Prison Visit – With One Year Update

(Sonni’s note: I posted this a year ago. One January 24, 2014. It is one of the first posts when I began this website. I wanted to post this again because it is almost a year later. Jamie was still in Solitary confinement when he wrote this letter.  He writes about the cold and seeing snow.  Yesterday in a phone call, which he wasn’t allowed to make a year ago, he told me that he has never been in real snow and he’d like to do that someday.  There wasn’t much standing between and his sanity. Depression is one of the hardest things to face when you are by yourself.  You think about every single thing you have done wrong in your life, over and over and over with no one to talk to.  You feel those four walls closing in on you and it’s hard to imagine a life without them. He had no one, except for the letters from me, telling him that things would get better. He needed to keep fighting for that.

One year later and he still hasn’t set eyes on his son again. Hopefully soon.  One year later and he now out of solitary. He went to G4 level a few months ago and was allowed in limited ways to be around people again. Now he has his G2 and he can have contact visits make phone calls to people on his calling list and he has a job. Texas doesn’t pay inmates a penny. They say they ‘good time’ instead. Jamie said he hasn’t seen anyone get any good time so he thinks that is bullshit. But aside from that he loves is job. He loves being able to do something besides sit in a cell and try to look out a grimy window.)

prison windowIt’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.  It was really the first time I 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 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 when Megan 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 Megan really understands how important he is to me.  The thought of him keeps me trying.  I didn’t want to feel sure Megan 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.  Megan 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 Megan and my son.  She had her two other sons with her, Alex and Cosmo ( short for Benjamin).

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 when he grew up for not being there.  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 Megan 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.

Megan doesn’t write to me very often.  I’ve begged her to so many times.  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 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.

How to Keep Safe From Prison Guard Abuse

siloette
(Sonni’s note: This letter was written on 7/26/2011, while still in solitary confinement, ad seg. I had moved from Key West to Pa to get on the liver transplant list at Hershey Medical. Now it was just a waiting game. I had to get sicker before I’d get moved to the top of the list. That took almost another year. Jamie was very concerned about me, and wrote regularly knowing it had to be pretty bad if I voluntarily closed my retail store and moved north.)

Hello mom,

Are things a little better being able to type? I know you can’t write anymore. Sorry it’s taken so long for me to write back. How are you feeling? Good, I hope. As for me I have some good news. It’s about how things are done here. They have it now where we have to get levels. There’s 3 levels, 3 being the lowest. I had to do 30 days level 3. Being at that level there’s no power or AC. I guess it’s to teach us a lesson? I’m a level two right now. I have power and it’s a lot cooler than at level 3. I have to do 60 days at level 2 to get my level 1. I don’t know anything about level 1 yet. I know they say we have to do 90 days there. I’m not sure, though. Don’t worry mom. I’m sure things will be fine.

There’s lots of officers, guards, who get off on having control over other people’s lives. I believe in karma as well. When I say half the guards get what they dish out I mean it. I just try to stop myself from falling into their traps. About the gas they spray us with, it’s not gasoline, it’s more like pepper spray or mace, although it has different kinds of peppers and chemicals in it. It’s real hot!! For two days my skin was burning. It felt like it had gotten inside my skin and was eating my flesh. Just the thought of it hurts.

Mom, what I’m fixing to tell you is very important. I told Megan the same thing. I understand that some things they might take out on me. However, as long as the warden and people around the warden sees what’s happening and sees the complaints they will leave me alone. What I’m saying is, as long as they know I have outside help they will leave me alone. They won’t mess with me like they do the others who don’t have help on the outside. That’s really why I try to keep in touch with family an all.

Look mom, things will be okay. As far as you writing my mom, please let her be, please. Just give her time to come around. If she don’t, it’s okay mom. She did her best raisin’ me, I promise you. I know you may feel there’s no excuse for what she’s doing. However, others families are going through worse things. It will be okay mom. I have to go for now mom.

Love always, Son
P.S. I received the books,thanks.

(Sonni’s note: It’s always best to start at the beginning when you read about Jamie to understand what has happened during his time inside. There is a story here and jumping in to the middle is sometimes confusing He. Follow the blog and found out about this man, Jamie. He calls me mom and talks about his mom. For long periods of time he hasn’t heard from his mother and he would get very depressed about it. Sometimes years went by before he heard from her again. Being in lockdown 23 hours a day with nothing but the letters I sent and magazines and books it was important for me to move into the position of mom and be there for him.

People can easily lose their sanity when they are completely cut off from human contact. It only takes 15 days for someone to start losing their mental stability. http://solitarywatch.com/facts/faq/

Having some you can communicate with, someone you talk to about what’s going on in your head helps them to cope. Because of being locked up in solitary as a juvenile (juvy) he was prone to serious bouts of depression and at times in these past years he has slipped in and out depression again. I wanted and needed to be in close contact with him to make sure he was okay. I was very concerned. At the same time he was the one wrote to me through my illness which spanned 4 years, so we were each in our own kind of prison.

Who was going to send him enough money to buy hygiene products and stamps. How about soap that isn’t made from lard and lye? The prisons aren’t very generous about giving you any necessities important for keeping a little dignity about your person. He gradually started calling me mom and I started calling him son. We are connected by blood with my grandson. At the time I will admit that I was very angry with his mother. There was a five year span when she never went to see him, although a large part of time he was far away in a different prison. She did go to see him a few times over a year ago. He needed her to come back and one day he waited 2 hours in the waiting room and she didn’t show. Maybe there are things I don’t know. He always said it was his fault, and to please not blame her. She worked very hard to take care of him growing up. He takes all responsibility. He didn’t want me to feel bad about her. I came to understand how he felt. She is his mother and he loves her. I’m not angry anymore. I just want him to be happy. I’d like to talk to her now, bring her into what is being done here. She can tell me what he was like growing up. There is always two sides to every story and I’d like to know what she thinks. Maybe someday.)