Climbing The Mountains – ITFO Chapter and Music Video

last-note-2-sm

Below is a partial chapter for “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. There was a riot during the midday meal. Tension is always high strung  It doesn’t take much to set off violence that leads to injuries and death. Guards are extremely outnumbered. There are repercussions to everyone who participates a well as those who don’t. Subscribe to ITFO News below for occasional updates. Help support and share. Learn the truth about life in our prisons. Follow Jamie’s Story.

 

 

CLIMBING THE MOUNTAINS

Oh my God, what was happening? Jamie heard screaming and large objects being thrown against the walls inside the room where the inmates were served food. He could hear the thud of bodies being hit and falling into the tables. Guards were shouting threats, trying to get the chaos under control, but they were losing. The medical unit was going to be busy today.
     Jamie was walking down the hall on his way to chow. It was a privilege he had gotten back when he was finally moved from adseg to G4. He had almost made it to the large room when he felt himself being shoved from behind up against the wall. He heard the doors being slammed shut and bolted. There was tension brewing in the air along with the smell of panic.
     Two guards stood outside the doors. One guard had his taser pointed at the inmates lined up along the wall. The other one had his baton raised, ready to use if anyone moved. There was a third guard standing in a lookout on the second floor. He had a rifle pointed at them that was loaded with pellets of buckshot. The two guards near them looked scared that the inmates might try to rush and overpower them. One wrong move and someone was going to get killed.
     They were short staffed as usual and there was no telling how many guards were inside. It couldn’t be more than a couple because there was no time to call for help. There was usually one guard at either end of the room. They were outnumbered and they knew it.
     Being scared didn’t begin to cover what Jamie was feeling. These guards could easily lose control and think they were justified in shooting to protect themselves, especially not knowing if any of their own were being injured or killed on the other side of that door. One shot toward the floor with the pellet gun would riccochet hundreds of buckshot in all directions.
     Jamie tried to make himself look as non-threatening as possible. No sudden moves. In fact, no moves at all. It was total bedlam behind the locked door and it could easily turn that way in the hall, too. This was not a good day for dying. Riots didn’t often happen, but when they did they were usually deadly. High tensions started the fighting and once it got started it wouldn’t easily calm down.
     More guards soon arrived and they escorted the men back along the wall to their cells. He felt much safer when the cell door shut behind him and he heard the lock click in place.
     But what the hell happened in there? Was it planned or did something happen between two people and it got out hand? If he had been inside the chow hall when the doors were closed he would have been screwed big time.
     When there was a fight and guards got involved, others joined in. The dudes who started the trouble would expect the other inmates to join them. If they didn’t, they would hunt you down later and mess you up. If you were scared and got yourself chased to another prison, word would get out and people at that prison would find you and make your life miserable. You couldn’t run far enough no matter how many years you got.
     If Jamie had gotten involved in the fight the guards could have beaten the crap out of him. If not then, they’d find him later. They would retaliate against everyone involved even if they didn’t do anything. No one would stop them. It was one time they got away with murder with no questions asked. It was a no-win situation no matter how you looked at it.
     They would have put him back in adseg in a heartbeat and most likely would never let him out again. Being part of a prison riot would have affected his life in many ways. It didn’t matter that he had not been part of it. Getting caught up in one was all that was needed.
     Would it affect the possibility of getting paroled? He didn’t want to think about that. It didn’t happen. He didn’t get caught up it. Less than a minute later and he would have. He didn’t get beat up by the guards and he didn’t get in bad with those who chose to riot. It was close, but luck was on his side this time.
     He knew why they did it. So did the warden. People would only put up with being treated like dogs by their jailers for just so long. Kick a dog enough times and he was going to bite back. If you starve them and take away everything that makes them human, when they bite they were going to draw blood. Spray them with chemicals and laugh about it, feed them garbage and ignore them when they are sick and they will eventually riot if the opportunity is there. They aren’t dogs, they’re human beings. The riot might have been started by one of the dudes disrespecting someone’s space but the overall reason was because all of them were disrespected by the system.
     Until the people who run this place take care of their end instead of constantly finding ways to make the men responsible for all the trouble there was going to be even more trouble.
     The best thing to do was to keep to himself as much as possible. Do his time and stay away from everyone if he could.
     Jamie had missed lunch. He was going to get mighty hungry by dinner. It wouldn’t be the last time he would be hungry so it was no big deal. The warden wouldn’t care about that anyway, he had his hands full.
     Going over to his locker he went through his books to see if there was one that looked interesting enough to read again. He liked to do that. There was always something he missed in the first reading. Settling down on his bunk he tried to lose himself in some other place and time, somewhere outside this prison cell. He had read more books in the last six years than he ever would have. He found he enjoyed reading and could read a book a day of he had enough.  

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

 

May 2013

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

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

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

Epilepsy,epileptic seizure
Photo credit:
stemcellmd.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prison Hunger Strike

hunger strike
(Sonni’s note: In the past few years entire prisons have gone on hunger strikes, the most notable in California during the summer of 2013. 33 of California’s prisons joined in with thousands of inmates from all over the country in protest of the way they were being treated. Families stood in protest outside the prisons as well.  A few inmates died as the result of a hunger strike that lasted 50 days, because they wouldn’t give in. Realizing that the inmates were willing to die for their cause,I am sure, had a lot to do with them relenting.  Why was it so impossible for the prison officials to see these people as people – as living breathing people, with some of them there unjustly as the evidence now shows.  Eventually they were granted a few small concessions but it was too little and they didn’t apply to the people who were the most confined – those on death row – Those in the SHU Secure Housing Unit.   Jamie spent a total of 4 years locked up in solitary.

I wasn’t going to print this yet, because I’m waiting for a letter.  He was able to get his privileges back and could call me for two weeks. He was able to have ONE contact visit with his natural mother on his 32nd  birthday. They found a way to throw him back in solitary last week. I knew it was going to happen.  I just knew it.  Their rules to stay out of solitary are hard to play by.  You can not argue with an officer even if you are right.  If they say the snow is black and you say it is white you are insubordinate.  He got to make one last phone call, and then was stripped him of all of his privileges and  is once again getting his food through a slot in the door.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/california-prison-hunger-strike-30000_n_3567639.html

Those on death row. Why would someone scheduled to be murdered by the state be interested in a class of education?  I’m sure that’s what the must have thought. Why would any of these concessions be of any importance to them, even though many of them had been locked up for decades and large portion of them were mentally or insane because of the deprivations? But there are many others that want to be able use the rest of their life, if they are still to killed, in a way that at least allows them to give some value to their own lives. Maybe they did something horrible. Maybe they are falsely accused. Maybe they are a victim of circumstance. It doesn’t matter. The are still human.  They are living out the worst things anyone can go through to pay for their transgressions – they are waiting to die. That is their sentence. That is their punishment.  So why the need to keep punishing by not allowing them some comfort while they wait.  Justice was served.  What is wrong with supplying them some art supplies so they can draw? They were promised that.  This next excerpt is credited to http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/25/pelican-bay-prison-hunger-strike where you can read the entire article.

Largely unrestrained by courts, legislatures or public opinion, solitary confinement has become routine – a punishment of first resort for all sorts of prison infractions. Today, a prisoner can be placed in solitary not only for violence, but for any form of “insubordination” towards prison officials, or for possession of contraband (which includes not only drugs but cell phones, cash or too many postage stamps). Some inmates are sent to solitary confinement for exhibiting the symptoms of untreated mental illness. Others, including juveniles in adult prisons, end up in isolation for their own “protection” because they are targets of prison rape. Many of the men in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit are there because they’ve been “validated” as gang members, based on their tattoos or on the say-so of other inmates, who are rewarded for “snitching”

(So this is the setting for this blog post.  Hunger strikes are a common thing when inmates are treated badly.  It is their only method of defense and a way to make a statement.  This isn’t the only time he stopped eating and he at one time stopped taking his meds because he thought he was being used as a lab rat – which is something the prisons do.  Who better to experiment a new drug on than a worthless inmate.  He was a pretty big guy when I first met him.  He was a real skinny guy when I saw him in Oct of 2013.  His clothing was falling off him – literally.  The Beeville prisons raises hogs. That is why everything they fed them was some kind of pork often made into loafs that were unrecognizable as anything he could identify.  The prisons do not like to pay medical bills, though they do everything in their power to cause ill health.  Why is this not being stopped?  Why are they allowed to commit crimes on those that are still human beings?  Isn’t this in itself also a crime?  If someone murders someone on the outside and it is a homicide and they get life in prison, should the person committing the same crime inside a prison get the same punishment? Why are there two sets of standards?)

This is a letter Jamie wrote on 8/28/12 when he was at the McConnell Unit in Beeville,Tx

Hi Mom, How is everything.  I know you are home from your surgery.  I hope everything is okay.  I have to take a lot of pills. Some are my seizure meds for epilepsy and also fluxotine for depression. I’ve taken off some pounds lately. I stopped eating because I’m on a hunger strike. They feed us pork every day and I’m tired of it. Sometimes they sub it with peanut butter or two slices of cheese.

This unit is getting really bad. They just had a riot in the chow hall and a dude got stabbed four times and died. Another one was stabbed 23 times but he lived. He was lucky. I’m losing it in here.

I’ve written lots of letters but nobody writes me back but you. I don’t understand why I keep writing but I do. Maybe I think it will change. I think this is one of the reasons why I get depressed. I can’t make sense of it. People don’t understand how important it is. I still have a year and a half before I come up for parole, in 2014, so there isn’t anything else I can do except sit here. It hurts because we are all suffering badly. There’s nothing I can do about these things. I want to just give up on everything. I’m trying. I really am. Everyone is so quick to judge me. It’s nothing new to me. I can be doing good but I’ll still be judged because of my past. I don’t know where things will end up. Again, I’m losing it. I had some crazy thoughts. The nurse asks me what’s wrong and I just look at them crazy. I know they can’t understand. I guess this is my life. Tomorrow I’m going on strike with my medication. Life is so painful. Why not add more. I have nothing. My fan broke and its August in Texas. It is so hot. And these people took my hot pot that I can cook in because of a loose wire. I can’t take this no more. So what I’m saying is that I’m giving up. Why not? It seems like everyone else has. I read because there’s nothing else I can do, sitting in this cell all day and night. This is where everyone wants me and it’s starting to feel as though this is where I belong. I love you, as well as everybody else, but I can’t take it. Please try to understand. I have fallen and have no reason to get up. I have a year left in ad seg, (solitary confinement – administrative segregation) maybe less. I’m trying, but it seems that nobody cares.

(note from Sonni – Jamie scared me with this letter. I could see how terribly depressed he was. I begged him to eat and take his meds but by then a couple more weeks had passed. Depression is something that runs rampant in the prisons. No one can live with that kind of solitude. What does it prove? What’s the purpose? He never did get out of ad seg. No human being can live through that. He is doing better psychologically. But it has been a challenge.)

( another note: this one written today.  He never did get out of solitary until this past November. Then he was moved to G4 and then G2.  G5 is actually the same as ad seg or solitary.  Then in December he made it to G2.  Finally.  Then in the middle of January he could make phone calls.  I was the only one who hooked up my phone so he could call.  No member of his family did.  Now it’s all taken away – again.  I don’t know for how long,)