My Friend Jermane

My Friend Jermane10173519_1719456508333930_2037764056148764303_n

Jermane entered my life at the beginning of 2015 and he has made a huge impact on me and my family in a short space of time. Jermane is now a regular part of my family and is a person we speak about most days. His name is mentioned daily, he is thought about daily. He is in all essence part of our family now. I found Jermane all those months ago very much alone with severe low self-esteem stemming from his trust and abandonment issues. This is a man after all who has spent 20 years in prison (most of that time in some sort of solitary confinement or high security confinement) with no outside influence/friends or family supporting him. Unlike most inmates he didn’t receive mail/post/Christmas or birthdays cards and family photos to pin on his wall to look at or letters to read when he was feeling low or lonely. He wasn’t using his meagre phone allowance time each week because he had no one to call. He didn’t have the luxury of focusing on visitor’s day to keep him going and keep his spirits up. He had no one. No mail, no phone calls and no visitors for nearly 20 years. Put yourself in that position, you are in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day every day for 20 years, no cell mate to chat to, no mail to read, no family to phone or have visit you. Just you and your thoughts and the knowledge that your innocent…..when I found him he was a shell. He had no self-worth, he didn’t realise he was worthy of love. He didn’t believe he was even loveable. I learnt that he entered the prison system as a very immature (with a low level scoring of IQ) impressionable 19 year old boy. I learnt over the year about his childhood (read section of website ‘Childhood’ for more details) and why he found himself in the situation he was in regards having no family and friend support unit looking out for him. I guess I was like you to begin with – I thought ‘hell this man must be guilty even his family and old friends haven’t even stuck around to support him’. How wrong I was to judge. I learnt that Jermane came from a much fractured family unit one of which was broken and distant (or in the process of breaking) even before he entered prison. This was a man who has now admitted to me that he has NEVER felt what unconditional love feels like. I find that very hard to digest (as a mother, a daughter and a friend) that a man can get to 39 years of age and never have experienced what unconditional love feels like but that was and is his life. Jermane likes to tell people that I saved him but he is very wrong. He saved me. He has taught me so much in such a small amount of time. He has taught me never to judge and he has taught me that the world can be a very unfair, cruel and corrupt place to live. He has shown me that people with power can and will regularly abuse their power. He has shown me that people are greedy and their greed will and can destroy lives and that people sleep very well each and every night knowing they have theoretically destroyed an innocent person’s life (that some people don’t and will never feel regret). I feel like Jermane has given me that little pill to swallow that Neo swallowed in the Matrix films. It feels like since I met Jermane I’ve woken up at last to the reality of this world.  The pill he has given me has given me access to behind the scenes so to speak – I can clearly see now. I can clearly see past the glossy shiny safe façade that society projects the American Justice System as being. Like many I took our Justice System for granted – it works perfectly. It’s perfect our Justice system – I thought. Now though after swallowing that pill I realise what an absolute sham it really is. That behind that glossy veneer lies a cruel wicked heart full of small pockets of corruption, errors and mistakes that go unnoticed and unpunished and quite happily destroys innocent lives in the process. And I’ve comes to realise that in parts of our justice system there is no justice purely greed and money! Ah yes, Money is the Justice Systems food of choice. I’m not a gambling person but since I met Jermane I’m purchasing lottery tickets each week in the hope one of them will strike it lucky and I can pay Jermanes way out of prison – because whether you agree or not I know that if I had big wads of money in my pocket Jermane Scott would be sitting here now right next me on the sofa watching Netflix and eating a bowl of popcorn.

When I found out Jermane was tested (during his trial) for his IQ and it showed he had a low IQ with a basic understanding of a 10 years olds (at 19) I was shocked.  He has from the first moment we started conversing come across to me as extremely eloquent, educated, witty and with a very high attention for detail and memory. This man also has this extraordinary power of being able to detect even the slightest change of tone in a person’s voice or even a change of tone in written words too. He is studious and highly observant. He is very clever and that is all his doing. He has spent his 20 years very wisely. He has completed all the educational courses available to him. He reads regularly, loves writing and penning poems (but don’t tell him I told you that as he will be embarrassed). He has an amazing sense of humour. He giggles like a naughty school boy! He has been caring and considerate towards me and my family and friends from the word go. He is kind, very sensitive and very loyal. He has trust issues and will easily dismiss someone from his life if he feels he is being lied to or they are disloyal to him in anyway but if he sees in you honesty and loyalty he will repay you tenfold. I had this preconceived idea about men like Jermane. He was an ex-gang member, drug smoking, dangerous man – what the hell would I have in common with this man?! And I’m right, me and Jermane could not be more different with regards background/upbringing if we tried BUT we have so much in common and he is NOTHING like that preconceived idea I first had. Firstly Jermane has been drug free now for 20 years. ALL his drug tests (which the prison demand all inmates take regularly) have always come back negative. In fact Jermane has clearly expressed to me many time he has no wish at all to ever go near drugs or anyone connected to drugs ever again. He has no wish to return to any part of his previous life or lifestyle. He sees now how drugs have affected not only him (as a child and a youth) but also how it has affected his family members and friends of old. How it has destroyed their lives or is at least is controlling their lives and holding them back from their potential. He wants none of that. And then there is this ‘gang member thuggish man’ I thought he would be – That makes me smile and laugh just writing that because I know the real Jermane. Yes he is 6ft 4 and yes there  is no doubt he is strong physically but thuggish he is not.  He left ALL connections with any kind of gang involvement behind him about 15 years ago now. After much soul searching, reflection and a new way of viewing the world and his self-worth he realised what an absolute waste and nonsense that kind of lifestyle was and is. He regrets deeply getting involved in that gang but I tell him not to be so hard on himself because in his neighbourhood in that era (the 90s) with his lack of education and dare I say lack of positive parental/family influence and bearing in mind he was only a young immature boy it wasn’t his fault. He knows he could have said no (to joining that gang) and he knows he should have said no but he is starting to realise that it was just inevitable for a boy like Jermane to end up somehow connected to that gang due to factors out of his control at the time. He isn’t part of that gang now and THAT is his adult mature choice and I am proud of him for it. Again he wants NOTHING to do with any of that now or in the future. He longs for a normal peaceful life, he longs to be a husband and a Dad. He longs for a life of happiness and family and normal day to day stuff that we all take for granted. He dreams of making pancakes and covering them with maple syrup and eating them in a garden on a summer morning listening to the birds singing. He dreams of having hot baths full of bubbles and sleeping on a bed with a huge thick mattress and 2 pillows (he has spent 20 years lying on a thin mattress on a concrete slab with just a thin blanket and 1 pillow which is as thin as a sheet of paper). He dreams of driving a car to a destination unknown. His biggest dream is to travel the world. He is the most non-judgemental, honest, kindest person I know. For someone who has been hidden away as a prisoner in a confined space alone and with no outside influences for 20 years he is surprisingly modern in his views and in his thinking. He is very knowledgeable on modern day culture and probably a lot more accepting than most 39 year olds I know. He does know what an IPad is but calls them ‘IPad things’ and he has no idea what Google is. He knows what a Smart phone is but has no idea how to use one (and has never seen one in the flesh). His music tastes are somewhat stuck in the 90s but he keeps up to date with the Worldwide News and is very knowledgeable when it comes to General Knowledge or Politics.

Jermane is my friend and some of you may find that weird or question how I could possibly be friends with someone whom I’ve never met (I have yet to visit him due to the distance between us). But I am no fool. I am not some vulnerable lonely woman who writes to dangerous men for kicks (like I have seen in magazines or in documentaries). I am his friend and he is mine and I am proud to have Jermane Scott in my life. He calls me his ray of sunshine because when he reads my letters I bring a temporary ray of light into his dark and gloomy cell. I call him my best friend and I’m proud to do so.