Juvenile Hall

Juvenile Hall
Artwork

Writing Exchange 2006-2019

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in 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 2020: September 30

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Entry #1885
Open Bottle
Today I woke up in Juvi again. I'm so tired. It’s been almost 9 months. I went to sleep at around 1am last night. I couldn't stop thinking about how things could have been if I didn't open that bottle. I had just gotten home around 6pm from kicking it with my girl and some homies. I don't usually go home that early but it was my older cousin's birthday and he wanted me to be at the party so I went. That's where I messed up. I knew I couldn't handle myself around alcohol, but I still went around it and drank too much. I got really messed up and I ended up getting my dad’s gun. I robbed someone for their car, assaulted 3 officers, and broke a cop’s windshield. Just like today I woke up with barely any sleep and wondering how things could have been if I didn't open that bottle.

Entry #1886
When Will He Walk The Walk?
One morning I awoke to see my dad on the couch again, just when I thought today would be different. But I know why he is on the couch. He was drunk or high just like all the other times. He’s the only one that I cared about. I loved my mom, but I’m a daddy’s boy. After all the beatings my mom got and all pain and sorrow we went through trying to get him better, he didn’t want it. One day it got so bad my mom left with me and we never looked back. My mom and I lived on the streets with no place of our own and then my grandparents took me in after seeing the life I was having to live. I was ten years old. Later on, my dad moved with his mom and my grandma. We started to see each other more, but he didn’t stop drinking, doing drugs, or hurting his family. He had two more kids: my brother and sister from a different mom. After that he seemed happy for a bit, but a couple years later he went back to drinking and doing drugs and back to hurting his family. I wasn’t surprised. 

Entry #1887
Good Morning, not Mourning
        When I awoke that morning I didn’t expect much. I was going to relax all day and maybe go get some food with a girl I was talking to. The night before was bad: I got in a fight with my mom over the phone. She was trying to blame me for the mistakes she’s made, and the way her life turned out. That was not my burden to bare, so I chose to forget it and drink and smoke.
        I was living at my friends at the moment, and he was out of town, it was just me all alone. After I was drinking and smoking for a while, I ran out of weed so I went to look in the garage where I kept my extra. In there I found a fire cracker, I didn’t think much about it, just that I wanted to see what it would look like exploding. I go into his back yard, I light it, in almost an instant the fuse is flying to the bomb, so I panic and throw it.
        Boom! Everything was white and then I look down and my left hand’s pinky and ring finger are completely mangled. The skin is blown back to the point where I can see bone. There is a fat crack where my palm is split open, and blood is rushing out. To top it off my hand is dangling flimsy and I can’t move it. My arm is broken straight in half, both bones.
        In a person’s life there are always two choices, do something, or don’t. You can get up in the morning or not, you can be successful or not, and you can sit there in shock while you bleed out, or you can do something about it. I ran inside while my arms dangling by my side bleeding, pulling out my phone dialing 911. I’m looking through the kitchen for some kind of bandage or something, I grab a bowl and fill it with ice water. While my hand is in the water I can start to feel the pain, its horrid every inch of my arm is killing me. While I was sitting there in pain, it felt like hours, still to this day I don’t know how long I was sitting there. I was awake the entire time, sitting there trying not to pass out, the bowl of water was almost over flowing from the blood.
        Eventually the ambulance got there, they put my arm in a splint, and carried me on the gurney to the ambulance. Bomb squad, police, fire trucks, ambulance, the whole 9 yards. While I was in the back of the ambulance, they put me on morphine, which made me sick so I asked for something else. They put me on oxycodone after that, which helped the pain a little. We started driving and in the back of the ambulance the guy was sitting next to me and asked if I wanted to keep my clothes or cut them off. I wanted them so I sat up and took off my clothes, then the guy asked if I wanted a picture of my hand, I said, “Hell yeah.”
        When I arrived to Enloe Hospital they were all blown away, and didn’t know what to do. They sent me to a helicopter where we flew to UC Davis. When I arrived to the next hospital there were around 30 doctors all waiting for me, I remember all their faces, they looked surprised, and unsure what to do. There was screaming kids around me, and a lot of doctors all around, it pissed me off so bad. Then some doctors come in and they tell me they have to pull my arm into place, so they come around me and hold me down while pulling my arm. I’m struggling fighting and trying to get released so I can punch the doctor. After I calm down they say they need to fly me to San Francisco.
        They load me onto the helicopter and we take off. Well this is the part of the story that’s hard to believe. It was a sunset, I was low on energy, and then everything froze. Everything went quiet, and then my little brother who died years ago was sitting right next to me, and I just looked at him and told him, “I love you.” He looked at me and told me, “I know, I know.” Then we just sat there for hours, and hours…what felt like the longest of times was only 5 seconds. Then boom, I wake up in the hospital. They told me they had to amputate my two fingers, and that I flat lined for 5 seconds. I was lucky to be alive. The months I spent at the hospital I would dream about that moment, and break down crying. I would get angry at anyone who would try to talk to me. I was wishing I was dead.
        To this day I still have flash backs of that day. It was not a good one, but it was an experience. The one thing that I am grateful for is getting to say good bye to my little brother. I never had the chance to before, but that night I did. I am grateful for being alive today, and instead of mourning over my brother I’m going to do good for him and be the best I can be.

Entry  #1888
Come Home
I remember when our house was so cold.
I was stuck figuring out why you weren’t really home.
Always asking why I felt so alone.
I was out in the streets at twelve feeling so grown.
Remember all those nights when they would go by slow.
Praying to God that you would just come home.
Remember doing those drugs that made me feel so bold.
Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t even breathe,
but I forgive you for the times you chose him over me.
Thinking about those times that you would only hurt me.
I remember running away at the age of thirteen.
It has been three years and I haven’t been seen.
I would stay in the streets until I saw the sun rise.
I would walk around feeling real high.
But I never really noticed because time would fly by.
I tried to stay away from all those so called guys.
At the end of the day I forgive you for all those nights.
That you weren’t always home.

Entry #1889
Lighting It Up
If you really knew me, you would know that I am terrified of spiders and people judging me before they get to know me.
you would know that I am proud of who I am.
you would know that the hardest thing I have ever done is open myself up to the world and let people get to know the real me.
If you really knew me, you would know that my biggest dream is helping kids like me who are in the system.
you would know that the person I feel closest to is my brother. He went through everything that I have, just the same.
If you really knew me, you would know that if I had three wishes, I would wish for world peace, equal treatment for everyone of God’s children and for everyone to feel loved.
If you really knew me, you would know that I believe in equality.
you would know that my family is not normal, but I love them anyway.
you would know I feel safe when I’m at home with my pets watching Netflix with my boyfriend under my 40-lb. weighted blanket.
If you really knew me, you would know that I have been abused but I lived through it.
you would know that my biggest regret is not being there for my little sisters.
If you really knew me, you would know that I hate racism, unfair treatment and inequality.
If you really knew me, you would know that I want people to look at me and think she can light up the world.

Entry #1890
When Will I Be Ready to Live?
If I wasn’t locked up right now I would be doing very terrible. Before I was locked up I was smoking dope and doing lots of coke with my ex-girlfriend. We just broke up, but were still hanging out. She’d come over and we’d just smoke and chill. She preferred meth so she wouldn’t do coke with me. I was anything but chill. I was honestly tweaking very badly. Every day people were trying to jump me and kill me because I’ve done some terrible things to a lot of people. Most these people were affiliated in some gang and now I’m in trouble. I would still be smoking dope doing nothing with my life or I would’ve gotten killed and jumped if I continued what I was doing and hanging with the wrong people.

I somewhat miss my home; it was a horrible house. People around the area knew it as a dope house and would come over just to get high. Most the days my girlfriend was over with me and we’d be doing nothing but getting spun to the gun, feeding and helping my addiction grow. I still have the craving to listen to loud music, snort coke and smoke meth. I also know what will happen if I keep doing drugs the rest my life. I’ll end up in jail for a very long time or I’ll die from overdose.

The last two Christmas’ my stepdad’s family came over and I was very high from doing meth the whole week. I was in my own world of being high. We took a family picture together and you can tell I’m high. My pupils are dilated and my eyes were very wide. Last Christmas I don’t remember anything what we did.  I don’t even think we celebrated Christmas. My mom and her boyfriend were drunk and sleeping for week on weeks. Everyone at my house is either drunk or tweaking and sleeping or staying up for days.

I know for New Year’s Eve I just got a new dope pipe and was sitting in my bed and smoking. I don’t know why I wasn’t with my girlfriend, me and her were texting. I was more into my addiction than my girlfriend. I remember I was smoking and hearing people cheering outside and yelling happy New Year’s. It didn’t feel like the holidays, the whole house was pitch black and my mom and her boyfriend left me to go to the bar. So I was home alone just listening to music and getting spun by myself. It was honestly very depressing but I didn’t mind it.

Now I’ve spent my 18th birthday locked up, Halloween, Thanksgiving locked up and Christmas locked up. I haven’t experienced a traditional typical Christmas with family in a couple of years.  

Entry #1891
One Day
One minute, one hour, one day, we all think it’s fun and games till the time runs out. We don’t know how good we have it until it’s taken away. One day I was the GP, earlier that day I got the call, the call that I knew was going to happen sooner or later. I was hoping it was later, very later. Later that day I showed up at the house that I knew very well because I had lived in it before. Two hours later I sat there taking it in, taking in the fact that she’s dead, not coming back no matter how much I want her to. That day is the day that I built a wall around me and my emotions so I don’t get hurt again.

Entry #1892
Completely Honest
        If I never got arrested this last time, I would probably be lying in bed sleeping. The night before I would have been stealing shit all night not caring about the victims of my crimes. If I wasn’t in the hall I would probably be on the run because I cut off another ankle monitor. I would be living broke: no real home, no family, just “friends” who say they got your back, but when it really comes down to it they all flake.   Some would have seen me as happy but they didn’t know about the demons lurking deep inside of me.
        To be completely honest I’m glad I got arrested. I know that this should be a punishment and all but getting arrested this last time saved me from a long and hard life of crime and time.  While I’ve been incarcerated I have thought about my life…not the life my friends want me to choose or even the life my mother would want me to choose, but the life I want. I want to be the first one in my family to go to college, and actually do something with my life. I’m going to become a dental hygienist and make good money the honest way.
        I have been locked up on my birthday the past three years in a row, and it won’t happen again. If my P.O. approves it, I should be able to go home for Christmas. I’m stoked because I’ve been locked up for the past 9 months and have 5 more months to go. Hopefully my P.O. is feeling happy this year.

Entry #1892
Completely Honest
        If I never got arrested this last time, I would probably be lying in bed sleeping. The night before I would have been stealing shit all night not caring about the victims of my crimes. If I wasn’t in the hall I would probably be on the run because I cut off another ankle monitor. I would be living broke: no real home, no family, just “friends” who say they got your back, but when it really comes down to it they all flake.   Some would have seen me as happy but they didn’t know about the demons lurking deep inside of me.
        To be completely honest I’m glad I got arrested. I know that this should be a punishment and all but getting arrested this last time saved me from a long and hard life of crime and time.  While I’ve been incarcerated I have thought about my life…not the life my friends want me to choose or even the life my mother would want me to choose, but the life I want. I want to be the first one in my family to go to college, and actually do something with my life. I’m going to become a dental hygienist and make good money the honest way.
        I have been locked up on my birthday the past three years in a row, and it won’t happen again. If my P.O. approves it, I should be able to go home for Christmas. I’m stoked because I’ve been locked up for the past 9 months and have 5 more months to go. Hopefully my P.O. is feeling happy this year.

Entry #1893
In Disguise
Once upon a time I could watch the sun rise.
Once upon a time I could see the star’s light.
Once upon a time I didn’t have this hard of a life, but everybody says that it’s just a part of life.
People like me die every night, so tell me what you see when you look me in my eyes, because the smile on my face is just pain in disguise.
So, I’m going to pray to God that I make it through the night.
It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight; it’s all about the size of the fight in the dog; I’m going to succeed even against all the odds.


Entry #1894
Free Spirit
I live a life of promises
I flow as singly as the sea

My mind is like the ocean
The earth's amiss and I am free

The world is but a floodgate
My heart is like a tomb

My wisdom ever endless
In this world I am alone

Entry #1895
Waiting
I never in my life thought I was going to spend my Christmas and New Years in a cell. I wish I could've gone back into time to the day I cut my monitor off and had a second to think of my consequences...or what was coming with the choice I was going to make. I just didn't ruin my Christmas and New Year’s but my family's too. I don't know what to do for what I did. I have so many emotions, feelings I can't express or know how to. I'm full of anger in the inside for what I did and the only one to blame would be me. It's getting harder and harder each day, putting a smile on my face, especially when I'm just not missing the holidays, but my mom’s Bday, my Bday, my dad’s Bday, and my niece’s baptism. I don't know what to do even though I know there isn't much I can do, but hope I get out and wait.

Entry #1896
Pathway to Freedom
I wake up in the morning and smoke a cigarette, which is not a god way to start my day. Then I show up at school and see my family because most of my family goes to the same school as I do. Before I walked in I would go in the ally way and smoke another cigarette.

I have done it so many times, but it only takes one time to get caught. It just so happened to be my one time, so when I got caught I was taken to the office and the office called my P.O. Then I went to probation. They drug tested me and I came up dirty so I got locked up for the first time.

When I was growing up my dad wasn't in my life and I would tell myself it was my fault. I would also say that he is the reason why I would always get into trouble or why I don't do things right, but as I grew older and matured more, I realized that I'm my own person and I make my own decisions. I can't let another person’s actions take blame for the mistakes in my life. In conclusion I realized that I'm my own person. I make my own choices and I define myself. Most of all, I MAKE MY OWN PATH.

Entry #1897
Forgiveness
Move on. Is it that easy? Forgive yourself. Nevertheless, how? Letting go is easier said than done. Eventually it became too late for the childish games I would play and all the chances I have gotten. It was too late for “I don’t know.” I was too old and not young enough to not know right from wrong. There became a point in my life where I cared about nothing. I threw away school even though I was good at it. I threw away all of my family even though I knew they loved me. I got rid of any support for greatness because I thought, no I insisted, my way was the right way. I ran, and ran, and ran, away and thought I could run forever. Thought I can live a rebellious life all I wanted. Juvenile Hall? Not a problem when I get out I’ll just do it again. Consequence? I laugh at rules. I had the mindset of a child. A foolish child. Where has that brought me? Where am I now? What a good thing I once had and now look where my choices have left me. I never wanted to listen to the warnings from those who cared. Then it hit me. Everything it just hit me. Harder than ever. What am I doing? I felt like a complete and utter disappointment I felt like I was sick and there was no cure. My world turned dark I was officially at the end of the road. I fell into a depression that I thought I would never get out of. I knew I had messed up from the beginning of my childhood. My heart was filled with regret and hopelessness. I just could not forgive myself. I could not move on.

Entry #1898
Praying
If I were at home I'd wake up in the morning, smoke some pot, and go to school. I'd stay at school till' lunch, then ditch. I'd head home or go hang out with my homies.

The things I miss about home are playing video games, going wherever I want, and my friends. I miss how they would protect and care for me. I never had such people care for me. Once I got arrested some of them didn't have my back as much as I thought they would.

I miss my family. I miss my girlfriend.

I hope I get out. If I do I'll be a good person. Being locked up, it ain't cool, it ain't fun.
Everyone thinks it's cool to be locked up, but nah it's truly not. I pray that I'll be released and be able to go home. The only person I can ask for help is God. I pray to God every night that I'll be able to go home. I really regret doing what I did.

Journal #1899
Famous Coco Pancakes
        If you really knew me. If you really knew me, you would know my past, my present, as well as my hopes for the future. You would know what I was like growing up and how I changed, moved on to see better days. The dreams I have ahead. The negativities I left behind. You would know all the strong people whom have helped me grow and shine. The people who have helped me with my transformation to becoming the beautiful Black Queen that I am every day. The pride that shines. Everything that I am is here laid out here for you on these lines.
        Growing up happy and loud, joyful and proud. Everything was a game even a powpow. Punishments grew old. Nap time became my time to glow. Family is everything. No “was” in that sentence. I am grateful to be alive. Blessed to be a descendant of my Nana R. as well as my Nana J. 87 and 60 years old, but they still got up daily to help clothe me. Breakfast time was my time to learn and thrive. My Nana R. would make me some of her famous Coco-pancakes. I cannot tell you the recipe or I will feel guilty. My Nana J would make me her famous spicy-lemon-smothered chicken fried steak and gravy. They made sure I was always well fed. I cannot recall a day when I went without eating. Thanks to them, I will never go hungry. I will never have to worry about what I will eat. I know to make something from nothing.
        Have you ever had fresh applesauce? Have you ever had raspberry cinnamon roll pancakes? Have you ever had pumpkin pie bread? Those were just some of my childhood deserts. I can proudly say I have always been wrapped in love. As well as swaddled in care. I do not know if you know how that feels but I do. I would not change that feeling for anything in the world. I remember asking both of my Nanas if they felt poor. They always told me growing up “You can have all the money in the world, be the richest person in your neighborhood, and all that would be nothing to a lonely person, because they are not happy. Money can buy you things, but it cannot buy you happiness. Do not be fooled by pretty things my baby. It can’t help you.” Everything I learned growing up I take with me everywhere I go. So, if you really knew you would know this. However, you do not so you do not know me.

Entry #1900
First Year Alone
First year
Alone

New Years
Again

"What time is now?"

It's hardly ten

When will it be?
Next year, amore?

Next year, again.
Last year's a bore

Leave all behind
And move along
Leave and be free
Keep moving on
Simply can be
       
Entry #1901
Successful
If you really knew me, you would know that I am afraid of the unknown.
If you really knew me, you would know that I am proud of overcoming adversity.
you know that the hardest thing I have ever done is admitting my mistakes.
If you really knew me, you would know that my biggest dream is helping people who never had it.
you would know that the person I feel closest to is my girlfriend. She sees the real me.
IF you really knew me, you would know that if I had three wishes, I would wish for happiness, prosperity and equality.
you would know that I believe in Jesus.
you would know that my family and I have been through hell and back.
If you really knew me, you would know I really love music.
you would know I feel safe when I’m surrounded by people I trust.
you would know that I am the type of guy to give someone my last.
If you really knew me, you would know that my biggest regret is disappointing my mom.
you would know that I hate the things I’ve done/said that I can’t take back.
you would know that if could change one thing about myself, it would be my “me or you” attitude.
If you really knew me, you would know that I want people to look at me and think he will succeed.

Entry #1902
Forgiving Myself
        I need to forgive myself for situations my family says I had no control over. When I was younger, my parents would argue over things that were irrelevant to my age. However, then the arguments would go ballistic and turn into a tug-of-war match with me in-between. Fighting for who is going to take care of me. I started thinking thoughts of, “If I weren’t here, would they argue? Would they fight? Would they make up or break up?” Who knew… some of the things I have seen. I could have hurt my dad when he did things, but I don’t know why I didn’t say anything. I would just sit there, stuck in shock and disbelief. I just sat there, stuck! Too much regret from those days bury pain in my heart and anger deep down in my soul.
        I never forgot about those times for years and years to come. I started to treat females a certain type of way that was wrong. I had a girl who made my heart lurch for love, but because of anguish and regret, I treated her like shit. I lost her! I started to feel just like my dad, needing someone there for me, then pushing away when help occurs. Selfishness is what it is called! Nevertheless, as I got older and more mature in understanding life, I cannot change the past and I cannot keep looking back because I am going to keep tripping and falling worrying about old things. Some of the things I did were wrong and I forgive myself and it’s time to move on and look forward instead of backwards.


Entry #1903
Guardians
I remember growing up in the cold nights
I remember mama getting high, hitting the pipe
I remember her getting mad leaving bruises on my thighs
I remember feeling helpless all I could do is cry
I remember mama was struggling so she couldn’t provide
I remember my older sister saying “everything will be alright”
I remember being left alone mama was never in sight
I remember getting took when CPS came by
I remember wishing mama would arrive
But she didn’t I shouldn’t have been surprised
I remember a woman came into my life making it all right
I remember getting a new family that cared for me but I was blind
I remember thinking they would leave my side and tell me lies
God sent me a prize that was one of a kind
I remember this family making my dark little life so bright and everything seemed fine
I remember getting a family I can call mine
I remember knowing they would stick with me for a lifetime
I remember getting caught up now I’m doing some time
I remember I disappointed mama and apologized
But I promise when I get out I’m going to try
My family is the reason I strive, the reason I grind
Because I know for a fact this family won’t leave me behind
My guardians, I love

Entry #1904
Going Big
If only I was home for Christmas I would be with my girlfriend, holding her and doing everything with her. We would be with her family having a good time. The things I miss the most is my girlfriend and family. They both mean so much to me. I wouldn’t give them up for anything or anyone. I like having them by my side. They help me with everything.
I never missed a holiday season with them before. This will be my first time. Christmas at my house is wonderful and my family is awesome and cool to be around. We do so much for the season. We go big or go home. We just put a lot of thought in it. Also, my girlfriend is part of my family now and I’m a part of her’s. They mean so much to me, I love them dearly.
I don’t think I will leave anyone behind for the New Year. I’m starting 2020 knowing my wonderful and beautiful girlfriend is expecting our baby.

Entry #1905
What If I Were Not?
If only I were home,
Where would I be today?

I wonder what I'd
See or feel
Right now
To go away

If only I were home,
If not here, where would I be?

If I were home, and I weren't here,
Then wouldn't my life be free?

If I were home alone, today,
What is it I would do?
If having friends and partying,
Were never hip and cool?

If I were there, and I weren't here,
Where is it I would go?

Where would I be?

Lost or free?

From here, I'll never know...

Entry #1906
Going Off Grid
If you really knew me, then you would really know that I have trust issues.
If you really knew me, you would that I don’t give out love.
you would know that the most important people to me are my sister and my baby cousin.
If you really knew me, you would know that I don’t like a lot of people.
you would know that I don’t like big crowds.
you would know I had a crap hand, dealt at birth.
If you really know me, you would know that I hardly ever cry.
you would know that that the last time I cried it was when my great-grandmother died on Mother’s Day.
If you really knew me, you would know I will go off grid when I’m 20.

Entry #1907
Trapped
Trapped in this cell. Feelin’ like I’ll never leave. My homies on the outside screamin’ free the team. Cold cell make a cold heart/it’s getting’ hard to sleep stuck in deep thought. Gettin’ flash backs and memories. I really shoulda listened to what my mama was tellin’ me. Remember all them robberies. I just had to eat. Traumatized from all the  bodies. You don’t know what I’ve seen. Nicotine in my lungs. It’s hard to breathe. Green in my weed. I lay back and jus think. If I hadn’t done what I did, where would I be?

Entry #1908
Home
        If I was home right now I would be spending time with my family. I miss being able to wake up whenever I wanted to or staying up whenever I wanted to. What I also miss being able to do was go out and being with my homies. Every day when I wake up I see the cell I'm in, but I'd rather be able to wake up and hug my momma. In Juvie I'm not able to hangout or be with my friends, but if I was at home I could easily walk through the front door and go kick it with them. We would just be at the park chilling and wouldn't trip on anything or anyone.
        Christmas at my house is actually pretty cool. Every Christmas we stay up until midnight and we open our presents, but we will wake up my baby sister and tell her that Santa came. I never missed the holidays with my family. This year I missed Thanksgiving, and I'm going to miss Christmas, my birthday, and New Year’s.
        In 2020 what I would want to leave behind is all the wrong that I did, the new goal I'm going to achieve is getting a job or getting money in general and being able to provide for my family.