Florida prisons have the worst reps for many reasons. I can’t even begin to list why. Texas is bad without a doubt, but I sure would hate to be locked up in a Florida prison. The man who writes this is writing from a Florida prison so he knows what he is talking about.
Before I print Jamie’s letter I want to give you a new piece of music I recorded called “Finding Me again” which you will see here on Sound Cloud. Beneath it is another new piece called “Graduation Day” and is up there as one of my favorites, with the mixing of highs and lows of emotion. I hope to include a disc of some of the music I have written on the inside of the back of the book when it’s done. Please fill out the form at the bottom to be included on the mailing list.
I have been writing for the book like you asked me to. I started where it began ten years ago, when I was at the county jail in 2006. I tried to explain about each prison I’ve been to and some of what I did in each place. I’ll send it soon. Right now I’m writing about the Smith Unit. I’m writing more about this unit because this is where most of my troubles started.
I’m missing not having my photos. I had a lot. Ones from when Jamie was born and everything you and Megan sent, but I also had family photos my cousin sent here and there. I got the first box of books you ordered while I was still in Wynne unit, but I didn’t get the rest of my property. I never did hear from my family for my birthday. I really don’t much care, either. You asked me what it was like growing up. I never had a birthday party but I had a cake here and there. Nothing special. Just another day to me.
I know this is a difficult subject to talk about. Thank you for understanding. Being a man who has gone a long period of time without a woman is hard on any man unless he desires another man. I will never do that. Disease in prison is everywhere. No way would I have sex even with a female guard. If she has sex with dudes in here a lot of them have sex with men and they could be infected. So I practice safe sex with myself. What we have here is a lot of people who aren’t supposed to want sex. If they are caught, even taking care of their own needs they are punished, which is what they did to me. We have no privacy. If we put up a sheet if our cell has bars they rip it down. On the other hand, officers force themselves on weaker dudes. It is all about power. Maybe the officers weren’t like this before. Maybe working in this hell turned them to be like this or it brought something out in them. I guess its the same or worse with the females. I bet they have a really hard time.
In this new unit I am learning to keep my mouth shut and not draw attention to myself. Anyway, they don’t mess with me for sex. I haven’t been here long enough to know if it is any different. Believe it or not a lot of the officers like it better with same sex couples because then they feel they can make them give them up information about things. However, if they don’t it give up, they are blackmailed. They do the same thing to others with some changes. They feed them to the sharks by saying things that puts them in danger with other inmates if they don’t tell them what they know. They turn dudes against each other.
Thank you mom, for being there for me. You are a very loving and caring. Your encouragement keeps me focused so I can learn not to lose it. I love you for this. It’s what I really need to stay on my toes and in the right frame of mind. There are lots of times I get very depressed, really. I just try to block it out. I will seek help for this. Right now you are all I have. Families are hard to understand. I don’t think I can understand why mine doesn’t think I need them. I guess it’s because we think we know them when we really don’t. How can you and I think we know them? We both have families who don’t care about what happens to us but there is nothing we can do about it. But I have spent enough time thinking about this. I have to work on myself. I get so angry sometimes. But I have a right to get angry don’t I? Am I not supposed to let this make me angry because my family is never there for me? Should I not get angry because I can’t see, ever, my only son, my flesh and blood? It hurts me so much I sit here and cry. It builds up in me and I want to explode. It is a punishment that is hard to bear. But it is my karma, right? I don’t know what I did but it is up to me to change me. It’s inside me. My lesson to learn. I want to be happy. You have not seen me snap. My anger takes control. But this is something I am personally working on.
The thing I want most in my life I am denied – my son. I have missed so much of his life. Even though this unit is closer to him I am still going to miss being part of his life, but I guess that’s family for you. Why do I deserve the punishment of not being able to see my son? Am I such a bad person that my love for my son doesn’t matter? I think about how my son feels. Does it hurt him to not be able to see me? It must make him feel bad too. Won’t this hurt him as he grows up? This punishment is for both of us. When I think about it I look at it as Megan don’t want Jamie to think it is good to see my son in a way. I look at it like that but I feel something else.
I’m more focused than I have ever been. So far everything in here is going well with me. I stay to myself and read. I work out here and here and get the rest I need. I chant and focus on what I need to do. As for respect, I give it and don’t look for it back. I don’t really talk to the officers believe it or not. I know these officers hold grudges – bad. Anyone who gets on their bad side, let’s just say, they won’t eat during the four days the officers are working. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and they get away with it. So with that said, I don’t say nothing to them but thank you when they bring me my food, or yes and no if I want to go to the shower or go to rec. Other than that, I might speak to my neighbor here and there. No, this is a different one, not the crazy one I had before. I was moved. I’m a level 2 now. I have to do 60 days more to get level one. So about March if I don’t get any major cases.
I want to say thank you to the people who wrote to me. I don’t have any addresses to write back because I don’t have my property. Tell everyone hi for me. It was really good to hear from them. It helps me a lot. More than they know.
I love you, Love always, Jamie.
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It’s been nine years now, give or take a few months. Nine very long years. Nine years alone living with the fantasies of a few short months with a woman. Nine years with only myself to talk to most of time. In and out of solitary for years at a time. A revolving door of being let out knowing it would only be a matter of time before they found a way to lock me up again. Other men were always coming and going, in and out of lockup. They want to make sure you know they own you. They think they can even own your mind. he was locked up for a fantasy crime. They wanedt me to feel humiliated. They let me know I can’t win.
It was real obvious the guards enjoyed locking me up this time. It’s not the first time and it probably won’t be the last. It’s what they do to all the dudes in here. They had a real good time laughing at me. I knew that as sure as I knew anything. No way was I going to let it show that it bothered me. They knew I didn’t do anything they haven’t done themselves a thousand times. It wasn’t necessary to write up a case on me for that. What did I need to be disciplined for? I’m a man. I have needs just like everyone else. I’ve been without a woman for 9 years, and even then I only had a short time with Morgan for less than a year, when I got out of Juvy when I turned 21. It’s the only memories I have. She was a beautiful and loving woman and I fell hard for her, so when I think of a woman I think of her and the way I wanted our life to be. But life had other plans for us and it planned they we wouldn’t be together. But I still have my memories and that is the only thing I have to keep me company when I’m lonely.
People were made for having sex. Some guys, when they knew they’d be locked up for maybe the rest of their life, or at least for a very long time, they would do things they wouldn’t do on the outside. But when you didn’t have any other choice it can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do and take advantage of the only thing that was there. There were guys that were into that. Some guys didn’t want to but they were made to anyway. Not him, though. He’d never let himself be put in a place mentally where it would be okay to be with another man. Not a chance. He didn’t care how hard up he was. He had a gay cellie once and he let it be known he was willing. he set him straight right off. He better not wake up and catch him trying to do things.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t human. He’s a grown man who still had needs. Being in prison didn’t make that go away. Just because he was locked up in here didn’t mean he no longer had any desire for woman. So here he was, minding his own business, and not being able to have any, so all he was doing was thinking about it and touching himself, just the same way everybody else does. He wasn’t doing anything to anyone. He wasn’t putting it in anyone’s face.
Female guards are supposed to announce themselves when they come on a unit. Someone could be changing clothes. But she didn’t announce herself, that was the issue. She caught him with his hand on himself. Finding a tiny bit of pleasure. She lied about that and they both knew it. But it didn’t matter. Guards can say anything they want. Guards are always right and inmates are always wrong. That’s the way prison justice works, or rather, it’s the way prison injustice works. That’s why they get away with doing whatever they want to the inmates. Their superiors actually encourage it. Prison injustice is more like it.
There’s a whole lot else going on around here and everyone knows it. Sex in prison is so common. He wasn’t doing anything to anyone else so how come he gets put in lockup for it? That was an offense to be put in solitary for? He wasn’t allowed to even fantasize about sex? He couldn’t be a human being with all the same urges of any other human being without being put back into a 5X8 foot cell, deprived of everything? Take away his job. Take away going to commissary. Take away his time in the yard. Take away the few friends he had made. Take away the progress he made so he’ll have to start all over? Take away his hope? Turn him into a person who will end up right back in in here like so many of them do when they succeed in making him nuts? They even took away his books and left him with only his paper and a pen.
What was wrong with thinking about sex? He needed to at least fantasize he had sex with someone. A seventeen year sentence is a long time. This also will make it harder to make parole in Oct of 2016. Yeah, how do you answer the question when they say, “What have you done to improve your life? Oh, you got thrown in the hole again? How many times is it now? It seems like you can’t stay out of trouble. You have a problem with authority, Cummings. You’re not ready to get out.” That’s what they’ll say. It’s all a racket. They do this to keep you down.
He thought about Morgan. She was the only woman he had been with. He knew it was over between them, and he told her to move on. It was too long to wait and he wasn’t upset, but he had spent so many years loving her and that was the only memory he had of a woman. He was remembering her the way he wanted to remember her. What was there, a few memories of making love to a woman who for so long and he wanted to believe she loved him as much as he loved her. Hoping against hope that one day when he got out and she met him again face to face, she would still want him. . .
He knew, though, that this was not the real reason they locked him up this time. It was just an excuse. A guard with a grudge. The real reason was to dehumanize him. Make him feel as though he had no value. Taking away the most basic of human feelings and emotions and making it into something to be punished for. It was a way to make him worthless. He wasn’t really a man. There was no way to act like a man. They want to control even what few good times he had that were locked in his head. He wasn’t going to let them have that.
“They aren’t going to do this to me.” He spoke out loud to his reflection in the stainless mirror above the sink
“I’m not going to let them get to me again.” He repeated with even more determination.
“They can lock up my body, but they can’t lock up my mind.”
What he didn’t know is they weren’t done with him yet. They were just getting started . . .