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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http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards

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!)

Alonza Thomas – Heights – YouTube

Over the past year I’ve written about Alonza several times.  I’ve had the pleasure of skyping with him many times – a deep and thoughtful man trying to figure out how to begin his life again in a world that caused him pain.  We have read frequently the past year what effects are of solitary confinement. Because of what happened to Kalief Browder and his suicide caused by abuse and solitary confinement the law was changed and kids could no longer be held like that. Alonza had just turned 16 and California had just changed the law to try 16 year old kids as adults and he was the first one. He became their poster child/adult. He made it through 13 years but came out in a million tiny pieces he has been struggling to put back together. I’d like to say that today everything is great. I know he wishes it were. But the reality is the same as someone who has come back from war. On the outside everything seems to be okay, but the glue holding the pieces together never really dries. It is fragile and easily broken. He is safer inside his lonely room than facing the world outside.

I hope he someday heals. He’s a special person. He will always have a piece of my heart as I hold a piece of his.

Below the video is a link to other poetry. Below that is the piece Frontline did on him when he was released.


Link to Alonza’s poetry . . . .         Good Wouldn’t Exist Without Bad   

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
Sonni’s Pinterest boards
Sonni’s Piano Music

There is No Place Like Home – Part 1

INSIDE THE FORBIDDEN OUTSIDE

THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME  – part 1

 

      Standing here I can close my eyes, stretch out his arms and touch both walls of my cell. I can run my hands down the walls of my home. There has been so much unhappiness in this cell. I can feel it. I can smell the desperation of men who thought this might be the end of the road for them, the last place they will live. For some, it was. Will my desperation be added to it? The craving to leave this place gets so intense sometimes.   Knowing I have no control over my life makes me want to hit the walls and scream. But I won’t. I’ll stuff it down. If I listen hard I can hear the echos of their cries of anguish and loneliness, but no one listened back, just like they aren’t listening now. Not many people could withstand this kind of loneliness, when you have only yourself to talk to. This is why so many men go insane in prison. Its easy to crawl so far down inside your head that you get lost, and can’t find your way out again.
      These walls feel like they are part of me, like the skin on my bones. How small this cell is, the size of a small bathroom. It’s not the home I thought I would have. My home was supposed to have a family in it, but I guess it’s the home I chose by my actions. I was so stupid. There is nothing in here that belongs to me. Nothing personal. Nothing of comfort. I have my pictures, though, and I look at them every day. Maybe I should hang up a sign that says, “James lived here”. This way the next guy could see who he’s replacing and he can add his desperation to everyone else.
      I fight to not become that person, and it’s hard. I have to make it through years of this shit, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that. Mom tries so hard to help me and keep me encouraged. I knows she’s right. I will get out of here someday. But I’m not dealing with someday. I have to deal with right now, today. I try not to worry her and make her think I’m doing okay, but I’m not, and she knows it. I tell her some of the stuff I go through, but I’m afraid she would be upset with me if she knew how hard it really was. She wants for me to be okay. I doesn’t want to disappoint her. I want to be the person she wants me to be. Nobody ever expected me to be anything, but she does. I have to try to live up to that. I also know, no matter what happens, she will be there for me. She doesn’t judge me. Everyone makes mistakes. She always says we can start new the next day and try again. She encourages me over and over to keep trying. Everyone has problems and it is possible to turn them around, but sometimes I fall down and it’s hard to get up.
      In the beginning I tried hard to convince myself I could do this. This isn’t the way I wanted my life to be. I’m really not a bad person. I knows I have a problem with anger and that seems to get me into the most trouble, but everyone has something they need to overcome that gets in their way. The more I try to control it the harder it becomes. From the very beginning of my life its been hard and adding this to everything here made it worse. But can I say it is anyone’s fault but my own? Maybe that is what makes me the angriest, because I really can’t blame anyone else. Maybe if my family would have been there for me it would have been easier, but that isn’t the way it worked out. But my family isn’t there for me and Morgan won’t bring my son to see me. Year after year of this and it has made it harder for me and I admit, the things that go on in here do make me angry.
      The sad thing is that I don’t think anyone thinks about me or how I feel. I’m not important to the people who should be there for me – my family. Everything has been taken away from me. Am I not worth loving? Has no one else ever made any mistakes? I don’t have the answers to this because no one talks to me. If I didn’t have Sonni – mom – I would have no one. Well, what good is this doing me, feeling sorry for myself? Suck it up and find a way to turn this around or destroy myself. I will find the answers to this. It has to be happening for a reason. Is there something I’m supposed to learn from this?

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

      After I accepted the plea for seventeen years they didn’t move me to a prison for a long time. At least a year and a half. Morgan had been living in Key West with her mom until a year after Jamie Jr was born. She came back for a visit and she brought the baby to see me. The visit was behind glass. It’s so hard to hear with the phones and the plexi-glass is all scratched up. I wanted so bad to be able to hold my son, to feel his skin and smell his baby smell, but I couldn’t. It tore me up inside. But at least I could see him. It broke my heart.
      By the time Morgan moved back to Texas for good, when little Jamie was a year old, I was already moved out to West Texas, the McConnell Unit in La Mesa. I couldn’t have sent me any farther away from my family and stay in Texas. In fact, it was the farthest I had ever been from home in my life.
      La Mesa was a small town in the middle of nowhere. Many prisons were in small towns to keep them away from large populated areas. I know now exactly how it feels to be a slave. I worked in the fields and was guarded by men on horseback with rifles and dogs. East Texas is hot, but it is nothing like West Texas with its flat, barren fields, and very few trees. My epileptic seizures were more frequent when I was overheated, and the physical stress made it even worse.
      I tried to tell that to a woman guard. She pretty much told me that no one cares. It didn’t matter to the prison. Medical problems are no excuse for not doing the work you are assigned to do. We weren’t paid anything because Texas doesn’t pay wages at any prison. Not even 20 cents an hour so I could buy deodorant. It was hell. But even so, being outside and able to breathe fresh air and see the sun was almost worth it.

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

     In the beginning I was in Gen Pop – general population. It can be dangerous. Everyone kicks it with their own people for protection. It was safer to be with your own kind. I have to have eyes in the back of my head if I want to stay alive. For those who choose to join a gang, Your gang watches your back. But you have to be careful of the guards. Many of them are just as corrupt and dangerous as some of the gangs.
      Guards can get other inmates to jump people they didn’t like and trade it for favors. Contraband comes in with the guards and the staff of the corporations that run the businesses inside the prison. Illegal, but profitable items come in with supplies. Some guards bring in cell phones, drugs and cigarettes. That is a well known fact even the media reports, but they can’t stop it. The guards aren’t paid well enough to not be tempted by the money inmates pay them. There are so many cell phones in the prison. They can’t find them faster than they are brought in, no matter how often they sweep the cells to find them. If you want drugs, the easiest place to get them is inside a prison. In fact, you can get anything you want if you know the right people. I don’t go near that stuff. It’s the last thing I need. Besides, you can’t trust anyone. They own you once they find your weakness.
      I also never wanted to join any of the gangs in a prison. It’s an easy way to get killed, and you if were told to get revenge on some other inmate you have to do what you’re told, or someone else would get you. Blacks stayed with blacks, and Hispanics stayed with Hispanics. White people often joined the Aryans, even if they didn’t think white people were superior. You needed a gang to have your back. Instead, I joined the Muslims.
      The Muslims taught peace. They would try to negotiate when gangs wanted to go to war with each other. The prayers done throughout the day were a tough discipline, but I needed that. I tried to believe the things it taught, about praising Allah and all that. But in many ways it was a lot like Christianity – believing in a God outside yourself that had a thinking mind. other people interpreted what he supposedly meant so they could tell you what to do and what to think. I was looking for something that would help me make sense of my life and how I got myself into this mess. If I could understand things maybe I could have a better life when I got out. It also gave him friends; a social life of sorts. Eventually, though, when I was sent to a different prison I lost these connections. I couldn’t keep up the practice every day on my own because I didn’t have a support structure anymore.
      I had one visit while I was in that prison. I wasn’t expecting any visits because I was so far away from everyone, but one day Morgan, my mother and the kids drove across the state of Texas to see me. That is a hard trip. You drive for hours without even seeing a billboard. Megan asked my mother to come along because she needed help with the kids. My mother couldn’t have made the trip on her own, either.
      I started getting letters from Sonni the previous year, after I had been inside for a couple years. She helped them make the trip. She hadn’t yet become “mom” to me. I didn’t understand yet what it was she saw in me and why I mattered to her, but I was grateful for the things she did to help me. It was the first time I saw his son since he was a little baby. Now he was a toddler. He was laughing and running everywhere. He loved putting coins in the snack machine. Having my family there and being able to see my son was the best day I had in a long, long time. The feeling of happiness was overwhelming. That memory got me through some pretty tough days when I wanted to give up. All I have is my memories and I have worn them out, playing them in my head so many times. What I didn’t know then, it was going to be another five years before I saw any of them again.
      When I was moved from Le Mesa I was sent to a prison way down south in Beeville, near Brownsville, close to the Mexican border. It was another desolate place that was hot as hell. No matter what prison I was in there was no way around dealing with guards with bad attitudes. All I wanted was to be left alone. I was in a cell by myself, waiting out the time to get moved up to a better level. Often when you a guard puts on a uniform it brings out the worst in them. They have approval to abuse the inmates and if they want to physically hurt them no one is going to stop them. Inmates can’t fight back when they are in restraints. They don’t get in trouble. I’m sure they probably brag to the other guards to show what big men they are.
      I spent most of my time writing letters and waiting to get one back, that never came. That’s family for you. It was getting harder and harder to keep myself together. Depressing kept creeping over me. I only wanted to know my family cared. Dealing with the silence was hard. I spent most of my day laying on my bunk sleeping. Guards came by and woke me up to make sure I was okay. I was refusing to eat. There didn’t seem to be a reason to eat anymore. Maybe I could starve myself to death. Eventually the prison psyche doctor came to talk to me and I was transferred to another prison in Richmond, which was on the outskirts of Houston. I was only supposed to only stay there for a little while. Hopefully, since I was closer to my family maybe they would come to see me. I got his hopes up. Surely now Morgan would come to see me and bring Jamie I was only two hours from Morgan and my family so there could be no excuse not to come.
      I waited and waited. Every week I felt this was going to be the week I would get a visit. Sonni had long since became mom by now. I knew she was talking to Morgan to convince her to come visit but there were always excuses. I didn’t understand! Was Morgan punishing me by keeping my son away? Why? He’s my son, too! She didn’t have him by herself. I knew she had another man in her life, got married and even had another baby, but she couldn’t erase me from her life. Nothing could take away my son. Since no one would talk to me it left me to come up with my own explanations.
      My depression got worse. When I was still in juvy for those four years, depression hit me hard then, too, and they moved me to a detention hall for people with problems. Throughout my life I had trouble handling difficult things. But now I had turned twenty-one and they had no choice, They had to let me go.
      All these years locked up I had asked for so little. Wasn’t my sentence enough punishment? Did this have to be added to it? I knew life wasn’t easy for Morgan. She had to work a lot, sometimes two jobs, to take care of her children, but couldn’t she bring him at least once in awhile? Why did everyone care so little that I never had a chance to see my son? It was one thing that could make the difference of making it through this, yet no one cared? I am done now. I am going to let them go. I will give them two more weeks to answer my letters and if they don’t, I will cut them off and take them off my visitors list. Won’t they be surprised if they come to see me now and found out they can’t get in. Serves them right. It made me laugh in an odd kind of way. I know, what good would that do? They would never even know they were taken off the list. They weren’t going to come see me. If they were going to, they would have done it a long time ago.

2nd part to be continued . . .

I want to thank everyone who has been following this blog and those who have been reading the chapters of the book as I write and rewrite, finding my way. I’m very determined to do this, and do it right. Between writing the book and writing for my two blogs, and writing long letters to three inmates, and writing music, I write until my face hits the keyboard when I fall asleep. I have a band -aid on my nose. Every time you share something on your own SM, you help me tremendously. Every new address on the mailing list gives me more credibility for publishing. I hope you continue to give me pushes in the right direction.

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Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story
The Nightmare
A Roof Over My Head, Three Squares a Day and Free Medical
Sometimes They’ll Give You Candy

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The Fallen – The Battered

This music. was originally posted on my other blog Watch and Whirl You can also find it below at Sound Cloud. I wrote this during the Fall as I looked out the window watching the wind blow the leaves from the trees. Swirling around and gently falling to the ground, battered and torn with the color dying out of them.

This is for every person who has been abused by our injustice system. Every life who has been taken away. Every one caught up in the quest for mass incarceration. Every family who has been destroyed. Every child who has lost their parent. Every parent who has lost their child. I actually wrote a different post for this music because it makes me angry when people – or corporations – who profess to care about our country but who really do everything they can to line their own pockets and care nothing about the people they destroy. Enough said. The information is there for you to find if you choose to find it instead of listening to the choir sing to the choir. I will continue to try to make a difference and do what I can to help those I can.

This makes me so emotional. I get frustrated because I want to change things and I don’t know how or I don’t think it is enough. Prison has needlessly destroyed so many people that should not have been destroyed. Depression in prison for those who are caught in an unbelievably cruel and inhumane box is devastating. It needs to change. Massive prison reform is needed. Profit should not be the number one focus of the prison industrial corporations. There are bad people inside, but the majority are not. We need to help the ones who need to be let go. Prisoner mental health should not be destroyed. Reintegration into society is extremely difficult because it creates a fear to be near people.

THE FALLEN   by Sonni Quick.   copyright 2015

If you have heard my music before, you know I do not “compose” the music I record. There is no plan. It is not written down. I don’t think about it. I just play it. My fingers play what I feel. Everything is improvised. I couldn’t play it again. My fingers have a mind of their own. It is a language. When you speak, do you think about each word and put a sentence together before you speak it? Do you write down each word so you know what you said? Can you just make up sentence after sentence because you know the language? Of course you can. Most people, when they learn an instrument, they learn through method books that teach them how to read the notes and play it. Just like we learn the alphabet and learn how to make words. We learn to improvise with those words and it becomes a language that conveys thoughts and emotions. But most music teachers that are hired only teach their students how to play the written notes written by other people. They don’t learn how to play those notes as a language that conveys how they feel or how they think.

The piano changed from being an instrument to play, to an instrument that understood what I was feeling and I crawled inside it. I became a bystander and separated myself from the act of playing the piano and instead listened to the music as it played itself. What you hear today I can do for hours going up and down the piano keys playing the emotions I feel. If I try to manipulate it, it doesn’t work. My fingers know the piano keys, like an artist knows his paints and a dancer feels the music and his body know what it can do. It’s a wonderful feeling. I also know I haven’t reached the end. I’ve just begun.

Thanks for listening.

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Youtube – Are We All Sex Offenders?

 

A friend of mine has a son who is in jail waiting trial. He has been waiting for a couple years. They want to give him a ten year sentence because of a touching game he and some teenagers were playing and he touched the breasts of an underage (15) girl. Completely consensual. He was 18. Is this right? Does he deserve to have his life ruined because of this and also have the tag of “sex offender” follow him for the rest of his life, ruining job opportunities and even the ability to rent an apartment? Yes we do have sex offenders who are a danger to people, but there is a large percentage of those people who are not dangerous.  Anytime someone hears the word “sex offender” they immediately jump to the conclusion that person is a rapists or pedophile.  This is another part of our injustice system.  A sex offender can never pay his debt to society.  He is branded for the rest of his life.  He will always have to explain himself to every single person he meets and people will look at him with disgust in their eyes.

I wanted to bring this to light today to see what you think.

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Using Prisons To Treat Mental Illness

Robert at http://robertmgoldstein.com/category/photography-and-art/text/inside-did/mental-health-inside-did/   sent me this youtube video.  He has a great blog.  I have learned so much about what it is like to live with a mental illness when you have no control over when it is going to surface.  He and I have read each others blogs so he knows how important it is to spread any good news we hear about something that rarely has anything good to say.

What the police force is doing in San Antonio, if it could spread across the United States it would result in fewer people being sent to prison because they have a better chance of getting the help they need.  They have a better chance of having a productive life.  No person should be shot dead in their home when a parent calls for help because their son or daughter was having a breakdown.  But that is what has happened in many cases.  These people needed help.  They didn’t need to die because they couldn’t get help, or if the police weren’t trained to deal with them.  The one cop was right – they aren’t social workers.  They don’t want to be social workers.  But this is the situation we have and they need to learn to adapt.  We have  mentally ill people in our society.  They don’t deserve to die because the cops were called to help.  They don’t have the right to kill them.

Share this.  Make people aware.  We can’t just ignore this and hope it goes away.

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The Stickup Kid

A week our so ago I chance upon a video of a segment from the TV show Frontline.  I watched it. It was heartbreaking. After the tragedy of Kalief Browder who committed suicide after three years in an adult prison as a teenager many people are more sensitive to the atrocities inflicted on youth, as well as adults, when they are made to endure years of solitary confinement. This young man, Alonza Thomas, spent 6 of a 13 year year sentence locked up in a cell by himself “for his own protection”, if you no what I mean.

I tracked him down and we talked face to face on video chat. What I found was a very scared, very lonely boy, because his life experiences not only didn’t allow him to grow up, he was scared of life as he now saw it. He had lived under such strict rules and had no idea now how to live life where he had the ability to set his own rules for himself.

He had violent experiences he can’t talk about because it makes him go to the “dark place” that is hard to get out of. I don’t know how much contact his family had with him during those years but I doubt it was enough. He, like Jamie, was moved to 6 different prisons and the distance often is makes it difficult. Time finished it off. Out of sight out of mind. The prison intends to destroy his mental health.

They threw him a party, as I imagine Jamie’s will, but then, because he is a grown man they will expect him to figure it out on his own with no knowledge of how to do that. He gets no help now so why expect they will help later? They won’t.

Alonza’s family expected him to figure it. Maybe they tried. Maybe when he didn’t fit in with his family of strangers they let him go. Whatever the reason, he spent the next 6 months sleeping in the park. He tried to go to a shelter but they required the men to shower together every day in one big room. Because of things that happened with the men in prison he is scared of being around men in any capacity, especially that one, so he was made to leave.

He hasn’t had contact with his mother in a year. Why? Is he not normal enough? Is he not her son anymore? I don’t have the answers. There is always more than one side to every story. I know I don’t have the complete story.

But this I do know – this would be Jamie’s story. Locked up before 17 with one year outside from 21 to 22. If Alonza had someone like me to reach in and grab hold could it have helped to have a different outcome? If someone had been able to teach him would it have made a difference? Why is it so important to me that I dedicate my life to changing even one person’s life?

Because . . . The only legacy we ever leave behind is the affect we have on other people’s lives.

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In The Beginning I thought He was Safe in The Hole – Part One

world map of inmates

We have more people locked up in America than any other country in the world,  The US is in purple which means we lock up over 600 people per one hundred thousand people. This map is a few years old. It is actually closer to 700 now. That might no even seem like a lot.  We have states were there a lower percentage, and then there are states that have towns where half the residents are either locked up now or they have been locked up. There is a reason for that.  Many people are now only beginning to see what is going on.  It’s now no longer hidden away.  More and more it’s making it’s way into our headlines.  Do we have more criminals?  Do Americans  have a greater tendency for crime?  No.  It’s just business, that’s all.  Just like the south had plantations and needed slavery to continue because without it the plantation owners would have a money problem.  Who cares if people were tortured, women and girls were raped, men were whipped and families were turn apart?  It’s just the cost of doing business.   They weren’t white so what was the big deal?

Most people really don’t understand the business of prisons.  Aren’t they for locking up bad people?  Well . . . yes.  Some of them.  People don’t thank that for many of the human beings living inside it is a living hell. The sentence they receive in the courtroom is only part of sentence they get. That sentence starts when they get inside and deal with their captors. Those people have the license to be as cruel as they want to be, and their bosses will just turn a blind eye, even if a person dies from the abuse. Prison conditions are not safe for inmates. There is no justice in prison.

I used to think if Jamie was locked up away from other inmates at least he would be safe. I know being out in the general population, or gen pop as it’s known, can be dangerous. There is wide variety of people locked up and many of them are people with nothing to lose. You can’t turn your back on anyone, or trust anyone at any time. It worried me when he said he was making it up the levels from G5, which is also called Adseg or administrative segregation. I suppose it is a nicer sounding word than calling it solitary confinement, or the hole. When you are locked up there you have no human contact with anyone unless it’s a guard grabbing hold of you either to cuff you or hurt you.

In adseg the guards are supposed to take you to shower three times a week, but that doesn’t mean they will. If you are in a prison in the south, like Texas, there is no air conditioning. It’s like living in an oven. If you have someone who puts money on your books, and if you allowed to go to the commissary once a month, you can buy deodorant. If not, you stink. Being able to take a shower is the only way to get a little relief from the relentless heat and humidity. Taking away your shower is one way they punish you. Taking away food is another. They may substitute it with something called food loaf your dog wouldn’t eat. Or they will take away being able to go to the commissary. Sometimes they even take away all of your property – everything, even your mattress.

Your food comes in through the food slot. Jamie has seen his food spit on before it was given to him, with a smirk on the guard’s face. You are supposed to be allowed outside your cell one hour a day to walk, while shackled, to another slightly larger cage. This is supposed to be your one hour allotment of being “outside”. In this tiny cage is where you are supposed to exercise, if you choose. You are in that cage alone. Sometimes that cage is indoors and you don’t even get to see the sky or breathe fresh air for months at a time. Even the strongest person can easily lose their mind. It has been proven that any more than fifteen days in these conditions like this can begin to alter the mind in negative, often irreversible ways that make it even harder for inmates to reintegrate back into society when they are finally let out.

mentally ill inmates
photo credit:
photos.pds.org

Inmates lose the ability to tell if it is night or day. Lights are left on twenty four hours a day. There is no way of keeping time. Meals are often the same so you don’t know if you are being given breakfast or lunch. Paranoia easily sets in and conversations with people not really there are often the only ones to talk to. Many in solitary confinement will harm themselves physically, either to see if they are still alive or to kill themselves. If they don’t have something that will cut through the skin they might bite themselves to open a vein. If their mind is gone they might smear feces on themselves and on the walls and floor. Living every day in solitude with no one but yourself and your imagination can be pretty rough. Sometimes your imagination is not your friend, but instead preys on your fears, your loneliness and tears down your will to live along with your self esteem.

The effects of living in solitary are worse than most people can imagine. The isolation and deprivation are more than most people can handle. Often the people in solitary are those who are already insane. The mental hospitals were closed down. Law enforcement doesn’t know what to do with these vagrants they find. They can’t keep them at the jail. They can’t keep them in the hospitals. The only thing to do is lock them up. They won’t get the treatment they need and looking them up in isolation only makes them sicker. They can’t let them out in to the general population at this point because they would likely end up hurting someone. So the general thought was to put them in isolation because it is safer for them there. Doing that finishes off what is left of their sanity. There is no thought put into a prisoners mental health. It doesn’t matter. They don’t care.

What does it do to a guard’s mind after witnessing this day after day? Guards also have to work in these units without benefit of AC, wearing heavy uniforms and often protective gear for when they have to move an inmate from one location to another. They don’t care if an inmate are sick. Taking them to medical means more paperwork to fill out. It’s doubtful medical will do anything about it, anyway. So what if the inmate has a seizure from epilepsy? Medical care in prison is only given when they have no choice, and even then it’s substandard. They’ll just let the next guard on duty to take him to medical. Is that how people are cared for when they have a seizure? Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? What happened to the guards ability to care about them because they are human beings? How can they clock out after their shift and go on and have a normal day? Guards don’t care if you get your shower, or if you have edible food or water. Mess with them and just shut your water off for days. If you die because of it there aren’t any repercussions, except maybe they’ll give you a job in another prison. If it’s bad enough you might get fired. But you won’t get convicted and go to prison just because your actions killed a few inmates.

Tempers run high on both sides. The inmates get angry, but they aren’t allowed to get angry. If they do the guards will write up a case on them. No one, not even the warden will do anything about it. They hear complaints all day long about the same thing. Instead of fixing the problems, they just let the officers and the supervisors do what they want. After all, they are just inmates. This needs to change. There is much about our prison system that needs to change, from locking up kids, straight through to solitary confinement. It’s big business and a lot of money is at stake in keeping the status quo.
Many guards, like our police, who have been in the news more often as the people get angrier and angrier at having their family and neighbors locked up. When you ask a child now what he wants to be when he grows up I doubt you will hear the words “I want to be a policeman” anymore. The police used to be a friend of the people who helped them. That changed a long time ago. There is so much corruption in our police force that many of them need to be locked up with the bad guys. I think many begin their jobs with the best of intention to do a good job, but it doesn’t take long to find out that being able to be a good cop is very hard to do. The nature of the job changes people.

Police, and prison guards, like their position of authority. It’s addicting. They take advantage of being able to make people do what they want them to do. Prison guard crimes don’t carry the same weight when it happens inside a prison instead of in society. But does that make them any safer to be around?Many think they are above the law because their superiors look the other way, condone their actions and make excuses for them when people die. They don’t have to live through the consequences of their actions. At least until now. Times may be changing. But as long as your superiors are telling you that inhumane treatment is acceptable, and people have no way to retaliate, it brings out the worst in their nature. Many people, men and women who get this job of authority are put into the position of being able to hurt people indiscriminately. Many people end up dead or at least seriously injured. What a perfect job for a sick mind.

Does that mean all guards or police are like that? Of course not. I believe the guards who work with the general population have a dangerous job. They are around many inmates who would rather see them dead. Guards have to worry about these inmates when they get released. Will any of them hunt down where they live and hurt their families? For all the inmates who shouldn’t be there with sentences that were too harsh, there are just as many very dangerous criminals who have life sentences and have nothing to lose if they hurt the people around them. That is why I was concerned when Jamie made it to G2 level, because you have to have eyes on the back of your head. There are gangs who would think nothing of sticking something sharp in you. Sometimes the guards get hurt, too.

The guards who work in the lower level units are different. That fear of being hurt by an inmate is pretty low, and they seem to enjoy provoking them to the point the inmate can’t take anymore and they lash out. If it is your nature, being able to hurt people you control is much more fun and amusing because there is nothing the inmate can do about it. The guards are always in the right and the inmate is always in the wrong.

Sometimes they are put into “The Hole” for only a small infraction of a rule, or for talking back. Sometimes they are put there for their own protection because their life is in danger. Because of the lack of mental hospitals there is no place to put people when they can’t live in society. It doesn’t mean they are criminal. It means they need to be in a hospital, not punished. When they keep them in isolation it furthers their psychosis. If they do harm themselves, they will be taken to medical to be stitched up and then put back in solitary with an increased sentence. It’s inhumane, and the inhumane guards who guard them develop their own psychosis that tells them it is okay to torture and harm the people locked up, and do it with a wink in their eye, knowing they have full power over the inmates, so they better get used to it.

End part one

Taking Back What They Took Away

taking it back, sonni quick piano music
creit source:
armansheffey.com

WHEN YOU TRY   By Sonni Quick   2015

There are times you feel that all is lost
you don’t know how to find
the hope that slipped right through your hands
somehow you left it all behind
on that day, your causes made demands
you searched through all your thoughts
to bring you back inside yourself
remember how to laugh
remember how it sounds
how it feels upon your face?
make the corners of your mouth
become a smile for hope someday.
how to feel that hope again
it seems so far away
you close your eyes and hold yourself
in your lonely love’s embrace
and you cry, the tears inside
you wonder how you lost your way
you want it back to start again
take back the hope they took away that day
and broke it into tiny pieces
let go the pain that time releases
you are human, too
no one should ever live a life
that no one ever could forgive
disappear from everyone
memory of you fades to none
It’s up to you and no one else
to find the gem that lets you see
you want the life inside your head
trust the words it’s your destiny
think of hope, be truly free
someday you’ll look at what you earned
by understanding life today
lessons given, lessons learned
take back the life they took away.

To hear 14 other improvised piano music pieces by Sonni Quick  go to this music link

Use of segregation in prisons comes under new scrutiny

solitary confine cells
photo source:
flickr.com

…..I’ve written a lot about solitary confinement and ad seg. As you read this article remember that Jamie is doing his third round and the first two were for two years each. You will understand then why I have made so much effort trying to keep him sane and to know, no matter what, he was not alone. If his family cares about him I can’t understand why no effort has been made to help him AT ALL. I DON’T UNDERSTAND. If he was a lousy person who hurt people it might be one thing, but the only thing I can really see is times with depression. Given the fact that he grew up with severe epilepsy, not being able to have a childhood playing with friends and spending a lot of time alone afraid of the next seizure I just don’t understand how a family can just kick you to the curb. And he takes full responsibility and just keeps waiting for them to write.

Reading articles like this one makes me double my efforts.

HumanSinShadow.wordpress.com

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/05/06/use-segregation-prisons-comes-under-new-scrutiny/6HtnI5l8i8MthcQf88wP2L/story.html

Solitary confinement comes under new scrutiny

Courts, legislators look to rein in a practice they say causes behavioral problems but state prison officials call an essential tool

By Milton J. Valencia
| Globe Staff
May 07, 2013

Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

Jose Bou of Springfield was once a prisoner in solitary confinement, then sent to a minimum-security prison.

Neil Miller is still haunted by the seclusion, the disorientation, the darkness.

During his more than 10 years as a prisoner, Miller spent weeks, months, and once even two years in solitary confinement units, where inmates are kept for as many as 23 hours a day.

“It’s a mental game in there,” Miller, now 46, said recently, still reflecting the anger and acting out that repeatedly got him sent to what prisoners call “the hole.” “You’re fighting with your own sanity, trying to keep yourself together.”

He was eventually…

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