Guards Are Always Right. Inmates Are Always Wrong

black hands on cell door, prison guard brutality
source credit: pittsburgurbanmedia.com

Today I started reading through old letters I sent Jamie. This one is six months old and it was written at the time after he had just lost his new privileges of being able to make phone calls and have contact visits – for three weeks. It was devastating to be sent back to lock up again after it took him another two years to reach a level where it was allowed. It happened because of lies by guards and no one would listen to you. The guards are always right and the inmates are always wrong – every time. If a guard does not back up whatever another guard says he, himself, will be retaliated against. When that happens it is hard to keep your anger from making you lash out.

nmrk0731
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is like the roar of a lion, there what illness can be an obstacle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mention daimoku which is a Nichiren Buddhist chant – Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo.  Like meditation it allows you to have better control of your mind, your thoughts. Practicing Buddhism has been very good for Jamie.  It has been part of my life for a very long time.  I started teaching Jamie Buddhist concepts and how to apply them at least 6 years ago.  Being in prison is more difficult than you can imagine, knowing the years you lose, you will never get back, and the abuse you will have to take will be humiliating, because it is wrong and there is nothing you can do about it.

Chanting, with the deep breathing you have to do, lowers your stress level.  High stress also makes his epileptic seizures  more frequent. This allows the person inside to shine. We have to understand the right thing to do, instead of responding emotionally.  But chanting doesn’t mean you will always do the right thing.  We are human.  We learn from our mistakes. Changing our habits and our reactions is a life long battle with ourselves. But I believe – asking someone or something outside ourselves to fix our problems that cause us unhappiness.  Change must come from within.  Chanting gives you time to think about your life and take responsibility for your actions.  It is about gaining the wisdom to make the right decisions to change your life – to see things in a different perspective.

Living in a prison is about as close to the concept as hell as you can get. Buddhism does not look at hell as a place you go to when you die, but rather a life condition you live in here on earth. What better describes that life condition than a maximum security prison.

This letter was sent using jpay.com, a system set up for most state prisons, not federal. I can type an email letter, or send money through them.  To send a letter costs one “stamp” per page.  To send a picture is one stamp.  Two pictures is two stamps.  The advantage is they get it faster, and my typing is easier to read than my handwriting!  I do write, though, because I know it is a more personal connection.

 
Date: 5/11/2015  5:18:10 PM
Sent To: JAMES CUMMINGS
Attachments:

Hello son,

Just a quick letter today. I wanted you to know that I did talk to Ms Johnson in classification. She said you had to go to the UCC (prison court) on May 12 for a case. She said she didn’t have anymore information. She said after that you would be released, but she didn’t say released to where. Jamie, you can’t fight them. I know this is so hard. You worked so hard and waited so long for your privileges but they always find a way to knock you down even if they have to lie to do it. I know they didn’t do you right. You need to keep the bigger picture in mind and put all the rest of the garbage out where it belongs – in the trash. I know it’s hard.

You probably won’t get this letter in time – but chant daimoku (Nichiren Buddhism) before you go to court.  Center your mind. Stay calm. You have grown so much and learned so much, but that doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes sometimes. The harder we try to change, life throws curve balls at us to keep us down. But if you remember there is something to learn from everything, you will be okay. This will  be over one day. It will be behind you and you will have a chance to live again. Have faith in that. You will have a life and it will be a life you will be proud of. All of this  you are going through is making you the person you are. A person with compassion. A person who will always know what it is like when the chips are down. You are learning things through all of this. I will be chanting for you tomorrow to be strong. Have no doubt, Jamie. Keep your dreams in the front of your head.

You might find this a bit funny. You REALLY upset Bill (my egotistic brother-in-law who uses his knowledge of the Bible as a way to feel important, but doesn’t apply any teachings inside the covers to his own life) with that plastic Christian remark you called him. If the shoe fits, wear it. My sister and family had a field day ripping you and me to shreds because of how much he “helped” you, and you had the nerve to expect him to follow through with the things he said he could do for you,.  I should have known better. You bruised his inflated ego. If it weren’t true it wouldn’t have bothered him so much. He knows what he did – he just didn’t want anyone else to find out about it. He said were ungrateful. It must have made him feel good to rip apart our relationship. Well, I hope he enjoyed himself. After all he is such a sincere Christian. You are a much better man than he is. The law of cause and effect applies to him as well. Hearing those words, “Cause and effect” makes him go berserk with rage.  But isn’t it the same as, “You reap what you sow”?

reap what you sow

My mom wants to have a happy family. It ain’t gonna happen any time soon. I wouldn’t go to any family affairs if they invited me, which I doubt they will – because I don’t like to be around plastic people either. I have other people in my life who know who I am and care about me. After almost 5 years of trying to have a family since I moved here – I give up. I just can’t live life they way they do. I can’t pretend.  But remember – the best revenge against people like that is to have a good, happy life. Live with the principles you know to be true. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

On that note – write me asap and let me know what’s up. What a mess this all is. I love you. Never forget that.

Your mom

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What Has Happened Now? The Prison Cut Off My Emails.

I’m concerned. Two nights ago I started writing an email to Jamie. I have used http://Jpay.com to write to him for about 7 years. I can send him emails, money and pictures, which is easier than handwriting mail, and getting money orders, although I do send him other things – articles and cards. But when I logged into Jpay yesterday morning, the option to send mail had disappeared. I could only send money. That had never happened before in all the years I’ve been writing.

I called Jpay. The rep I talked to had not heard of this happening, either, and called her supervisor. She told me the prison must have stopped it as a way of disciplining him. To me that says they are out of things to take away from him. There isn’t much more they can take away from you when you are in ad seg. So his books must be gone as well as all belongings, probably his mattress as well. His little fan? In this godawful heat. His food -still on food loaf, which I think they make from garbage. They feed it to them three times a day.

food loaf

So what the hell happened that they would resort to stopping my emails. They would know I am the only one writing to him. Will a snail mail letter get through? Is it also directed at me for some reason because they didn’t like what they read?  I’m grasping at straws.  I just double checked again and it’s still blocked.  My concern is mostly for Jamie because most likely it is a punishment for something.

Melvin, the man in Texas who goes to the prison to visit with him every 4 to 6 weeks was recently there.  He said he was in good spirits.  The cut on his foot was still hurting but it was starting to heal.  They chanted together for awhile.  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  Jamie has been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for several years, a practice that is difficult to do on your own.  It’s easy to begin, like deciding to go to the gym, but it is hard to maintain with encouragement, because since it is a practice it is something you do every day.  He has been learning that we are the cause for own problems.  We make the causes.  We get the effects.  Learning how to respond to life a different way takes more than just thinking about it.  If you have an issue with anger there are things that are going to press your buttons and you are going to respond the same way no matter how many times you tell yourself not to.  Actually changing something inside yourself that reflects in your environment takes time.  You make baby steps.  The first step is understanding how you could have reacted in a different way.  We chant – deeply – to change that part of ourselves that causes us the most grief.  It is a life long process.  Most people understand there are benefits to meditation and chanting has the same benefits of that.  Deep breathing calms you and enables you to think.  Chanting is deeper that that.

The universe runs on a rhythm.  We see it easily in the tides.  All life is a cycle.  Birth, aging, sickness and death.  All of nature and all living beings. When you are able to join with that rhythm it brings into your life those things that help you and also those things you need to learn so you can change the things that cause you unhappiness.  When you try to change the things that hold you down the only way to do that is to confront the very things that cause you unhappiness. We never get rid of problems.  What we want is to deal with our problems in a different way that gets us a better result. This is not about asking something “out there” to change your life but instead looking inside yourself to change negative into positive.  Accepting responsibility that there is no one but yourself to blame for the plan you have for your life.  The plan wasn’t decided by something outside yourself.  We make the causes that affect us.  If we don’t change these things – especially an inmate – when he gets out he has little chance of doing things different and gravitates back to the life he had.

So I have to think – What has happened?  Most of these guards have such low life conditions.  We read about prison guard brutality more and more in the media. They have no problem hurting inmates just for the pleasure of being able to do it and get away with it. Did he react to something they did and that gave them the reason to want to hurt him?

All I can do is wait while I send him a snail mail.  Today is Saturday.  I tried to call the prison and no one is picking up the phone. Are they closed on Weekends?  That doesn’t make sense.  They have visiting hours today.  I’ll keep trying. On Monday I’ll try again . . .

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My letter to Jamie at Huntsville Prison

I have posted so many letters from Jamie to me.  Today I decided to post one of my letters to Jamie.  This one was written earlier this month.  I usually write him about every week, but lately, since he lost his privileges and has been alone more, I’ve been writing more frequently.  I haven’t gotten a letter in the past couple weeks and it could be for a variety of reasons like being out of stamps and not allowed to go to the commissary, or he might be too down, or a letter is in the mail.  I try not to worry.  If I go for too long I call the prison and make sure he’s still there and okay.  I usually send my letters through http://jpay.com  His inmate number is 1368189.  if you wanted to write to him, it’s easy, and costs the price of a stamp.  If you don’t want to register with them.  Send him an email to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com and I will forward it to him through jpay.  He’d write you back if you left a return address.  If you aren’t comfortable with that, tell him to send his reply to me, and I will email it to you.  It doesn’t have to be long letter.  Just something that would put a smile on his face!

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prison Mail

May 5th 2015

Hello Son,

Is it stupid to ask how your day was today? Probably. It’s going to be a long hot summer. Starting off with something positive, Mike and I are setting up this year’s garden. Since I don’t think he gets enough exercise – no amount of suggesting it to him has any effect.  I can see this year it is an effort and he poops out quickly. Not that I can say anything different for myself. Being shut in the house all winter because of the cold does take an effect on muscle tone. I’m sure you feel it, too, but you still have the advantage of youth on your side.

The weather has been wonderful, and on the humid side, but I love humidity when compared to cold. We’ve been laying down an extra couple inches of fertilized dirt and I started planting vegetables and flowers. I’ll send pictures when it actually has green stuff growing in it! yes, I’ve had some sore muscles, but it’s a good sore because these muscles needed to be abused a bit.  Bending over is the only good position to be in for my back.  it separates the spine so it’s less painful.

I finished writing part of a chapter today. I have to look and see which ones I haven’t sent you yet. I started another blog. I think I told you. It has only partial chapters in to created interest. This one is about medical issues and this is only one part of the chapter – the time you had to go to the dentist to have some teeth cut out. Please read it and see if it is missing anything.  You wrote about it in two letters.  I so understand the pain you were in.

I know you don’t like to write about this, but your epilepsy has played a very major part in your life, and the way you have been treated at the prison during seizures has been so wrong. Honestly, how are they now? You sometimes tell me when you’ve had one, but how often do they occur and how different are they. I want to write more about medical experiences.  Seizures are different for different people.  I know it’s been hard on you since the day you were born.

I looked it up on the web to read what everyone else said, but each person experiences something different because they might be caused by some other problem. Will you tell me more about them? Your mother said you were born having a seizure and for a long time you had them one after another back to back. You couldn’t have been able to go to school, could you? She told me she never let you out of her sight – you could never go and play at friend’s houses or have sleep overs because she was afraid you’d have a seizure. Megan told me once that your siblings used to laugh at you and kick at you sometimes when you were having a seizure, but I don’t know if that was true. Is this why you didn’t have many friends? You must have been very lonely as a child. I haven’t done much research on it yet, but what is the long term affect? It can’t be good. Your mom said you had brain surgery when you were about 12 and it was able to stop some of the bleeding and it cut back on how many seizures you had, but it didn’t stop them completely. I know you’ve had quite a lot of seizures while you’ve been in there. I remember you told me once that you woke up from one to find you were cuffed – for their protection.

Because getting good medical care inside prison is a big issue for many people, I read about it a lot. This is why I want to write about this medical issue of yours and how it’s been treated, to come out in this book. You also mentioned in different letters in different years about the problem with your knees swelling and it’s been painful. I know you asked about getting the fluid drained and the dr said it would never be approved. A very simple procedure that would have helped the pain and they wouldn’t do it. You said once they told you had arthritis except that isn’t a symptom of arthritis I don’t think – at least it isn’t a symptom I ever heard of. Is this still a problem for you? You wrote about for several years at times. If there is anything else medical – even if it is someone else, if you can, tell me about it.

In your mid teens when you started hanging with the wrong people – I did the same thing. I was 17 when I started smoking pot but it wasn’t until I was 18 and left home that I got into harder drugs. I was always a loner and I didn’t know how to make friends. I couldn’t see why anyone would want to even be my friends, but when I did speed I was able to be outgoing and fun to be around. It helped me be a different person. I dropped out of college and mostly I hung out in pool halls and bars. I became a really good pool player – could beat most everyone unless they were pro.  There many things I was involved in that could have gotten me in trouble. But it didn’t.  I wasn’t a bad person, just a screwed up kid – just like you. You are paying such a high price for your mistakes.  Hopefully we will be able to create some good out of it and help other people through your experience.

Also – you should have got your stuff back by now – your books and other belongings they took away, but I will soon order you some more books. Well – better go to bed. Sleep well. Try to chant some D’s and keep your energy focused in a positive way and keep your future pictured in your mind until it becomes a reality. I’m right there with you. Remember that. Love, mom.