Prison Propaganda At Its Worst

Jamie spent a couple years in the prison in this video, the McConnell Unit, in Beeville, Texas, during the years 2010 – 2012. This is a video of a news broadcast on prisons made in 1995. Government was cracking down in a fictitious crime wave that began in the 1980’s and needed to appear to be tough on crime to the public.

Every politician is now afraid if they appear soft on crime they won’t be re-elected. But they aren’t afraid of what the people think. They are afraid of losing the donors who line their pockets and fill their war chests for re- election – the most important aspect of being a politician who is comfortable with being bribed in order to keep their job. New politicians are zealous about doing what is right for the country. Long time politicians not so much, which is why there needs to be a cap on how many terms they can stay in office.

I’ve been publishing some of the chapters of my upcoming book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside” on this blog. Last week I published a chapter about the Smith Unit in West Texas where Jamie was first housed. McConnell Unit is the next prison he is sent to. It is not uncommon to be shifted from prison to prison. One reason is it keeps the inmates from forming lasting friendships or planning something within the prison. It is located in SE Texas in Beeville, near Brownsville, not far north of the Mexican Border.

I’ve been reading through the letters Jamie sent me from the McConnell Unit. The difference between reality and the propaganda shown in this broadcast is overwhelming. But in 1995 the government needed a lot of propaganda to get the American people on board to support ramping up the “Tough on crime” stance and the “War on Drugs” which began in the 1980’s, thanks to the corruption of Richard Nixon.

A Brief History of the Drug War | Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org › issues › brief-hist…

There were two things Nixon was passionate about; winning the Vietnam War at any cost, and his racist views of Black people. Black people were not friends of the Republican party or their view of what was good for America. Nixon put pot smoking hippies center stage. Massive protests to stop the war were beginning to interfere with his drum roll. They were getting too much support to end the war and had to be stopped. But people were done with sacrificing their sons and buying into the concocted need to fight communism. The real reason for the war had been kept from the media. If he could heighten people’s fear of marijuana and increase drug laws he’d be able to control the young people and their ablility to gather in large groups, especially at the White House.

Propaganda began appearing in the media, teaching people that pot was as dangerous as heroin. It said people were becoming addicted and violent. (I have never seen a violent stoned person who wasn’t laughing and raiding the fridge.) It justified tripling the prison population over time and created the need for more prisons. They were now seen as a business opportunity to make profit. Ironically, even today, our Attorney General is trying to revive those laws and fears again but people aren’t buying it.

NEWS – http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/sd-trump-sessions-marijuana-20180416-story.html

Black people have been portrayed as dangerous heroin addicts and dealers who might come to your hometown to rape white girls and addict the young. (We have since learned it is the pharmaceutical companies in bed with the government who is to blame). Women were to fear black men walking near them on a street and move to the other side. Black men are used to women clutching their purses in fear of snatch and grab putting all black men in the role criminal.  Or government has perpetuated this false identity in the quest to destroy and incarcerate many black men – and women as possible. Incarcerated Black women is the fastest growing segment of society. Since 1980, the amount of women locked up increased 8-fold and are locked up 4x more often than white women. That would lead you to believe black women were more deserving of incarceration. 

http://www.incite-national.org/page/women-color-prisons

Black men became the poster image for the heroin drug dealer . In reality more heroin was sold and used by white people than black. It’s been proven overall that drug usage is equally used by both races, but in the prisons, the black population is much higher than white. Why? Prisons are a tool to enslave black people much the same way slavery did.

This video is a good representation of the type of propaganda fed to the American people in the mid 90’s. Heinous crimes are inflicted on those in prison. Think about it. Do you really think the prisons would bow down to inmates demands for nicer prisons with benefits like what is shown in this video, saying their hands were tied and there was nothing they could do about it? That’s a laugh. I don’t think so.

Twenty-five years ago prisoners couldn’t tell people on the outside the truth about what was happening on the inside. Information coming out of the prisons was censored. Not any longer. Now there is the internet and people are demanding change.

With social media, in the past few years, information began getting out. Videos from cell phones inside were being shared online. Prison beatings and murders by guards were now known. Unsanitary conditions. They have been hard to prosecute, just like cops who kill and priests who sexually abuse young boys. There its too much money behind them.  There are too many prison abuses to list here. Texas prisons began threatening and punishing inmates with time in solitary confinement if they were found supplying their writings to people on the outside to be put on social media. The prisons needed to stop the flow of information. It didn’t work. 

I began publishing information four years ago, but Jamie doesn’t write it. I do. I believe people have a right to know how bad it is. Millions of people are currently locked up and many more millions have already served time. These lives have been negatively impacted through racism.

Families have been broken and left without the ability to make enough money to survive. Lack of education has hurt the ability to raise families. Children grow up with the stigma of having a parent in prison. 70% end up in prison themselves because of it and the cycle continues.

One in three black men are now incarcerated because of this concocted war on drugs. They are targeted as young as preschool and expelled from schools for the same behavior by white boys, who don’t get expelled. They portray black boys as being more dangerous. But look at all the mass shootings. Every. Single. Shooting – every one – was done by a white person. So who is really more dangerous? The government will not call these white people domestic terrorists. They have mental problems we are told. What would they call a black mass shooter?

Disrupting education is a major cause in becoming part of the school to prison pipeline – and later – part of the prison to poverty pipeline. This is intentional. It isn’t hidden. It is as open crusade to make America white again – when has never been a white country.

People really did believe inmates have had it easy. People bought it hook, line and sinker. This video shows the cells looking nice. It appears to be a vacation getaway for criminals. The good life. Crime pays, it implies. But reality was far different.

The food looks plentiful. Even the tray being served through the cell door looks piled high with food with a female pouring ice tea from a pitcher just like at a restaurant. Really?? That’s ridiculous. Hot meals in reality are served cold, thawed right out of the freezer.

Medical care is not better than at a hospital. Much of the medical care is via a computer like Skype and involves being prescribed water and Tylenol. Heart problem? Take cough medicine. The law says they have to provide “adequate” care but doesn’t stipulate what adequate care is. ally ill patients with diabetes and heart disease are left to die because it costs the medical corporations like Corizon too much of their profit. Today I got a letter from Jamie saying they are withholding his seizure medication again. Playing dumb – again. They said they forgot to order it. 

From 1995 until now conditions have gotten much worse. The prison industrial complex, the corporations that control different aspects of the prisons such as medical care, food, education and skills, spend as little money as possible on the inmates because it increases their bottom line. Many people are now aware of the horrible conditions inside but changing the system through reform is difficult. These corporations throw a lot of money at politicians to vote in their best interest. Right and wrong no longer matter.

People should know by now the government is not on the side of the people. But they have to want to understand the world they live in. Many people don’t. They prefer to live in a world of make believe.

 

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Looking Into the Crystal Ball – new music video

 

Yesterday I completed Looking Into the Crystal Ball. It is the second music video I have completed for Inside the Forbidden Outside the book I’m writing  about the life of Jamie Cummings, from childhood through juvenile detention, the school to prison pipeline, to where he is now – the Allred Unit, the largest prison in Texas with over 3,500 inmates. He has five years yet on his sentence. The third video is completed too, but won’t be put up for two weeks. I’m trying to work ahead so I don’t get so behind when I travel.

Jamie still has hope that one day he will be paroled. Finishing this project I started for him is more important than ever.  I have to keep plugging away at it. What began as a book of his letters, because they expressed so much pain of the loss of his life, as well as the truth about our prison system in America. It became a book that required more writing ability than I had at the time. (Writing a book is not the same as writing a blog post, and even that took practice and experience)

After writing the first draft of over 90,000 words, I read through it and realized it wasn’t quite right.  It read like a book of blog posts.  You could read any chapter separately.  The story didn’t connect.  Then I started studying how to write and taking writing classes. I learned to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t.  I had to learn how to write dialogue the same way people speak it.  That is not as easy as it seems.  Again more practice. I began the second writing of the book using parts of what I had already written and learned to write between the lines.  I am still learning. I know what a badly written book reads like when it is not edited correctly. I wanted it to be professional.

It is the music that began to tie it all together. That is why emotional movies have music soundtracks. Without it, a movie would not be able to create the same emotion. Music swells the emotions.  It makes you feel. Hearing the music again brings back memories of the movie. All people associate music from their past to memories of that time whenever they hear it. Without music, when a movie is over, it is over.  Why not create music that can be listened to while you read a book? Why not create something that is more than just a book? And for quite a few chapters/music I have also written poetry. It spills out of me like opening a vein. I grab paper and catch it before it disappears.

Most writers would not have the ability to do that. Your mind has to be open in a creative space that spills into everything.  It can’t be put in a box. You also can’t be like that because you want to.  Most people have had their creativity stomped out of them by adults who told them to grow up and get a real job. I may have had a crazy life but it sure beat selling cars for 35 years and then “retire” so I can get old. I refused to be that kind of “normal.”

If you hired someone to write music for you there would be no real connection between what you read and the music you hear. This has turned it into a project that has taken “years” to pull together. I sincerely hope I can finish it by the end of this year. Jamie still has years on his sentence so I have the time to complete it. And then the time to sell it. I am so very happy I am doing this.  (maybe I can get a movie deal out of it! Gotta think big!) You can only accomplish what you see.  Otherwise dreams just float away.

Play the video again. close your eyes and just listen to it.  Do you feel the emotion?  Do you see a story in your mind, even if it is about your life instead?

Many years ago I read a very long, thick novel titled, Michel Michel. The Beatles tune, “Hey Jude” had recently been released.  I played it over and over while I read. It became the soundtrack for the book.  Whenever I hear it I instantly think of that book.  Otherwise, I would have forgotten about it, I’m sure.

I have been creating and writing music for a long time. I don’t have to think about the right notes or figure out what to do.  It’s innate, like the abc’s. But this music was different from anything I had written earlier.  I had to reach far down inside to spontaneously play what I was feeling, not “try” to compose, but instead let my fingers express what I felt.  When I am in the mental place I need to be when I write about Jamie – for Jamie – it is an overwhelming sad place.  When I try to feel what he is going through, I don’t know he does it, although I know he has no choice. When he tells me he is depressed it is a state of mind I think would scare me very much.

At times like this I get angry at the people who have forsaken him – thrown him away – blamed him, for what, I don’t know.  Being young and never taught his life had value? Being a follower instead of a leader and wanting friends and being swayed by the wrong ones? Didn’t many of us go through that when we were young? I did.

Jamie didn’t have the freedom to grow up through his teens and 20’s without having cuffs on his wrists and chains around his ankles. But I didn’t have to pay for my mistakes with 21 years of my life with a family who didn’t care enough to say, “No matter what, Jamie, we love you and we will be there for you no matter what.”

There are criminals and then there are people who grew up without a positive male influence.  Did he deserve to lose a couple decades of his life because of it? No. He was just another black boy who couldn’t afford an attorney. ALL of them go to prison.

That is unrealistic, I guess. Even I don’t have a family who loved me no matter what and were there for me when I needed them the most. But Jamie was there when I needed him and I have been there for him.  Everything happens for a reason.  Jamie gave a reason to play music again after a long illness and I wrote music for him.  We were each other’s reason to survive.

Now the book I am writing also has a sound track, and those sound tracks are getting videos.  I can only do one thing at a time, including writing these blog posts with the necessary social media to promote everything, so when it is done, hopefully people will pay attention. My plans for promotion go far beyond a facebook post.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe below to ITFO News. Not only does it have news necessary to incarceration, it is a way to keep up on how far I am with the book – and you can share it on your own social media! (hint hint)  I don’t have time to publish more than about once a month so I don’t crowd your inbox. I personally hate when a subscription does that. But I am honestly trying to build a mailing list so I can tell people when it goes for sale.

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Do We Care About The Children of Inmates?

The lives of children are severely affected when one or both parents are locked up. What happens to these lives as they grow up to be young adults? Do they follow in the same path because they see it as normal, thinking it will also be their future? Black children have been confronted with more of their relatives going to prison than the average white child.  Do they accept it as inevitable because no one taught them there was another path they could take – before it became too late?

jamie cummings
On the left is Jamie Cummings at age 8 who was never told the name of his father and is believed to be in prison. On the right is his son, my grandson, Jamie at age eight. He has only seen his father a few times in prison behind glass. What does he think of this?  How does this affect him? Has anyone asked him how he really feels? I know what his father thinks. This is his deepest grief, not being able to be with his only child.

I want to tell you a story about my own childhood which explains how a child could think the course of their life followed a plan.  Looking back on it my mother and I had a good laugh, but at the time it wasn’t so funny. When I was quite young, I learned my mother was raised by her grandmother, not her mother. She was only four years old. Both of her parents remarried. Neither new step parent wanted her to live with them because admitting there was a child from a previous marriage meant their spouse had been married before. Being divorced was shameful, so she was raised by her grandmother.  When she was 11 years old it went to court for a custody battle and her grandmother was given full custody. Having to go to court was a horrible experience for her, sitting alone in a back room. and it remains a bad memory. At some point she told me about it when I asked her why she wasn’t raised by her parents. I must not have understood it because afterward I was convinced everyone had to go to court when they turned eleven. I had several years of being afraid because the closer I got to eleven the more was scared I became of having to go to court. By the time I reached eleven I matured enough to know I wouldn’t have to go, but not once did I confront my mother about how I felt because I thought I already knew the truth. It may sound silly, but at the time I thought I had no choice. This is the way a young child thinks.

children-hopeformiami-org
source credit: hopeformiami.org

How do children deal with life knowing their father mother, or both, is locked up?  How many children grow up and the only visits they remember are in a prison visiting room, often behind a panel of glass with a telephone to speak into? Do we assume they know how to mentally process that?  Are they more apt to think what happened to their parent will be part of their life if they see it all around them? Why would they think their life would be different? Even the act of “stop and frisk”, which was condemned in New York City as racial profiling, are acts children learned by watching what happened by cops who crossed the line by stalking black people for no other reason than because they were black and hoping they would find something on them that warranted an arrest. Is this all black children?  Of course not, but it affects far too many.

black-white-acheivement-gapjpg-f7b89770bb2374b5
credit source: Mlive.org          This looks like white children are smarter, but the real reason is they aren’t given the same quality of education with equal accessibility of educational programs and materials that cost money to provide.

In addition these children need to get a worthwhile education in schools that are often underfunded or perhaps closed because they are in disrepair or don’t have books and even qualified teachers. Going to a school far away is not easily accessible. Low income families often don’t have enough food and kids only have school lunches too rely on for food. I could go on.  Many of these kids do not graduate.  They fall in line with what others kids do and the cycle continues on. Many youth end up in juvenile detention and even truancy from school is one of the reasons they are put there. They become part of the school to prison pipeline. That becomes the prison to poverty pipeline. No education means no job.  They have no life to go back to when they get out. They have to eat. If they want to be “rehabilitated” there has to be an open path to do that. There are few options. We need to stop this cycle and concentrate on raising capable people. But who cares? “They are just black kids and they get what they deserve,” is the thought of too many people.  This is why there are more black kids than white who are locked up, and more black men than white in prison.

children-breakaway-outreach
source credit: breakawayoutreach.org

Blacks have long been sought after to fill the prisons starting with juvenile detention. Teachers have admitted they suspend black children much more often than white children. Is it too late to re-educate teachers about this treatment? Is it too late to re-educate cops? How many teachers would not be able to say out loud that they have been unfair? Their own education probably began with how they were raised and how their own family felt about blacks. But even today many people still believe black people are are less able than white people. They think blacks do more crimes, consume more drugs and the reason there are more blacks than whites in our prisons is because they were born with a gene that makes them want to commit crimes. This has been proven to be a fallacy, but it was what the media has reported and some people believe anything they read if that is what to believe.

But the real reason is so many children were raised themselves with one one parent or relative – if they were lucky – and the foster care system if they weren’t. Mothers can’t be fathers and young boys need the guidance of a man. So many didn’t have the experience of having a family who provided stability. That isn’t a guarantee, but sure helps. Kids look around them and follow the course they have been exposed to and that often leads to prison. At the same time that very system is doing everything they can to lock them up whether they are guilty or not. If this were not true, how could most of the people given pardons be able to prove they are innocent, even after they have 20 plus years imprisoned – and most of them are black people. This is the race that has been blamed for crimes and imprisoned even if they were out of town when the crime was committed.  It didn’t matter.  The police only needed someone – anyone – they could pin the crime on not caring they were ruining not only that person’s life,  but the lives of their children.

Can these children now go out into the world as adults and lead a life they have never lived that makes them acceptable in society? Many don’t even have a GED or work experience and have to look for manual labor jobs. Many test with low IQs – not that they are retarded but because they don’t have enough education to pass simple tests. Children grow up to be adults and they have to live their lives still shackled. Finding a landlord to rent them an apartment is harder than getting a job. So it all goes back to their childhood and not having many of the advantages other children have. The children of inmates become the next generation of parents whose children are on the other side of the fence.

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The Prison to Poverty Pipeline

americancivilwar-com-f-douglas
source credit: american civilwar.com

Frederick Douglass, a slave in Maryland who became an abolitionist and journalist said, “It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.”

“To make a contented slave it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken the moral and mental vision and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.”

How often have you heard: Black people are stupid.  Genetically they don’t have the abilities of white people. Genetically they are predisposed to be criminals. If you hear anything enough you start regarding it as truth.  Many white people thoroughly believe they are a higher cut of human being.

In July, Bill O’Reilly making an extremely stupid remark on air at Fox News, commenting on Michele Obama’s comment that slaves built the Whitehouse said, “Those slaves werewell fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.” However, the feds did not forbid subcontractors from using slave labor. 

women prison labor
photo credit: popularresistance.org

Most people do not realize how many of the products they purchase off the shelf and on online sites are products made by slaves in the prisons for as little as .29 an hour.  From Eddie Bauer’s jeans to Victoria Secret’s lingerie to military ammunition and supplies our police force needs to needlessly subdue anyone they choose to stop and harass. These products made by prison inmates are used against themselves. Inmates who are paid a ‘wage’, when released are presented with a bill for room and board which puts those released in high debt in a society where it is nearly impossible to rent an apartment or find a job.  It is important to keep the prisons full, and no politician shooting off his or her mouth about reducing prison populations will be able to accomplish more than a small amount to make it look as if something positive is happening.

How do they keep the prisons full? They start with the children and separate them from their family intent on ruining their chances of getting ahead.  Are their children who are uncontrollable.  Yes, but you have to go back to the beginning of their lives. How many of them have parents in prison?  How many of the men in their families have been to prison, because the odds for a black man is one in three.  The odds for Hispanics: one in six. A black man with a high school education has a 70% chance of going to prison.  So, logically, keep a black man out of school and there is a greater likelihood of filling the prisons because – no education means no job.

When Jamie gets out of prison when he is 40, and so far they have kept him at a level where he is allowed no phone, no job and no education. The property manager at the prison physically took his GED book and 18 other books from him – for no reason, when he was transferred .  I can only conclude that she didn’t want him to self-educate.  One of his greatest worries is wondering what will become of him when he gets out, because although he knows I am here, I will be pushing 70 when he gets out and my health is not the best.

Most people have heard of the ‘school to prison pipeline’, but it is more than that. It is also the ‘cradle to prison pipeline’, the ‘poverty to prison pipeline’ and the ‘prison to poverty pipeline’. Why is there a funnel that keeps a never ending supply of children being forced through it knowing it will irrevocably alter the course of their lives. Sadly, many, or perhaps most of these children won’t have a chance to build a positive life.  They can never play catch up because they are too far behind the eight ball. They will have to support themselves anyway they can find to do so. Legal or illegal because you have to eat.  The prisons bank on the revolving back doors of the prisons.  It is the least costly way of keeping the prisons full.

If these men and women had a support structure in the beginning, there is a good chance it isn’t there any more. Their life experiences and what they learn living in a biased justice system that doesn’t supply them with the experiences and subsequent wisdom they need, or the courage and confidence to have a life filled with love and hope. These are broken men – and women. The odds are completely stacked against them unless they are lucky enough to find an organization that guides them into the right direction.

I have read, if a prisoner is paroled they have a step down program that counsels them on re-entering society and helping them find at least a half-way house. Prisons do not have any programs for those that do their entire time. They are simply put out the door with 30 days of medications, a bus ticket, a few bucks and they are on their own if there is no one to pick them up. There are some programs if they can find them after they are released. If they had been in solitary confinement – they go from their cell to the street.  I can’t even imagine how horrifying that is.

What we learn as children sets the stage for how we make decisions in our lives when we become adults. If a person comes from a dysfunctional or broken family who had children without knowing themselves what it means to parent children, how are they able to learn what behavior and control is needed in society. They may end up in foster care bounced from home to home until they drop out.  What do they have the time to learn if their education has been totally disrupted and no one cares one iota if they succeed or fail?

Not every child who has been suspended from school came from a family such as this. Some just had the misfortune of having a teacher with the tendency to suspend more black children than white. Teachers often have more tolerance and leniency toward white children. They suspend 4x more black children than white. Without realizing it these teachers when they were children may have learned their bias from the adults around them. They may never say it aloud, but they can’t help but believe and expect their black students to be trouble makers.

When I was a child going through middle school in the 60’s not one child was handcuffed

kids in handcuff
photo course: bordc.org

by the police and put in the back of a police car. Not one. Not a single solitary one. But then, the first black classmate I had was in 5th grade and he was the only one. Through 6th grade black students were segregated simply because they lived in the black neighborhoods.  I never went into those neighborhoods.  I was too scared. Why? Why did I feel that way? What did I hear, and when, to make me afraid to go where they lived?  I couldn’t tell you. Not one school had a cop – a trained and sometimes brutally physical cop, who sometimes slammed kids to the ground, the way they do now. There were no cops on school premises every hour the school was open. What the hell happened? Children haven’t changed. Parents and parenting changed. Adults, coming from the baby boomer age wanted to be friends with their kids, gave them more freedom, didn’t teach them to respect the generation that raised them. Parents lost control.

At school it became  easier to suspend students than to work with them. Many schools no longer have on site guidance counselors or nurses. (This article should make you cry or get very angry) There have always been mischievous kids – pranksters – kids who picked on other kids and kids who would get into physical fights. They were sent to the principal’s office and he meted out punishment. Maybe the paddle, which I admit to getting, and it was never considered abuse. I deserved it, I’m sure. Or we got detention or a meeting with parents would happen, but never was a child handcuffed and taken away – until it became profitable. Then the child would have to see a judge and often, most often, if you were black you went to juvenile detention. Why? Why is there zero tolerance for young children doing what children do? Why did it become so necessary to ruin so many young lives?

This funnel was called the “school to prison pipeline” because so many children who were forced through it could never get their lives on track. Juvenile detention changed them. Many became angry. Many were sexually abused. Until just this year juvenile facilities used solitary confinement as punishment if they ‘broke a rule’. Now children cannot be put in solitary, but it took one boy committing suicide to make the change. If adult brains can be permanently scarred, what would it do to a child? It is heartbreaking. I’m not talking about children who have committed a serious crime, I’m talking about a child who had a teacher who couldn’t, wouldn’t take the time to help  because perhaps they had too many kids in their classroom, so it was easier to call the on-site cop who feeds him into the system.

It is quite odd and very disturbing that the majority of the children fed into this pipeline are black. Teachers who were interviewed admitted they are more likely to kick a black child out of class than a white child. Hispanics are in the middle. What does it say about us as nation, supposedly a Christian nation, some people think, yet our dislike and fear of black people even extends down to children, who are also supposedly children of God, if you believe in that sort of thing. Why are black children treated as though it is in their genes to be criminals, which is impossible. The state system, quite frankly, took away their realization that they, too, have just as much to offer as white children. Many have been set on the road for failure because the new definition of slavery lives in the prisons.

It is drilled into them that they don’t fit into a white man’s privileged society. I know we have many successful people color. I am talking about the ones the juvenile justice system got hold of and created a revolving door class of uneducated children who grew up and couldn’t get on their feet and landed in prison quite often convicted erroneously.

This blog is dedicated to Jamie Cummings who spent far more years in juvenile detention than what he was sentenced. He should not have been sentenced in the first place.  It is appalling what they did to him. No crime was committed. A cop who had harassed him earlier illegally kicked his way into his house with no probable cause and no warrant. His mother was badly hurt. Since Jamie was a minor they gave him 9 months in juvenile detention because he was the only one they could “punish”.  His brother was over eighteen and there was nothing they could charge him with.  His other brother was just a young boy and his sister was pregnant. So Jamie was it.  There needed to be some reason why the cop kicked the door in. But they didn’t let him out in nine months. He was in for more than four years, until he turned 21. By then he was seriously depressed in a juvenile facility for kids with mental issues. He did three stints in solitary confinement which they called Behavior Modification Programs or BMP. The day he got out, walking home from visiting a cousin he was arrested again for only walking and someone thought he looked suspicious. You can read this story in more detail. What do you think happened to his education?

Jamie didn’t need to be sacrificed for the Prison Industrial Complex as someone to increase the profit of their bottom line. The possibilities of his life was shattered. But would he have had a successful life coming from the poor section of small town in east Texas where job opportunities were slim? We’ll never know. He has grown up while being locked up, a total now of more than 14 1/2 years with 6 1/2 to go.

How many more children have suffered the sadness of having their lives stolen from them for profit. So many of these children end up getting in more trouble and ending up back inside. What else do they know?

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

 

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Newsletter #1 Inside The Forbidden Outside

Newsletter #1, 4/6/2016

Inside The Forbidden Outside

Hi There! I have been asking people for addresses for my mailing list for quite awhile now, but this is the first time I have sent anything out. I decided to also make this a blog post for those not only the mailing list yet. a My goal is to create a monthly newsletter. Nothing overly long and probably only once a month, so you will not get a bunch of emails in your inbox. I’ve been testing different newsletter templates to find one that I like.

There are a few things going on I wanted to tell you about. If you visit my blog regularly you may already know of some of this, but I know how it is – if you are a blogger – it is hard to get back to all the blogs you like because you are busy writing one yourself.

Featured Image -- 74586http://davidsnape.me/2016/04/04/david-snape-show-2-4-4-16

david snape show

I did an internet radio show on the David Shape Show which was broadcast on April 4th. Because it is on the internet it can be listened to at any time. There are other shows you can tap into on his blog or Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/davidsnapeshow

The interview we did was is about the US prison system. Most of you know I write about Jamie Cummings, the father of one of my grandsons. During the interview we talked about how the prisons take care of inmates with medical conditions, and the care they don’t get that is often urgently needed. His main issue is with epilepsy, but he was recently diagnosed with a problem with his heart at a hospital, Pericarditis, yet the prison doctor told him there was nothing wrong with him and wouldn’t provide the medication the cardiologist said he needed. So many inmates have chronic conditions, often caused by the lack of nutrition in their diet that effects them over time, especially the elderly. If the prisons provided adequate care of medical problems it would cut to deeply into their profit margin. The prison system doesn’t care about medical care for the inmates.

When you go to the radio show it is a little over two hours. It’s a great show with music, and interview with a musician releasing new music. David talks about different topics in the news. My interview starts about one hour and twenty minutes into the show.

We also talked about the youth in juvenile detention and how children are treated in schools, using cops for discipline instead of detention; putting handcuffs on them and seating them in the rear seat of a patrol car. This action sucks kids into the school to prison pipeline that primes the next generation of prisoners. Their education has been disturbed and it ruins their chances of higher education. This has far reaching effects on the rest of their lives. It affects foster children the most. Over 70% of those incarcerated come from the foster system earlier in life.

We also talked about the book I’m writing about Jamie’s life, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.  You can find chapters on the blog at http://mynameisjamie.net.  You can also find them on Jamie’s Facebook page at http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison. The book is more than half done and the editing process has begun. I’ve talked with several publishers and have gotten good feedback from them. I’ve started with a content editor whose job is to go over story content and make sure it is pulled together right and makes sense. I’ve had great help from a few bloggers who have gone over grammar and punctuation. I found you can’t edit your own work because the eye skips over errors. I could also spend all day editing one chapter and never get anything else written. I’ve been excited about the progress I’ve made so far.. It’s real now, not just an idea I’m working on.

David and I also discussed the piano music I’m writing for the book which hopefully will be included inside the back cover of the book. It depends on if it is too cost prohibitive or if I have to initially get too many books printed up front instead of them being printed as they are ordered. At the end of the show he played one of my more recent pieces with the title “From the Bottom of My Heart.” All of the pieces can be heard at http://soundcloud.com/sonni-quick.

This is the first of hopefully more media I will be doing over time to advertise the book. I hope will lead to being able to lecture on the prison industry. When Jamie is finally released he will be able to join me. He wants to work with the youth using his life as an example, in hopes of being able to turn their lives around before they, too, end up in the system. One in three black males end up incarcerated. Contrary to racist belief it is not because crime is in their genes. It is because of the government pushing the War of Drugs on to the black man’s shoulders, making you believe through the media that they are dangerous.

Kids don’t understand the ramifications of their choices until it’s too late. When someone has been incarcerated for a long time, and Jamie has been locked up for 14 years counting time in juvenile detention. Unfortunately, the four years in juvy was not because he committed a crime. He should not have been locked up. The same thing happens to more black kids than any other race, but it was planned to be that way, as John Erlichman, one of Nixon’s staff explained after he got out of prison. The war on Drugs was meant to target pot which was classified as one of the most dangerous drugs, like heroin, and it was meant to target blacks and the media was to portray them as dangerous heroin addicts people were supposed to fear. It worked. You need only look at our prison system and percentages of who is locked up.. It is time now to undo the damage we have done to people’s lives, and it is time to change the brainwashing the people were put to through to increase the racism going on. It is a tough thing to undo.

This story needs to be shared. I am asking for you to please share this on your own social media. The success of my hard work will be determined by how well this info gets pushed through sites on the web. Share the web interview. When you pull it up there will be links. The only way to have a successful book is if the people who know about it – share it – and earlier I start, the better it will be. Follow the blog, follow facebook.

This brings so much encouragement to Jamie as he sits in his cell 23-24 hours a day, working his way up through the levels once again. He has received letters from some of you. Knowing someone cares enough to write matters more than you know. Thank you for tuning in to the show. Let me know what you think.

IN THE FUTURE

In later newsletters I will also be talking about other inmates I write to who would like to have their stories told. Think of them as people, not just as felons. Some are guilty, and some are not. Even those who are guilty, I believe deserve a second change when they are actively trying hard to have a better life. None of us are completely guilt free. We should all know by now that our prisons have been filled by anyone and everyone our justice system could fill them with. Unfortunately most of them have been the black population. If the ratio were reversed and there were more whites than blacks it would have never happened. It’s been proven that crimes are not separated by race. That is what the war of Drugs wanted to make you believe. If the prisons housed only the ones that needed to be kept from society, and those who paid a reasonable price for a crime they committed, half the inmates that deserved it would be home with their families.

There are other inmates, or x-felons who have written books, or who blogs. Also parents and spouses have helped tell their stories. I want to share other books that have been written to help promote their hard work as well.

I read something today on a website written by an attorney. I was researching the legalities of writing someone’s life story. She mentioned inmates in particular and said, I’m paraphrasing, “You know you can’t trust felons to tell you the truth.” I was insulted by that, because she was lumping all inmates into one giant ball like their makeup of being liars comes with the package of being incarcerated. It took some self control not to write to her. She obviously thinks the worst of anyone locked up and being an attorney, she should know it doesn’t take a felon to be a liar. The ones I have gotten to know had nothing to gain by lying. They needed someone to listen because people like this attorney always assumes they are lying.

If someone has shared this with you and you would like to get future newsletters please send your email address to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com until I learn how to add that to final template. I am learning as I go. You can also fill out the form below.

Thank You

Sonni Quick

David Snape Show 2 (4.4.16)

I did an internet radio show on the David Shape Show about the US prison system, Jamie Cummings and how he deals with epilepsy in a system that doesn’t care about medical care for the inmates.  When you go to the show it is quite long, a little over two hours. If you move the bar ahead one hour and twenty minutes it should be shortly before the interview starts.

We also talked about the youth in juvenile detention and how children are treated in schools using cops for discipline instead of detention, and putting handcuffs on them and seating them in the rear seat of a patrol car.

We talked about the book I’m writing about Jamie’s life, “Inside The Forbidden Outside”. You can find chapters on the blog. It’s more than half done and the editing process has begun.

We also discussed the piano music I’m writing for the book which will be included inside the back cover. At the end of the show one of my more recent pieces will be played.

This is the first of hopefully more media I will be doing over time to advertise the book that I hope will lead to being able to lecture on the prison industry. When Jamie is finally released he will be able to join me. He wants to work with the youth using his life as an example, in hopes of being able to turn their lives around before they, too, end up in the system. One in three black males end up in prison. Contrary to racist belief it is not because crime is in their genes. It is because of government pushing the War of Drugs on to black men’s shoulders making you believe through the media that they are dangerous.

Kids don’t understand the ramification of their choices until it’s too late. When someone has been incarcerated for a long time, and Jamie has been locked up for 14 years counting time in juvenile detention. Unfortunately, the four years in juvy was not because he committed a crime. It was because he defended his mother from a cop who illegally entered their home. He injured his mother and she was taken to the hospital by ambulance. He hit the cop with a broom. It cost him the rest of his high school years and four years of his life.

This story needs to be shared. Unfortunately, it happens far to often to too many black youth. I am asking for you to please share this on your own social media. The success of the book will be determined by how well this info gets pushed through sites on the web. It bring so much encouragement to Jamie as he sit in his cell 23 hours a day, working his way again, up through the levels. He has received letters from some of you. Knowing someone cares enough to write matters more than you know.

Thank you for tuning in to the show. Let me know what you think.

http://facebook.com/jamielifeinprison . . .Blog posts and news about injustice in the world
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David Snape Show - Bourne and Beyond

On the show, we look back at the career of Ronnie Corbett. Why both the UK steel industry and Qatar’s World cup are in tatters. And can Rihanna make it 3 weeks in number 1 in the Itunes Power rankings?
All that plus this weeks post of the week: What Am i reflecting by Nancy Ruminski.
This weeks new artist showcase: The Ellipsis, Robyn Sherwell and Mt.Wolf
Two interviews: one with last week’s new artist showcase star, Salix Willow. And Sonni Quick with one of the most hardhitting interviews we have ever done, talking about the US prison system and Jamie Cummings who has epilepsy and how he’s been treated in there.

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Why Do Black Children Become Prison Inmates

black students

At a time when many white students are preparing for their life by going to college, many black youth are preparing each other by learning how to evade the police, because they know it’s just a matter of time before they become a target. This is not a joke. Black kids KNOW  it’s just a matter of time before they will be harassed by cops for absolutely no reason. When they are old enough to drive many get pulled over an average of once a week. There is no violation. They are just black and cops often do whatever they can to find a reason to arrest them, smash their windows, use their tazers even in front of their children, terrifying them. They don’t care what they do in front of children.  Everyone has seen the videos. I have two half black grandsons. If I didn’t, I could like all white people and say, they probably did something to deserve it. It really affects my life because I’m white and cops smile at me.  But they won’t be smiling at my grandsons, so I’m in this fight for the long haul.  One in three black men go to prison at some point in their lives. With 2 grandsons what are the odds of at least one of them will go to prison? A black man doesn’t need to be guilty. We hear often of inmates being set free because they were finally proven not quilty. Over 70% of these men are black.

It starts in childhood. Kids play act what they see. A game of tag becomes instead, pretending to be a cop and a criminal and learn how to arrest each other and pretend to cuff their playmates and do cavity searches.  This is real life to black children.

What makes it even harder for black youth is the way schools punishment them, starting with the attitude of many teachers.  Racism in schools is rampant. Many teachers teach racism by their actions.Why is it that teachers find it so easy to expel a black child, when a white child mihg de only get detention for doing the exact same thing? An after school fight for two white boys more than likely will end with their parents being called. If you are black, the police will be called and they get their first taste of jail and end up with fines.  If they can’t pay that fine they are arrested again. Minority families with lower incomes are affected the most. When a child is removed from school it begins a spiral down that becomes an inability to finish a high school education. Forget college.

inmate education, prison classroom,

This is what happened to Jamie’s life, and there was no one who could help him or his mother change the outcome. By the time he was in his mid teens with his high school years just beginning, the court system was doing it’s damnedest to end his possibilities.  He is 33 and he still isn’t allowed to take the test to get his GED.  He’s a smart man. He would love to have an education. With more time to go and still having no education, what are his chances?

It takes more than wishful thinking.  Because there is no one else willing to do the legwork, I have research to find out what his options are.  There is a school for inmates in Dallas called the Windham School.  http://www.windhamschooldistrict.org/

EDUCATING INMATES 

inmate education, recidivism ratefor educated parolees
photo source: imgarcade.com

Educating inmates lowers the recidivism rate back to prison.  Getting a GED, learn a trade or take college classes.  I don’t know yet what it will take to get Jamie involved or when it can begin, but it is worth finding out. I can only think that something like this would help him with parole. This isn’t automatically offered to inmates.  An inmate need someone on the outside who takes the time to find out about it. Overall, there needs to be more stress on inmate education if you want to slow down the revolving door for those who want to get off the ride.

This past year the subjects of prisons and decreasing the population has been a hot topic. Are the politicians serious? Or is it all talk? In this election year I have heard more hate talk and about people that shouldn’t be allowed to live here. The KKK is endorsing Donald Trump. If by chance he wins, what will they expect back? A large amount of people think we should have never freed the slaves. Are these the people who become cops who kill and teachers who expel black kids? Who taught these adults when they were kids that hating another race was okay? Who taught the adults today they are superior? Because somebody did.  Are these people who think they are better, because they are white ever going to want these black people back into a society that doesn’t want them there in the first place?

This presidential election year has shck n me how hateful, cruel and judgemental the people of America can be and it scares me. Politicians have to loudly proclaim the are Christians but their actions  at makes a country great, since making America great again seems to be such an issue, is the people in it. When I see the incitement of hate, and the cheering that goes with, when I see a candidate say he wants to punch a man at his really and people cheer it’s like watching America vomit all over itself.

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http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/april/discipline-black-students-041515.html

By

Racial differences in school discipline are widely known, and black students across the United States are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to Stanford researchers.

Yet the psychological processes that contribute to those differences have not been clear – until now.

“The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is beyond dispute,” said Stanford psychology Professor Jennifer Eberhardt in an interview. “What is less clear is why.”

In the study, “Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students,” which was recently published in the journal Psychological Science, Eberhardt and Stanford psychology graduate student Jason Okonofua reported on two experimental studies that showed that teachers are likely to interpret students’ misbehavior differently depending on the student’s race.

In the studies, real-world primary and secondary school teachers were presented with school records describing two instances of misbehavior by a student. In one study, after reading about each infraction, the teachers were asked about their perception of its severity, about how irritated they would feel by the student’s misbehavior, about how severely the student should be punished, and about whether they viewed the student as a troublemaker.

A second study followed the same protocol and asked teachers whether they thought the misbehavior was part of a pattern and whether they could imagine themselves suspending the student in the future.

The researchers randomly assigned names to the files, suggesting in some cases that the student was black (with a name such as DeShawn or Darnell) and in other cases that the student was white (with a name such as Greg or Jake).

Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student.

In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.

“We see that stereotypes not only can be used to allow people to interpret a specific behavior in isolation, but also stereotypes can heighten our sensitivity to behavioral patterns across time. This pattern sensitivity is especially relevant in the schooling context,” Eberhardt said.

These results have implications beyond the school setting as well.

As Okonofua said, “Most social relationships entail repeated encounters. Interactions between police officers and civilians, between employers and employees, between prison guards and prisoners all may be subject to the sort of stereotype escalation effect we have identified in our research.”

Both Okonofua and Eberhardt suggested that useful interventions with teachers would help them to view student behavior as malleable rather than as a reflection of a fixed disposition, such as that of troublemaker.

While racial disparities can be lessened by psychological interventions that help improve black students’ behaviors in class, it is also important to understand how that behavior is interpreted by teachers and school authorities, Okonofua said.

Jason A. Okonofua, psychology: (650) 736-9861, okonofua@stanford.edu

Jennifer L. Eberhardt, psychology: (650) 703-2224, jleberhardt@stanford.edu

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu

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Inside The Forbidden Outside – chapter -The Nightmare

Sometimes I feel like I’m still at the beginning of this nightmare. I lose all track of time and I forget how long I’ve been here. Sometimes I don’t count the days and let them slip by, hoping I’ll wake up and they will all be over. My sentence is 5,875 days, so why count them? I get through one day and then do the next. Every day is pretty much the same. Don’t get me wrong: There have been quite a few changes over time, and it has taught me a lot about myself, but it’s also taught me things I never knew about prison wish I never had to learn. It’s brutal. Prisoners get treated as though it doesn’t matter that they are human. Animals get treated better than we do. The only difference is that it’s illegal to treat animals inhumanely, but it isn’t illegal to treat humans that way. Something I feel like I’ll never get out of here, like that day will never come, but slow and sure, the years are adding up.

It doesn’t matter how good I am or if I cause trouble, because the guards will write up a case on me about anything, whether I did it or not. The prison sees g­­uards as always being right and us convicted felons as always wrong, no matter what, so there is no point in fighting it. Even if guards witness you aren’t guilty, they won’t stand up for you. If they do, they will get in trouble, and they aren’t about to mess up their job and tell the truth; and if I try to stand up for myself, it gives them the right to hurt me by beating on me, spraying cans of pepper spray on me, or anything else they feel like doing. It always gets me in more trouble. It’s hard to let people walk all over you when you know it’s not true. It makes me angry and that gets me in more trouble.

But I’m not going to let them screw with my head. In a twisted way they would like to see that they beat me down. They might be able to get away with beating my body, but I won’t let them break me. I’ve seen how their inhumane treatment affects some of the men. They give in to it and it messes them up. When they get out: If they get out, and need to live on their own, they are too screwed up to make it, and end up back inside again, especially if they don’t have family outside to help them. They can’t handle the pressure of coping, and they certainly can’t work anymore. How do they survive?
Prisons are used as a place to dump crazy people. They need laws to protect them. This whole system is so screwed up. Even inmates that seem okay at first get institutionalized when they are in here too long. Even making the decision to leave the room and go pee without asking permission is impossible. Being in here is like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Sometimes, when I wake up, I’m not always too sure what is real and what isn’t. It is easy to slide into a bad place in your head and it takes hold of you. That’s where going crazy begins.

If this isn’t a nightmare, then I don’t know what is. If I could go back to sleep, maybe when I wake up again, I’ll find it was only a bad dream. Wouldn’t that be great? If I could choose, maybe the dream could belong to someone else. I have wanted so much for this whole thing to be a dream, because if it isn’t, I know for sure, I’m having the worst damn time in my life that I’ve ever had. I want to get off this roller coaster ride. People can’t possibly understand what this is like, and I know the kids out there who are messing up don’t realize what the stakes are. When you’re a kid, either you don’t think bad things will happen to you, or you don’t care what happens.

I know this is not a dream. It’s just a game I play with myself, because for a few minutes I can convince myself that I’ll wake up and walk out of here. I do what I need to do to survive. There are only two people in this cell. Me and myself, and we talk to each other, because there is no one else to talk to. On the outside, no one understands what it is truly like to be locked up alone with yourself 24/7, in a cell with no one to talk to. It will make you crazyy all by itself. But I have mom. She’s the only one I write to about what I’m going through and about what it’s like in here. She writes me back. If I didn’t have anyone, and had no communication with the outside, without a doubt, this really would be hell.

It scares me that I might do something bad and it would make her not want to write to me anymore. I don’t think I would survive this, if I didn’t have her encouragement. She also helps me get the things I need. It wouldn’t hurt me if I lost that, but if I lost her, and I knew I wasn’t going to hear from her again, that would be really hard. She may be almost thirty years older than me, but that doesn’t matter. She is the only one who truly cares about me, and about what happens to me. She see me for who I really am, and doesn’t judge me by what happened to put me here. Whatever it is she sees in me, I’m glad she sees it.

I let my mind wander from one thing to the next, wondering if I’m starting to lose it. I pace back and forth, and back and forth. Maybe this is the way it starts when you start going crazy. It will creep up on me real slow until it has me by the throat. So I have to be careful. I’ve watched men go crazy; It’s not fun. How did it start for them? Did they know they were losing their mind? Could they feel themselves starting to lose it? Did they have these crazy conversations like I do? There are lots of crazy people in here. It had to be caused by the whole experience of being in prison. Not all the crazies were like that before they got here. I suppose they might have had some problems already, but at least they were functioning. Spend enough time alone in a cell and it pushes you over the edge. It’s such a helpless feeling.

Many of the crazy inmates were put here because they are crazy and there is no place else to stick them. Some of the lifers beat up on them, and even gang rape them, so they are put in solitary for their own protection. But locking them up like that certainly doesn’t do them any favors. The real truth is, the prison staff doesn’t want to mess with them. Some of them are a real pain in the ass. When they lock them up they can forget about them. They don’t care if they get crazier. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if there weren’t so damn many of them, but there are. It’s a real problem. But some of them aren’t completely sick in the head when they come here. It is being here, and the way they are treated that finishes them off. Don’t the people who run this place see what is happening? Don’t they care? I guess not. They go home at the end of the day and forget about it.

No one sees the crimes the guards do, or the way they sometimes let inmates die, just for kicks*. Not unless a member of their own family is affected does anyone finally get it and want to help. Better late then never, I suppose. Most people think we have it good in here. But really, I don’t think they want to know the truth. They’d rather stick their head in the sand. They also don’t want to see what some of these guys do to themselves.  Suicides or attempted suicides happen all the time. They would gag if they could smell how bad it is. People don’t want to think about us. They want to pretend it’s not so bad. We get food and medical care and should be happy about that. We got it good. We aren’t anyone’s worry.

Some of these things now are getting out in the news, and people are starting to ask questions and demand change. Over the last few decades the justice system locked up a bunch of people on the ‘war on drugs’ who shouldn’t be locked up, or at least not for the length of time they gave them. Giving someone decades, or life without parole, goes beyond reason, especially if they didn’t hurt or kill anyone. What happens, when they get out, is they don’t know how to live anymore because they are all screwed up. They have been letting out more and more people because they found out they weren’t guilty. It’s great they were let out, but it doesn’t make up for the decades of life they lost. It doesn’t make up for the things they had to live through. How do they make up for that? Is money enough? Not a chance.

Mom tells me what’s in the news and what people say. Here in the US, this country by itself has more people locked up than most all the countries put together. America must have some pretty rotten people living here because so many have to be locked up*. The news tells people that black people have a gene that makes them prone to be criminals. They say we do and sell more drugs, and commit more crimes. The news says that over and over justify why they lock up so many of us. Everyone believes it and it keeps white people afraid of us. The women think we are going to grab their purses and run so they clutch them tightly if we walk by. They made people suspicious of anyone in a hoodie sweatshirt, like just wearing one will make you want to commit a crime. When people read this over and over they believe it. People suspect all blacks, but they don’t do the same thing to whites. Because of the centuries that black people were slaves, white people still think the have special privileges. Even if they don’t think they deserve it, over government, the justice system and police and organizations like treat them as if they do. Cops would never treat white people the way they treat us. Many white people still treat us as though we aren’t as good as them. I think that no matter how many years go by, we  will ever be looked at as equals. Of course, that isn’t everyone. Mom is about as white as they come. She’s always fighting racism.

It is the minorities that get locked up the most. Minorities are mostly poor and can’t pay an attorney. The are low income because society doesn’t give the same privileges that white people get. Everyone knows it is true. That’s what happened to me. I couldn’t defend myself. If I had been white and had an attorney, I probably wouldn’t be in here, and if I was, I wouldn’t be in high security, and I’d be out by now. I don’t have any other offenses as an adult. I had no criminal record. I’m not saying I was innocent. I’m saying punishment is different if you are white. I have a juvy record but that is supposed to be sealed. I wouldn’t have gone to juvy if I had been white. I would have been giving a medal for trying to protect my mama from a bad person. But I’m black, so I’m not allowed to be right. I have to be seen as wrong, especially if a cop says I’m wrong. But it was the cop who did wrong. It didn’t matter. He was a white cop and I was a black teenager. Case closed.

Maybe I’m dead and this is hell. I have to laugh at that. I have to find amusement somehow. Now, If I were dead, and knew this is hell, I could probably deal with it better, because there wouldn’t be anymore questions about me being crazy. I wouldn’t have to think anymore about getting out. I would know that all eternity was going to be like this. It feels like an eternity already. Fire and brimstone, the preacher ranted on Sundays when I was a kid. it scared the daylights out of me. “Repent or you’ll go to hell,” he said, like I’m not in hell already and I haven’t even died yet. I would have a few things to say to that preacher today about the reality of hell. It’s right here and I’m living in it.

Maybe outside prison is the real hell. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get out of here and that scares me. I have no real experience being an adult. How am I going to take care of myself? I don’t know even the basic things, like filling out a job application, since I don’t have any experience. How do you open a checking account or turn on utilities? I have absolutely nothing to start a life with. I sure as hell, pardon the pun, don’t want to go back to Nacogdoches. There is nothing for me there except trouble. So much has changed since I got here. Not knowing these things is scary and it makes me look like an idiot, and I’m not one. I just don’t know anything about how things are done now. I can’t count on my family. They aren’t here for me now so I know I’ll get no help from them later.

What if I did something without even meaning to and the police picked me up again, not giving me a chance? I know what it is like out there. Cops don’t need a reason to pick up blacks, charge them, and make them guilty of things they didn’t do. If someone really wanted to be a criminal and get away with it, they should become a cop. It’s hard as hell to convict a cop with anything. Murder? Not a problem. Drug dealing? They have the best connections. If you are racist, you’d be in good company, because racism is just fine if you’re a cop, because they can’t prove why you shot some poor black kid in the back. They just have to say they felt threatened. The news finds it’s way inside. I hear guys talk when they come back in again, because they did something that broke their parole. Wanting to stay out of prison is no promise that you will. Coming back into prison through the back door is an easy way to keep the prisons full and it doesn’t cost money to do it.

Yeah, some dudes do get into trouble when they get out. They get back with their friends and get into trouble, so it’s their own fault. They don’t know any other life. They all say they want to get a job, but do some illegal things on the side. They don’t learn. They still think they can beat the system. I think sometimes, where would I be if I didn’t have you to keep setting me straight and keeping me on track. I’d be a mess when I get out and would have no way to make it right. This place wears on you and turns you into the people they say you are. I don’t want to be here. I will do anything it takes to turn my life around. It takes a strong person to change and start over. I don’t want any old friends to come knocking on my door and see that nothing changed in their life. I don’t want to be around people like that. I have to go somewhere where my old life can’t suck me back in again. I have no reason to go be around old friends. My home town is a dead end and I want no part of it. No, I know for sure I am never coming back here. My life will be different. Nothing will bring me back here again.

But sometimes, when they get out, they can’t get a job no matter how hard they try. Society doesn’t want them around. No matter how straight they want to be, they still gotta eat or take care of their family, so they take a chances. Then it’s only a matter of time untill they’re picked up again. But the cops don’t need a reason to pick you up. They do it just to harass you. If they see you and they know you, you’re going to jail: Do not pass go. Just like in here, where the guards are always right, no matter what happens, it’s the same out there. Cops don’t need a reason to cuff you and throw you in jail, and probably beat the crap out of you along the way. I am not going to get picked up and brought back here again – ever. Not on my son’s life will that ever happen. I’m determined. Mom says to make a determination and focus on doing them, and that is one of mine.

Crazy thoughts were always shooting through my brain like this. I have way too much time to think. It’s hard remembering a time when I could laugh and smile. It was a long time ago, like a fading dream that came to the surface but I can’t quite remember the ending.

Sometimes it feels like my life in prison is something that isn’t happening to me, but instead, I walked into a theater into the middle of a movie I never saw the beginning of, and fell asleep before it got to the end. It’s the kind of dream where you feel yourself falling and you know if you hit the ground you’re going to die, and wake up startled and afraid to go back to sleep again. I have this dream over and over, like it is a premonition of some sort. But there is a hazy part I can’t see clearly. I would lie there for hours and think about it, but it is no use. Maybe I’m not supposed to see it. I need to snap out of this.
I lived that movie in my head over and over, never knowing if it was going to have a good ending. I never felt hope, only despair. Every time I go to sleep I’m afraid I’ll see it again and I almost always do. I have no one I can talk to in here and it gets me more depressed every day. It’s hard to shake out of it. Some days I’m better than others, but it always comes back and grabs me.

Once, when I woke up, I was running really fast from my dream. My heart was beating hard because I knew I was in a place that was really bad. It was hell and I couldn’t change it. So many times I woke up crying from my dreams. Crying for the loss. Crying for everything. I felt like the dream was never, ever, going to be over. I was lost forever. It felt like forever. Was I going to make it out of here? I buried my head wept.


This is what drives men mad: Going back and forth between sane and insane. This is what solitary confinement does to the mind; It creates hopelessness. I know there are men who are kept in solitary sometimes for decades. My sentence is only seventeen years, if the word ‘only’ means anything. Seventeen years is still an awfully long time. Babies grow up and graduate highschool in that amount of time and that is where my son will be if I never make parole. It depresses me to think of this lost time. I want so much to be a father to my son.

I remember what it was like in solitary when I was in the juvy system. It was no picnic, and it wasn’t much different. Alone is alone, no matter where you are. It’s insane to put a kid through that. What did they think it was going to accomplish? They ruined a lot of kids locking them up like that. I got so depressed, they put me in a juvenile detention hospital. They let me out after that, but they had no choice because I turned twenty-one. A person can only take so much deprivation, and a kid can’t hardly take any at all. I have already been put through more than a person should have to. I am not a bad person. I was locked up when I was a kid for one reason. The prison corporations make money off blacks and minorities for than any other race. Greed is a nasty thing. What had I ever done as a kid to deserve this? Nothing. This was a cop out to get me, and nobody had the power or money to stop what was happening. I shut down mentally. I was lost. Would any kid be okay after four years of this? I was only sentenced to nine months, but they wouldn’t let me out until they were forced to when I turned twenty-one. When the courts get you, they aren’t going to let you go. There is too much money made from locking people up. My family didn’t support me then, either. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. I didn’t know kids were being prepped kids for adult prison. My life was expendable. It got named, ‘The School to Prison Pipeline’. Many black kids got funneled through. My number got called.

When mom started writing to me I finally found someone I could count on. She has always been there for me and I wasn’t alone anymore; At least not in my head. She gave me the reason I needed to keep fighting for my life, and it really was a fight. She always tries to help me figure out why it was happening to me. It was hard to open up to her. I wasn’t used to talking about my life. She tells me it is up to me to change my life. No one else can do it. I can’t blame anyone for what has happened to me. How is that possible? I don’t understand it. But she is so confident I will be able to make sense of my life and turn it around, so I can’t give up hope now. She’s counting on me. She tells me there is a purpose to my life; if I want it bad enough. If she believes I can do it, she is seeing something I can’t see yet. I’ll have to trust her.

I have to learn to control my emotions. That is not so easy. People can’t change something about themselves just because they want to. I need to have a calmer way of dealing with these things because I get pissed off so easy. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong, they are in charge and I can’t do anything to change it by continuing to get angry. I have tried to show them the truth when guards write up cases on me that aren’t fair or outright lies and it doesn’t matter. The officers are going to believe the guards 100%. Even other guards will back up a guard in the wrong because it is part of their unwritten code. Guards can’t rat out a guard just like an inmate can’t rat out an inmate. If you do, your own kind will get back at you. Mom says, if I’m angry, I’m going to respond with anger. Anger is one of the hardest things for me to stop. I have a hot button and get angry fast. I don’t get angry just to be angry. I get angry when I see people doing the wrong thing and hurt people. I get in the most trouble because I try to help people here in the prison and the prison authorities don’t like that. When I do that I’m the one who ends up getting punished. There has to be a better way of dealing with these issues that don’t involve more punishment for myself.

If I can learn how to be in a better place in my head, I’ll react to things in a better way. That’s the key to this, mom says, and that comes from always being aware of how I’m feeling and the thoughts I’m having. Everyone has their own way of reacting. I know I react the same way all the time, and when I get angry, it’s hard for me to think about reacting a different way. In fact, it’s almost impossible. When I get angry, It pops out before I have time to think about it. Mom said, if it were easy to change, people would be doing it all the time, and they don’t, because they can’t. Its ingrained in them. It’s too easy to just give up. It’s easy to accept that it is the way they are. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not just me; it’s everyone. Mom said she’s been working on herself for a long time. It isn’t easy for her, either. She says we’re helping each other. I’m struggling to understand what she’s saying. I never knew any of these things before. But I keep listening because she says if I don’t change these things about myself, how will I be able to stop the anger when I get mad about something when I get out? She’s right. I haven’t been able to change this on my own so maybe she’s right. A good place to learn about it is where I am right now.

I know I don’t have to let these things be in control of my head anymore. I want to change, I really do. I don’t want to give up. I need a new dream. If I think about it real hard before I goes to sleep, maybe I can make a new dream happen that has a better ending. I think maybe I can do that if I try hard enough. I don’t have to believe my nightmare will come true.

There is nothing written in stone that says life has to go a certain way, so there sure isn’t anything written in stone that a dream has to happen. I don’t have to give in to despair. No one has ever talked to me about things like this, but mom seems so sure of the things she says. Much of it doesn’t make any sense to me and she says that’s okay. It will make sense if I keep trying to understand. That is what I’m going to do.

This is something else she tells me: If I think I can’t do something, then I can be sure I can’t, but if I think I CAN do something, then I will try harder to make it happen instead of giving up. It’s all about the way I think about it. Good thinking makes good things happen, but bad thinking can’t make good things happen. We are the way we think we are.

Cause and effect. Cause and effect. My life is my own doing. I know that already. But why does understanding that change anything? Because if I don’t learn from it, I’ll have to repeat it over and over until I do. I need to pay attention to the lessons my life is trying to show me. Stop making the same mistakes all over again. I’m tired of making the same mistakes. But it’s not easy to stop doing that. I get so mad sometimes. It takes every bit of control I have to not get mad. Sometimes I stays in control. But more often, I get too mad because of stupid things that happen, and that gets me into trouble.

I don’t get angry with the guards when I get into trouble for things I do that are wrong. That is my bad. but I shouldn’t get into trouble for things I don’t do. I think it makes you a man when you can own up to your own mistakes. Things are lopsided in here because the guards never have to own up to the things they do. This is supposed to be the justice system; When does it stop being a justice system when crimes are committed in here and the criminals in guard uniforms don’t have to be accountable. How does that get changed? I can’t change it, but someone needs to, because it isn’t right what is done to us in here. No one sticks up for us. Maybe some do, I don’t see it. I keep seeing them get away with murder, and that’s no pun. People shouldn’t be treated this way.

There is so much I don’t understand. Mom told me there is a reason for everything so I need to trust that. Life is so complicated; Really complicated. Why do I matter so much to her? So many questions. I have not mattered to anyone in a long time? People can say they love you, but most of the time it’s just a bunch of words because it’s never backed up by anything they do. Do they say they love me because they think they should. Are the words supposed to be enough? If they had any idea what it is like to be in here, maybe they would understand. I don’t see where anyone cares enough to find out how I am. Is that love?

I knows my mama loves me, in her own way. She gave birth to me. Is her responsibility over now because I’m grown? Could I treat my son this way? Never. This why Sonni told me to call her mom. She said I needed a mom. But why can I count on her, but I can’ t count on my family? Why is it so hard for my real mama to be there for me? She has no idea how bad it makes me feel. I’m always so happy to see her and I know she is happy to see me, but once she leaves the room on those rare times she comes to see me, it’s like, when she walks out of the room she forgets me. She’s done her duty and it’s time to go do something else. I’m tired of begging people write or to come to see me. I want to matter to my family once in awhile, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m just tired. I’m very, very tired of waiting for them to care. Mom says she understands. Her family never showed her they cared about her, either, when she moved home for a liver transplant. She told me I helped her, too. We help each other. That is what family does, right? If they care. I think we understand each other. We came into each others life for a reason. I can believe that.

All this thinking is starting to make my head hurt, or maybe I’m hungry. I’m always hungry. I think I’ll take a little nap and see if I can figure this out while I’m sleeping. I feel a little better now. I took a letter out of a book I’m reading, I’m using as a bookmark. It’s one of mom’s letters. I usually keep a favorite letter in whatever book I’m reading because I like to read them over and over. When I’m able to make phone calls, it sure will feel good to hear her voice.

Mom wrote some stuff in this letter that looks like gobbledy gook to me. She said it was Japanese. I sure don’t read that language! She wrote these words down: ‘nam myoho renge kyo’. That’s weird. I have 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. I have no idea what it means but I’ll try it because I told her I would. She’ll tell me more about it later. Maybe she is crazy, too because she wrote, If I said it over and ever, I could be happy. “What do I have to lose?” I laughed to myself. I guess it can’t hurt.” I fell asleep thinking about all of these things in my head. I had a much better dream that night.

Chapter List:
A Message From Someone Who Cares
Everyday Dreams
I Love You Always, Daddy
Jamie’s Story

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

Prisoner Re-entry YouTube Video

This puts an amusing twist on a very real subject that affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. You might look at x-inmates as dangerous criminals – and some of them are. But a majority of those people being released aren’t dangerous criminals.  are like you and me and are no more apt to be a danger to you – than yourself. Unless of course you are a danger to the people around you.

I get so tired of people professing that the United States is a Christian nation.  There are prisoners in every corner of the world but none come close to the amount this country has locked up and the number in solitary confinement that we have.  Do we breed more criminals? I don’t think so. Why is it that this country is the ONLY country that is so adamant when insisting we are a Christian nation, especially when there are so many faiths practiced here? How disrespectful to the many millions of non Christians.

No country uses people for profit as much as we do. We imprison so many people unjustly. We lock up more children. Cops think is okay to throw a student across a classroom, while she is still sitting at a desk, because she stood up for herself and the girl defending her gets arrested, too. How can this be?  Is this what it means to be a Christian nation? We lock up people who don’t have the money to fight back or hire an attorney.  We do this for money! For profit! So many of our citizens are led around with a rope through their nose believing the garbage put out in the media about how the color of one’s skin can make them dangerous so they can justify ruining their lives and destroying their families. They are deemed worthless.

Yet we are a Christian nation? Really?

I am sick of hearing politicians saying they are Christians and even Ted Cruz says a president should start every day on his knees, as if this type of Christianity makes them right in the things they do.  It is scary if this is the way these Christian politicians think America should be. If this is how people think, if people are supposed to study the Bible so they can feel the loving arms of God around them (I was told), then why is it that the line is drawn in the sand when people leave prison and their life is judged so negatively that help is not extended because people think they are not worthy enough to live near you or work with you because they think they are so much better than they are.

This is the holiday season when we spend money to send out cards that say “Merry Christmas”, and “Peace on Earth, good will toward men” ALL MEN, These phrases that make us feel good for a minute but change nothing.  Now, I know there are people who care. You know who you are. But I don’t tell you the other things people say, “You should take this site down and shut the fuck up.” ( an actual comment)

If you care about people – if you really do want this world to be a better place – stand up for everyone’s right to live and be happy – even those who don’t think like you, who have families to feed, just like you. Who need a job to survive, just like you. Who need a place to live, just like you. and even those who may have a different faith than yours.

The presidential contender Donald Trump has a slogan. “Make America Great Again”, although he thinks he can do it through racism, insults and selfishness and war. I think we can do better – don’t you?

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

Original Improvised Piano Music –
The music I have written for this blog has been moved to Soundcloud to make it easily accessible for those not on WordPress.  It would help me tremendously if you went there and “liked” it, commented and shared.  people tend to listen to music that others have listened to and it would give me a push to get started to have better stats.  All bloggers understand that.

Juvy to Prison

cuffs and books

This was originally posted over a year ago and I decided to post it again.  With so many posts to read to learn about Jamie, it is easy after all this time for his story to get lost.  Why does this matter? How did he get caught up in the school to prison pipeline that led to prison, as it does for a very high percentage of youth. Not only is their education is taken away, their self esteem is lost. They are not expected to succeed, and many don’t have parents who care. It became just as easy for kids to be put in solitary confinement as adults. They are sexually exploited. They become angry and they give up.  They become the next crop of adults who feed the prison industrial complex.  A different kind of slavery, but slavery none the less.  Juvenile detention has only one direction – Do not pas go. Go directly to prison.  They belong to the system now.  And who cares?  Not many.

Why is police racism encouraged by their superiors?  Why do they look in the other direction or do whatever they can so these legal criminals don’t have to pay the price for their actions?  In the part few years especially, it has become so much worse. Police brutality is off the charts. Why has it been more difficult for black kids than white kids? Why do blacks kids get taken to jail for simply walking down a street after dark because a white man “thought” he looked suspicious even though he hadn’t done anything wrong? Why are kids handcuffed in school for reasons that not long ago only got detention? Why? Because it became profitable.

There are still so many misconceptions by the average American because he gets his “news”, and I use that term loosely, from the media who is paid to report things in a biased way, or he learns from TV shows that aren’t based on reality, yet it is taken as truth.

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

Before I met Megan I had only been home for 9 months.  I had done just 4 years in Texas Youth Commission, better known as TYC.  I was placed in there in 2000 when I was not yet seventeen.  The charge was assaulting a police officer.  This never should have happened.  The cop was harassing our family.  It was his fault.  But when you’re black and the cop is white it’s always your fault and there’s nothing you can do about it.  I always seemed to do something to get me in trouble.  I’m beginning to understand that karma has a way of doing that to you.  This is the story of what happened that day.

My older brother and I got into a fight in the front yard.  He had an amp for music in his car.  I took it to a friend’s house across the street.  I went back to get it but it was gone.  I don’t blame my brother for being mad at me.  He thought I sold it.  We weren’t little kids and we fighting pretty good. My mama yelled at us to come in the house. There were four of us kids. Raising us wasn’t easy.  I have two brothers and a sister.   My mom had to play the part of both parents and work all the time to take care of us.

As she was talking to us inside the house about what happened outside there was a knock on the door.  When my mama answered it there was a police officer standing there.  One of the neighbors must of called them.  The officer wanted to speak to my brother and me but my mama said no, she had everything under control.  The officer didn’t listen to her and called to us anyway.  My mama told him again she had everything under control. She was the parent. It should have ended there. Then my mama tried to close the door and the officer stopped her by putting his foot in the door.  He pushed the door open again.  My brother and I stood up.  We told him again that we had everything under control.  He was determined that he was going to get inside the house.  He pushed the door open so hard that my mama fell to the floor.  She broke her wrist.  I  knew this was going to be bad.  We had problems with this officer before.  He was bad news.  I helped my mama up off the floor and my brother went after the officer for hurting her. The officer maced him. When he did that my anger let loose and I hit him with a broom!  His arm was all cut up from the straws.  Then my little brother came into the room and it was just hell.  My sister was pregnant but if she wasn’t she would have gone after him, too.

My mama was taken to the hospital and my sister went with her.  My older brother was placed in the back of the cop car.  He was so angry because the officer maced him that he kicked out the car window.  Me and my little brother were put in a different car because we were minors. Let’s just say that I got the short end of the stick.  After a while everyone got to go home except me.  I was sent to do 9 months in the TYC.

When I got there I stayed in my room and didn’t talk to anyone.  I said to myself that nine months in juvy isn’t that bad.  I could do it.  I did everything I was told to do.  I went to school and attended groups.  I waited and waited as time passed.  Finally, the day came for me to leave.  At least I thought it was supposed to be the day I was going to leave.  I was packed and ready to go when they told me I couldn’t go home.  I didn’t believe it.  I got really upset and asked them why? I did everything I was supposed to do.  They told me I didn’t have my level four to go home.  I said I didn’t know nothing about needing a level four . My lawyer didn’t tell me and he didn’t tell my mom neither about any of this.  They told me again I couldn’t go home so I went to my room and slammed the door.  I sat in my room and cried.  I just wanted to go home.  Then I started kicking the door and walls.  I really wasn’t trying to listen to anyone because I was lied to.  There was so much anger inside.  I started throwing the stuff I had packed to leave.  An officer came and I was sent to 23 hour lock up in security.

young offender

disclaimer: This is not Jamie, but it is a locked up child

From then on everything with me was always on the negative side. I caused all kinds of problems with school. I got into fights in the dorms. I would take off running around the campus. I did everything I could to rebel. I got into it with the staff. It went from a nine month sentence to them keeping me there for four years. I was so angry. I shouldn’t be there in the first place.  Things went up and down with me. But at some point I finally stopped and started thinking. I wanted to go home. I needed to do the right things that would get me home.

(Sonni’s note:  It always sounded fishy to me seeing the reason he was locked up.  What kid would not defend their family in their own home.  Isn’t it the same with the gun issue?  You are supposed to have the right to defend yourself in your home?  But this was a cop.  Why is it legal for a cop to literally push his way into your home without a warrant? With no crime committed.   Was it a good  enough  reason, to physically hurt the mother and then not expect that her kids were going to get upset and defend her?  You can’t defend yourself from a cop? Looking at the behavior of the police today, why am I so amazed at that?

It’s police brutality. But why put Jamie in juvy?  And why not prosecute his brother? Because they knew they couldn’t.  But kids are different. They’ll put kids in juvy, sometimes even because they are absent from school. It’s called the school to prison pipeline. They know it sets the stage to push them clear through to prison. These kids get out without an education, learning more about crime then they ever knew going in. That kind of atmosphere would be of no help to any young person. They don’t get the help they need and they never learn their life has value. When the kids get upset and lash out they put them in solitary confinement in juvy is just as bad as solitary confinement in adult prison.

But there is another reason.  There’s a lot of crooked business going on between judges and juvenile detention centers among other reasons.  There’s a lot of money to be made.  For example there has been a case in the Pa courts about this very thing. This judge sentenced thousands of kids to juvy in exchange for money.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/4/kids_for_cash_inside_one_of

From the beginning they had no intention of letting Jamie go home.)


In the four years I was in juvy I only got four letters.  I know now that if my family couldn’t write to me then why should I expect them to write me now?  I’ve written a lot of letters and it isn’t very often that anyone writes me back.  I can count on one hand how many I got.

Anyway, I finally made it to level three.  I was doing good and I got to do a lot of things.  I went swimming.  I got to play pool and watch movies.  I loved it.  I did good for a year and a half. Then I received a letter from home.  One of my aunts died.  My grandmother had ten kids.  Six boys and four girls.  I’m crazy about my aunts.  I only had three.  I lost it and went downhill.  I was placed on BMP, Behavior Modification Program, for thirty days.  I had to deal with 23 hr a day lockdown.  They brought my schoolwork to me.  I got an hour of rec.  I was on three of these BMPs all total.  I didn’t care anymore.  The last time I was sent there was because I hit one of the staff and broke his nose so they filed charges on me. I did it because he used to just pick on me for no fucking reason.  It really gets to me when I think about it.  It brings it all back like it was yesterday.  He used to call me nigger.  It hurt me and it ate at my feelings.  I know it sounds better to call it the N’word but lets just say it the way he did, and he didn’t call me ‘N’word.  He called me nigger.  I told his supervisor but she didn’t believe me because of all the other trouble I caused on her dorm.  While I was finishing up on the third program a Broward County police officer came and told the staff about the charges that were filed on me and I was placed in the back of the patrol car and taken to Broward County Jail.

While I was in there I really started losing it because I knew what the outcome of my life was going to look like, with me ending up right where I am now.  This would have probably happened to me no matter what I did.  This is where my life was going.  I look at all the things I did.  How could it have turned out any different?  I had chances to change things but I always screwed it up. I have no one to blame but myself.

During the time I was in county jail I wasn’t myself.  I did try to stay out of people’s way.  It wasn’t easy.  I got into a fight over the TV,  and once I got stabbed with a pen.  I really lost it and went into a deep depression.  I stopped eating.  I couldn’t sleep.  I thought of my aunt and cried.  I was miserable and I couldn’t pull myself out of it.  They placed me in a single cell and sent a doctor to come talk to me.  Afterward, she talked to the judge and I was sent to a state hospital for more than three weeks so I could get some help with my depression.  When it was over they sent me home. Finally.

This was back in 2004.  I met Megan in 2005.  I ended up back in here in 2006.  Ain’t that crazy?  I finally got home but I placed myself around the wrong group of so-called friends.  I lost myself again.  But I’ll say this much, it won’t happen again.  I’m going to change the direction my life has taken.  I’m going to be the kind of person I can be proud of, and my son can be proud of, too.

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