JH Artwork

JH Artwork

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!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Exchange #2 October 27, 2008

This exchange includes writing from the day treatment classroom in Oroville, day treatment in Paradise, one classroom from Butte County Juvenile Hall, and three classrooms from Fresno Juvenile Hall.

Journal #11
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t real,
But wishin’ doesn’t mean you don’t have to steal.
I can wish and wish that I don’t have to feel
Or that my heart’s made of stone, covered with steel.
I can wish on a shooting star that shines so bright.
I wish I had somewhere to stay at the end of the night.
I wish I felt like I was worth,
But wishin’ and hopin’ won’t make my world perfect.
I wish I could focus long enough in school.
I wish I would just follow the rules.
I wish I was as smart as I used to be,
But no matter how much I wish, the cops always follow me.
I wish I could just stay out of trouble.
I wish my mom wouldn’t say she’s gonna burst my bubble.
But no matter how hard a mountain wishes it can be turned to rubble.
Well a wish is a wish, and a prayer is a prayer.
Life isn’t even, and it sure isn’t fair.
Why shouldn’t I give up if no one cares?

Journal # 12
On Tuesday, July 22, 2008, I was still in bed around 12:00 am. I was supposed to go to summer school when my sister came and woke me up at 6:00 am to go to school. I was still tired from last night and didn’t want to wake up. So as time passed she left to school and I was still sleeping in my bed.
As I was still laying there in the bed my parents came into my room and asked why I didn’t go to school. I told them that I was still tired. They told me that if I wanted to go to school they were willing to take me, but I refused. It was only 9:00 am. They left somewhere and I just went back to my bed to lie down.
Time went by and it was 11:00 am and some of my friends came into my room because my other sister let them in to wake me up. They woke me up and said, “***** get dressed because we are going camping.” I said that I didn’t want to go but they pressured me to go. So I got dressed and asked them how are we going to go camping? One said, “Don’t worry about it, I got it from my uncle.” “Don’t worry about it, what do you mean?” I said. He ignored me.
So I went outside and the sun was shining like a light bulb. I got into the car and saw that nothing was wrong with the car. We left my house. As we passed a couple of light poles something strange happened. A cop car just stopped in back of us and there were four SUVs’ in front of the car I was in. We turned and passed a green light but stopped on a red light. All of a sudden there were about ten cop cars around us.
I made a mistake on that day. I could have just stayed at the house and could have gone to school. If I had a chance to go back in time I would and maybe I wouldn’t even be in here in the first place.

Journal #13
I always knew it would never last, things spinning so damn fast.
The teardrops I shed. The laughter I had hoped to have spread….for you.
I always knew that time was fatal, because we didn’t have a sweet second to spare. But we did spare them. And soon our time together would die…..tick tick tick tick ttt-ick and it did and it made me sick!
Couldn’t feel you, couldn’t touch your lips to mine….couldn’t yell and hear it…couldn’t cry and wipe the tears away. Couldn’t even have one more day!
Goodbye is all I would say.

Journal #14
Obscurity as tangible as night
Conjuring a reminiscent thought
A feeling taste sensation or sight
Exemplifies a moment I forgot

I hesitate before I reminisce
Teetering by the chasm of the past
Then dedicate myself to the abyss
My consciousness is overthrown at last

I plunge into the canyon of the mind
Which tears itself from me as I descend
Specters replace the light I left behind
Memory and life must come to an end

I’ve felt the searing pain of frozen air
The agony of fire roaring blind
Of all my torments none compare
To these old shades that prey upon my mind

Journal #15
I remember those days in the sun
I remember life with my gun
I remember nights of joy
I remember when my mom had her baby boy
I remember times that went straight
I remember the barbed wire gate
I remember my mom’s crying face
I remember drugs that were laced
I remember singing those songs
I remember smoking out of my bong
I remember drive-bys and gang fights
I remember every gang banging night
I remember life with my family
I remember being locked up for New Year’s Eve
I remember nights at my homie’s house
I remember those girls and that small, tight, blouse
I remember enjoying life in different kinds of ways
I remember getting arrested that day
I remember my little brother laughing and his cute little smile
I remember those lonely nights in juvie
I remember my family and my true friends
Now everything is just so different from then

Journal # 16
I was a bad person
I remember when I brought my street life home and almost got my mom shot
I heard the juvenile hall door shut
I saw my homeboy get shot
I worried about getting locked up again
I thought my life was headed down the drain
I am trying to be a better person
I think I am untouchable
I need to get off probation
I try to do good things
I feel so angry and sad
I forgive my mom for making me this way
I will do something with my life
I choose to do something with my life
I dream of having money and a good family
I hope I am successful in life
I predict I will probably just be in prison or dead
I know I will still try
I will change

Journal #17
If you really knew me you would know that I am a real party person and that I get into a lot of trouble when I party.
If you really knew me you would know I have been to the Hall so many times it’s like my second home and I don’t intend to go there because I choose to, it is because I make bad decisions.
If you really knew me you would know that I have a lot of problems with my family and friends.
With my family it just goes from one thing to another, splitting and going their own ways, and leaving other people or things behind.
If you really knew me you would know that I don’t have friends or a best friend, I have what you call associates. For a while I haven’t been able to trust anyone or been able to tell anyone how I really feel about things. Yeah, I know, really sad, but if you looked at where I’m coming from you would understand.
If you really knew me you would know I am a person with a lot of anger and stress because I don’t want to live my life like this in the future, I want to be able to do something good with myself.
If you really knew me you would know that deep down inside I am a caring and friendly person. I may say things that I may not mean, but that is not who I really am. I have a warm heart that’s craving passion.
If you really knew me you would know that I am looking for a man with loyalty and respect. Not a thug that doesn’t care about you. It just doesn’t fit my happy ever after picture.
If you really knew me you would know that I am a person who wants to succeed in life and I have goals I want to accomplish.

Journal #18
It’s so dark. I can’t inside my mind. Nothing shines. All that’s left is a black of abyss of sorrow, sadness and fear that’s buried in there. Can’t you hear my cry’s of tomorrow. I can’t, there’s no time to borrow. There’s just a hidden form of sadness. I cut my wrist in every direction; I don’t care if anyone shows me any kind of affection. Watching the time endlessly pass by in the middle of a quiet day, but in my soulless eyes it’s just a pitch black sky. It goes so high, but falls so low. I’ll row the boat of life. I sit in a crippling corner and try to keep sane. Watching the crimson tears flow from my veins. Life has a suffocating grip. Welcome to the black abyss. Meet the host …..Death

Journal #19
I remember the day I committed my crime. I just wasn’t thinking that I would do time. Now in my head are regret, sorrow and worry. And you with my burden, I wish to bury. I was the one who was fueled by drugs, walking around beating innocent guys. Now I am scarred because when I dream I can still see the fear, pain, and agony in their eyes. Sneaking out at night going on a money mission, is what led me to the camp-paralyzed in this position. The more I think about it, the more it leaves me wishin’ that instead of robbing people I took my little brothers fishin’. Now in here I have to worry if they’re following in my steps. If they are, then that is one thing I will refuse to accept. Now I view life from a whole different perspective. To be there for my loved ones is my number one objective.

Journal #20
If you really knew me you would know I love my horse Annie, and my other two horses. If you really knew me you would know my favorite color is green. If you really knew me you would know my favorite band is the Kotton Mouth Kings. If you really knew me you would know I love my pit bulls Baker and Sprit. If you really knew me you would know I am an addict. If you really knew me you would know I love riding my horse under the starry sky. If you really knew me you would know my best friend is **********. If you really knew me you would know my favorite movie is Tank Girl. If you really knew me you would know my favorite TV show is South Park. I you really knew me you would know I show my horse in O.P.R, C.G.A, and P.R.R. If you really know me you would know I’m a state champion for C.G.A in 2006-2007. If you really know me you would know the fears I face. If you really knew me you would know the pain in my heart. If you really knew me you would know I want to be a vet some day. If you really knew me you would know I want to move and go to college in Humboldt some day. If you really knew me you would know some of these things about me.

Journal #21
I remember when I was a little kid, I didn’t have anyone.
I wish I had someone to be there for me, but I was alone.
People were there for me only when they were on drugs. Without drugs, they acted like I wasn’t there. When other people recognize me, it feels nice. But when your parents don’t it feels sad. Sometimes I let people be there for me, but sometimes I don’t. When I am mad I don’t want anyone to be there for me. When I need it I’ll ask for help. If they try to help me, I will take it. But when I am mad I won’t, I don’t know why. Is it because I’m stubborn or is it because I think that I can do it myself?

Journal #22
If you really knew me you would know I’m a nice guy
If you really knew me you would know I don’t like to cry
If you really knew me you would know I’m one of those people that are shy
If you really knew me you would know I don’t like disrespect or lies
If you really knew me you would know my life is bad and really crazy
If you really knew me you would know my life is sad with a little happy
If you really knew me you would know I have love for you
If you really knew me you would know I’ll be glad to help you too
If you really knew me you would know I can do good, but chose not too
If you really knew me you would know I always try to do what I got to do
If you really knew me you would know my family is first to me
If you really knew me you would know inside I’m dying of my stupidity
If you really knew me you would know I hate living in reality
If you really knew me you would know I hate getting locked up
If you really knew me you would know I’m not a quitter

Journal #23
If you really knew me you would know that my life is not that great
If you really knew me you would know that I am full of hate
If you really knew me you would know my that my life has been one big game
If you really knew me you would know it’s been me against the world, and me full of shame
If you really knew me you would know that I am just an addict, who loves to get high
If you really knew me you would know that this is my last time to try
If you really knew me you would know that I really want to stop
But If you really knew me you would know that all I was saying when this happened was, “I hate that stupid cop”.

Journal #24
All through my life me and my parents never really got along…we still don’t. It got to the point where I don’t see or talk to my mom anymore. It’s really kind of depressing that my mom pretty much washed her hands of me, my brother and my sister. My sister did more to raise us than my mom did. And now my sister’s in prison because of our stupid drug and parole policies. She missed out on a lot of her childhood because she was raising us while my mom was doing what she felt like. My dad has attempted to be there for us. My stepmom has done more in a week for us than my mom’s done in a year. I guess I should be really glad my stepmom and dad are there for us. It’s just that it gets old staying at dad’s house all the time working and going to school. I am kind of glad but it still gets old.

Journal #25
What do I regret? I regret picking up that machete, sliding it down my sweatpants, and running down the street to help out a “homie”. See, I don’t dress a certain way or shave my head. We are artists. We love to catch rooftops and freeway spots. But there are haters no matter what you do.
The three of us got into the parking lot of my “homie’s” apartments. I heard a car peeling out on the main street. Since I had the machete I didn’t jump the brick wall into the apartments. So I ran towards the main street. That’s when I saw the rival crew member. He had his back facing me with his shirt off. He had a golf club and a butcher knife in his hands. I felt in this killer mode of some sort. I was looking at my “homie,” being backed up into the middle of the street. He was holding a mini-sized baseball bat. I started looking both ways before pulling the 3 1\2 foot machete out. No one was around at all. I slid it out ready to do damage. That’s when he turned around slowly. We caught each others eyes; I could see everything he felt. He was scared for his life. A look I could not even put into any words. Not even the best actor could look like he did. I went to chop him, but then he turned to get into his car. The knife dropped and the golf club did too. He got in and shut the car’s door. That’s when I thrusted the machete about eight times through his window. I heard the car’s engine revving real loud. He was trying to put the car into gear. But the car was stuck in neutral, and would not go anywhere.
I could hear all kinds of glass shattering to the floor. I then started to blackout, and couldn’t remember anything. It all happened too fast. The next thing I know I’m on the run from the cops with nowhere to stay. Now I am in juvie with only 2 days left until I am supposed to get out. I have been here for fifteen months. I have missed so much. A single action cost me so much more.

Journal #26
One thing I regret is being a bad role model to my little brother. I regret ever showing my little brother what goes on in my world. I regret telling him how to distribute marijuana and ecstasy pills, encouraging him to do it, and how much each amount was worth. I regret showing him how much money I made from selling marijuana and pills. I regret letting him take his first puff out of the bamboo bong when he was only in the third grade. I regret showing him how to smoke chop and explaining what chop is. I regret teaching him how to make a bong from things around the house. I regret bringing my friends, who are gang members, over because now he is doing what I did: hanging with young soon-to-be-gang members, smoking, not obeying my mom’s orders, and talking back. He just turned eleven. I regret all the negative activities.

Journal #27
I regret a lot of things in my life. This is just one of them in my life. My dad trusted me driving his truck. At first, I did what he told me: go to the store, school, etc. I took advantage of his trust and I would ride around the neighborhood, speeding down the streets at least 50, almost 60 mph. I would be going off-road and burning rubber. All that fun got down to the engine. I burned the clutch and that right there cost money. My dad bought a new clutch for $450 dollars, plus he had to pay for the mechanic to fix it. My dad would not let me drive his truck anymore.
After a couple of months he let me use his truck again. So, again I started doing the same thing, but this time I started doing more things, like power-braking the truck and so on. So guess what: the engine blow up on me. Man, my dad was mad! He had to buy a new car for $5,000 thanks to my choices. Now I regret doing all that because my dad works hard for his money and I just don’t think about things like that when I’m having fun.

Journal #28
There are so many things I wish I could take back like hurting my family. I was so messed up with my drug addiction I couldn’t see the pain I was causing. My family understands now what I am going through and they are supporting me one hundred percent.
When I was out doing drugs I got in a car accident with my boyfriend. He was driving and we were fighting because he wanted to go to a party but I wanted to go to his house and hang out and sleep. So we were yelling at each other and he ran a red light and crashed into this guy’s car. He is still in a coma. I didn’t even get a scratch. It feels like my heart is broken. I wish I would have driven because I would have paid attention to what I was doing and I wouldn’t have started yelling. I would have gone home.

Journal #29
The day I most regret is the day I ran away to *******. It was at the end of February, 2008. I got in a strange guys car and he wouldn’t bring me back. I had my moms’ cell phone and I needed to take it back to her because she was nine months pregnant about to pop and I had her only help line. I felt so bad because I ran away and she really needed me at that time. I love my mom with all my heart and I would never do anything to really hurt her but I hurt her too. I was so messed up on drugs I wasn’t really me. I want my mom to know I’m really sorry. I regret that with all my heart. I am now sober and happy I’m about to get out of here. I’m going to go home to my mom where I belong. When I get out I’m going to do good and make my momma proud. We have been through a lot and now it’s time to just get along and be family.

Journal #30
I remember when I started smoking weed. I was thirteen and I thought that I was so cool. I thought it was the greatest thing ever since I saw many influential people in my life smoking and enjoying their selves. I thought that it would make me feel more like an adult. But I know now all it was doing was slowly affecting my mind frame, thinking and my decision-making skills. Now I’m in juvenile hall in a drug program looking ridiculous when I thought I was looking cool. I look back and think to myself and ask could I have made a bigger mistake. The answer I repeat in my mind is constantly “yes, yes, and yes” so I plan on turning my life around and starting over.

Journal #31
I remember being free
I remember doing anything I wanted to
I remember just wanting to be me
I remember cigarettes and dipping chew
I remember my family and friends
I remember how the days had no ends
I remember I remember watching the bowl be sank
But now all I remember is that night
I remember all that blood
I remember that fight
I remember it good
Now there are no cigarettes or dipping chew
There’s no more dank
Now I only remember what it’s like to be free

Journal # 32
I regret hearing screams
People asking what it means
I regret the sirens coming after me
I regret Juvie
I regret doing drugs
Messing up and hanging with thugs
I regret seeing that face in the mirror
It looked like a person with fear
Confused, I watched the tear
I don’t wipe my face for crying
I keep my head up high, take a breath, and sigh
I may regret a lot of things in my life,
But never the stress or the strife
Most of all, I don’t regret my life

Journal #33
6:30 I woke up and got in the shower. I got dressed.
7:15 I’m ready for school so I hit the pipe. I’m so high.
8:15 My parents are up. So I steal a cigarette and smoke it.
8:45 I’m at school.
12:00 I got pissed off so I left campus. I stole a bottle of Jack Daniels from Rite Aid.
12:30 I drop the bottle off at my aunt’s and leave for a while.
1:30 I return to my aunt’s house and get picked up by the cops.
2:30 My mom picks me up at the police station.
9:00 I go to bed good night.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Exchange #1 October 2008


Journal #1
An Innocent Young Man
A young boy that is sad because he is
Looking for his mom that left him when he was six
On my first day of school I was scared.
To comfort me, my mom wasn’t there for me.
An innocent young man locked down.
I find myself locked up in a cage.
An innocent teenager that committed a crime
Will I forget the bad things when I was a young man?
I go to my High School
And meet a counselor.
I learn about how to turn my life around.
Now comes the time that can prove that I changed.

Journal #2
An Innocent Angry Kid
A young, angry kid lost in the struggle.
Looking for guys who killed my mother and father
On my first day of school I got kicked out.
To comfort me, no one but the drugs I did.
An innocent, angry kid that didn’t listen
I find myself kicked out of my home and on the streets for 8 months.
An innocent, angry kid raised by a ‘hood.
Will I forget where I came from and when I started hurting people?
I go to ************
And meet a kid named David.
I learn about drugs, gangs, and hurting people.
Now comes the time for me to just stop caring.

Journal #3
If you really knew me you would know I hate drugs,
But I have been around them my entire life. I know the people who will do anything to get high. When I did coke, it was rolled up in a joint. I took two hits.
They always ask, but I say no.
My parents used to sell for money. My cousin went to prison for selling dope.
For a few days, I saw white stuff in a plastic bag in the motor home.
He said it was salt for beer. It was salt.

Journal #4
An innocent white girl
With a young untaught mind
Looking for a love
Anywhere of any kind
I put on a mask on the first day of school
I want to be perfect
I try to be cool
I look for friends
To comfort me
I try so hard to hide the troubles
That people put on me
But it always seemed to double
It got harder to carry
A sweet innocent child
Who was sweet and cute one day
Then the next went wild
And threw her life away
I go to sleep at night
With thoughts of how life could be
With friends and people all around
And a family that loves me
I get locked up and get a chance
To change and learn about me
I know I will be sober and fun
When the real test comes and I am free

Journal #5
If you really knew me you would know I have a destructive temper.
If you really knew me you would know 80% of my family thinks I am a monster.
If you really knew me you would know I try to control it.
If you really knew me you would know I often fail.
If you really knew me you would know my room is full of holes.
If you really knew me you would know my father left my life when I was four.
If you really knew me you would know I am alone in the world.
If you really knew me you would know I fake my image of a funny loving person.
If you really knew me you would know I hate most of my life.

Journal #6
A young kid trying to get stoned
Desperately looking for someone to care
On the first day of school to last I was blown
Just to comfort all his despair
An innocent young teen
Finds himself locked up before the age of fifteen
An innocent child discovers it’s not just a dream
Will he ever forget the pain that he’s seen?
He goes back to city to try and behave
And meets the one, his future wife
Who teaches him that there’s much more to this life
And that was the moment his life had been saved

Journal #7
Do you hear me shout your name?
Do you hear me scream in shame?
Do you here me cry in my sleep? Do you weep when I weep?
Do you feel bad when I get sad?
Do you even share some of my pain or is it all a game?
Do you even care?
Do you even hear?
I’m doubting if you feel. Do you feel?
This sadly is my shame but all the more your twisted gain.

Journal #8
An Innocent Lost Soul
A young child, at age seven
Looking for a home sent from Heaven.
On my first day of school I got lost on the way.
To comfort me, I find my place to stay.
An innocent boy caught on the edge.
I find myself lost and moving to the ledge.
An innocent man fighting for his life
Will I forget my feelings that night?
I go to the ultimate forbidden place
And meet the devil, face-to-face.
I learn about the evil people do.
Now comes the time I choose to go through.

Journal #9
A young man waiting to be found
Looking for help all around
On my first day
I got down
To comfort me I take a hit from the pipe
An innocent man locked up in a one man cell
I find myself cutting words on my arms
An innocent man waiting for his time to be up
Will I forget the pain I put my family through?
I go to school
With a smile but behind it their pain
I learned that I’m not the only one with pain
Now comes the time where I put my finger on the trigger
Now I’m a gangbanger thinking about my crimes knowing
That it’s never going to get better
The only thing I can do for now is hope to God
I’m not going to be the next victim

Journal #10
An innocent Cherokee girl
A young tan girl that’s funny and caring
Looking for her dad, but can’t find him anywhere
On my first day of school I’m lonely, lost and scared
To comfort me a pretty boy was there
An innocent Cherokee girl
I find myself ugly, small and helpless
An innocent Cherokee girl
Will I forget people love me always?
I go to church and meet a preacher
I learn about the Lord
Now comes the time to believe and have faith