Not By Choice – By Chance
I’ve had plenty of time to vindicate my mind, heart, plus my soul, from my tribulations. Incarceration is self-inflected humiliation. In a mirror I see a clown looking dead back at me.
A tear or two falls and so does my head. What I cherished most in life has been put on pause. My imaginations now from behind these walls and gates are of a new person. My past actions of trying to get over in life illegally has me now saying, look at me now, Mr. Incarcerated written on my face and both hands.
SCI Brenner St. Petersburg,
Blurry Rights, Vivid Wrongs
Every day it seems the news has stories about horrible acts of violence. There must be a complete paradigm shift in how this continuing cycle of antagonism/retaliation is perpetuated. If not, then I’m afraid we’re only going to see these seemingly endless atrocities escalate.
We are facing a worldwide crisis in mental healthcare. I have firsthand knowledge of how easy it is to “fall through the cracks in the system.” If there is ever going to be measurable progress in diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders, we must first remove the stigma which prevents full disclosure of these painful and personal struggles. Only then will we be able to properly identify the problem and make well informed decisions in regards to treating these issues proactively.
It used to frustrate me when I would seek help and their main criteria for treatment was, “Do you want to hurt yourself or others?” Well, of course not! That’s the entire reason for me seeking help in the first place. I want to deal with this now, before it gets out of hand and affects my quality of life or those around me.
Unfortunately, it was then that I gained the valuable insider knowledge as to why these overworked, underpaid people in charge of intake and screening were so jaded. Right there in the waiting room, the guy next to me leans in and says with a grin, “Just tell them you’re hearing voices and they’ll give you the good stuff.” Then another woman starts explaining that if I say “this and that” then I might qualify for a “disability check.” I wanted to scream at both of them, “Shame on you!” I wasn’t there to get dope. I wasn’t there to run some pathetic con artist game to extort state funds. I like to work, and I’m certainly not some dope fiend. I’m just an old blue-collar guy of average intelligence who’s known for a long time that much of the stuff going on in my head is not right.
I know I’m not violent or mean. I’ve never started fights, and I’m certainly not a bully. However, as far back as I can remember, I was painfully aware of my limits for tolerating such foolishness. Oh sure, I was taught right from wrong. I was supposed to hold myself to some higher standard and either walk away or turn the other cheek. But what about “them” (the bullies)? It didn’t make sense that I have to follow the rules while they do whatever they please.
All my life I’ve tried to stay out of the way. Since I already know I’m a weirdo; it’s my little way of avoiding problems.
You are receiving this correspondence on behalf of thousands of men and women sentenced to life in state prison because of what is called a murder “theory.” I am speaking on behalf of so many who are seen today as criminals, and their voices are so easily disregarded. It is unnerving. Senate Bill 1437 has been put into action to resentence those who were, “in theory,” found guilty of first-degree murder and were not found to be the actual killers.
How can a jury, even when educated of the character of another human being, judge what is in that human being’s heart? Somewhere along the line here, these people started to “put the cart before the horse,” if you will, and we have become far too quick to take away the lives of these people who have already suffered far too many injustices.
Being around these women, it is obvious to not only another inmate but to the staff as well, that these people are victims of abuse themselves. And to have to be abused and suffer at the hands of a blatantly corrupt and compassionless “justice” system is horrific. “Proposition 7 eliminated the requirement that both principals and accomplices be personally present during the commission of the act or acts causing death, then broadening the scope of accomplice liability to defendants who “physically aided and abetted the acts causing death.” If our laws need reevaluating to this extent, then our system needs reevaluating as well. These are human beings — mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, friends. These are people. Regardless of the past, these are fellow human beings. Something must be done.
Sarah Marie Sims
Central California Women’s Facility