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James McCormick

November 2005

Following is a letter written by James McCormick, #120051.  This letter was written to students at an alternative school.  James gave his permission to put this on the website.  If it keeps one young person from taking the wrong path, it has done what James intended the letter to do.

“Greetings to you, my name is James McCormick and I am incarcerated in the ADC prison system.  Like many of you reading this letter I too said to myself I would never get caught or go to jail.  But let me tell you something, you can only do wrong for so long before it catches up to you.

This place is no resort or vacation spot.  You have absolutely no choices or freedom here.  When they close those steel bars behind you in that cold 6×8 cell, you are alone and have lost all your rights.  Your Mom and Dad can’t even help you, not even your friend sitting next to you.  You are all alone, thrown together with other people who have done only the Lord knows what to get in here.  You have no choice in what to eat, if it is half cooked, oh well, eat it or starve.  No privacy in taking showers; people are all the time watching you.  Oh yeah, you can say goodbye to your favorite TV shows; it just isn’t happening here.  Don’t expect to get any kindness from the guards.  You are only a job to them, nothing more. Your little get togethers on your birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, forget it.  People believe me; this is one place you don’t want to come to.  You are a number in here, not even a name any more.

Take a look around you and see the people who love you and care for you.  There is none of that here.  I have been locked up for over five years and I have not received a visit, phone call or even a letter from my family.  You lose more than what you think.  Yeah, you may think you are tough and strong and don’t need anybody, yeah right!  I see the biggest men just wanting to hear from home. 

And here is the hardest thing, you have to accept that you also hurt the ones you say you love when you come here.  All that time you don’t spend with your family and friends will never be back again; you lost it all.  They will continue with their life but you don’t have a life in here.  You just exist and take up space.

Young people, I pray that you take these words to heart and ponder hard on your decision on your path of life.  Prison is not for you.  It is never a joke or laugh.  Men are dying here every day and 85% of them are not natural causes.  These people died without a friend or family being with them.  This place makes you grow old faster than your years.

If I say anything that would help you in your life it is this.  Whatever you do, also do right.  Coming here is not the solution or answer.  It could mean your death.

May God bless you all and keep you safe.”