Are You New To Jamie’s Story?

j and jWhen I started writing this blog for Jamie over three years ago it was because I thought people needed to hear his story. It wasn’t because his story was exceptionally different from other people in prison. It was because his story is too damned common. A large percentage of people live their lives oblivious to the pain and suffering inflicted on many people who are locked up in all kinds of detention centers – not because they are dangerous people, although there are many in prison who are – but because they are a source of profit for prison corporations and shareholders who have stock in the growing number of prisons. It is also a source of campaign donations for politicians who then bide by what the prison corporations want – more people to profit from and little oversight about the way they are treated and cared for. We know what the problems are but we can’t make them change.

I don’t blame people for not knowing. I didn’t know anything, either, before Jamie came into my life. All I knew was what I learned in TV series like Prison Break. I didn’t know it didn’t tell the whole story. I thought people were in prison because they deserved to be there. I didn’t spend any time thinking about whether the amount of years they were sentenced was fair. I didn’t know blacks and minorities were targeted. It didn’t affect my life – I thought. Then I met Jamie.

In the pages at the top of the blog is a page that was written at the beginning of my writing the blog. “My Name is Jamie”. If you don’t know his story that is a good place to start because it tells some of the reasons why he is there and what his life was like. There have been many changes since that was written. If you read through all 300 plus blog posts for the ones that include his letters you would be able to follow his life, but that would take a lot of dedication. Instead I thought I’d give you a synopsis of where he is now and what is going on.

Inside The Forbidden Outside, writing new book, JamieCummings,solitary confinement, prison industrial complex, Sonni Quick
We can dream great dreams. “Inside The Forbidden Outside”

In addition to this blog I am also writing a book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”, which is in the second draft. It has taken me longer than I expected to write because I can only write one thing at a time. Two blogs, A newletter “ITFO News” and a book take time and I work on them in a cycle. Add to the mix all the required social media promotion to build a network. When I work on one I can’t work on another. I often work until the sun comes up.

In addition, I am an improv piano composer and I’m working on an album of music for the book. Much of the music was originally written for different blog posts you could find scattered throughout the blog. The music is sometimes painful and melancholy, relaxing and peaceful, best listened to with your eyes closed in the dark. Music promotion takes up another huge chunk of time. You can find my music at these two websites. Skunk Radio Live and ReverbNation. (the links are below the post) Share it if you like it. For anything on line – stats matter.

The reason for all of this is to create a place mentally for Jamie to go when he gets out in 2023. He needs something to work on that has meaning. A book to use to talk to people – help young people stay out of prison and give meaning to his 17 years inside. Turn a negative into a positive.

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Jamie has been inside for 12 1/2 years. He has 4 1/2 years to go. He did 4 years in juvenile detention right before this on a charge he wasn’t guilty of. He took the fall for his younger brother and was told if he did the time for him he would only do nine months. There should have been no charge period. A cop illegally came into their home with no warrant and no cause for entry. His mother got hurt and his little brother hit the cop with a broom in defense. But Jamie was lied to. They didn’t let him go until he was twenty-one. This is in a chapter early in the book. With no education, no life experience, no job history and no counseling, what was he supposed to do?

I think the last 4 years of his sentence are going to be harder than the first four because he is tired. Burnt out. He will be 35 in January 2018. In the beginning he had no idea what to expect, he only knew it is going to be a long time. He hoped his family will be there to support him. He lost raising his only child, a boy, my grandson, who was born after he was arrested. He turned 11 this past July.

He waited and waited for his family to be there for him, giving them excuses of being busy and they will probably write later, which they never did. He asked for a little money to buy hygiene products and nothing was ever sent. He suffered from depression – and epilepsy. No one asked him how he was or if he needed anything. My daughter, his son’s mother went on with her life. He never blamed her for this. They hadn’t been together very long.

How would you feel if this was you and no one gave a damn how you were? The largest percentage of inmates come from the fostercare system, but he had a family and that family acted as though he didn’t exist. Letters weren’t answered. They still aren’t answered. The only person he has had through this is me – and through me, some of you who have written and encouraged him.

Jamie wasn’t guilt free but when you are black or a minority and have no money for an attorney they force you to take a plea deal with threats of a longer sentence if you don’t. If he had an attorney he would have never gotten 17 years. Only 3% of those arrested actual go to court to have their case heard. 97% only go to court to plead guilty – in and out of court in ten minutes. There are so many people arrested there is no time for anything more. this is also why there are so many, often after decades get their cases overturned. But nothing can back the years of suffering inside.

He has been moved around to eight prisons so far. He isn’t in gen pop where there is an opportunity to take classes or go to the library. Even so, gen pop is a dangerous place because there is a mix of inmates with nothing to lose. A lot of bad stuff happens, not only with the inmates with drugs and sex and fights with weapons, it also often includes participation with the guards. Jamie has been beaten, sprayed with gas and false cases have been filed against him he can do nothing about. At the last prison, in retribution for filing grievances against guards for their treatment they filed thirteen sexual harassment cases against him. He can’t fight that. It’s on his prison record.

Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong. It’s the same thing out here in the “free world” when it comes to cops and taking responsibility for the people they murder for no reason.

Today he still sits in adseg – administrative segregation – another name for solitary. When he was moved from the last prison 2 1/2 years ago because he was no longer safe there, he was given one year in adseg. Once he was moved they added two more years. Why? Because they can. He has a meeting this month to see if they will let him out. He has a 50/50 chance. If not, then the next meeting is in six months. Is this serving any purpose? Or does it make the guard’s job easier?

I’m worried about him. It is too much time alone. He turns down going to the shower and does a bird bath in the sink – to stay away from guards. He turns down his hour of rec for the same reason. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of getting out of adseg. How will this affect him when he gets out? it isn’t a matter of, will it affect him? It is only a matter of how much. Reintegration will be hard.

This Fall I am making another trip to Texas for a few weeks. I went a year ago, too. I want to finish up on some details I need for the book. I can take his son to see him. I can encourage him to hang in there. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the things I am trying to do to create a life for him, which also has a benefit for me with my music and gives me a reason to keep on writing. There has to be a sequel about what happens next.

It’s important to focus on the positive. See yourself being successful with whatever you want to do. If your life is full of, “I can’t . . .” or “It won’t . . .” or “I could never . . .” then you won’t do anything. All you will do is sit back and feel sorry for yourself and the bad hand of cards you were dealt. It is up to each of us to make our lives work. But if no one teaches you how to do that, what can you do?

I have spent years teaching Jamie the law of life – the law of cause and effect. Some call it “You reap what you sow,” but many don’t take it seriously. Where we end up is the result of the things we have done, so it is up to us to do things to undo what we don’t like and get our life going in a positive direction.

I want to thank all the people who have encouraged me. It has kept me going when i doubt myself. It has helped give me the strength to not give up. Who am I to think I can accomplish these things? If I lose confidence I remember why I’m doing it and what the stakes are. My actions affect other people. Everyone else abandoned Jamie. It happens to most who spend a long time inside. I promised him I would be there and he is counting on that.

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Next issue coming soon. The topic this month – Incarcerating The Innocent  . . . AND . . . beginning today, until ten days after the next issue is published, anyone not currently receiving the issue in their email can tap the above button and enter a sweepstakes to win a signed copy of Sharron Grodzinsky’s “Waiting on the Outside.” Ten copies will be given away.  No shipping fee. Absolutely free.

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If you know an inmate who writes poetry or is an artist or has a story you’d like to tell you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick . . . New facebook page of the past and present

ReverbNation . . . Website of Indie music not on traditional radio stations. Sonni’s featured page.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Indie radio station out of London playing music composed for  the book being written for Jamie.  If you can, help support. It will all help Jamie in the end.

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Protect yourself by having an attorney on call with an app on your phone. Stopped and given a ticket? harassed? Get screwed by a landlord? Customer not refund your money? Need a FREE will done? (normally about $300) Click on the link below and see why you need this. A friend has a brand new problem with a landlord. She had just signed up for the service. She didn’t even think about Legal Shield until I reminded her. All for much less than a trip through Kentucky Fried Chicken. Call me, email me, msg me here or at FB. It’s that easy.

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Can I  Finally Get Out of Ad Seg? Maybe?

Before I share part of Jamie’s last letter . . .

(note from Sonni: I’ve been running myself crazy taking care of details for the book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside.” When I began writing, I didn’t know putting out a book involved more than writing it and finding someone to edit it. I knew there were self publishing businesses that helped, but I didn’t know most of them preyed on people who didn’t know they were being scammed into paying for services they didn’t need. That subject should be another post.

After writing this blog for a year or so, I knew Jamie’s story needed to be told. I began the first draft. To understand who Jamie is you should go to archive below the post where you can pull up the posts by the month. Also, some of earliest one are found at the top of the page in the white area.

It was important to find the right artist to create the book cover art, which will also be the digital album cover. Learning how to mark a product has been a challenge. Sometimes, at the spur of the moment I’ll feel a need to play my piano.  It is a release for me when I am on emotional overload.  It is why so many of my recording have an air of melancholy. There is sadness when I feel there is nothing I can do. The music is like a diary of these years. Certain music reminds me of a particular letter of something important that happened. Recording music for the book as the soundtrack is best played while reading. I’m also being promoted on several websites that carry the music. Before the book is published I am releasing another album of improv music titled, “Stories Without Words”

piano-guitar
1976 Early (young) Sonni. The gold bangle on wrist is still there today

I’m having new promo pictures taken with my white piano, outside in summer greenery, by a photographer who specializes in photographing musicians. My promo pictures during my earlier years of playing would only work if I was never seen in public! ( I think I’ve aged just a touch! ) I knew if I was going to resurrect my music career, I couldn’t do it halfway. The difference today is I would not want to travel and tour again.  I want a more intimate setting in a nice restaurant (where I can sell books, too!)

I am also planning to go to Texas for a few weeks during October to visit Jamie at the prison. We need to talk about any changes and additions. Asking him to dig into a painful part of his past and ask him to relive it and write about it has been hard for him. I’m trying to keep him as involved as I can. No one is meant to live through being locked up by themselves for this long.  It’s been almost three years – this time. He has 4 1/2 years left on a 17 year sentence.

Part of the reason it has taken this long to finish the book is having to communicate through  letters, and then waiting for the answer. If the prison puts the inmates on an unexpected lockdown – more than the standard 30 days out of every 90 days then he might not be able to go to commissary and run out of stamps. That happened last time and he couldn’t write for weeks. The prison also screwed up the food box I sent. They marked it ordered, but didn’t deliver it. The online site showed it was ordered. It wouldn’t let me order again until after they were put on lockdown. No food boxes are delivered during that month. Add over 100 degree temperature to the mix doesn’t help anyone’s temperament.

A fight broke out in another building. It was used as an excuse to toss the cells and lock everyone down. He was out of stamps and had nothing to trade with. The guards love candy sticks and will sometimes trade a stamp for one. The cost for one is fifteen cents so it’s a good trade. I try to order 30 and add a variety of gas station quality, convenience store delicacies. Raman noodles, chips, cookies, mackerel, tuna and more – all processed crap, but often better than what they serve for meals. I can purchase $20 a month or $60 for three months. Not much, but it helps – in more ways than one. I can tell by his handwriting when he is depressed. Contact from the outside is like gold.  So many have no one. So . . . on to his letter)

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Good morning to you,                                                                                                        8/18/17

It’s early 5:47 but I could not sleep. I’ve been up since about 9:00 last night. I have not been feeling well. Anyway, I’m writing to tell you something. I really don’t like speaking about it because, to me it seems like when I do something bad always happens. Before I tell you I want you to know I was pulled out of my cell to make a phone call. I give up. I’m not putting in for no more phone calls. Nobody answers the phone at my mom or for my son. I have been doing good and staying away from trouble to make these phone calls only to not reach no one. “F**k that.” I have not had no write ups in over a year. This means I get a line class which goes toward my parole and getting out of ad seg (administrative segregation – a fancy word for being locked up by yourself for 23-24 hours a I don’t know when I’ll get out of seg. It might be Sept or January or March. Hopefully Sept so we can have our first visit that won’t be behind glass. That would be nice being able to hold your hand. I’m a line two right now. I need to be a line one in order to see parole. So in another 6 months, as long as I don’t get any write ups. I’m trying hard. I really am. It will be twelve years by then. I’m trying to make it home. I’m trying hard to get out of this place. I wasn’t to be there for my son. I want to hear you play the piano. 

I want to be there for Jamie while he’s still young. He and I have so much to talk about. Him reading my letter is not the same as him looking me in my eyes and talking to me face to face. That is what I want. So I’m focused on staying out of trouble.

There’s lots of days I don’t go to the shower. I stay in my cell and use the sink and do a bird bath. There’s also days I do go to rec or eat because I try so hard to avoid B/S with the officers. Please know that I’m trying. Sorry I have gotten tired. I will pick this back up later today.

Sorry for the long wait. Things are getting real testy around me. I have been getting into it with the inmates. I feel I’m being tested and this is some kind of karma. It’s stressing me out because I see SCC next month (state classification). I don’t know what they are going to do.

I got everything you sent me. Thank you so much. When you come to visit in October be sure to put in for a special visit ( 2 days, 4 hrs each day. A regular visit is one day, 2 hrs). Being in a place like this really will let you know how much you miss being around regular people. You want to know what I have to listen to? I’m tired of hearing these dudes talking about other dudes. Nasty.

You liked your birthday card? I had it made. I’m learning to make them. I’m working on my coloring and everything. I think it’s wonderful you are doing what you love. There’s a station on the radio that plays instrumental only. I haven’t listened to it in awhile. I have to get me another radio. Mine got broke. Move your fingers over the ivory keys of your piano and enjoy the sound.

We’re going on lockdown again the last week of this month or the first week of next month. If I get out of ad seg it won’t be so much. Gotta go. They’re picking up mail on the other side and I want to send this off.

Till next time, love Jamie

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itfo newsletter

Next issue coming soon. The topic this month – Incarcerating The Innocent  . . . AND . . . beginning today, until ten days after the next issue is published, anyone not currently receiving the issue in their email can tap the above button and enter a sweepstakes to win a signed copy of Sharron Grodzinsky’s “Waiting on the Outside.” Ten copies will be given away.  No shipping fee. Absolutely free.

I have read the book.  It is a gripping and heartbreaking true story of a mother who did everything she could to understand and save her adopted son from destructive behavior, choosing to become a skin head, joining the the local white nationalist movement at a very young age. He ended up in prison, where trying to leave the gang could have deadly consequences. Nothing she tried to do to help him had any positive effect.  He seemed determined to make every bad choice that came his way.

Will he be able to survive prison?  Will he survive when he gets out? There is no answer to that question because he is still locked up. This is every mother’s nightmare who watches her child grow up and become someone who is feared by the public.

you can email me at: infonews@gmail.com if you have any questions

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world.  All blog posts on this blog post at this site.

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick. at Facebook. My music info with links to new music as well as digging into the past.  I came across a poster of a major music event for me when one of my songs was performed with an orchestra and I flew out to San Francisco to hear it.  My life has been crazy and full of risks and challenges, but I’m still here. I will continue living until the last minute!

ReverbNation . . . Lots of great indie music at this site.  I was impressed. I’ve become a “Fan” of ones I like to help support them and I can share their music if I like. The have many neat services that help musicians put a good package together to promote their music. Tapping on the link will take you to my “work in progress” profile page.  check it out. Tell me what you think. I would appreciate any and all feedback of what you really think.

SkunkRadioLive . . . Thank you to those who tweeted my name at the SKL twitter page. Until i get back out and playing the only people who find me is online.  Many of you I’ve known quite a while and some are knew. But anyone who has a business or does anything online, even Facebook, knows how important to to have your page liked and shared. Right now I have to depend on the people I reach through my computer.  it is hard with new pages.  Some people might think what you do isn’t good if your numbers are low.  They can’t get higher until you start with the first one.  Booking agents and club owners might only have my profile page to go by so I am in constant building mode. On the right side of this page  you will see another twitter symbol asking you to tweet your favorite song.  When you click on it you go to a half filled tweet where you only need to add the name of a song and the artist name

How Beautiful is Your Jigsaw Puzzle of Life?

I Do So Love Living, Don’t You?

How beautiful is your jigsaw puzzle of life? I have been thinking about my life and everything I’ve done. Hopefully I have gained wisdom through the years to use for my future. Being young is wonderful. There is so much life ahead.

Young people are full of energy, and hopefully have the desire to “be” someone, whatever theit talents are. From the age of seven I knew I wanted to make music, and the piano was going to be a major part of my life. When I was ten, I knew I was going to teach music. There was no doubt. I also wanted to play the most beautiful music in the world. I’m not finished striving for that. There is still a lot to learn and a lot of life to live.

I have recently been spending my time connecting my piano music to my writing. Both evolved together and much of the music is tied to not only book chapters but to poetry. They will be promoted together. I have searched to find ways to do that. I have different ways than the average author because I am a musician. piano-1015371__340

Many people get depressed when they age. The decade markers of 30-40-50-60 and up, can be hard because it’s easy to dwell on losing youth – on the outside. But it’s up to you if you lose the ability to be young on the inside. I have never tried to “pass” for someone younger. I have never shaved years. I have earned every single year, I’m not going to pretend I haven’t lived them.

For so long everything has been focused on the youth generation, but all youth gets older. They disappear into the AARP magazine pages. Old musicians are called dinosaurs, but this one isn’t going quietly into the sunset.

Being older, I have wisdom and life experiences youth don’t have. Twenty years from now will I look back on all of this and have good memories. Will I be successful? Will this help Jamie when he gets of  prison.

I look at my life like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The border is together. It took a long time to begin to understand myself. Now I’m connecting the pieces inside and fitting them together. It’s up to me how beautiful it is. Every year of life has meaning. Some years are harder than others, but all the puzzles pieces affect how you fit future pieces together.

We all need to live as though today is the last day of our life and begin something we have wanted to do, or finish something already started. This is why I’m working so hard. I do it because I love it and I’m having fun. I love living. You don’t need to be pushed or develope discipline when you have a passion for living.

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I have a new page at a website you can go to directly called ReverbNation. Click become a fan. You can also go there through the link at Skunk Radio. I have had so much fun taking this to the next level. I’ve been blogging for three years and adding music to many posts but this month is the first time online that I have attempted to cross over onto the commercial side. My earlier years as a professional player these options weren’t there. If you didn’t have a record deal it didn’t matter how good you were. I was still singing then but my vocals can’t survive a couple hours of singing anymore.

I will be connected to other sites in the near future. It’s a big market out there. This will also help me get an agent for the right gigs which will create book sales through live gigs. A girl’s gotta eat and pay for travel. Okay, so I’m not exactly a “girl” but musicians get better with age! It has been exciting putting this together. I had retired. I thought live gigs were in my past. When my pages are complete with a new head shot and video I’ll be contacting agents. Life has a way of kicking us in the pants when we aren’t looking, but it’s up to us if we grab the brass ring and run with it. 

I absolutely love finding new people who like the music I record. I think it’s important to never stop dreaming. If we reach an age where we stop ourselves from believing we can live life like we’re young, our brain dries up and blows away.

It isn’t easy to write, research, promote, compose and record, handle 4 facebook pages, 2 blogs, a newsletter and also help your mother pack up her house and not drop a plate you’re spinning in the air. My entire body hurts from packing, because although I’m young inside, my body is 63 and has been battered around by life.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate those who have gone to my sites, played my music, shared it and also went to SRL twitter page and simply tweeted my name to them. You still can. They have additional ways they help those who have a following. I’m trying to build one. Online stats will make or break me.

I will soon be putting out a digital album (before the one coming out when the book is ready.) My music is a soundtrack. (Sound Cloud) We have them for movies. Why not a book? Ideally play it when you read the book and feel the emotion, or play it when you want to relax or go to sleep. The music below was supposed to go with the book chapter by the same name, The Waking Hour, that was posted last month. I recorded the music after I wrote the chapter, but they have the same picture of the sleeping baby.

I’m also thinking of putting my music into music boxes to sell that look like a baby grand piano. I have a few that would be nice for children. It’s just an idea right now. When ideas come in your head it is for a reason. We have to see, and visualize where we want to go or our brain can’t figure out how to make it happen. I do so love living, don’t you?

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My new featured page at Skunk Radio Live has been a big boost. I found out recently they can also promote my book “Inside The Forbidden Outside” when Its done. That will reach people my mailing list doesn’t. I hope you will join my mailing list to find out how this is coming together.

I made many changes from the first draft of the book. (earlier chapters were posted last year) Hopefully good changes. I’m not trying to write it fast just to get it out there, but rather – write the best I can. It’s a craft, like learning to play the piano. I created a different twist to the second half of the story. It’s still non-fiction; just presented differently. I’m also planning to spend a few weeks of October in Texas and go to Allred Unit, the prison Jamie is housed so we can talk through several visits and clear up details I need.

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you can email me at: itfonews@gmail.com

Sonni’s Pinterest

Jamie Life in Prison at Face book . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world

Piano Improv Music of Sonni Quick. at Facebook. My music info with links to new music.