mind wanders thinking of everyone, from the night me and Morgan met, even to the day I met her dad, to the day I first met my son. That was the most wonderful moment in my life.

       Please talk to Morgan for me. Ask her what’s wrong. Why don’t she write to me? Tell her all she has to do is let me know. I can’t put up too much of an argument here. I just want the truth, that’s all. I’m going to close this letter. Take it easy, okay? Take one day at a time. The pain will be over soon and things will be just as beautiful as before. I love you mom.

THE VALUE OF A LETTER

June 17, 2014

Dear mom,
You know that mail and visits are the two things everyone looks forward to when you are locked up. It’s all we have when it comes to friends and family. I’ve heard a lot of dudes who are getting ready to go home say they had nowhere to go. What are they supposed to do when there is no one in their life to encourage them. You said you wrote to that dude on death row, and I bet he was so glad to hear from you. What happens is sometimes someone will get a letter from a penpal site and they are so glad because they think they finally have someone to write to. So they write long letters hoping the person who wrote to them will be interested enough to keep writing. He might not have anyone else to write to, so he hopes he says the right thing, hoping you’ll write back. When you sit alone in a cell all day all you can do is think about your life and now he has a chance to tell someone how he feels. People on the outside don’t understand how important that one letter can be to someone who doesn’t have anyone to care about them and hope they are okay. It can make all the difference in the world to that person.

       All these years, all I had was you. How would my time here be if you hadn’t cared. It was rare to get a letter from anyone, and even when I did, it was a catch up on what was happening with everyone, not about how I was doing. I would write back, but I usually ended up throwing them away because I would get too emotional. They don’t want to hear how I feel about things. I do appreciate, though, when someone takes the time to write. But you are the only one I open up to about things. It’s hard for me to do that, but it’s also important to be able to get it out.

       It hurts when I have to find the words to explain how much I fucked up my life, and now my son’s. But I am determined to change these things. You’ve given me the hope I can do it. You’ve taught me that I am a valuable person. I also want to be the man my mother wanted me to be. She did the best she could. I let her down. I want her to be proud of me. And I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you have done for me.
I am determined to have a better life. I know what kind of person I am. I know what I feel inside. Right now I feel the misery of losing a loved one. Everyone can have the determination to change. It is up to them to decide when the time is right.

I LOVE YOU ALWAYS, DADDY

August 4, 2014

       This is a letter Jamie wrote after his son’s eighth birthday. He included a letter he wanted me to send to his son.

Hello mom,
I sit and think a lot. I sit and think about how life will be when I get home, wherever that is. A lot of this has been frustrating. Father’s day was real hurtful for me. It was on a weekend. I didn’t hear from or see Morgan with Jamie, or from anyone else, either. I was hoping that since it was a weekend that she’d bring my son. Oh well, it wasn’t a surprise to me. And now Jamie just had his birthday. Eight years old. It hurts like hell that I didn’t get to see him on his birthday. I’m having something made for him. I spent everything I had left to get it done. It’s still not finished. Would you call him please and tell him I did not forget him? Tell him I love him and happy birthday. I wrote him a letter would you send it to him? I sold my food to get a stamp to send this letter to you.

Jamie’s letter to his son –

       Guess who? Yes, it’s me, Daddy. First I want to say I’m sorry this is so late. I have never forgotten about you. Nor did I forget about your birthday. I’m getting something made for you. You will like it when you see it. I love you Jamie. I will always love you.

       So happy birthday from a father to his son. I will always love you no matter what. Life is hard but we’re blessed to have it. We’re blessed to have each other. Strong faith will always keep us together. Even if I’m not home, believe, my love is so strong!! No one can break our chain of love we have for each other and that I have for you. I know it hurts, me not being home, but know that I think about you all the time. I didn’t forget your birthday and never will.

       What did you do for your birthday? I hope you had lots of fun!! If I was there we would have lots of stuff to do together. Movies, swimming, basketball, football, fishing. Lots of stuff. I couldn’t be there with you because of a poor choice I made a long time ago and I’m sorry. Making a poor choice will hurt your life, son. So be sure to live life in a positive way. Stay away from trouble, drugs and stupidity. Nobody means you any good if they are trying to get you to do wrong. Stay in school and pay good attention. Work hard for what you want. I did not do that and that is why I’m in jail. Listen to me son, nothing is worse than having your freedom taken away. Please stay away from trouble. Pay close attention to your education.

I love you always, Daddy

A PRISON CELL IS THE LONELIEST PLACE TO BE

November 12, 2014

       It’s okay. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else. And I will chant for you, too, I promise I will.

       I ask myself over and over, why won’t Morgan come and bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Morgan, I guess, feels different. Maybe I should try to get moved to another unit. I would probably have to get in trouble, though, to do that. That wouldn’t be good. But if I was moved farther away from home, then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away” or “I can’t afford the gas”. Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. Maybe Morgan just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that, but it’s hard not to.

       If I knew people cared as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you, I would know nothing. Morgan has kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why would she want to hurt me like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. There are lots of people with lots on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.

       I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. She came to visit me last year. First time in at about five years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple prisons that were too far away. They were clear across Texas. It was too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. I was really glad to see her.

       It would be good if I could get Morgan to take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along too good right now. The person who misses out the most is Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. It gets me depressed just thinking about.

PRISON VISIT – ONE YEAR UPDATE

Feb 4, 2015

Dear Mom,
It’s really cold. I think it maybe snowed but I can’t tell for sure because I can’t see out a window anymore. I never get any sun at all. In my last cell there was a window and I could see outside. I would pretend I was out there. If you’ve never been locked up you wouldn’t know how it feels to have no control over anything you do. You can’t make anything change. There is so much space in my head. I try hard to fill it up with things, but sooner or later I give up and go to sleep.

       Some years back, before you got sick, you wrote and told me to imagine we were outside riding bikes and we would ride to the top of a hill, meet there, and have a picnic. We could do that together at the same time. It would be a way for me to escape in my head. It was really the first time we talked about how powerful the mind is and how important it is to have hope. You told me over and over how important my life is. I don’t understand what you saw in me, but I’m glad you did. It’s like my family washed their hands of me. It wasn’t important to let me know they still loved me. It was like I died or something. You kept me from disappearing, or at the least so I wouldn’t become like so many people in here who have no hope. This place has a way of making you feel really small and you took hold of me and taught me how to keep it together.

       I’ve been thinking about my son a lot. I was so happy to see him in October (2013) when Morgan came. I wanted to see him so bad. He’s all I have. He’s the only thing I have that makes life worth living. He’s the only real thing that proves I lived. I don’t think Morgan really understands how important he is to me. The thought of him keeps me trying. I didn’t want to feel sure she would really bring him to see me. I didn’t even know for sure if they were coming. You told me she was trying to make sure she would make it. Morgan kept saying she would but something always got in the way. Really, I about gave up because the disappointment was too hard to bear. She said she’d come before and then couldn’t. But this time, when the officer came to my cell and told me I had visitors, well all I can say is that this big feeling of happiness came over me and I smiled so big. I was finally going to see my son. She had her two other sons with her, too.

       Before that day, it was hard knowing he was out there and I couldn’t see him. I wondered if he was going to be angry with me for not being there when he was growing up. Maybe he would be ashamed for anyone to know his dad was in prison. I’m so sorry I can’t be there for him right now. I know I can’t expect Morgan to stay by herself till I get out. She’ll have another man in her life but it would rip me up if my son called some other man, dad. Or if some man tried to come between me and my son.

       I’m missing all of these years with him I can never get back. When I saw him he was really shy. It was hard to get him to talk to me. I can’t blame him for that. He was probably scared. He was hardly more than a baby the last time he saw me. I want so badly to be able to give him a hug and tell him how much I love him. More than anything he is the one thing in my life that gives me the reason to want to get out of here and have a good life. I want to be a good father. Having him is the only thing I have done right. He’s the only good thing I have.

       Morgan doesn’t write to me very often. I’ve begged her so many times. I think she would if she really wanted to. Instead of telling me the truth she gives me all of these excuses like she wrote a bunch of letters but her boyfriend or whoever found them and threw them away every single time she wrote one. It was one excuse after the other. I think if someone wanted to write a letter they would find a way to get it into the mailbox without getting caught. She shouldn’t need to sneak. Nothing anyone can do will make me not exist. I will always be his father. She should be able to write a letter and tell me about my boy without getting into trouble. So that doesn’t make sense.

       Why doesn’t she hardly send me any pictures? Sometimes I get out all the pictures I have and I go over them one by one and think of all the memories I have. I just stare at them and make them part of my day and pretend I am in the picture instead of being here.

THERE IS NO WAY TO BE A DAD IN PRISON

July 17, 2015

       Morgan is with another man. I accept that because he is little. But it isn’t the same as having your own dad. When she and I were together, her other kids accepted me, not just because I was with their mom, but because I loved her, and them. When I was young my dad wasn’t there, but I didn’t accept anyone else even though there were other men in my mom’s life. Do you see where I’m coming from?

        Some dads in here have a chance, but not many. Some want to be a dad and some don’t. I wish I knew more about how they are. I want Jamie to know that even though I can’t be there every day I love him so much. I hope his writing gets better so he can write to me, even if it is only a sentence or two. That would make me happy. But I can tell you, I could never accept my son bonding with another man. I’m his father, his only father.

       I should be able to see Jamie once or twice a month. What’s twice a month? Is that too much to ask? I have seen him so little. I want to be able to talk to him. I want him to see me. I want to tell him how important he is to me. I understand we have to get to know each other through letters, but the thing is, he’s only nine. You and I understand the rough road in life and we can explain things to each other in letters. Jamie can’t do that. But he is important, so I have to find a way to get through to him. I need to change things for him so he never goes through what I’m going through. I can start that by changing who I am. Change the karma. That will affect his life, too.

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Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares (forward)
First two chapters:
Everyday Dreams
Jamie’s Story

I have begun a newsletter on different aspects of the prison industry as well as updates on the progress of the book. I’m looking for a reasonable cost publishing house that can also include CD’s of the piano music found at http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick, most of which was written for the book.Fill out the contact form to be put on the mailing list which will only go out monthly. (You won’t get bombarded like some businesses do!)

David Snape Show 2 (4.4.16)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Name Is Jamie

( Sonni’s note: This is the first thing I posted on this blog in 2014 and it has been read about 1000 times. I decided to post it again because there are so many new people who come to this blog. it is hard to get a sense of who he is or why I do this so I wanted newer readers to have the opportunity to know I write for him – why it matters so much. I am going to repost some early posts. You’ll know by the dates. I hope you go on to read the chapters of the book I am now writing, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. You can sign up to be on the mailing list at the bottom of this post. The success of this writing, and the fact that he wants to go in the direction of helping kids avoid making the same mistakes, and wanting to help others have a better life, using this book will be an important tool. You can help it be a success by sharing it with other people. I hope to be done writing it in the next 6 months, and the process of publishing will take at at least a year longer than that, if you are familiar with publishing. I think he is a very special man with a lot to give back to society. help me help him. It is extremely hard to have a successful life when inmates reintegrate into society after a long time because so many things have changed. What he has learned about his life while helping me to write this book, because he has had to look honestly at himself, is helping him to keep his determination strong to change.

There are many piano pieces throughout this blog. There is a reason for that. My life and Jamie’s life are intertwined. He has helped me survive and I have helped him. Everything happens for a reason. The people we meet are not by accident. He gave me the reason to start writing music again.

My Name Is Jamie – by Sonni Quick copyright 2014

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My music pieces are improvisations. There are many throughout this blog. This piece of music is an early recording, before I had the means to record the way I do now. I wrote this after my liver transplant, when I was able to sit again at my piano. My playing changed. I used to write songs with lyrics, and do copy music of other artists. I lost the ability to sing, my vocal cords are shot, so the meaning needs to be expressed solely through my playing. I can’t explain this right, but when I lived through the transplant, my music changed. I no longer wanted to sound like someone else. My dream as a child was to play the most beautiful music in the world, but I didn’t know how to play what I could hear inside. Now, it may not be the most beautiful in the world, but to me it expresses what I feel inside. I crawl inside my piano and play it from the inside out. I kn0w. I sound a bit nutty, but it is the only way to describe it. Every time I sit down to play I have no idea what I’m going to do. I don’t listen to it while I play. I just play. I don’t listen to them until a few days has passed so I can listen to them as a stranger would hear them. I don’t remember them. It’s an odd experience. I can’t play them again unless I went back and charted them, which I may do someday. I hit an occasional wrong note. Oh well. My fingers play what they want to express. I play when I am feeling emotional. This piece is the first piece I played this way. I just let my fingers play what they wanted. This is the emotion I was feeling after reading one of Jamie’s letters. The emotion of Jamie’s loss. During the short time he was able to call me last year and I played this for him over the phone. It will be a long time before he can hear the other piano pieces i recorded for him. Sometimes I record a piece and give it as a gift. On the list below you will see one called Graduation Day. Currently it is my newest piece and I just sent it to my niece. I recorded it during her graduation. I want to off some of this music with the book when it is published. )

I sit here in my prison cell, as I do every day, trying unsuccessfully not think too much. How can I pass this day quickly? How many hours can I sleep? How can I pretend that I am somewhere other than this place, trying to wish my life away? It’s sad. What a waste of my life. How did I let this happen to me? This isn’t where I was supposed to be. I want to be with my family. With the woman I love, and with my son and her other children. I think of them like they are my own. I try to not think about that too much anymore. I’ve lost so much I will never be able to get back.

From one human being to another, Jamie – I love you. Not a romantic love, but the love for you as a human being. You inspire me with the strength you have shown in making it through these things that have been done to you in the false name of Justice.)

I can never get back the time. They are all growing up without me. I’ve let everyone down. I know I’m not a bad person. I try to do the right thing, but sometimes, in the past, I did things on impulse. I never thought about what it would do to my life. I never thought I would end up here. Unless you’ve been here you have no way of understanding. This is a nightmare I can’t wake up from.

I often think I won’t make it. I feel like I want to explode inside. I tried to kill myself more than once, but I didn’t succeed. Sometimes I feel like I am under my cell, under the floor, and everything is on top of me. I feel like will never get out of here. I don’t care about eating most of the time. I’ve gone on hunger strikes. But mom, the woman I call mom, always talks me out of it by telling me that my life matters even if I don’t believe it does. You wouldn’t want to eat if you had to eat the food in here. Sometimes all they feed us is peanut butter.

Sometimes I don’t take my medications for epilepsy. The medical care in here is another story. One time I had a seizure and I woke up on the floor with my hands and feet in cuffs. There was no concern for me. They were afraid that they were going to get hurt. Amazing. Anywhere else a person would be taken to the hospital, but not here. Another time I fell off my bunk and broke my front teeth. I have had so many seizures and many times the guards let me lay here because they don’t want to do the paperwork. They do give me my seizure medication, most of the time, but I’m not too sure what it is. I’ve heard that drug companies try out new meds on us with the government’s permission – we have a debt to pay society, they say. But how many seizures can one person have and not have their brain all scrambled? People on the outside don’t treat their dogs the way they treat us in here. What does it matter? I don’t think it matters to my family, either. No one ever writes and asks me how I’m doing. I’ve given up waiting.

I know, I’m feeling sorry for myself. They didn’t put me here. I did. I was wrong to think they would care. Eight years in here. It tears my head up thinking about where I could be. Where would I be right now? I’d like to think I would have done something good with my life. Would Megan and I be together? Would I have been able to take care of my family? Would something else have happened to me because it was my karma to be in here? Eight years is very long time. I have nine more to go, unless they let me out of here someday. I’m not hopeful. My family doesn’t pay me any attention because they say they feel too much pain knowing I’m here, or they say they didn’t make me screw up, so they ignore me instead. It makes it easier for them. Out of sight, out of mind. That’s kinda screwed up, isn’t it?

There isn’t much I can do in here except think. I lay here hour after hour just thinking about things. Some of my memories are worn out by now. I try not to think about the memories that bring me down, but they seem to sneak in anyway. I have so many regrets. I try to replace those thoughts with good ones about the future. Sonni, who I call mom, tells me that the mind is very powerful and I can shape the future the way I want it to be. I need to think of the life I want to have when I get out of here. Focus on what CAN be, not what was in the past. The future hasn’t happened yet so i can shape that the way I want it to be. It’s hard not to get depressed. I have to work at that. Some day this will be over. i can do it.

Sonni, Megan's mom
Sonni, Megan’s mom

Sonni might not be my mother, but she is the one who has been here for me. She treats me like I am her son. She keeps my head on straight when I’m really feeling bad. Over the years she has been my lifeline. She’s the one person I know I can count on. She helps me buy the things I need at the commissary and sends me books and magazines. But most of all she writes to me and I am so grateful for that. She’s done so much for me when she didn’t have to. I don’t know why she wanted to help me, but I’m glad she did. She’s my son’s grandmother, so she will always be a part of my family. I know I am important to her. But it’s a shame when you have a large family like I do. They live close enough to visit, but they don’t. I don’t even get a birthday card. It’s like I don’t exist anymore. Sometimes I am so hurt and angry. that is the hardest thing I have to overcome – my anger. I used to think it was my fault. Maybe it was because I gave my mom a hard time when I was growing up. Maybe she is just too busy working two jobs and she used to take care of my nieces when their mom was in jail. So maybe my family just doesn’t have any time for me.

I can’t say that my mother never visited me. She and Megan drove across the whole state of Texas when Jamie was little more than a baby. It was the only time I saw my son for 6 years until last October.

jamie-meg

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Megan brought all the kids to see me. It was great. I felt, for a little while that I had my family around me. It gave me good memories to think about over and over. I think I almost wore them out! For a long time I was moved around Texas and the first two were really far away. I’ve been in 6 prisons so far. But even when I moved closer it didn’t make much difference. My mother did come some months back. I was really surprised. She brought my nieces with her. She told me that she would be back every week. That made me feel really good, but she didn’t come back again for a long time. Megan brought my son Jamie Jr to see me in 2013 after much begging. She also brought the other kids. That made me so happy. They were so small the last time I saw them. They grew up.

IMG330 Antonio Alexander

i0000010 Alyssa

photo-29 The next month, November, Megan came back and brought Sonni, who from now on I’ll just call mom. That’s what we use in our letters. She lives in Pa. After all of the letters we’ve written, we finally got a chance to see each other eye to eye. She put her hand flat against the glass and I put my hand up to hers. I could feel the caring through the glass. I haven’t seen them since. Mom hasn’t been back to Tx yet. Soon I hope. A man named Melvin, who is a member of the SGI, the Nichiren Buddhist organization that sends me the reading materials about life that I am studying, has visited with me for awhile coming every couple months. It is teaching me how to change the things inside me that cause me unhappiness.

I met mom before Thanksgiving before I got busted. I was only 22 then. I’m 31 now. She took my picture when I walked into her room at the hotel. I was embarrassed and couldn’t look up into the camera.photo-44The next morning we all went out for breakfast. I wish I could turn back the clock and do things differently. Megan had just found out she was pregnant, but we didn’t tell anybody yet. It was only a month later that I got arrested. I was surprised when I got that first letter from her. I am so glad she took the time to write to me, and over time we got close. A lot of dudes in here don’t have anyone to write to.

I wish I could see my son more, but I doubt it’s going to happen. Megan’s life is too full of drama. It keeps her from being able to make the drive. It is a full day of driving so I guess it isn’t easy. I’ve given up expecting more. What I don’t understand is when they say things like, “Just because I don’t write you doesn’t mean I don’t love you” or ” I don’t write to you because it hurts me too much.” Hurts them?? They make it sound as though they are the ones being punished. It hurts me so I’ll hurt you more?? And someday, when I get out of here, am I supposed to open my arms and be glad to see everybody? When someone you love doesn’t write back to you, you make up all kinds of things in your head. It’s hard for me to believe they care.

If I could go back and do that night again, I wonder where I would be? If I had thought about that the night I chose to follow my friends maybe i would have had better common sense? I went out with my cousin and some friends. I was in Megan’s car. She tried to get me to stay home that night. We were smokin’ some weed. We just went out to party. This wasn’t supposed to happen.One guy made a joke about robbing this place. I think in a way I was shocked, but at the same time I didn’t try to stop him. I didn’t leave because friends don’t leave friends behind. I played a part as well by helping him. I was driving. He had a gun in his backpack. It was all so stupid.

You know the court appoints a lawyer for people who don’t have the money to hire an attorney. They aren’t on your side. This lawyer gets paid about $200, at $75 an hour, to help whoever needs help. But they don’t really care about helping you. They work for the DA so whatever deal the DA wants, that’s what they tell you to do. The first deal he came to me with was 45 years! No one got hurt. Yes, it was wrong. I accept responsibility for that. But a white guy could murder someone and not get 45 years. But when you can’t afford a lawyer and you’re black and live in Texas, you’re screwed. So I told them no deal and they set another court date. Then they enhanced my case to make it 15-99 years. Fifteen minimum until I probably die. This was to make me take the deal. They also don’t want to take the time and money to go to court. It’s called, clearing the docket. So then this lawyer said they would offer 17 years and I should take it. He never discussed the case with me. He didn’t know who I was. He didn’t care. He wasn’t there to help me. I didn’t have anyone I could talk to who would help me. This was a first offense. I did go to juvy on a nine month sentence when I was in tenth grade, but it wasn’t because of a crime. The school to prison pipeline is very real. That’s another story.

That was more than 8 years ago. I think I have a long way to go. They don’t like to let people out of here. They keep knocking us down so we never make the level to get out. Guards file false charges. One accused me of blowing her a kiss. If you saw her you would know that would have never happened. She was big and fat and ugly. Besides, who would be that stupid. But she wrote me up for it and got me in trouble.
Prison recreation cages
Most of the time I spent in ad seg (administrative segregation), which is solitary with another name, and I can’t even leave my cell for meals. They let me out of my cell for an hour to go outside by myself to the cages if the weather is okay. A few times a week I go to the showers. They put my food through a slot in the door. Ad seg is also called G5. Recently I made it to G4 and I could go to chow. But a guy jumped me there. A guard saw it and said it wasn’t my fault but they still took my G4 away and put me back in G5. Now I have to wait another 6 months to a year to get out again. It has happened every time. Last time it took me more than two years to get back up to G4. When I do work my way up it is never for long. They always find a reason to send me back. because of that, in all these years they have never been able to make even one phone call. I would have to be G2 for that to happen. My son was born after this happened but I can never call him, never wish him happy birthday or tell him I love him. That sucks. It also means I can’t go to school. Without a GED I can’t even work at a fast food place. I couldn’t live on that anyway. This is why inmates can’t make it when they get out and why prison doors revolve. Let one person out while it brings another back in.

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The Elderly In Prison – Is It Right?

Elderly-Prisoner
photo source: famm.org

What happens to the old people in prison? No one thinks about the elderly in prison.  Most people think of prisons as places where dangerous criminals are locked up because society needs to be protected from them. They are locked up and the key thrown away for 30 – 40 – 50 years or more, until they die of old age. LWOP – Life Without Parole. A young man, or woman, as young as mid teens, committed a crime, and had the rest of his life was taken away. Twenty-two states try children as young as seven as adults. We don’t often picture inmates as people with walkers and wheelchairs, or think they spent nearly their entire life in a cell.  It also takes approximately $30,000 a year of the taxpayer’s money to pay for one inmate to live in the horrible conditions found inside prisons. Senior inmates are almost double that.  There are 2.33 million inmates in the the Us.  How many prisoners are there worldwide.  It is a scary thought.elderly prison inmate

                                       source credit: ca.news.yahoo.com

It is difficult to write only about the elderly in prison without explaining what the prisons are for everyone, and the treatment all inmates  get. It is how the younger inmates are treated that affects them as they age. If they are unlucky enough to spend multiple decades locked up they will go through a lifetime of malnutrition and insufficient medical care that affects the elderly in ways that are cruel and unnecessary. That is what happens to any institution that becomes “for profit”. On the outside we don’t consider age 50 to be elderly. In prison it is. Age 50 and above is the fastest growing segment of the prison population. Some prisons are nursing homes with barbed wire.

This is the effect of the “War on Drugs” when people were handed life sentences like candy. The sentences they were given would not be given today, yet they keep these people inside long after they paid for whatever  crime they committed. Today, everyone wants to carry a gun. It’s their constitutional right, they yell. The want to be able to strap them on their hip like some long ago cowboy. But in 1980 you went to prison if you were caught with a gun in your possession. These men are dying.  They want to see their grandchildren and spend a little time with their family.  They are no threat to anyone.  Because they are in prison, the caregivers hired to help them are not even allowed to give them a hug.  They can’t show kindness  to a dying man.  They are in prison, after all.

This is a link to one of the best articles I’ve read about the aging in prison. There are also experiences of about a half dozen men.  It made me cry.  One man saw a tree for the first time in 20 years – a tree – and the experience so moved him.  The Painful Price Of Aging In Prison

In the 1980’s, when Ronald Regan began “The War on Drugs”, those who were apprehended with even tiny amount of marijuana were given extremely long prison sentences. If someone is arrested with alcohol, a very harmful substance, it’s okay and legal. Death from alcohol abuse is common.  But can’t prohibit alcohol.  We tried that already.  So now they have tried with marijuana, classifying it to be as dangerous and lethal as heroin. Its a Class 1 drug. There has never been even one death from marijuana, ever, and you can’t OD on it like you can with alcohol poisoning. But this phony war has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of people and have made certain corporations very rich.

Now, 35 years later, these elderly inmates are very sick and dying. The war on drugs stopped nothing, but it filled the prisons and the corporations took over because of the money they could make.  What is the point of giving someone a fifty year sentence for drugs?  If he has done a crime, give him an appropriate sentence.  It serves no purpose to take away his entire life. And when they get proper medical care in their younger years and they are fed horrible food so they don’t get the nutrition they need to stay healthy, then you have people dying when they are fifty. Renal failure is one of biggest medical problems.

Michael-Tyrrell-handcuffe-010
photo credit: theguardian.com                                                                                    This was taken the day before this man died.  He is handcuffed to the bed.

 We have learned in recent years that much of the evidence that was used throughout the years to find people guilty, was wrong. When that mistake  is found, often through DNA, or finding evidence that had been suppressed that would have exonerated them from the start, you would think they would be released, but they aren’t.  Even when the courts are presented with new evidence, setting them free is nearly impossible. Even if a judge overturns a conviction, the prison won’t set him free without more years of hassle, as seen by the case of three men called The Angola Three All three had their convictions over turned after spending decades in prison, but the prison wouldn’t let them go. 85% of all inmates in Angola, die in Angola. With attorneys trying to get them released, one man died, one man who was near dying did get out and died a few days later.  There is still one man inside.  After yet another court case where he was deemed innocent and the judge said they would not be allowed to file another case against him, the prosecutors are determined that he will not get out.

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As of 2015 it is against the law to sentence a minor to life without parole, but it isn’t retroactive. If you were sentenced in 2014 the new law isn’t for you. And if you are 65 and already had been imprisoned for nearly 50 years you won’t be allowed to have even a small portion of your life back. To date, it has been unsuccessfully fought.

This article talks about the Supreme Court ruling about youth offenders.  For every youth that has been given life with no parole, he will die in prison as an old man. There are women, but the majority are men. Juvenile Life Without Parole

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Are these elderly prisoners a danger to society?  No. But sadly, after spending decades locked up inside a prison, and not having access to decent medical care, dental care and nutritious food, you body is going to break down faster. You will be much older than than the same aged person who didn’t go through that. A persons body can be neglected for only so long before it breaks down.

Because of poor dental hygiene, and no six month check ups, teeth pain is a  common problem that is ignored even after the teeth become infected and an abscess has formed.  Many problems could have easily been taken care of when it was a simple cavity.  Even after a tooth has abscessed, painfully evident by swollen a mouth and an inmate screaming in pain, they will let him cry in pain for a long time before anything is done. To make matters worse, guards will taunt the inmate and laugh at his discomfort. If he is are extremely lucky he might get an aspirin, but that won’t help the problem of increasing infection. Teeth pain is one of the worst pains to endure and for prisons to allow inmates to suffer this way is inexcusable. If you are in pain, too bad. Eventually, he will be taken to a dentist, but by then he will  have suffered for weeks or months. The dentist could be a two or three day bus ride away, with the inmate being shackled to other prisoners. Spending a lifetime in prison, as your teeth rot because of bad food and lack of care, is inhumane. I have learned  these things through many letters I have received over the years from inmates.

prison food,lockdown,ad seginmate privileges,no justice for inmates
example of prison food on while on lockdown Photo credit: pennsylvaniacooking.blogspot.com

After decades of poor quality food, barely above starvation, it takes a toll on health. If you are one of the few who has family who puts money on your books – a term used when money is sent that can be spent in the commissary or to make calls – you could purchase a variety of food very much like what you could buy at a gas station convenience store. Fresh vegetables or salads are not on the menu.

Disease is rampant and are most are untreated. Many illnesses wouldn’t have ended in death if the inmate had received care. The notion that inmates get free medical treatment is highly exaggerated. They have to fight for medical care and often lose. My grandson’s father, Jamie Cummings, who today turned 33, has been in prison for ten years.  He not only has epilepsy, he was recently been diagnosed with Pericarditis, an inflation of the sac around the heart. He had a seizure that was severe enough for him to be taken to a hospital.  Quite often they just let him lay in his cell because the guard doesn’t want to do the paperwork.

It was during this hospital stay they discovered the problem with his heart. They kept him there for four days monitoring his heart.  The cardiologist told him – and wrote in his report the medication he needed.  It is easily treatable but is often fatal if left untreated. The sac around the heart hardens and blood cant pump right.  It causes chest pains and difficulty moving around because the body doesn’t get enough oxygen. The medical unit at the prison won’t give him the medication that will save his life.  I’m now fighting for him. Jamie has been having chest pains. He talked to a nurse using video chat in the medical unit.

Although there are many inmates with chronic illnesses at Huntsville Prison, there is often no medical staff there for long stretches of time. They leave at 5 PM and return around 3 AM.  Although in my experience I have called there quite a few times as early as 2 PM and receptionist tells me they are already gone for the day. If an inmate needs medical help someone calls a nurse at a different location using video chat. What good is that? There are many chronic illnesses that need more than someone just looking at them on a screen. Older inmates need better care than that. When Jamie had his latest video chat because of chest pain, the nurse said he didn’t “look” like he was in pain and told him to drink more water, the nurse’s remedy for everything.  Jamie does get medication for seizures but he still has them. He went into the hospital with that medication so they can’t decide he doesn’t need them.

The medical care isn’t free.  Every January he is charged $100 he doesn’t have.  Every time I put money into his account  they will take half until it’s paid.  I pay it because as lousy as the care is he needs to be able to call for help when he has a seizure.  Many inmates don’t.  If they don’t need to see a doctor for the rest of the year he still has to pay $100 for one visit. sickness runs rampant in prisons.  If some things aren’t treated they could get really sick or pass it on to others.

You can read  Jamie’s story at:   My Name Is Jamie. My Life In Prison

Cost is the bottom line for everything.  Cut the cost. Who cares?  Inmates are a forgotten society that has no value. Jamie’s experience is just ONE person, one human being.  2.3 million people are locked up in the United States. If they gave inmates the medical treatment they needed, there would be no profit. Investors would be unhappy. After all, they are just inmates, and most of them are black. They don’t care who they hurt.  It seems greed is the reason for everything these days.

A picture of this wouldn’t do it justice.  You need to read the article:       Ten Worst Prisons in America

Another large percentage of inmates are Hispanic. Yes, America is in a uproar about illegal aliens, but Hispanic families with wives and children are separated from their husbands and imprisoned having committed no crime. How bad would your country have to be to risk crossing the border of another country illegally.  Maybe they shouldn’t have done it, but does that mean we have the right to enslave them?  Many have severe medical needs.

I watched a video of a new prison being auctioned off and prospective buyers were promised an endless supply of people. Hispanics caught at the boarder were going to keep the new prison full.  The bidding started at $5,000,000. Today, Texas already has more than 110 prisons.

Many inmates become diabetic because of a high carb diet which turns to sugar. They aren’t going to get the diet they need. Arthritis or any common “old age” disease, won’t get treated. Many illnesses a prisoner has is treatable, but in prison they are left untreated regardless of the pain, until it gets very bad and then the absolute minimum is done.

When sentencing became absurd during the “War on Drugs” in the 1980’s, no one looked at the future affects and thought about the elderly inmates who needed more care than what they would be willing to provide. How could the prison continue to be profitable if they had to pay for necessary medical procedures? The law states they have a right to medical care, but they don’t say how much or when.

When prisons, like hospitals and schools, became “for profit”, corporations wanted to jump on the bandwagon. The Prison Industrial Complex took over many prisons . States were broke. They couldn’t repair roads or schools, and they couldn’t afford the costs of the increasing populations of the prisons while having to constantly build new prisons to house them.  Corporations, like CCA and the GEO Group, offered to take the prisons off the hands of the states and run them. But here was the deal: the states had to sign 20 year contracts promising the prisons would be kept 90-100% full AT ALL TIMES, or the state would have to pay them for the empty beds. That could run into millions of dollars. The corporations sold the deal by telling the states they would now have more money for roads and schools. That didn’t happen. Instead, there were many lawsuits because the corporations were cutting too many corners for profit.  People were dying because of the lack of medical care. They cut out too much food and other necessities. Some of the states that signed those contracts will not be renewing. But these corporations donate a lot of money to the campaigns of politicians to guarantee they will vote on issues that are in the best interest of these corporations. This puts a lot of pressure on both sides.

New prisons are still being built, even though this year there has been much in the media about lowering the prison populations. In my opinion, it is a sham. There has been no mention of the 20 year contracts already in force. There were investors and stock holders who are looking forward to all the profit  to be make. The United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of all the prisoners. Do we really have more criminals? No. This system preys on blacks and Hispanics.  Many people get imprisoned that shouldn’t be. That is the only way they get the support they need from the white privileged population who need to keep racism alive and well.  Every black person they arrest could find guilty of something, guilty or not.  There are six times more black people than white people in prison, yet black people are only 13% of the population.  Prisons are filled with black people, a much lower percentage of Hispanics and the occasional white.  The media, bought and paid by those who make the profit, convinced the public that black men are dangerous. They start in elementary schools, where 6x more black kids are imprisoned in juvenile detention.

Although this article is focused on the elderly, most of them started out young kids when they were first imprisoned.  It is these laws that need to be changed, so people don’t spend their entire lives in prison.  Prison should only be for those who really are a threat to society, and that percentage is much smaller than you think.  To understand the problem with the elderly, you need to understand why there is a problem and why it is as bad as it is. Many lives have been ruined for that reason.

At a time when it would be compassionate to let a dying man be at home, it is denied. There is something called – compassionate release. An inmate can apply to be let out to die at home.  Four times this year an inmate applied for it and four times it was denied, and since the process is very long they often die before and answer is given.

SQ sm cages

 There is one last thing I haven’t mentioned – mental illness. That is another article by itself. So many people who have a mental illness have been put in a prison because there was nowhere else to put them. Conditions inside made their problem worse and they often get put in solitary confinement for their own protection.  Even those who have committed crimes often have a mental illness that is made far worse because of how they are treated. Many try to commit suicide and some succeed.  They have also been left in their cells to die with no one helping them, with staff watching them die through the window on their cell door. You don’t want to see the video I watched for an hour, watching a man take his final breath and not one person, including medical staff would help him until after he was dead.  Then they did CPR so they could say they followed the book. It was one less person to care for. There are many lawsuits. There is almost no help for people who need therapy. This last picture is a group therapy session. Effective? You decide.

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CHAPTERS OF “INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE”
Forward – A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story

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Female Prisoners In California are Hunger Striking In Solidarity with Detained Immigrants

There is so much injustice in the world and the center of it is in the United states. Many people in this country are snowed. They think we are a generous country who wants to help free people around the world from tyranny. But as is seen today, the kind Xristian people are not so kind after all and they are cheering on the corrupt GOP leaders as they attempt to use the inciting of fear to become our next president. God help us all – a worthless phrase, because if there were a God, and he was trying to make us in his image he would look at us as a total failure. There are truly people who need our help yet we turn out back as we prepare for the season that says, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward . . . ” Damn, the old Xristmas record I always played just broke into a million tiny pieces.

Prison Photography

rajashree

Rajeshree Roy with Carolyn Miller, a close friend, on a visit at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF).

IN SOLIDARITY

Something very significant is brewing in California right now. Female prisoners in the Yuba County Jail are organising in solidarity with immigrants n detention.

Yesterday (Monday 14th December) a group of women began a hunger strike, joining hundreds of other detainees taking part in hunger strikes at facilities across the country.

You may or may not have heard about the fasting and hunger strikes going on in immigrant detention facilities across the country. Up and down the country–in the Hutto Immigrant Detention Center in Texas; in an immigrant detention center in the high desert city of Adelanto, California; in the Krome Service Processing Center in Florida; and in Alabama, in El Paso, Texas and in Lasalle, Louisiana, too.

Vikki Law has covered these as a trend. And they are

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That Is The Connection of Love

RAIN UPON MY WINDOW CELL   by Sonni Quick  copyright 2015

Letter written, November 16, 2015

Dear mom,

I know it’s been hard on you the past few years due to all your surgeries and all, but please know – that was all in the past, so you have to look forward and never look backward. It’s a crazy life, but more important is that you enjoy yourself. You have a passion for music and I heard you play the piano over the phone and it was beautiful. Do what you enjoy doing and love yourself. I am proud of you because you were strong, encouraging and stayed confident through it all – the perfect success. The power of chanting paid off. Things take time but one must never give up.

Jamie cummings before prison
Jamie, the day we met, with my daughter and grandkids

(Sonni’s note: This is know.  People come into your life for a reason.  Some people come in and out of your life so fast you don’t even remember their name.  If life hadn’t taken the twists it did, the night I first met Jamie, ten years ago, could have very well been the only time I ever saw him.  I would only have a fleeting memory him because there would not have been a reason to remember him. If my daughter had not introduced me to him the night she brought him to my hotel room, when I went to Texas to visit for Thanksgiving, it would not have changed the things that happened to him, or the fact that Megan had another baby, but we would not have had an effect on each other.  He would have no one to be there for him and prison would be having far graver impact on him today, with seven more years to go. Although his life is still up for grabs, he now has a higher likelihood of having the life he dreams about.

Not crossing paths with each other would have probably lessened the chance of success of a better life when he gets out. How many people are sitting in prison who have no one who cares if they live or die? Some are very bad people, some were abused people, some were falsely accused and many fell prey to mandatory minimums and were sentenced harsher than than they should have. I would have never written this blog, or book I am writing, and my ignorance about our injustice system would not have changed. Helping him has enabled me to reach out and help other people. Once again I will say: At the end of our lives, the only thing that matters is the effect we have had on other people. We live on when we change their life – for the good or for the bad – and they use what they learned to influence others. That is cause and effect – karma – you reap what you sow – no matter how you look at it or what your faith, or lack of faith, means to you.

Jamie has learned the value of his life. Being in prison does not make him a lesser man. He has learned the uselessness of anger, unless that anger is used in a positive way. I have learned that just to say you aren’t racist doesn’t mean you aren’t racist, because saying those words are meaningless. It is in your actions, your thinking and your honest intentions that count.

For Jamie, to be sitting in a solitary confinement cell and still be able to encourage someone else and be able to say the words, “I am proud of you,” is amazing. I know I can’t completely understand what he is going through. I know he holds a lot back because he doesn’t want me to worry about him. So much has happened to him that would have many men thinking about nothing but anger and revenge, which hurts no one but the person thinking it. This success story in the making, with many ups and downs, is his story. His encouragement has helped me get through my own hard times. We feed each other the strength we think each other needs so it goes around and around. It is hard when you are in the middle of the experience, but later in life as we both sit and reflect how these years have gone by, there is so much we both have gained. I stay confident there is a reason for this that will affect many people in a positive way.

I have been so fortunate to have Jamie, and this experience in my life. He is a special person and I have learned so much. He will always be my grandson’s father and I will always be his son’s grandmother. I will always be the mother of his son’s mother. Nothing can take away that connection. That is the connection of love, which is of course his strongest love. I don’t mean that as a relationship love. He’s younger than my children. But not all relationships turn out to be positive. Not all last a lifetime. Good friends are often harder to come by and can last a lifetime or longer. Passion comes and goes and often you can’t remember their name. There is a bigger reason why our lives crossed, and it is because of that , that it has come to mean so much. I know him. He deserves to have a chance at life and also to be what he wants most – a chance to be a father.)


Mom, I will get back into writing the things you need for the book. Things are just crazy here. I tried to write up the officers like you said – fill out grievances – so there is a paper trail of what they do and don’t do. However I can’t leave a paper trail if my write-ups are being thrown away. I wrote up three different officers and I have yet to get the forms back. I have to get away from this unit because the warden is the one to investigate the form. I have to have the denial of the first write-up before I can write the second one. It’s stupid. The first grievance you file is ALWAYS denied and it always takes a month to get the denial. They are stalling for time hoping you’ll give up. Because this process rarely works, most  won’t even file a grievance because nothing good comes from it. But you said they are counting on that so don’t let them get away with it. I keep writing the grievances, one after another, to show that I tried to use the system that was set up for us so we have a way to settle problems. But they have the upper hand and I think they must be just throwing them away. If I don’t get the first grievance form back it is like nothing was ever filed.

Blacks and Hispanics always had it bad. Yes, we commit crimes, but so have all the races. Many people don’t understand history. A lot of blacks have been sent to prison for nothing. Back in the day it was nothing to send a black man to jail. Now, instead of sending us to jail, they just kill us. (crazy)

I did go back to the hospital last week. Yet again, the medical unit did nothing. I was told again I would be placed on medication for my heart problem yet I have yet to receive any. I asked about it but I was told things were backed up. Unlikely. Life is becoming real hard for me in here. I’m trying to keep it together. I get so caught up in my problems. They took all my stuff away and it is locked up in the property room.

You can send me the chapters you are writing for the book. Don’t black out nothing. As long as there is nothing that violates policy, send it, it should be okay. I don’t care what these people think. I’m not violating no rules. Wow, you sure do have a lot planned for the book – the whole nine yards, huh? It seems like a good idea to me if you can sell or give away the music to the people who buy the book.

Look, whenever you get ready to come visit make sure you tell me so I can stay clear of these people. I’m not going to beg Megan to bring Jamie to see me. I’m through with that. I have to stop letting shit take control of me. And when I get caught up in this bullshit with these people here, I lose myself because I am so upset at times.

I got the three books you sent. You asked me how much room I have in my locker for books, and I have a lot if you want to send a bigger box. (Sonni’s note: I sent him 30!) I need them to keep me busy doing something. Could you add some Westerns? Thank you. (This is the first time he ever mentioned he liked Westerns. lol)

Wow – Mike’s cooking for Thanksgiving? He can cook green bean casserole? I love that! It’s good. I’m sure Thanksgiving will be okay here. Not better than being home, though. I have to go for now.

However, till next time,
Love you, Son.

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Why Solitary Confinement? What Did Jamie Do?

Solitary confinement Cell

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

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

10-28-15

HELLO MOM,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There Are No Judges Here – And Some Things You Can’t Let Fly!

Medical treatment behind bars

Hello mom, October 7, 2015

I received your last two letters. It’s been a bumpy road for me and I’m doing what I can to control myself. However to tell you the truth I have developed a bad temper in this place. I try to control it but it gets the best of me. I win over it at times at keeping it under control, but I’m being provoked a lot – because of my temper. I’ve been trying hard to stay in control of myself. I’m going to stop going to chow just so I won’t have to interact in any way with the officers. I will eat in my cell. I’ve been in a few situations with officers to where I have written them up. It’s the route I’m taking so these people will see I am trying to handle things differently.

Thank you for the photos you sent of the boys. It put a smile on my face to know they were both doing something for a good cause. What is my son eating? He has gotten so big!

Jamie and his little brother Ben
Jamie with his little half brother Benjamin

I’m sure you’re wanting to know about my trip to the hospital again. I spoke to the doctor. I do have around my heart. They never did do the MRI. They did an EKG and an ultra sound. They took pictures of my heart. The doctor told me he was going to give me something for the inflammation, however I was told it wasn’t in the paperwork so I haven’t been getting anything. I spoke with the doctor here on the unit and he said I have another appointment at the hospital in two months. So sometime next month I’ll be going back. I’m okay so don’t worry. I just have these off and on chest pains. I’ll be fine so don’t worry yourself.

Prison food
Source:brokenchains.us
I got into a fight with a dude, an inmate. He works in the kitchen with food. My cell is right in front of the kitchen. I can watch them do everything. Well one day I watched him put his bare hands on all the cornbread. We had a verbal conflict. Then I said, “Man have to eat that. Don’t nobody want to eat nothing you’re putting your nasty hands on.” I called a Stg. She gets on him about it. Well this dude goes around telling everyone I snitched on him. But he didn’t tell everybody that he put his hands all over everybody’s food. He just said I was snitching. So I told him he’s playing a dirty game and I was ginning to beat his ass when I caught up with him. It just so happened we bumped into each other when I was coming back from the hospital. It’s nothin so don’t worry about it. I was just locked down for a few days. Sorry, but things like that you can’t let fly. If I did, I’d have more than a lot of problems come my way. (There are no judges here)

I have to get this in the mail now. They will pick up soon. Could you send me some books? Thank you.

Love you, Son

(Sonni’s note: One of the best reasons to deny parole are the cases that are filed against inmates for disciplinary reasons, even though it is the Guards who push and provoke the inmates into reacting – and they know it. It is a rare human being who can continually turn away and ignore someone who mistreats and humiliates you. Keeping an inmate in the lower levels of restriction also keeps him from education – another reason to deny parole. Institutionalizing a man severely lessons his chances from making it on the outside after he finishes his extremely long and abusive sentence. I’m not talking about the seriously sick criminal. I’m talking about the man who pushed through the system and sentenced beyond common sense and used as slave labor.

What do you do when necessary medication is kept from these inmates, when life sustaining medication is withheld for a higher profit margin. The prison system gets away with mistreatment. Even if an inmate or x-inmate manages to file suit against the prison staff, the court will do everything it can to keep the prison from having to take responsibility. At the most, maybe they will buy off the inmate. But it is rare that the abusers have to take responsibility. 

Inmates are in prison because it was deemed that their crime demanded that they be locked up, often for decades. Why? Because they are supposed to be a danger to society. Many are – but not all. We all know the reasons now for our over full racist prisons and how it came about. Only someone fairly ignorant would actually believe anymore that black men are more dangerous. That is the white man’s propaganda. So where is the punishment for the legal criminals? Do you think these guards, who abuse prisoners, and get a kick out of it, change into different, respectful, compassionate people who go home and play with their kids and have loving relationships with their wives and friends? Can they forget their abuse of another human being who often does not deserve what was done to him. Can they just go on as if they did nothing? Does it matter if they use the excuse that the officer above him condones what he did? No. It doesn’t. Ultimately he doesn’t get away with it. The law of cause and effect or you reap what you sow – whatever you call it – is strict. These guards are damaged goods. They are criminals and they think their actions are okay. They are a danger to society. They. Are. Sick. And they get no help because they aren’t held accountable for their actions. This is not every guard,  just like not every inmate is guilty or innocent. But there has been enough reported incidents of prison guard abuse and brutality to know it is a serious problem. It is not a guard’s job to abuse whenever they feel like it. When an inmate dies because of abuse it is to late to change it for him. These murders don’t seem to count. Inmates don’t seem to have viable lives. When they die from lack of medical care it is still murder. I have heard the public sarcastically proclaim that inmates get 3 squares a day and free medical, because they believe the propaganda the media puts out. We could stop that guard from sadistically abusing another man, and we could stop the prison from allowing it to happen – but we don’t.

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