A Prison Cell. The Loneliest Place To Be

In between some of the chapters of the book I am writing, “Inside the Forbidden Outside”, I am going to print some of Jamie’s letters. I want the reader to be able to read his words. I made small changes and took out personal statements that had nothing to do with the issue and didn’t need to be shared. These letters were published on the main blog at My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prison” I’ll be using the letters that received the most views and responses.

I also want to include music I wrote with the sale of the book. You can find all of the music pieces here. Sonni Quick Improvisational Piano Music I’d like some feed back about what you think of that idea. Would it be a plus to you, as a new reader, to see it advertised that music is included? Your comment is helpful to me and very appreciated. If you want to be on the book mailing list please go to mynameisjamie2@gmail.com and leave a msg so I have your address.

Also, if you would like to send an email to Jamie you can write to that email address and I will forward it through jpay.com, which is a prison email service. Many of you have been following Jamie’s blog and I know he would like it a lot if if heard from any one you. So, if you can, take a few minutes and let him know who you are. He can’t email back, but he can write back longhand if you leave your address. Right now, sitting in adseg again, getting mail from the outside is helpful in keeping his samity together. The hardest thing to battle is loneliness and wondering if anyone remembers he is in there.

a prison cell. The loneliest place to be, jamie cummings, sonni quick inside the forbidden outside.
Solitary Confinement – Letter to Sonni, April, 2014

Hello Mom,

It’s okay. Don’t worry about me. I tell myself, don’t be discouraged. That is only downing myself. Always keep your confidence up and you will succeed. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I don’t want anyone to feel as though I’m begging or even asking too much. I’m sorry. Please, don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. This is what I get for breaking the law. Please, I just need help seeing my son. That’s all. I want nothing else.

I ask myself over and over, why won’t someone bring my son to see me? I do deserve to see him. He is all I have. However, no one else thinks it’s important. Doesn’t anyone think he needs to see me, too? I know what it’s like to not have a father. Maybe if tried to get moved to another unit, then there would be a good excuse to not let me see him. If I was moved further away from home then everyone would be able to use excuses like, “It’s too far away”,“I can’t afford the gas” or “I can’t take the time off work.” Then it would be easier for them to let themselves off the hook. When I was in a prison far away I understood why I didn’t see anyone, except that one time. But I’ve been close, only a couple hours away for a long time and it hasn’t made much difference. Maybe his mother just wants to keep me from him. I hate to think that but it’s hard not to. It’s just too inconvenient to take the time.

If I knew people cared, as they say they do, it would be a lot easier on me. Without you, I would know anything. I’ve been kept me blind for so long on how little Jamie is doing. That hurts like hell! Why? Why do I have to hurt like that? Oh, forget I asked that question. There have been many times I have wanted to give up. Other People have a lot on their plate and they still manage to find the time and come to see the person they say they love. Life is full of unanswered questions.

I’ve written letters to my mother. A lot of the time I get them back. She moves around a lot. The last address I got was my grandmother’s. My (biological) mom came to visited me last year. First time in at least 6 years. It’s not her fault, though. I was in a couple units that were far away. Clear across Texas. Too far to make it there and back in a day. A few days maybe. I’m closer now so maybe I’ll get to see her more often. She said she was going to come visit me more often. I told her twice a month would be great. I waited and waited, hoping each weekend that she’d come. Five months went by. She never came back until a couple weeks ago. Still, I was really glad to see her.

It would be good if I someone could take Jamie to my mom’s house and then she could bring Jamie to see me. Then we could take some pictures together. But they aren’t getting along right now so I doubt that will happen. The one who misses out the most is little Jamie. He needs all of his family. I’m just asking a favor for me and my son. I wish I could see my grandmother, too. Maybe she could come with my mom sometime if she’s well enough. Oh, I guess that’s enough about all of this. Since no one talks to me all of this is just guessing. I didn’t know this was the way my family would treat me. It gets me depressed just thinking about it.


Chapter Excerpt – Free Medical Inside the Corporate Prison Vacation Getaway

prison dentistry
photo credit:

These doctors here don’t know what the hell they are doing. They are just here. I don’t know where they find these people but I don’t think they are real doctors. The first doctor I saw told me I had an infection in my tooth when I told her about my pain. Then I saw another doctor and he told me I didn’t have an infection, and there nothing was wrong with me. I asked him if he thought I was lying about my pain. I told him that another doctor said it was an infection. I asked him if that lady was lying and he said, ” I didn’t say that.” I told him that somebody was lying and I know it wasn’t me. I could tell by his face he was mad. Who gives a shit? He doesn’t care about me. He’s here to waste time and get paid.

Everyone knows what really bad tooth pain feels like, right? Pain so bad you can’t even connect the thoughts in your brain to make sense? I was in so much pain all I could try to do was hold my head in my hands. I can’t remember ever being in so much pain before. How could something so small feel so bad?
I kept calling to go back to medical but no one would take me. There had to be an infection under that back molar. My face was all swollen up like a chipmunk. Infections can go up to the brain if they get bad enough. It was so bad I couldn’t touch my face. I gave up trying to eat. The guards knew I couldn’t eat the food they brought. I wanted to cry so bad, but when I did it just made my face throb more which caused it to hurt more.

How long were they going to let me stay like this? What was the point of it? Didn’t any of them have any feelings at all? Where does such cruelty come from? People on the outside think this is some kind of four star hotel with free food and medical. Even a homeless person could walk into an ER and get someone to pull out a tooth.

But here in the prison the inmates are ignored. Even if you had a serious illness and had chest pains they would just tell you to drink more water. That was their cure-all for everything. The bottom line is they don’t want to put out the money. It’s the prison’s way of creating more profit. They’d have to take him to a dentist eventually. Tooth pain doesn’t usually fix itself. So he was thinking there had to be someone who was maybe getting pleasure out of this. How can you let someone stay in this kind of pain and not give a damn? It takes a special kind of person to have that kind of cruelty. They were going to have to fix it at some point. Maybe they wanted you to know you were at their mercy and couldn’t do anything about it.

After a few weeks they finally decided he had suffered enough. They told him he was going to a prison hospital where there was a dentist. There wasn’t a dentist at this prison. You’d think there would be. With all the people here and the diet they ate, there had to be a lot of dudes with teeth problems. It’s not like they took them all for a teeth cleaning twice a year to maintain good teeth. That’s a joke. So, by the time any of them had to see a dentist, it was usually for a problem that was causing a lot of pain.

On the first week of this month I left on what they the call the medical chain. It took two days to get to the unit. It took so long because they pick up and drop off to other units at the same time. Sometimes we rode on a bus the call a Blue Bird or a van. I rode on both. That van is so uncomfortable. They really make it hard on us. They have us elbow to elbow in the van. On the bus if you’re not from Ad Seg you are cuffed to someone else. Yes, they pair everyone up. You might be wondering about having to relieve ourselves. There’s a toilet, so that means if someone has to go the other has to go too. Crazy huh?

When I got to the hospital I had to wait two more days because there were others in front of me. When I went in for the surgery they did x-rays. The photos showed up on the computer. The one I was going to get pulled was growing sideways and was cutting my gums. When the dentist saw the top back left one, said, “wow”. I asked what was wrong and he showed me the photo. You could see all my teeth perfect. He showed me the tooth and it was flat! The word he used was, deformed. So he asked if I wanted it removed. I was going to ask him if he would do it, anyway. They don’t allow them to put us to sleep. They’re only allowed to numb it. He worked on it for two hours! When he finally got it out, the tooth had four roots and came out in five different pieces. All that pulling and pushing and drilling just about did me in. I held on, but I almost passed out.

The bottom one hurt, too, so he had to do a little more cutting. I felt every minute of it. We had to stop. Right now I’m still in so much pain. It took four days to get back to the prison because of the weekend. When I was in the hospital they gave me Tylenol with codeine for pain before and during the surgery. Now I’m back in my own unit and their best meds are Ibuprofen. Not very effective at all.

This is the bad part. It hurts to chew and drink because my tongue is swollen. However they have me eating solid food when I’m supposed to be on a soft diet, but the doctors here won’t give it to me. I’ll eat sometimes and sometimes I can’t. I try not to give these people what they want so I just deal with it the best I can. Just know that if the pain becomes too much I’m going try the right way first to get help. If I don’t get help there is only one other way. In the meantime I’ve been sleeping a lot to try and get away from the pain.

Chapter Excerpt – Fantasy Crime

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 . . .

Chapter Excerpt – Walking While Black

Chapter excerpt

Walking While Black

. . . .He had a dream. A late middle-aged white woman was walking down the street and a black teenager, wearing a hoodie, with it pulled up over his head, is walking toward her coming the opposite way. This woman would never have called herself a racist. Even so, the first thought shooting through her brain, is fear. She couldn’t help herself. She was raised to be afraid of black people. She’s always been scared of them They are more apt to hurt you than white people, and she’s afraid of what he might do to her.
“Maybe he’s going to rob me.” she thought. “Maybe he’ll try to grab my purse and run.”

Throughout her life, the television and movies, have shown her that black people aren’t as intelligent as white people. They’re lazy. They don’t want to get an education or a job so they deal drugs and do other crimes. You can’t be too careful. It’s a fact. They try to live off the government. She heard it on FOX News, too, and she knew they wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. They can’t help it. It’s they way they were raised. She could be the next victim.

Rapidly, she tried to think what to do. Should she cross the street and just make it look casual, like she was meaning to cross the street, anyway? Her mind jumps from one possibility to another, searching for the right thing to do. She has a little gun in her purse she bought a couple months ago. She didn’t tell anyone about it yet. It wasn’t anyone’s business to know. She bought it because you never know if you need to protect yourself. You have to be prepared. It was just common sense in this day and age. It was the law and it was okay to carry one. A couple weeks ago she went to a gun range to learn how to shoot, just in case. She never thought it probably wouldn’t be much help unless the person she wanted to shoot agreed to stand still long enough to aim. She’d probably shoot off her own foot. But she isn’t thinking any of that. She’s just frightened.

She wouldn’t be able to fight off an attacker on her own. She heard stories about people who got attacked just walking down the street minding their own business. You don’t know who might be carrying a gun. Everyone is so scared everyone else has a gun. That’s why she bought one. A lady has the right to protect yourself, you know. All those crazy people carrying guns, not realizing she was one of these crazy people, too. She casually slipped her hand into her purse, just in case.

He’s about ten seconds away now. Her heart starts to beat a little faster. What to do? What to do? There’s a door to the left. Good. She could pretend she’s going there. She turned toward it, making it look like it was her destination. She pretended she was searching for her keys, but her hand is really around the gun, using her finger to slip the safety off. She was ready to pull her hand out if he started to step in her direction. God, what if he wanted to rape her!

She didn’t look at him again. She was trying to look casual, pretending everything was okay. She tried to steal a look at him through the side of her eye. She didn’t want him thinking she was looking at him, just in case he sees her doing it. She wants to make him believe she isn’t a scared racist, but that is exactly what she is, whether she want to believe it or not.

When she reached for the door, this scary looking black teenager just continues to walk on by without even looking at her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone to search through his Itunes so he could play some music. Reaching further into his pocket, he felt for his headphones. He was in the mood for a little Bob Marley, singing about people coming together in the world and passing the love around.

Later in the day, that woman would be calling her friends and telling them about the close call she had with this black man she thinks wanted to hurt her. But she told them she was ready. She was the center of attention. Now she tells her friends about the gun and how she had her finger of the trigger and was about to pull it out when something frightened him away.

“Oh!” they said. You were so lucky you got away. You must have been so scared.”

“Did you call the police?” one woman asked. “No. Since he got away, I didn’t want the people in the neighborhood to have the cops arrive. I didn’t want to have to stay and tell them my story. They would have kept me there, and I had other things to do.” she added.

“I bet you could have gotten on TV, though. Then everyone could have seen you.”

“I never thought of that.” You always think of things like that when it was too late. “Oh well. I’m just glad I got away.” The conversation ended.

Let’s go back for a minute to the “criminal” this woman was so glad she had the insight and courage to get away from. Why was he walking down the street? He was walking to his gramma’s house. He was a good kid and always came when she called. They’d been close every since he was little. He was the only grandkid that lived near her and he always went over when she needed his help. He did good in school, too. He wanted to be an architect and was going to start college in the Fall. He was a bright spot in her life.

She called him because she needed some help getting boxes down from a shelf in the garage. He told her she wasn’t to climb her little ladder anymore, and to call him if she ever needed any help. She’s eighty-two and he worried about her. She already fell one time and he was worried if she fell again she might not be getting up. Next time she might not be able to take care of herself. There was no one else around to help her but him. He asked her she needed anything from the store and made a list of a few things that would be easy to carry while walking. There was a small grocery store about half way there. He could stop and get them on his way.

He grabbed his sweatshirt, put his phone in the pocket, and started to walk to her house. He could have driven, but it was a beautiful day for a walk. He wasn’t even paying attention to the lady as he passed her. He reached into his pocket to get his phone out and started searching for some music he wanted to listen to.

But someone else was watching this scene. There was a lady across the street who was peering through her lace curtains. She thought this kid looked suspicious. What was he up to? It sure looked like he might be pulling a weapon of some sort out of his pocket. She didn’t have her faraway glasses on but that black thing sure did look like a gun. Maybe he was going to try robbing that lady. She called 911.

“911, is this an emergency? If not, please call the regular number for the station.” the woman said on the other end of the line.

“Yes. It’s an emergency,” she said breathlessly. There’s this teenager outside and it looks like he has a gun. It looked like he was going to rob this lady but she got away from him.”

“You saw this gun ma’am?” the operator asked.

“Yes. With my own eyes.” She didn’t tell her she didn’t have her faraway glasses on.

“Let me have your location ma’am,” the 911 operator said, “and tell me what direction he’s heading. I’ll send a police car right away.” She gave the operator the address and cross street.

“Thank God. Hurry. I just saw him heading toward this convenience store down the block. An old man works there. What if he tries to rob him?”

“Stay inside your house. They’ll be there in a few minutes.” She hung up.

Two minutes later two cop cars came speeding down the street. They pull up in front of the convenience store, pull out their guns and walk slowly toward the store. When one of the officers went inside the store, and the other stayed outsid,e just in case this kid wasn’t working alone. The owner of the store saw them and had a surprised look on his face.

There was a teenage black boy with his hand out toward the old man behind the counter. It appeared there was something in his left hand. With his right hand he pulled something black out of his pocket.

The cop stood in the doorway and yelled “Freeze, and drop the gun!” The boy was startled. Was he talking to him? He didn’t have a gun. He turned around, with his black cell phone still in his hand. The cop shot him 3 times in the gut. The money for the groceries was on the counter.

“Shit”, the cop said. We’re going to have to make this look legit he said quietly as he walked over to the other cop. “We have to make it look like he was committing a crime. It looked like he was pulling out a gun from his waist and I was afraid for my life . . . .”

Chapter excerpt – The Nightmare

Inside the Forbidden Outside
Chapter excerpt

The Nightmare

In some ways it feels like he’s back at the beginning and opening his eyes for the first time to this nightmare. If he could just go back to sleep and wake up again, maybe he’d be in a different place. Maybe someone’s dream. Anyone else’s dream would do.

“Maybe it did just happened yesterday” Jamie mused.

“Maybe I’ve been been here forever.” he thought, wondering if he’s starting to go crazy. Maybe this was the way crazy started. Crept up on you real slow until it had you by the throat and wouldn’t let go.

“Maybe I’m dead and this is what hell is like.” He laughed, a little crazy this time. If he were dead and this was hell he could probably deal with it better,knowing for sure this was it. He wouldn’t have to think anymore about getting out. All eternity was going to be like this. It felt like an eternity already. 

Besides, maybe outside was the real hell. He had no idea what he was going to do. It scared him. How did he know he was going to be able to take care of himself? He didn’t even know how to do anything to take care of himself. What if he did something without even meaning to and they picked him up again, not even giving him a chance? He knew what it was like out there. Cops didn’t need no reason to pick up blacks and charge them with things and try to make them guilty of something they didn’t even do. He heard the stories. He heard the guys when they were brought back in again because they did something that broke their parole.

Yeah, some of them got into things they shouldn’t so it was their own fault. He wasn’t going to do nothing like that. But the the cops didn’t need a reason. And just like in here where the guards are always right, no matter what happens, he was sure it was the same out there. Cops needed no reason to pick you and put cuffs on you and throw you in jail. He wasn’t going to be like all the others and get picked up and brought back here again. Not on his son’s life he wouldn’t do that.

Crazy thoughts were always shooting through his brain like this. He had way too much time to think. He had trouble remembering a time when he could laugh and smile. It was forever ago, like some repressed dream that came to the surface and he found himself inside a nightmare he couldn’t get out of. 

It sometimes seems as if the movie was something that didn’t happened to him, but instead he walked into a theater into the middle of a movie he never saw the beginning of, and fell asleep before he got to the end. It was the kind of dream where you could feel yourself falling and you knew if you hit the ground you were going to die, and woke up startled and scared and afraid to go back to sleep again.

Sometimes he had this dream over and over. Like it was a premonition of some sort. But there was a hazy part that he just couldn’t see quite clear. He would lay there for hours and think about it, but it was no use. He had to snap himself out of this.

He lived that movie in his head over and over, never knowing if he was going to die at the end. It never felt like it was okay. He never felt any hope, only despair. Every time he went to sleep he was afraid he would see it again and most always, it came. He had no one he could talk to about it and he just got more depressed every day. When he woke he was running. Running so fast. His heart was beating in his heart knowing without doubt that he was in a place so wrong. It was hell. It was hell and he couldn’t change it. So many times he woke up crying. Crying for the loss. Crying for everything. And it was never, ever, going to be over. He was lost forever. It felt like forever. He was never going home. He buried his head and he wept.

Chapter Excerpt-Living in the Lap of Luxury

Chapter excerpt 

Living in the lap of Luxury

“Damn, I have dark circles under my eyes.” Jamie said under his breath as he stood at the stainless steel sink, trying to look at himself from side to side in the stainless steel mirror. He ran his tongue over the tooth that chipped when he fell off his bunk one night when he was having another seizure. Damn seizures. Never knew when they were going to hit. The only thing he knew for sure was knowing he was going to have another one. Had them all his life, from the minute he was born. He was born having a seizure. When he was twelve he had laser surgery on his brain to try to stop some of the bleeding. It helped but it didn’t stop them. Stress didn’t help. Neither did heat. But most times they hit him out of the blue. Sometimes he was lucky and knew one was coming so he could prepare himself.

He ran his hand over his face and felt the stubble of beard growing in. He must look pretty sorry. “I’d scare anyone if they came to visit.” He said to his reflection, laughing, knowing there wasn’t much chance of that happening. If he didn’t talk to himself sometimes, he’d have no one to talk to. But sometimes he’d get a good conversation going with some of the other dudes. They could call back and forth to each other. 

Sometimes it got downright noisy in here. It was hard to really see himself. They don’t let you have a real mirror with glass in it because they wouldn’t want you breaking it and slitting your wrists. Lots of dudes in here would do it if they had a chance. Some get real creative when they’ve had enough and they try to kill themselves, usually by hanging or cutting themselves so they’d bleed out. Some come pretty close. Some of them are really nuts. It’s not their fault. This place makes you nuts if you don’t know how to handle it. He knows how that feels. People who are already crazy are brought in here, too, because they don’t know what else to do with them. That really seals their fate. When they go off and do something to hurt themselves they just pile more time on them until there is no way they’re ever going to get out. Sometimes the guards torture them and they die. But so what, another inmate dies. They don’t care. There’s another one right behind him to take his place. 

The prison knows how to cover things up really good. They hide things. They’ll make it sound like it was an accident or say they died from natural causes like a heart attack or something. Just like the guy they put in the shower and pelted him with water so hot it peeled his skin off. It took him an hour to die. They said he died of a heart attack. Maybe he had one, but that wasn’t why he died. They murdered him. Another inmate had to clean up all the skin that peeled off. 

We hear about it all in here. Word gets around. People talk. But the staff and the officers aren’t stupid. They just let them get away with it. They don’t want anything to bring a bad name on the prison, so they look the other way. Sometimes a guard will get suspended or sent someplace else, but they never have any charges brought against them. Just like the police. What’s the difference between the guards and the inmates? Not much. They should be locked up right beside them.

Forget about a cell clean up or shower for the dudes who lost it mentally. No one’s going in their cell and physically drag ’em to the showers and then help them wash up. Not a chance. They stink real bad. They never change their clothes. Why would they? They smear their shit on the walls and play in it. Cover themselves in it. You can smell it. They even chuck it at the guards if they get close enough to the cell. They wash their shit out from under the door by flooding their cells. 

They don’t have enough wits left in them anymore to even know if they had on clean clothes, and that’s bad because even as dirty as the daily clothes are, and the guards have to bring to them every day, they’re still cleaner than what they got on already. He’s afraid to wear them because he heard about dudes getting crabs and lice from them so he tries to wash up his own clothes as best he can in his sink . . . .

Chapter One

Inside the Forbidden Outside
Chapter one 

Jamie took a deep breath before he opened his eyes. Something woke him up. He wasn’t sure what.  He didn’t really want to be awake yet. If he didn’t open his eyes he could be anywhere. It’s a game he played sometimes. He could pretend the sounds he heard were the kids getting ready to go to school. He could pretend it was a bright sunny morning and Morgan was in the kitchen coming breakfast. He tried to hold onto the illusion as long as possible. Actual reality was hard to bear, but each morning when he wakes it meant one more day had passed. One more worthless day that had no good come from it’s passing. One more wasted day separated from his blood.

He tried to sleep as much as possible. The more he slept the less he didn’t have to deal with the turmoil that constantly went around inside his brain. He had a hard enough time making his own head shut up without having to listen to everyone else inside these walls slowly lose their minds. Some men had something to live for and some didn’t. If no one cared, what’s the point? Seventeen years is an awful long time. When he realized, ten years ago, that he didn’t have a choice, he tried to convince himself he could do the time. What was the alternative?  But unless you have to go through such monotony and have to withstand such degradation and inhumanity you can never fully understand the depth of loss, knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

But he wasn’t completely alone. He had Sonni, his son’s grandmother. Morgan’s mother. He didn’t have Morgan so he didn’t have his son, who is now nine. He doesn’t really have his mother. She rarely visits and never writes or helps him get even basic hygiene products. But Sonni has stood byom. She calls him Son. It helps having someone who cares.

He really didn’t sleep too good much of the time. There was a lot of noise. During the night it was worse. Men screaming or even just moaning that they can’t take another day. They have to be let out. Beating on the door. Beating themselves. This is what probably woke him up. All these sounds from down the hall. Someone having a bad time of it. There were lots of men here with problems in their head. If they weren’t crazy when they got here they got crazy pretty fast after they locked them up in solitary confinement. It’s easy to reach the point where they can’t cope with it any more. Having all forms of human contact taken away and left with only the thoughts in their heads, when the thoughts are often irrational isn’t a fun place to be.

So they start crying and banging on the door, screaming, “Let me out of here mother fuckers!” Choking and spitting and yelling out really fowl stuff. Half of what they said you couldn’t even understand. He just tried to block it out the best he could before it got to him. No one was going to come and help them. Hopefully, they’d just pass out and go to sleep. Sometimes they would find ways to mutilate themselves or commit suicide. He tried that once, but he thinks he really just wanted people to remember he was still in here.

He heard all the stories. He heard about guards who walked too close to a cell door and got hit with shit and piss that someone was saving up to thrown on someone. Word got around. We might not be able to see each other, but we could hear and talk about what happens.  It’s cruel, what the guards do to get their kicks.  A person can only take so much of banging around a small concrete cell no wider than the span of your arms. The dirt. The filth. The grayness of it all. 

It’s easy to get disoriented because you don’t know what time it is. He was lucky in this cell. He has a window. He got moved around a lot and lots of times he didn’t have a window. When you don’t know if it’s day or night then paranoia can set in. You can’t judge if a day goes by. The food is often the same so you don’t know if they’re giving you breakfast or dinner.

When a guy really goes off his rocker the guards don’t want to go into that cell. No telling what you’ll find but you can be pretty sure that it’s going to be bad and it’s going to stink really bad. If they don’t put their hands out the slot so they can cuff them, the same slot they serve their food through, then they have to get their riot gear on and go in and mace the dude into submission. Prison guard brutality. . . .