Jamie Really Needs Your Help – Please

Credit source: Frtimmoyle.blogspot.com
Credit source:
Frtimmoyle.blogspot.com

I’ve been worried about him since he told me what the guards did to him. My gut feeling was telling me that mentally he was in trouble. This 3rd time of being put in solitary about 4 months ago was so discouraging for him, feeling as though he’s losing the fight. He lost all the progress he made. I don’t know how this will affect his parole hearing in 2016 because he can’t complete any programs in solitary.

I contacted a man I met a year or so ago, Melvin, who sometimes goes to see him and encourage him. He could easily be his father’s age. Finally, Jamie had a visitor. Melvin changed his plans today and drove to this prison. He called me after and told me how down he was. He is going next weekend, too, and I’m trying to get my daughter to let Melvin take their son in to see his father  It’s been nearly two years since he has seen him.

I could feel Jamie’s depression in his letters. If you haven’t read Jamie’s last letter, you should. A Story About Prison Guard Brutality

I need everyone who has read about Jamie to send him an email. Tell him who you are and tell him to be strong and to keep his eyes on the future or anything else. Let him know there are people who care. Send it to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com  I will paste these msgs into a jpay email that goes to the prison and he will get them all at once. If any msgs come in later I will send them, too. If you want him to write back to you then add your address, otherwise he will only get whatever name you leave.

This is important. Take a few minutes and do this. Share it if you  can.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Sonni

In Prison, Still Waiting For My Family To Care . . .

alone quote
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 Megan 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 Megan?. 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 Megan and the kids I love them. Would you ask Megan if she would call my brother and see if he can send some money for hygiene products please.

Love, Son.

(Sonni’s note: Is there any question about why I am doing this? Writing this blog and book? I hope someday his family reads this and if it will even matter to them? I hope they feel bad for all the things they didn’t do. He has written so many unanswered letters. People get back what they give. If family can’t be there for you when you need it most what kind of family is that? If there is one thing I have learned well, it is to not expect your family to actually be there for you when you need them. You might be related by blood, but it doesn’t mean they love you enough to show it. When you need them the most, they have nothing to give.

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

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Life is Not Always a Matter of Holding Good Cards

life is not a matter of holding good cards

November 3, 2011

Hello mom,

I’m sorry about just now writing back. Things have been crazy these past few weeks.  We’re on lockdown right now.  They’ve been looking for weapons, drugs and phones.  A lot of inmates have been tested for drugs and coming up dirty.  It’s crazy mom,  because so many different drugs come through this unit.  It’s the officers that’s bringing it in, but if someone tells on the officer they get punished.

Okay now, I got moved from E pod 76 cell to 49.  Now get this – 49 cell is in the corner. On top of that the dude next to me has seizures, too.  I don’t know if it’s from epilepsy like me.  Just yesterday, on the second I had a seizure.  It was in the morning when it happened.  Later that night, after I went to sleep I woke up to get a drink.  I called to him to check on him because there’s a hole in our wall we can talk through.  He never answered so I thought he must be asleep.  However, right when I went to lay back down I heard him fall and hit his head. I called for the officer and asked others to help.  We started kicking the doors asking for help.  When they came, his mouth was all busted up.  Blood was everywhere.  Like I said, it’s crazy right now.  Get this, mom – he called me through the hole.  He says to me, “look”.  When I looked I saw he done cut himself with a razor.  I got help again by kicking the door.  I don’t think he’s all there in the head.  I’ve only been in this cell one day and it’s stressful.  I can be asleep and then I’d get up to check on him,  or if I’m asleep he starts hitting the wall and I would get up just to make sure he’s okay or if I need to get him help again.

I’m really thankful that you tried to help me get a visit with you son.  I think I was just so looking forward to it.  But hey, it’s not the first time I didn’t get a visit I thought was coming so don’t worry about it okay.  It would have been nice to see him, but I understand why he couldn’t come.  At least he got some time to spend with Megan and the kids.  I’m really glad that Jamie got some time to spend with his uncle. It’s hard when work takes you out on the road so much and you can’t be home with your wife and kids.  I understand that a lot.  But he has to do what he has to do to take care of his family.

Sorry about what happened at home.  Wow, that was some cuss words you used!  That was very shocking.  Lets just say I never thought you would use words like that.  But then again when I sometimes imagine the way you said them, I laughed.  I remember the letter  when you wrote about someone putting something in the kool-aid because they were acting crazy.  lol.  Sorry, it was just funny.

Snow, I would love to see it!  Eight inches!  I’ve never seen snow before.  I’ve seen a little ice here and there.  I’d love to stay somewhere it snows.  I just know it’s a beautiful sight.

How is Megan doing?  I still haven’t heard anything from her.  I’m worried about her as well.  Please try once more to get her to write.  If she doesn’t I feel as she wants me to leave her alone.

I love the books, mom.  Thanks.  Here’s a few things from the book we both have:  (1)When the going gets tough – Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but of sometimes playing a poor hand well. (2) A way of action – Real understanding comes from doing.  Only action has the power to turn knowledge into wisdom. (3) We have seen the enemy and it is (with in) us. (4) Life has cycles.  whatever goes up comes down, and what falls can rise gain. (4) Riding the natural cycles – Some of us interpret rough times as divine justice – a punishment from God.  I’d like to say that it isn’t God that punishes us.  We get opportunities to balance our life and to learn.

I want you to know  how much I appreciate you being there.  I wouldn’t know anything about my son without you telling me.  Please ask Megan again to write.

I love you, Son

PS Tell Megan I understand if she’s too tired to write and if she needs more time.

(Sonni’s note:  It’s hard to wait and wait for people to write.  He gives them excuses because it’s hard to think they don’t want to write – that he doesn’t matter anymore.  It would take so little time to buy a card, write a few lines, slap a stamp on it and mail it.  Nothing has changed since then and it’s been another three years.  There are people in my life who don’t understand why I do this for him –  write this blog and now the book. It all began because no one was writing to him and I knew how much my letters meant to him.  It’s discouraging to write letters to your family and not hardly get anything in return.  Do they even wonder how he buys the stamps.  It grew into a relationship of each of us holding the other up when we needed it. 

I know when he gets out it will be like throwing him to the wolves.  How can he know how to do even the simple things in life if he’s never done it before? How does he live a successful.  There is much we take for granted. I want him to have the chance to find out what he can do.  Go to school. Support himself and help raise his son.   In that aspect, I am his mother.  That is what a mother does.  He doesn’t want much.  Who will be there for him?  His family? So I keep writing to him and writing the book “Inside the Forgotten Outside”.  I constantly strive to learn the things I need to do for this venture to be successful. It is mind boggling.  But like I tell Jamie,  it all starts with having a dream.  Then you work at it every day and visualize it being completed.  Don’t let doubt get in the way.  Believe in yourself.  Your mind is powerful.  It will find a way to make it happen.  You either think you can or you think you can’t, and either way you go is right, because that is the way it will happen.  Taking a positive direction will have a positive effect. 

I have several sayings I repeat often. Here is one of them.  “The only legacy we can leave behind at the end of our life is the affect we had on other people.”  Then they affect other people.  That is how we live on.  I live my life with that in mind.  If what I do helps this man, then he will be a better father to my grandson and teach him the things he needs to knowIf I were to do nothing, what do you think the end result of that would be?  That end result scares me.

An Inmate Only Has Old Memories

old memories, forgotten and alone, Jamie Cummings
photo credit: polyvore.com

(Sonni’s note: An inmate needs his memories of his family. Take that away and he begins a spiral down. That connection with his life outside is all he has to cling to. He spends his day reliving every touch, every shred of happiness and every sliver of hope, real and imagined that will help him get through one more day. One more day. One more day.

When that hope is dashed – with silence and with unanswered letters and no explanations, only his imagination is left to think the worst. Maybe someone is sick. Maybe something is wrong. What isn’t he being told? But the last thing he wants to imagine is that his family has no time to care about him anymore. Maybe they are just too busy to write? So he waits and waits and waits.

When the years start passing and there are no new memories to add to the old, the biggest enemy is depression. We need to be loved. We crave to be loved. We need human touch. We need to know people care. Life goes on for everyone else and Jamie spent these hours, days, weeks, months and years, alone trying to pretend to himself it was only because they were too busy that no one wrote or helped him. Occasionally Megan wrote but it was understandable why it became less and less. She had a family to care for and she knew that waiting for him was not an option because it was too long. I think she could have tried more to help him know his son, and for his son to know he had a daddy who loved him back. So i became the glue trying to hold it together and all it did was cause resentment from my daughter because she didn’t understand why I cared. Maybe if i had never written to him in the first place non of this would have happened, but I did, and this is what it became.

If Jamie had no interest in his son it would also be a different story but that isn’t the way it is. He has begged and begged to see his son, waiting on his birthday and father’s day in the hope that maybe this year will be different. It only takes minutes to put a stamp on an envelope and send a colored picture. The more attention I showed him the angrier she got. She doesn’t understand why I do what I do, and I’m not going to stop and become what everyone else is – too busy to care. She thinks it’s weird that Jamie and I developed a relationship. I saw a man going down because no one showed him they loved him anymore. He was just a forgotten, son, brother, father, boyfriend who had no lifeline. I became that lifeline and have never regretted it. If there continues to be failed understanding, i can’t change that but at least Jamie’s son will know the truth when he gets older about how much his father loves him and always has.

This letter was his only letter that expressed happiness – in spite of everything. In the midst of all these writings that are so painful, there is this one where he was happy. It was four more years before he saw Megan and his son again. Several times in a short period of time and one of them was with me when I went to Texas in 2013. It was almost two years ago. He has been living within driving distance of family and has yet to see his son again. It’s an unhappy situation. This is why I do what I do, in the hope of helping to make his life better when he gets out so he has the opportunity to be a father.

Sometimes an inmate has no family and has no memories to hold on to. This person will be forever lost to this system that will just eat him up with sentences that are too long and being treated with harsh inhumanity. When you wake and when you go to sleep and you know there is no one who cares if you’re alive, he has no reason to try. They give int to their demons. I couldn’t let that happen.

Jamie’s letter in this post is an old one. June, 2009 La Mesa,Texas. It’s a harsh part of Texas, too far away for family to easily visit. But when he was moved closer it wasn’t the distance that mattered. Taking time out of a busy day to show him he mattered – to anyone – became evident. No help financially even a little bit. Send a book? A magazine subscription? Anything? The effort has been so minimal and it mattered so much.

When he was incarcerated in La Mesa it took three days by car to drive back and forth across Texas, a long, boring, hot trip. The trip was made once because it was so hard. It seems as though the prisons make a special effort to try to separate inmates from their families as much as possible as another way they can punish them. There are more than 100 prisons in Texas and this one was the farthest one. It was a hard trip that also included the kids and his bio mom. This is the first time Jamie ever saw his son. He was just shy of two years old. It was also the last time he saw him for four years. This letter I received from Jamie was the happiest letter he ever wrote and it carried him through many bleak days and lonely nights.
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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 Megan 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 Megan, I think. We talked about how they were doing in school, also 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 is the most cute boy. Me and him, we tried to talk. (smile)

Me and my mom talked a while and then Megan 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 ( didn’t happen). I want to be with my family so bad. Seeing them was so wonderful.

So how’s things in the Keys? Alyssa ( the second oldest) 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.

(Sonni’s note: Two days later I got another letter and thought I would add it to this one.)

I sit here and replay the visit with my family over and over. It was so wonderful. I loved every second of it. Alyssa got mad and said she was going to sue these people! She said it wasn’t right that they couldn’t have a contact visit.( without a glass partition and speaking through a phone) Me and Megan laughed! Alyssa 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 on my 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 Megan 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. ( Things didn’t work out very well with that and his dad is back in San Quentin) 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. Megan wants to go on a cruise, but I’m scared of boats. I’ve never been on one, neither. 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. I would love to drive all over the country.

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

.

m

Ad Seg is Solitary confinement – The Prison keeps us here

prison rules,prison politics,solotitary confinement,ad seg,jamie cummings,lockup, no justice in prosion
photo credit: Bing.com/Pinterest

(Sonni’s note:  This is a repost from an early post a year ago with some catchups.  To get it into the right social media channels because i knew so little about it then, if you had read the earlier version and wondered why it is here again.  It is a compilation of things he wrote about in several letters that were written in 2012. It is now 2015. They had found a way to send him back again. Hopefully this will be a shorter time, but still they took away everything he worked for, swallowing his pride and letting them say what they wanted – to be “good” but you can never be good enough. They find a way, and if they don’t they make it up. So you understand, Ad Seg is about as low as you can go. It’s also called G5, administrative segregation and solitary confinement. It’s the hole. It’s a place where you have no privileges. You never touch another human being. You are behind glass if you have a visitor. You learn to love peanut butter because it’s a large portion of your diet. You will be treated as though you are worthless. You will be called names. You will be degraded. People will want to hurt you if you give them the opportunity. You are alone. Really alone with yourself. If you don’t have anyone who cares, or if you don’t like yourself very much, you’re going to have a hard time making it. Depression sets in. Many hear voices and hurt themselves. Some speak so little they lose the ability to talk. They get paranoid. Jamie knew, when they threw him back in there in 2012, all because of the lie from a guard who wanted to prove he could mess with him, that it was going to take at least another couple years before they’d let him out. He was right.

The only good thing about solitary, also called “the hole” is that he was safe from other inmates. But it doesn’t take much to break prison rules. There is no justice in prison. In addition to the guards, you have to be careful, there are violent prisoners who have nothing to lose who are going to try to mess with your life. How do you deal with it when someone comes up and puts themselves in your face and challenges you? It could be someone who wants be granted prison favors. Someone claims that your space belongs to them and they will try to take it from you. If they get away with it and you don’t try to stop them you are going to be in a whole different world of hurt from other inmates.)
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solitary confinement, jamie cummings,ad seg,prison rules prison politics, lockup,violent prisoners,prison torture
photo credit: Bing.com

Hello mom,

No matter what I do, they always find a way to send me back. It took a couple years to get up to G4 the last time when I could to go to rec and watch TV and go to chow. But being allowed out of here means there’s gonna to be people, even guards who want to mess with me. But being allowed out of my cell is a kind of freedom. I can’t get out of here if I don’t get into a program.

It is so hard sitting in my cell day after day, trying to find ways to make the hours go by. I write letters but mostly I throw them away. It’s how I get my feelings out. But hardly anyone writes back but you. Once in awhile I get a letter from my sister or my cousin but not my mom. When I make it to G2 I can have contact visit. I can hug my son. At G2 I can make a phone call and I’ve never been able to make one. I would be able to take classes and learn things. I can be with people. I don’t think they want me to be able to do that. I will never be able to make parole unless I can show I’ve taken classes. But they won’t let me do that now. They don’t like to give black people parole. The longer they keep me here the more they make off me. They don’t care one bit if I am ever “rehabilitated”. Use ’em up, throw ’em out and pick ’em up again. You’re never free.

The last time I only made it to G4 for a short time. It took years to get that far. I was jumped and the officer even saw it, but I still caught a case for it. She even wrote that she saw the other dude hit me first, but there is a rule that if you swing at all, even if it is defending yourself, you get a case. I tried to avoid him twice but he was right on me and I was next to the fence and had nowhere to go. He was coming from breakfast really early one day and I had a chance to get him back, but I let it go. I wrote an appeal to try and get the case turned over and get my G4 rating back again, but I never heard anything back. So I’m playing the waiting game again. I wanted to cry. I have been going through this for so long it just hurts. Maybe in six months to a year I can get it back. ( Sonni’s note: It took until August 2014 to get out of solitary confinement, Ad Seg, G5)

But it doesn’t matter how hard I try. There is always something waiting to drag me back down again. I know that’s gonna happen. I have to see it and not react. I have to try harder not to let anyone make me do something I know will get me in trouble. I have a temper. Push me enough and I lose control. But I don’t have anything to prove to these people. I don’t have to prove I’m tough. If I don’t fight back next time it doesn’t mean that I’m a pussy. It means I have more to lose than they do. I have to do what is good for me. I have to remember that the next time someone gets in my face.

Up Front and Personal about the Prison Industrial Complex and Solitary Confinement = Torture

law review blog, solitary confinement prison industrial complex, prison guard crimes, mass aincaceration. prisoner mental abuse
photo is from the Law Review Blog

This post is not a letter from Jamie. It is an extended reply I made to @manuchettan when he posted at https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/03/12/there-is-no-such-thing-as-justice-in-prison/.

I wrote back about what I’ve learned through the research I’ve done into many areas concerning our prison injustice system.  The things I didn’t know scared me.  My only knowledge came from TV shows like Prison Break or Orange is the New Black.  Since those shows are for entertainment purposes it doesn’t come close to telling you the truth. The attitude our country has about our inmates and how our justice system combined with the Prison Industrial Complex, which leads to how the lives of the inmates are impacted needs to change.  I learned that people and organizations have being working to change this system but the government has created a monster it doesn’t know how to put down, and many unnecessary people have to pay the price for that.

Prison itself, in the solitary units, has created so many mentally ill people, who were functioning human beings when they  first set foot into a solitary.  Sometimes it is the infraction of a rule or the guard doesn’t like you and creates a case against you.  Sometimes it is for “your own protection”, like a teenager certified as an adult and is preyed on by men who want to abuse them.  That teenager could spend years alone in that cell – for his own good, of course.  Solitary cells ruin people.  It is over used and abused. They are left inside for too long and it destroys their mind. They usually end up hurting themselves by cutting open their veins, trying to bleed out, trying to commit suicide. Staff take them out of their cell, sends other inmates into the cells to clean up the blood from cut arteries, they sew them up the hurt inmate, put them back in their cell and double their sentence. They do it over and over. A three month sentence can easily turn into a year or two or ten.  When that person is eventually released back into society, and most of them are if they don’t die inside, they are completely unable to take care of themselves and if they do have family they are often unrecognizable.  They don’t know them anymore.  Brothers and sisters are strangers. I strongly urge you to watch this: The Stickup Kid I have gotten to know this young man and we speak on a daily basis.  He has a facebook page you can fain by searching his name.  He is in bad need of friends to talk to. Also, he write powerful poetry explaining his life.

It has been determined that 15 days is all person can take without probable psychological damage. When they finally get out they often end up trying to kill someone else. They are nuts. So where do they put the mentally ill person they created? Back into a solitary cell. There are many of these cases of these people who are put down like dogs by guards, with the prison looking the other way, making excuses and defending the guards who do it. The harshest punishment for prison guard brutality is possibly getting fired, or sent to another prison unit. No real repercussion. The crimes guards commit have no consequences, yet these guards would have to be mentally. They are let out of the prison after every shift and allowed to live among the people.  He could be your neighbor.  Would you want him near you/  near your family? Do the guards have family? What do they say when they get home or talk to their friends? “Oh, today I murdered a person by putting him in a shower and turned on scalding hot water for hours, listened to him scream and scream until he died and his skin peeled off his body.  True story.  Another inmate was sent clean up the shower and he knew what he was looking at was the dead man’s skin. His file said he died of a heart attack. No crime was committed.  The prison needs to protect themselves. Examples of three murders can be found at: Looking From The Other Side of The Prison Cell door – part two

Jamie has spent about 4 years in solitary confinement, which is also called Ad Seg. Two times of two years each, not far apart, and each one was a lie from a guard. One was a guard finding a knife on his sink when they were shaking down cells. A knife the guard put there. Even if Jamie had a knife, would you leave it on the sink when you know they are shaking down cells? The second time was because a big fat ugly female guard said he blew her a Kiss, and that is a crime because you are trying to consort with a guard. He was standing lion for his medications when he was looking around and saw the guard. Period. The he gets slapped with a case. What inmate in his right mind would blow a guard a kiss? I saw this guard when I visited with him in Oct 2013. You would not have blown her a kiss.

On another note, I am putting together an email to send to Jamie right now and putting in comments people have made. I have told him there are people who care. We have the ability to leave our house and talk to people. We still might not have anyone who cared how our day went, and those people become depressed and lonely and probably drink or take pills to get through their day. But Jamie knows there are people whose hearts have been touched. People who care. He is a good man. I want people to know him. People who care if he’s okay. That goes a long way in keeping his depression away. The post I wrote,  In Prison Who Do You Have to Care About Your Day? is very real. How would you feel if you thought there was no one who cared about you, you saw no one, talked to no one, or had communication from anyone? What if no one even cared if you alive or dead? On the outside we have people I’d like for him to answer these comments so I can add them to the comment section.

You can send any words of encouragement to him at mynameisjamie2@gamil.com and I will send it to him. Each and every comment is a bright spot in his day.

There are so many people who have a misconception about prison and think they are only there to lock up bad people. That is only one reason. Our government needs to keep the prisons full, (while telling the public they are try to reduce their arrests) because of the huge demand in the public sector, the American companies who bid on prison labor, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. So there may be fewer arrest this year but the sentences will be longer and the percentage of those paroled are fewer. Once in awhile a good thing happens and people cheer, but they really don’t know what is going on. A great many prison are owned privately through companies like Corcoran and CCA – there are more. The Prison Industrial Complex. They offer to help the states with their budget problems and if they take over the prison they will have more money for roads and education BUT they have to keep the prisons 90-100% full or the government has to pay them for the empty beds. This is why the US has the highest prison population in the world 500 out of every 100,000 people, and since approximately 65% of those are black people, there are entire towns that have 50% of there town locked up – for “walking while black”. But the media portrays it as though black people do more crimes, which they don’t. Black neighborhoods are patrolled for people to arrest. Are many of those arrest legitimate? Of course. But many of them aren’t. White people can be picked up doing the very same crime, yet they don’t end up in prison because of it.

Pa recently announced the building of a brand new $400 million SHU – solitary housing unit. Only for solitary confinement. They are also closing many schools for lack of funding. Can you figure out why there is a lack of funding? The US has also made it very clear to the world they do not use solitary confinement like this – as torture. They intend on locking people up for years, decades. You read that in the media and believe it. You believe black people are more dangerous than white people. Black people do more drugs and commit more crimes. This is all hogwash. This is the media making you believe what they want you to believe. Thank goodness there are many people who are not blinded by this garbage and know what is going on. Many people and organizations trying to change this conception. I am one of those people.

@Manuchettan, I realize I have written much more than a reply! I get on a roll sometimes and the words spill out. I go on a rant and get intense. I think I will turn this reply into a post – “Up Front and Personal”

I can’t thank you enough for reading these posts. It means a lot to me, Sonni

Thank you for your words. It’s hard,though, to get an accurate picture of the US through Hollywood, as you have to do in India. I am going to look for the prison movie you talked about, “Death Warrant”. Then I can tell you if it accurate. The thing, though, that you are very right about is that the atrocities don’t stop. Because of the things they do to inmates, an inmate learns to be very subservient, because if they aren’t, they pay for it. But even if the inmate is very docile and does nothing to provoke the guard, it doesn’t stop them from writing up false cases on them or from doing things like spitting in their food, or not letting them shower. Humanistic things.

When a human being finally gets out of prison, they don’t know how to act around people again. One woman told me her son even asked if it was okay to go use the bathroom. going outside is too much stimulus for them. Go to the blog “Breaking Free”. http://breakingfree.com and read about the communication between a mother and a son.

Reintegration to society is hard if you don’t have someone guiding you. Sometimes that doesn’t even work. At the 5 year mark after parole 71% of parolees are back in prison. For a variety of reasons. My concentration with Jamie has been to build his self confidence, his value as a human being. Keeping him from slipping into depression or keep thoughts of suicide away, which he tried when it was unbearable, has taken much effort. If I hadn’t been there, I don’t know what state of mind he would have. When someone has spent the years he has locked up in a a cell 23 hours a day it makes most men mentally ill.

If you have read any of the chapters I posted about the book Inside The Forbidden Outside, here is a sample chapter. Inside The Forbidden Outside . Fill Out the contact form below if you want to be on the mailing list for updates or other chapters posted.

When I started writing to Jamie 8 years ago, after he had been in for a year, I knew I was taking on a lifetime responsibility with a willing heart. I was not going to be able to just say hi and ask how he was doing and then not continue to write. He has no one else who writes to him. If he ever hears from a family member, it is usually a catch up about what is going on in the family, not a letter of caring how he was doing. Never a question of, “Is there anything you need or anything I could do to help”. Not even from his own mother. I know she loves him. I talked to her once. She’s okay with him calling me mom and is glad I’m there for him – but she isn’t there for him.

Armando Macias, San Quentin death row, SHU, solitary housing unit, programs in prison
Armando Macias

The other man I write to on death row in San Quentin – Armando Macias – three pages of his you can find through the menu tab at the top. Here is the first part https://mynameisjamie.net/looking-from-the-other-side-of-the-prison-doorlooking-at-the-other-side-of-the-prison-cell-door/ Find out what they do to prisoners when they enter the death row unit. When I started writing to him I knew I was taking on a lifelong commitment. I will be posting more about him soon. He also wrote the post https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/01/06/lifes-cleaning-rag/ ( the girl in the mud is my grand daughter)

If you’d like to find out what solitary confinement, go to http://solitarywatch.com. Armando is one of the most interesting men I’ve known. Solitary confinement actually rehabilitated him. It was a benefit for him. His transformation is nothing short of incredible. He will never be released, but he is fighting to have a better life inside the prison walls, based on his conduct inside his 5×8′ cell. He is still a human being. yes, he did a horrible crime. He is paying for it. His behavior deserves what they call “program”. where can do art, or take classes. Why would someone on death row want to continue to learn anything? Because he is alive and he is human. His major crime now is that he is Hispanic. They have a special way of dealing with Hispanics. If the prisons say the want the inmates to be rehabilitated, which they really don’t, then he should at least have his accomplishments come with a few benefits for that. There is no reason for inhumane treatment. Common decency rewards. He is in for a contract murder. Goggle his name and read the articles written about the murder. He grew up in a violent family and lived in a violent community. It was all he knew. He was never taught right from wrong. Never thought about the consequences of his actions. He lived in the moment with the rewards his crimes brought to him. In prison he had to start all over and learn what what right and wrong was. Through the study of Buddhism he found out who he was, and found out what his life meant and what he needed to to change. When someone is never taught these things and the people around them all behave in a certain way, how can you not follow what that teaches you? This arrest was not his first murder and it was at the end of many crimes. It was his life and he knew nothing else. That is not Armando Macias today. I hope someday I can actually meet him.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it is long. Please comment about how you feel, even if it is criticism. I want to have a discussion with those who have something to say. Please

A Prison Cell, The Loneliest Place

prison cell, solitary confinement,mass incarceration
The loneliest place

All music is copyrighted and improvised and recorded on first take.

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

Hello Mom,
It’s ok. 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 Megan come and bring my son? I do deserve to see my son. He is all I have. However, Megan, 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 father 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 Megan 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. Megan 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.

Sitting here in my prison cell I’ve written a lot of letters. 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. My (biological) mom came to visited me last year. First time in at least 6 years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple units that were far away. Clear across Texas. 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 Megan 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. This prison cell, it’s the loneliest place to be.

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

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Inside The Forbidden Outside chapter – Nightmares

photo credit:  play2compete.co.uk
photo credit: play2compete.co.uk

(Backstory: For those not familiar with the book it is a being written about Jamie Cummings, who is currently being held at Huntsville Prison in Texas. He has completed 9 of a 17 year sentence. This is a random chapter. This story is based on his life using hundreds of letters written to each other during these years. If you wish to read Chapter one you can find it here https://mynameisjamie.net/2015/01/27/insideout

If you would like to be on the mailing list to receive any other future posts or information about “Inside the Forbidden Outside” please fill out the comment form below.

THE NIGHTMARE

In some ways Jamie feels like he’s back at the beginning and opening his eyes for the first time to this nightmare. He was trying to wake himself up, having that same dream again. He was having this same dream over and over and it was beginning to freak him out. If he could just go back to sleep and wake up again, maybe he’d be in a different place, in some other person’s dream. Anyone’s dream would do.

“Maybe all this really did just happened yesterday,” Jamie mused. ” Maybe he hasn’t been here forever, it just feels like forever. Wouldn’t that be something?”

“Or maybe I’ve been been here forever.” he thought, “It’s my own personal version of hell.”

Depressed1“Maybe that’s it. Everybody was really in a different kind of hell just for them. Everyone’s hell was different.” Now he’s beginning to think for real that he’s starting to go crazy. He didn’t believe in all that nonsense of heaven and hell, anyway. He thought all that got started just to scare people into believing it. It was just as nutty as his nightmares.

“That would be a really awful possibility,” he thought. A nightmare that just went round and round in circles like a merry-go-round, except, there was no way you could ever get off. The longer you were on it, the faster it would go, until you were hanging onto the neck of the horse with both arms wrapped around the head. Sometimes he felt like he was hanging onto that horse by a thread and the thread was starting to break.

“Sounds like that old time TV series, Twilight Zone,” he mumbled. He’d seen reruns of it as a kid and some of them really creeped him out.

Maybe this was the way being crazy started. The way your mind turned on you and made you think things in your head was real and you heard things you didn’t want to hear. Crept up on you real slow until it had you by the throat and wouldn’t let go. He needs to stop thinking this crap.

“Maybe I’m dead and this is hell.” He laughed, seriously a little crazy this time. “If I knew this was hell,” he thought. “I could probably deal with it better, knowing for sure this was it, I could stop wondering if I was ever going to get out. I wouldn’t have to worry no more about getting out of here.”

He wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. He’d just have to come up with a better plan for his days because right now he wasn’t dealing with this solitary crap very well. You’d think he’d know the ropes by now. No use about complaining. They’d only turn on him more if he did that.

“If eternity was going to be just like this, then accepting it is all anyone could do, or go crazy” he thought out loud.

“Problem is, it feels like an eternity already.” He was crazy for sure, having this dialogue with himself, but if he didn’t talk to himself, then he really wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Being alone is being alone. People don’t understand how alone, alone really is. The guards didn’t want to have conversations with you. Probably told not to. You know you’re in bad shape when even having a conversation with a guard sounds good. He got up and started pacing the floor. Three steps up and three steps back. Three steps up and three steps back. He really wished he could go outside and run. Just run until he was tired. Run until he was out of breath.

“Don’t make friends with the inmates.” That’s what they probably taught the guards, although they most likely don’t use as nice a word as calling them inmates.

“Make them as miserable as you can, they were taught.” I think they take that part of their job really seriously.

One of guards said to them, “If any of you have a smile on your face then I’m not doing a good job.” They probably laughed with each other as they talked about the ways they had fun making them as miserable as they could.

He knew they tried to make people on the outside think it was all the inmates who do wrong and the guards would never did anything really bad, but he knew better. There was good guards and there was bad guards. To him it seemed the bad guards outnumbered the good guards. Only when one really slipped up and someone died did it bring any notice to the prison, but they always managed to find a way not to take responsibility. If a dude has a heart attack from the torture they did, then the heart attack was how he died, and the torture never becomes a part of it. He knew it was worse in some states than others. There were lots worse places than Texas, so maybe he should be glad he was here and not in a state like Alabama. That was worse.

“How long is an eternity supposed to feel like?” he thought, looking up at the ceiling, as if looking toward heaven was going to give him any answers.

“Probably the guys on death row have a better answer because they know there is no way, for any reason, they were ever going to get out of there.” They might keep them there for decades until they died, but they ain’t ever getting out of their one man cell.

“At least I know I’m going to get out someday,” he hoped. “Someday”

Besides, maybe outside was the real hell. He had no idea what he was going to do. It scared him. How did he know how he was going to be able to take care of himself? He didn’t even know how to do anything to take care of himself like most people already knew at his age. He didn’t even know how to get his lights turned on in a new apartment.

What if he did something without even meaning to and they picked him up again, not even giving him a chance? They wanted to make sure they got the inmates back. They owned you.

He knew, even when you’re on parole, they still own you. You’re still on paper. You still belong to them and they controlled your life. They really don’t want you to make it out there and they set you up to fail. Nine years inside and they make it so he can’t even get his GED. If he makes parole in 2016 they know he doesn’t have any way to take care of himself. Why else would he see the same people coming back again after they left?

It’s just their way of filling the prison through the back door. Pretend they were all for you getting out of there and having a life, and it’s all bullshit. No one is honest with you here about that. If he got caught walking crooked they’d probably say he was on drugs and lock him up, even if there was no drugs in him, it would be his words against theirs. They’d be the one to make it true.

Just like it was in here. People lie an getting people wrote up that wasn’t guilty of anything at all just so they could have someone owe them a favor. The truth doesn’t matter much in here, or out there. And he knew what it was like out there. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick up blacks and charge them with things and try to make them guilty of something they didn’t even do. He heard the stories. He heard the guys when they were brought back in again because they did something that broke their parole.

But it makes you think, “What’s the truth? Nobody knows what the truth is and nobody seems to care, neither.” He pressed the palm of his hand against his forehead, pressing on the tightening of his skin that was turning into a headache. He was getting himself worked up about things he couldn’t do nothing about.

“Damn, it’s depressing,” he said out loud. “Or it’s enough to make you depressed if you thought about it enough.”

Yeah, some of them that got paroled got into things they shouldn’t, so it was their own fault. He wasn’t going to do that. He had his son to think about. But the cops didn’t need a reason. And just like in here, where the guards are always right, no matter what happens, he was sure it was the same out there. He needed to get out of Texas. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick you up and put cuffs on you and throw you in jail. He wasn’t going to be like all the others and get picked up and brought back here again.

But how could he leave Texas with his son here? He’ll have to think about that later. First things first. He had to get to prove he didn’t belong here. Not on his son’s life would he do anything to end up back in here again.

“I have to keep my eye on the end game,” he determined. ” Maybe other people didn’t have a reason to change things, but he did, and he needed to remember that and not get all caught up on maybes and what ifs.”

Crazy thoughts were always shooting through his brain like this. He had way too much time to think. He had trouble remembering a time when he could laugh and smile. It was forever ago, like some repressed dream that came to the surface and he found himself inside a nightmare he couldn’t get out of. Bits and pieces of things he could make whole stories out of, if he wanted to. But he needed something positive to do.

Sometimes it seemed as if the dream was something that didn’t happened ‘to’ him, but instead he walked into a theatre into the middle of a movie where he never saw the beginning, and fell asleep before he got to the end. It was the kind of dream where you could feel yourself falling and you knew if you hit the ground you were going to die, and woke up startled and scared and afraid to go back to sleep again. When he was little and had bad dreams he used to think of cartoons and tried to stay awake. There were no cartoons in here.

Sometimes he had this dream over and over. Like it was a premonition of some sort making him feel like it was going to come true. But there was a hazy part he just couldn’t see quite clear. He would lay there for hours and think about it, but it was no use.

“I have to snap myself out of this,” he thought. “I have to write a letter or something and get my head together.” He’s been here long enough, and has been through other times like this, and he knew it was easy to spiral out of control.

He lived that movie in his head over and over, never knowing if he was going to die at the end. It never felt like it was okay. He never felt any hope, only despair. Every time he went to sleep he was afraid he would see it again and most always, he did. He had no one he could talk to about it and he just got more depressed every day.

When he woke in his dream he was running. Running so fast. His heart was beating so fast, knowing without a doubt that he was in a place that felt so wrong. It was hell. It was hell and he couldn’t change it. So many times he woke up crying. Crying for the loss. Crying for everything. And it was never, ever, going to be over. He was lost forever. It felt like forever. He was never going home. He buried his head in his pillow and he wept.

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

This is what drove men mad. This is what solitary confinement did to the mind. He spent more than 4 years in here. He should be crazy, too, and probably would be if it weren’t for Mom. She held on and wouldn’t let go. Two years each time. All for lies. The hopelessness. He knew there were men who were kept in places like this sometimes for decades. His sentence was only seventeen years, if the word ‘only’ means anything.

credit: solitarywatch.com
credit: solitarywatch.com

There are men here only because they’re mentally ill and there is nowhere else to put them so they lock them up in prison. They can’t survive around other people and being in solitary made it even worse. They lock them up for their own protection, they say, but that only gives them the right to abuse them, and to laugh at them and to do things to them that would be a crime on the outside. Sometimes they die because of the way they are treated. Out there these guards would be locked up because sane men didn’t do the things they did to people in here. In this place, people don’t have the rights of a dog. In fact, dogs have more rights because they’d haul you off to jail for torturing animals.

They torture the men. In the real sense. Physically torture them and some of them die. Because these men couldn’t stand being locked up, they would do things to themselves. He heard the stories. No one deserved to end up like the men in solitary confinement.

They would try to kill themselves by cutting their veins and smearing the blood all over the window in their door, and all over their walls and floor, trying to bleed out. They would take these men to medical and sew them up and instead of getting them help, they would double their time in solitary and it would happen all over again. They make them crazier and then punish them more because they got crazier.

Does that make sense to you? Now they just don’t know what to do with these men. They can’t let them out of their cell because they would probably try to kill someone. They’re completely loony. Maybe they should’ve thought of that before they destroyed the rest of their minds.

He remembers what it was like in solitary when he was in the juvy system. It was no picnic then, either. It wasn’t any different now. Alone is alone, no matter what age you are. A person can only take so much. He was so young then. Just seventeen. What did he know about being locked up like that? He got mad. They said he could go home after he did nine months and when he was packed, they wouldn’t let him go home.

They said “No, you can’t leave. You didn’t make your line class.”

“What line class?” He said. “You never told me about nothing about no line class” They lied to him! He got mad. He went to his room and started punching the walls. They were the liars! They put him in solitary for that. It was no picnic then, neither. It wasn’t any different now.

Oh, he didn’t want to think about this right now. He had taken so much already for too long. What had he ever done in his life to deserve this? They put him on antidepressants. Every time they saw him he was sleeping. Clearly depressed. Who wouldn’t be? All he wanted to do was sleep now.
All this thinking was starting to make his head hurt. Either that or maybe he was hungry. He was always hungry. Maybe he could pretend his peanut butter tonight was a piece of apple pie!

“Maybe I can dream about apple pie tonight,” he laughed and cried, and lay down on his bed.

“I’ll take a nap and see if I can figure all this out while I’m sleeping.” Even that bit of laughter made him feel little better. He has to be careful… It’s so easy to get your head in a funk and it drags down the whole day.

He pulled a letter out of a book. It was one of mom’s letters. He was using it as a bookmark. He kept it in the book he was reading so he could take it out and read it when he wanted. He read lots of her letters over and over. When he’s finally able to make phone calls it sure will be nice to talk to her.

She had written some stuff in this letter that looked like gobbledy gook to him. She said it was Japanese. She wrote these letters down ‘nam myoho renge kyo’ Weird. He had no clue how to say it or what it meant. She said it didn’t matter, just try to say it the way it looked. He had no idea what it meant but he tried anyway because he said he would. She’ll tell him more about it later. Maybe she was crazy, too, because she told him if he said it over and over he could be happy.

“What do I have to lose?” he laughed again. “Nobody else had any better suggestion, so I guess it can’t hurt.” He fell asleep thinking about all of these things in his head. He even had a dream about apple pie, but tasted just like peanut butter, what they give him every day for meals.

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,)

In Prison, Who Do You Have to Care About Your Day?

alone(Sonni’s note:) If you’ve had the opportunity to read other posts that have music links, or have gone to the page at the top that says https://mynameisjamie.net/music-links/ then you know I compose music and play the piano. But what I do is all improvisation. I create what I feel, and record as I play.  My music is the tangible result of my emotions. Yesterday I recorded another piece called ‘Blindfolded Pain’ because I played only by feel, not sight. This piece is very painful to me. I was in pain in my heart. I’ve sat and closed my eyes and just listened to the dissonance of the notes that sometimes grate together, and cried, listening to the intervals between the notes, and when you think it is over, it quietly starts again, and again, and again until the light is gone.

September 9, 2010 Written from the Smith Unit in La Mesa, Tx, a long way from any family
Four and a half years before today

(Sonni’s Note: I will be posting each older later the day I transcribe and leave it at this date for 6 months. I will then transfer it to the correct date. Since Many people Don’t start at the beginning, it needs to initially be published as a new post.)

Hello Mom,

How are you doing. Fine, I pray. As for me, well, before I begin my letter I want to apologize about my last letter. It’s just that things are getting so stressful as time passes. To tell the truth, it doesn’t help any when I don’t hear back from the ones I love. I’m facing and looking at some bad things. I’ve had a fight, I’ve been threatened by 3 people. I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I haven’t told the officers. Well, if I do that, they’re going to write up a statement, mom. If I give them a statement they are going to write up the person I’m having problems with. They will also place a copy of my statement on his write up. Then I would not only have to worry about him, but others as well. I would also to worry about the officers telling other inmates. So no matter what, I’m in a no win situation. I don’t feel safe on this unit, but I have to deal with it until they move me.

I know if I tell the officers it won’t help me none. Officers have some inmates they tell things to. I’ve seen people get jumped on because of an officer telling him to. I’ve also seen officers and heard them do some backstabbing things, mom. There’s no help in here. I want to come home, but it’s going be hard when when I hear inmates and officers against me with no help. I don’t know what to do. I’m ready to give up, but something tells me to keep trying and don’t give up. To me, I feel that’s hard to do. I’m not ready to give up. I feel this way because the feeling of me being given up on keeps coming back. I’m strong in so many ways, however, so I will keep trying, family, or not.

However, I could uses some advice, mom. Please, I need it. Things are so stressful on me right now, mom. I love Megan and the kids and I also love my family. I will do anything I have to do, so if I have to fight, you must understand. Understand that these people are going to try to hurt me. I want to see my family again, both of them, so I’m going to do what I have to do, mom. I can take care of myself. I’ve been thinking a lot about Megan ever since she wrote me. I can sit and write about how much it hurts when she don’t write, however it’s not going to help nothing. One day I’ll get over the spaces of her not writing. Not just her, but everyone else as well. I just feel so left out.

However, now that I think about it, I’ve had someone by my side all along. Someone who’s helped me, given me support, given me good advice when I needed it and been there for me. Thank you mom, without you being there for me and letting me know how Megan and the kids are from time to time, I would have lost it. Thanks again, mom.

Again, I’m sorry about the last letter. I was upset at myself and the world. It’s my fault I’m in this situation. Things will change one day I’m sure. It seems seems to get harder every day. But I guess it’s just me worrying too much. Well, I must say that I’m thankful for the money and the books you’ve sent me, mom. However, I can’t keep asking you to help me. That’s why I asked you not to send me anything. I know you say you’re doing okay with it. But my family won’t help me. That’s why I haven’t asked you for anything in several months. Also because I know you are having problems of your own. I know things might be tight, so I’m okay.

I haven’t heard from you in awhile so I assume you’ve moved due to the fact of me not hearing from you. (Sonni’s note: Two weeks before he wrote this letter I had to pack up my home and my store to make a move from Key West to Pa to see a good liver transplant specialist. The transition was hard.)

I sure hope things are okay,mom. How’s the weather up there? It’s starting to get chilly. I don’t like the cold. What’s the weather like in Pa? (sonni’s note: I hate the cold. Anything below 60 degrees lol. But today I’d even settle for 50!) I just know things are still beautiful there. Tell your mom I said hello okay? How’s things going with your sister? She still have a chip on her shoulder? I wonder why some people hate others when they don’t know nothing about them. I really don’t understand that. Maybe it’s because you and Mike are happy together. Some people hate to see others happy. Don’t worry mom, I’m sure she’ll get over whatever it is she has a problem with.

Well, I have to go for now, mom. Love always,Son
Love you Mom (in fancy script)

(Sonni’s note: So much sadness and loneliness in this letter. Since he had been inside now just over 9 years, this was written about the halfway mark. I always felt him to be a gentle person with a good heart. It’s hard when you are frightened into to taking a plea by being scared by your public defender telling you the judge could give you 99 years, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. When he left the house that night to go out partying with his cousin, as 22 year old young men do, and if you had been kept in juvy for 4 years when it was supposed to be 9 months because a cop barged unto their home when it was clear there was no need,he had no chance at having a life. The cop knocked his mother down and broke her wrist. Jamie hit him with a broom in defense of his mother. But we all know that cops are always right. There isn’t a black heart in any cop, right? They always serve and protect. Jamie isn’t a criminal, but he has played the price of one. So I try to keep his heart going.

It was soon after this letter that he was moved closer to home. At least the same side of Texas, but still far away. Due to lies from guards and planting a weapon in his cell, he started what ended up being 4 years on solitary, or adseg, and also G5. That is when you are really alone. It was also 4 1/2 more years before he was every allowed to make a phone call. Two weeks later they found away to take that away from him, too, while trying to live with impossible rules that no one on the outside could ever live with. A world where a guard is always right and you are always wrong, no matter what the situation is.)