Juvenile Hall

Juvenile Hall

Writing Exchange 2006-2018

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Siskiyou, El Dorado, Placer, Fresno, and Butte County. Students are given journal topics and asked to write what needs to be written. Several entries are handpicked from each classroom site and posted to the blog anonymously. Students at each site then read the material together, discussing the writing and connecting with others.

Planned Exchanges

Planned Exchanges 2018: May 24; June 27; July 25; More To Come!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Entry #1701
The Wheels Fell Off
They say when a heart breaks that it don't break even
Well I guess that makes sense from this pain that I'm feeling
You'd said you'd be there for me, cry for me, die for me
But where were you at when I told you to ride for me?
Took my hands off the steering wheel and told you drive for me
But we crashed... And when we crashed we burned
You had everyone laughing at me and them laughs they hurt
But of course I played it off like it didn't even phase me
Like it didn't break my heart that you've got another baby
And man I hope it’s just that teenage love
I hope I'll forget you someday, it's just today ain't one
So I hope when you hear this it'll hit you
When you see this it'll fix you
To open up your eyes and see that I was rocking with you
See I was riding til’ the wheels fell off…
But I looked over and there was no one in the passenger
See I don't wanna fight for you cuz I don't wanna match with her
Boy I ain't finna compete with nobody
If you can't see what I am then I can't be your shawty
See what am I to fight for when you had me lookin like a fool
They say fools fall in love and I guess that this is true
But if she wanna see me she can see me
Word around town she wanna be me
But we were king and queen even called myself your Mrs.
So next time I see you I just gotta keep my distance
But no hard feelings man, I wish you best of wishes...?

Entry #1702
Hidden Figures
Never able to sleep.
Always the same thing just a different dream.
My mind racing, my body pacing.
The moment my eyes close, his voice is the start of my pulse.
Tortured by this ghost, trapped as his host.
Day and night, try as I might, am never able to put up a fight.
My eyes have lost their light, where he hides dark inside.
My heart has fallen apart, I just want to restart.
But he's real smart leaving me off the chart.
How do I escape? His gaze is a permanent maze.
I don't want to sell myself anymore, but his illusions of the future I adore.

Entry #1703
My life has always been a complete mess. I have been teased all my life because of who I am. I am a “homo” or a “fag” and a whole lot of other names. I just had to grow up a lot quicker and learn to choose my battles each day. All of my life I have been judged. These people act as if I chose to live through all of this chaos, but I did not. I was born this way, period. However, according to other people I chose this or something had to happen to me. NOT TRUE! However, I guess that everyone else knows me better than I know myself. That makes me laugh a lot but I get over it quick. I hate it when people always judge and say that I cannot do what they can because I am gay and not capable of doing it. I hate how all my life I have been judged and critiqued for something I honestly did not choose. One of my favorite figure skaters, Andy Rippon, the first openly gay male to win a gold Olympic medal, quotes this: “I’m not a gay Olympian. I am just an Olympian. And now I’m an Olympic medalist and I happen to be gay. It has nothing to do with how I got here. It does help to have nice eyebrows, though.” See what I mean. Not everybody is one way or the other just because he is gay. I AM STILL A HUMAN!

Entry #1704
You devour or you famish.  
You cause war between everything in your path.  
Natural selection I say, similar to Darwin’s theory.  
Crack or Coke you perceive your way.  
Homes left abolished, children left to survive life in an unconscious way.  
Silver ladle you deceived my mouth, plastic spoon you never let me go without.  
Hot water you cut off, cold water you were there.
Heater you didn’t work but stove you heated the house.  
So much destruction causes me to think, is existence the way I see it, or is it an illusion, an imagination?  
Am I a chess piece on a chess board, moved by a greater being.
Dangerous mind you stalked my thoughts and made new connections inside.
You created a spare key for living in today’s time.

Entry #1705
Dreams or Reality?
How it happened? I really don't know…Why it happened? I don't really know that either. What happened after I woke up? That I know. A very long police report. Followed up with the heart break of my mother and my family. Several days of nightmarish dreams that followed me, which I later realized weren't nightmares at all. It was my memory coming back to me. A series of scenes floating through my brain at night of me running from police. The weight of a glock in my sweats. Fast forwarding to multiple officers on top of me and the scrapes on my elbows bleeding, however I felt no pain. I felt nothing. Nothing until I heard the cry of my mother through the phone. Several days of going back and forth constantly searching to find answers, but inevitably not knowing which was a dream and which was reality. But now…now I feel the pain. Now I feel the overbearing depression and anxiety every day. Every day is a repetition of the last gloomy one. The world around me spins, but the days are passing, believe it or not. However I feel like I'm still stuck in quicksand. Desperately wanting to escape this mental prison and this facility, but just sinking deeper into the illusion this place provides. Realizing I can't, all I can really do is dream. Dream of the days that I could receive the comforting embrace of my princess's arms and the warmth of her lips. But reminiscing on things that made me feel joy and acceptance and love, in a place where that girl is nowhere to be found, haunts me. I have further realized that this place can turn even the sweetest of dreams into haunting nightmares of the freedom I once had. It brings me back the question of which is a dream and which is reality…to what is a dream vs. what is a nightmare.

Entry #1706
Me, an Addict
Momma, don't ask why. Please don't you cry. I'm sorry I get high.
I swear one day I'll say goodbye to the pipe.
I promise to be someone in life.
They say everyone falls someway, somehow.
Mom I'm sorry you gave me your all but I didn't fall.
I decided I'd sit ... And take a hit..
I didn't know what the outcome would be.
That this would be me, an addict I'd be, much less that you'd have to watch and see.
Mother I'm sorry I let you down but I'm the one on the ground. I know I hurt you, I never meant to start to use or start this cycle of abuse.  

Entry #1707
Hell is Hot
My only problem is ill be shutting my eyes forever and who knows if God really exists.
Do God and the devil somehow have some type of link? Or is it all over soon as we take our last blink ? I thought I was clever, but making a deal with the devil I didn't know would last forever. The little red man says he has fun walking the earths pavement. While I don't need a lighter to light my churro. I have the flames of hell, to also keep me warm at night.

Entry #1708
One moment that I will never forget in my life is the night I fell in love. It was a warm summer night. Me and my girl got a bottle and decided to go night swimming. So we went to the pool and started sippin and swimming. After a few hours I was just holding her in my arms just enjoying the feel of her touch when all of a sudden she said, "Promise me that you will never leave me." At that moment I knew she was the one for me. My one and only. That night I promised her that I will never leave her.

Entry #1709
Not Lost, Found
One of the moments I will never forget in my life is when I made a huge mistake. That mistake landed me here in Juvenile Hall either until I'm 18 or in DJJ until they think I'm ready to be in society. One thing I will not forget about this moment is how bad the judge talked me down in front of my family. Not only did he talk me down, he said he thought that I was “a lost cause" and he thinks I should go to DJJ because I'm a “danger to society and myself." I had just turned 17 years old two months before. I try to keep my head held high as I walk around this place.
Another moment I will never forget is holding my daughter in the visiting room and hearing her talk. If it weren't for my choices I would have been there for her first words. It hurt watching my little girl go, wondering why I wasn't going with her. I promised her that I will get out and not come back. I hope I'm only here till I'm 18. That's only 10 months away. If they send me to DJJ I don't know how long I will have to stay.

Entry #1710
When I'm stressed out my good coping skills are to talk to my boyfriend. He always makes things better for me.  Sometimes I will talk to one of my aunts or another family member. Another good coping skill I have is to go on walks, clear my head, and breathe. I also have some kind of negative coping skills.  I go outside and smoke a cigarette. It's not the best choice but it's better than going straight to drugs, like I used to. Sometimes I listen to music or go and ride my board around. In the long term these won't have much effect, but maybe they help cut down drug use and any other negative ways I cope with stress. My bad coping skills include running away when I get hella stressed out. I give up and usually leave. My probation officer, one day, really stressed me out and I ended up cutting my ankle bracelet and going on the run. I tend to use drugs when I'm stressed out, but it rarely happens (mainly when I'm on the run). Sometimes I find any reason I can to fight somebody. If I'm stressed and I'm out hanging with friends and somebody does one little thing to make me mad or annoyed, I'll use the excuse and fight them, whether it's just yelling at them or physically hitting them. In the long run drugs will/can kill me. Running away won't help me out at all in life, especially when I'm an adult. And fighting can land me in jail. When I'm an adult I can't just go around fighting people. I could really hurt someone and could get in really big trouble. It’s really not worth ruining my life over, and I don't want to hurt someone just because of my life problems.

Entry #1711
  During the last 18 years of my life, I have had many key moments that I will always remember. One of those unforgettable memories is when I played tackle football for the Junior Broncos. I was only in fourth grade at this time. When I was younger, I was always very short and didn’t have much muscle on me. Coach still said I was fit to play safety for his team.
  During the last play of one of our games, the high school's junior team gave the ball to their biggest and fattest kid on the team. He was playing offensive lineman there for most of the game. Right off the bat, he made it through our defensive line. By the time he got to our linebackers, they had already moved out of the way because they were scared of being run over by him. It was just me and this monstrously fat kid in the backfield. He started towards me as fast as he could manage, being nine or ten year’s old and weighing 170+ lbs.
  My first reaction was to get out of the way, but instead I dove at him. He tried to shake me loose, but that caused him to slow down long enough for me to grab a hold of his hip pads. Once I had a firm grip, I dropped all of my weight, thus, causing him to drag me. The kid dragged me about forty-five yards, and then fell over at the ten-yard line.
  My coach, my team all went crazy. This caused us to win our last game and just because of that play, my team nominated me to get the M.V.P. award.

Entry #1712
Forgive Me for My Wrong Doings…
Forgive me for my wrong doings, for I am still growing. Forgive me for the burdens I’ve caused and all the pain over the years, I am only human. To whoever I may have caused misery or distress to, I would like to apologize. It was never my intentions to hurt the ones I loved and care for. It has taken me a great deal of time to realize and accept my mistakes, so I apologize for my ignorance. Since admitting to my misdoings, I’ve been working to become a better person than I was yesterday, but at times it feels it will never be enough, and for that I carry guilt and shame wherever I go. I hope to never become the person I was before. I’ve made an effort to change. I have worked immensely for months to become the person I am today and have barely forgiven myself for the things I have done. I have now decided my debts are paid and I have made up for my mistakes. I used to think of the past and dwell on the decisions I chose to make. Now I think of regret as a wasted emotion, for all it does is hold you back from moving forward. So for that I would like to apologize to myself as well for failing to realize that despite my mistakes, I am no less or better than others and for discouraging myself every day for it. And to who it may concern, I would like to apologize if I may have been a burden of such.

Entry #1713
My stay is getting overwhelming here. My and is starting to twist like a twirler. I have been here since sep-2017 and now it is June 2018 and I still have a few months to go. Its got a little better in here, but not much. I have calmed down a little bit. I don't fight like I used to. I used to fight all the time. But I don't fight anymore because I don't see myself benefiting from it much. The last few times I got in fights in here it didn’t solve much. I just got pepper sprayed and stripped for my cloth and put in an ice cold shower while everyone for 60 feet watched and were gasping from pepper spray still in the air. I don't recommend that unless you want to burn like a habanero pepper all over your body for 24 hours. That’s a little taste of what I was going through. But now I am in a welding program and doing pretty good. I have improved during my stay and I am proud of myself. I have 18 credits left and I'm going to succeed.

Entry #1714
“Free Running”
   So something I will never forget as long as I live was my best friend KJT. He was an amazing guy and a great friend; I thought of him as a brother in the short time I knew him. In school, he knew me as "the weird kid that held the door open and high fived everyone." I thought that was a little messed up but couldn't help myself to laugh at it. I thought that if I was him I would've probably thought the same thing. We always hung out together. We were basically inseparable.
   We mainly did stupid stuff together like drink, smoke weed, and smoke cigarettes. We would walk around town when I moved closer and we would go to an abandoned hospital and explore it and climb on top of it. There were some times when I'd go out to his house. We usually played MW3 (Modern Warfare 3), a great game, and he was really good at it. When we were at my house we watched movies or went walking.
   I remember that I didn't want to go anywhere one day because I was feeling lazy and wanted to sleep. I drifted off to a light sleep for maybe half an hour and when I opened my eyes the movie 300 was on. I've seen it hundreds of times, but when I looked at the TV, the lighting faded and all you saw was the man’s eyes, teeth, and gold chains. It was so funny and we looked at each other and laughed so hard. There were other times where he would climb up to the rooftop of a school…"free running" he had called it. I was weak in those days so he helped me up. Pulled my whole body up by himself. He was for sure the strongest person I knew.
   Before I moved I was living in a trailer park near him, and I was dating this girl at the time. Like all relationships, it came to an end. With my heart in two, I wasn't down to go anywhere at all. KJT tried to help me get over the girl, but I was in full swing of the heart break that comes after a relationship ends. He told me the truth about her dating another guy even when it was tough for him to do.  "Shit happens," he had told me and I went on believing that.
   After that had long passed and I was in a different trailer park closer to town, he and I were going to more places, climbing more stuff and spending a lot more time outside. Once he stayed the night and we had a bottle and a pipe. At that time we had no weed so we scraped the pipe for resin and smoked that and then drank the bottle. Usually when we drank, he got too drunk and wanted to leave because his crush (my sister) was being mean to him. Usually I always stopped him but that night when he had walked to the door and said "I'll see you later," and walked out, I unconsciously went after him and watched him walk away. I said to myself "I'm not dealing with this shit." I went back inside and listened to a song called (Brother by Falling in Reverse).
   Roughly fifteen minutes later I saw red white and blue lights outside the window and went to ask my mom what was going on. She told me to go check, and I did. I went outside to see a cop turning cars to go the other way a flare lay in the road. I went up to the cop asked him what had happened. He looked at me and said "a kid was hit by a car." At that moment I felt my heart drop and I told him my friend had just left my house and if I could see if it was him. He said I could. He walked slowly and I was growing more impatient. As we walked down the road we passed the flare and I saw my friends shoe and then his empty pack of cigarettes. And I saw him, laying in the middle of the road, a few bruises on his face, arms reaching either side, one leg straight and one leg bent.
   I told the cop it was my friend and he went to get his boss, so he could write some things down. I still believed KJT would be ok.  After, I asked him if I could get my mom real quick. He said, “Yes,” and I took off back to my house. By the time we got there they wouldn't let her by. I didn't understand why, but she did, and told me to go inside. I started texting a different buddy of mine that I've known all my life and told him what had happened. A while passed and I heard my mom crying outside and went to see her. I got out of the motor home and my mom and grandma hugged me. I asked what was wrong. My mom simply shook her head. I turned to my grandma and she looked me in the eyes and said "He’s gone." At that moment I felt my heart being ripped out of me.

Entry #1715
Love blossomed out of the mulch of sin.
Isn't that the way it's always been?
Wicked intentions become a needed sensation and you can't always say no to the temptations.
It's starts off as a way to pass time and before you know it turns into something you can't ignore, like before.
It's okay, it's alright, I know there comes a time I'll have to say goodbye, but no, I won't cry.
I always had doubt from the start. I was always cautious for that part. I broke my own heart.
You take no credit. Except for the illusions you created.  

Entry #1716
Life I Chose
I’ve been locked away for four months and some days hoping all my pain will fade away. I’m trying to change my life, but it’s hard when I’m depressed. I go straight to a knife. I tried to explain being in these streets ain’t right, lost in my thoughts I can’t sleep at night. Being in the streets taught me how to fight, when I should’ve been at home teaching my little ones how to fly a kite. Locked down for some time, don’t know when I will go back to my regular life. In school my teachers say I’m smart and bright. Sometimes I ask myself why I chose this life? My family tells me to do my best, I don’t have to turn out like the rest. With the life I chose the only words I understand are: “Turn around you are under arrest.” People tell me I won’t make it past eighteen, well, I’m going to show them. I’m going to accomplish my dreams.

Entry #1717
Basketball Is Life, Never Gonna Stop
I have always loved playing basketball. I started when I was in 7th grade. I never played for a team, but I once played in a tournament. I did this when I was in boot camp for six months. We ended up coming in 2nd place out of like eight teams including our team. I first started off with baseball when I was very young. Then about 5th or 6th grade I played flag football all the way up to 7th grade. I ended up going to play basketball and I found that basketball was a lot more fun. I had a P.E class with the basketball team cause I wanted to join. I practiced a lot with them but I was also doing drugs. So I got locked up and lost my chance to show everybody what I could do on the court. As I was about 13 years old I wanted to join the NBA. I would practice myself because the people I hung out with didn’t play. My brothers weren’t as good as me, so they didn’t want to play me. Every day for months straight I would put worn out shoes by my court and do dribbling drills all day, running up and down the street. My dad was a basketball player when he was young, but he never went to the pros. I looked up to him and how he used to play ball when he was a young kid.

Entry #1718
Locked Up
Heavy locks clanging, steel doors opening, radios going off, keys jangling, an AC running, pens scratching and my soul crying for freedom. I'm not the first or last one in my family to get incarcerated. When I was 4 years old I remember my dad’s car came sliding around the corner and hearing sirens not far behind. When he got to the house he told me and my mom he loved us, but we may never see him again. Next thing I know my dad’s telling me, "I'm the man of the house and to do what I need to do to care for my family. And that I'm better than him and my older brother, so stay out of trouble.”  That was 11 years ago and I was just a kid. Now I'm sitting across the street from him for the 11th time. I'll be out in 6 months while my dad has another 8 years to go. I guess those words didn't stick, because here I am and I'm only 15 years old. I've been in and out since I was 12 years old. When I get out this time it's all going to change. I'm tired of these steel doors, staff yelling, radio chatter, keys jangling, my mom on the phone crying and my soul crying for freedom!

Rap Written and Performed by a Table Mt School CAMP Student.  She had the rest of the class sing the background vocals.  This was written and performed as a goodbye to Dave Anselmo who has taught at Table Mountain School for 35 years!  Today is his last day…


Thank You Dave Anselmo
Look everybody let’s turn down the walkie talkie’s
Dave comes walking in he’s got his cup of coffee
I don’t wanna see you leave but I know you can’t stay
But no other teacher can ever take your place
See you was always there for me
Showed me that you cared for me
And all my educators in the past
Gave up and they said I wouldn’t last
But you were patient with me and I caught up pretty fast
Long days kick your feet up and relax
Cuz man Dave you earned it
Good days you deserve it
And yeah I’ll be hurt that I won’t see you in the mornings
But I ’m a keep pushing and show you I can make it 
Save you a seat at my graduation
See my opportunity I’m a go and take it
Dave’s always saying damn that girls amazing
She’s my super star in math she’s going hard
And I know she’ll make it far

See you said there’s so much more than this
We ain’t your average kids
But I’m glad I did 
Get you to meet you Dave, cuz you made a change
So when you go away have them better days J
Yeah I’m better for tomorrow
Thank you Dave Anselmo
I’m better for tomorrow
Thank you Dave Anselmo

Yeah math class where we graphing
Stories got us laughing
And damn seeing Dave leaves gon be tragic
So I guess, I guess this is good bye
But this, this is for them good times
Always got us studying this is for them book times
This is for my side that you always stood by
Kids tripping well I’m a be you look by
Yeah, yeah Dave I got you
We going to the top dude
And when I’m on that college stage I’m a think about you
Shoot, I might even thank you in my speech
Cuz Dave loves his students and I love the way he teach
He told me that my dreams are in my reach
Just set my mind to it and believe 

See you said there’s so much more than this
We ain’t your average kids
But I’m glad I did 
Get you to meet you Dave, cuz you made a change
So when you go away have them better days J
Yeah I’m better for tomorrow
Thank you Dave Anselmo