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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August 1, 2012

Entry #1
I remember the day my baby sister was born. It was the day before Christmas, an hour before midnight. I remember putting on gloves, a mask, and a gown. I was so juiced just to be able to have a baby sister. At first I was angry and upset that she was coming into this awful world, but then I thought about the fact that she will always have me to protect her. I remember standing at the end of that hospital bed getting ready to deliver my adorable baby sister. I was all smiles until she actually came out. I remember my vision going dark and the blood draining from my face. If it were not for my aunt touching me, I would have passed out. I remember as I came back to, my little sister shot out and I caught her. If it weren’t for me standing there, the nurse would’ve missed her as she was across the room. I remember when I cut the umbilical cord and handed her to my mom. I remember my mom’s beautiful bright smile. I remember that happiness in her eyes. Seeing that made me happy. I remember spending Christmas in the hospital and opening the presents on the table. I remember taking her first nap together on the hospital bed with her in my arms, next to my mom. I remember her first laugh and the first steps she took toward me. I remember her first words, “I love you…sissy and mommy.” I remember the happiness she brought to our family and it still carries on today. I will always remember her as a little baby girl when she’s older and in the teen years. I will always remember my mom’s words, saying, “You are the one she’ll look up to and you two will always be close.” That will always be my favorite Christmas.

Entry #2
I remember when my mom left to prison for the first time. We went to visit her to pick up my baby sister who was born while she was there. I remember when my mom got out and we went to go live with her. That didn’t last long. My mom was in and out of our lives for nine years. I remember when my uncle and cousins came to live with us at my Grandma’s house and how he called me names and put me down. I remember that first hit off a blunt with his step daughter. I remember the look of sorrow in my Grandparent’s eyes the first time I got locked up, but still they remained patient. I remember the first time I went on the run just so I could hang out, but how it lead to me being kind of strung out. After everything I’ve seen and been through this last time I was on the run I think of how lucky I am because my life should have been done. But now I am locked up and have a chance to get my stuff together. Since I’ve been here I’ve passed my GED and signed up for classes at Butte College. I’m ready to do right and be successful just like my Grandmother.

Entry #3

When I’m in my cell
I hear my demon call
Was young when I started hanging with the goons and fiends
Dreams of being on a TV screen
But drugs and gunpowder had to intervene
When I’m in my cell
I hear my demon call
Is this all my life will ever be?
Will I ever make it to see 18?
I’m the last of a dying breed
The hell with it all
Fathers gone 12 years later
I finally got a call
When I’m in my cell I hear my demon call
The place I’ll never call home are these concrete walls
How long will it take before I take my last fall?
If I die young let it be
When I’m in my cell
I hear my demon call
Tell grandma I’m sorry
I’m no longer the little boy with the toy Ferrari
So I sit in my cell
And talk to my demon
We talk about our old dreams
Now it’s back to reality
With the thieves and fiends

Entry #4
I remember when things were good. I remember when I was happy. I remember when my family was still a family. I remember when I had people that cared what I did and when I did it. I remember when people cared about what I thought and how I felt. I remember when my dad and mom acted like they were concerned. I remember when my mom was sober. I remember the long painful nights hearing her scream and cry for things I could not give her. I remember the cold night me and my sister wandered around all night not knowing what to do or where to go. I remember when I tried. I remember when I cared. I remember when I was happy.

Entry #5
I remember when I was taken away from my mom to a place I thought was hopeful, but ended up a mess. I remember when I ran away for the first time, just tying to let go of the stress. I remember when I met 24 year old eBay who changed my life for the worst. I was only 12 years old. He didn’t care. All he wanted was that doe. I remember when he told me he saw money in me. And as long as I live he would never let me free. Six years later, I’m stuck in the same world he promised I’d be. I remember all those cold nights he would leave me on the streets, saying I couldn’t come in until his pockets were neat. I remember like it’s yesterday… me begging him to stop the violence. “Shut up, bitch. You’re just a 12 year old hoe.” I remember feeling so hurt inside knowing it would be time to decide. I remember thinking I was all alone, just a little girl trying to find her way. I remember the day I met 11 year old *****. I asked her how she did it. She said life had nothing else for her. I remember that day he told me she died. Something inside of me said it was a lie. To this day I still remember all he taught me. Sitting here in juvenile hall trying to be free of my past and live today and tomorrow like it’s my last. I remember the day I said “No, I will not be a hoe.” It felt so good because now I believe my future will be my greatest achievement. And if I had to do it again I would do it in the same skin I’m in, just in a new way.

Entry #6

I Awake, dazed by the bright Light.
Seems Fake, but I know I survived another Night.
Before I get Up, I get a glimpse of Last Night’s Dream.
I can’t even let out a cry or Scream.
I can see myself Sleeping, eye’s open & can’t even make a Move.
I feel the Devil Creeping, and hear a little melody that sets the Groove.
Sounds like Nonsense, but my soul can detach and leave my Body.
Trying to make Amends, with the person I lost by being Naughty.
Finally no more Struggling, I can open my Eyes.
And no more Juggling, the screams and Cries.
I kneel by my bed and Pray, that the Devil will go Away.
Though the Lords by my Side, the Devils waiting for me to Ride.

Entry #7 I remember always saying I would never do drugs. I remember always saying I would never end up like everyone else in my family. I remember when I thought I would never be on the streets asking people for money just so I would have something to eat. I remember telling myself I would never end up here in juvenile hall. The hall was the last place I thought I would be. I remember most of all how badly I hurt people by doing the things I liked the most. I guess I need to find a better hobby than sitting with a bunch of tweakers and smoking dope. In the future I want to remember how badly it feels to be in here away from the people I love. I want to remember that I don’t ever want to be here again. I want to remember to keep those things in my mind. Drug addiction is what my family is built on. I want to remember how bad I felt the last time I did drugs so I can remember that I don’t want to do them again.

Entry #8
It was a cold night in Phoenix, Arizona. A day I will always remember. It was my birthday and my cousin and I were coming home from my second party. As we were walking towards my grandmother’s house my cousin and I ran into some trouble with these two other guys walking toward our direction. I don’t know why they started trouble, but they thought they were tough. One of them swung on my cousin and it was on. After the guy I was fighting started to back away, I pulled my cousin off of the other guy who he had completely messed up. I told my cousin we had to go before they brought more people. He agreed and we took off running. Sure enough, the two guys came rolling down the street in a black car with one sticking his head and arm out of the window with a gun. Everything went so fast. First it was the fight and then us running and them coming after us with a gun. My mind went blank to the sound of gunshots and a scream. After the shots and the car were gone, I noticed my cousin wasn’t near me. I looked back and saw him lying on the ground. He died in the ambulance an hour later. My birthday is always a nightmare.

Entry #9
I remember that first hit I took of crystal. I was 13. Little did I know that first hit would change my life forever. I’m proud of who I am today, but disappointed in the decisions I have chosen. I’ve done a lot of bad things; things I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. People see me and all I’m known for is my reputation of fighting. Little do they know all that anger is from sadness which escalates to full blown rage. In this chase to get high I have only found failure. I’ve encountered things that kids my age shouldn’t even know about. Every day that goes by I pray in my cell, clinging to faith that things will get better. But every day I wonder why I am here again. Why didn’t I listen when I should have? Why didn’t’ I stick to the saying, “Say no to drugs?” Why Why Why? Sure as hell, I know why. I was too busy saying, “What drugs should we try next?” I remember when I did my first shot of dope. I never really understood why I was feeling the way I was toward the drugs. I loved it, but afterwards I started using more and shooting regularly, stabbing myself constantly. I was feeling more and more lonely with no one but myself as I continued to look for my next fix. It’s a tragedy, but everything happens for a reason. I was lucky enough to survive. I was lucky enough to get locked up when I did. I also remember the day when I finally realized things can only get better if I want them to. Life is a struggle, but it is what I make it. Regardless of everything I’ve been through, I’m still me and as long as I stand tall through it all, I’ll be okay.

Entry #10
Before my baby was born, I was a teen who would always try to find a way to smoke, drink, and get high. Before him I was constantly in trouble. I was in trouble in school and out, at home, and with the law. I knew all the choices I was making were wrong but I didn’t care. Why? I guess I was trying to impress people, just to get their attention. Today is my birthday and I am in here at juvenile hall spending it being locked up away from my baby boy. While my son is at home I am stuck in here on my birthday with a mistake I regretfully made, but for some reason instead of being sad that I am in here, I’m kind of happy because I know that I’ll be safer in here than being sorry out there. I know I would’ve done something stupid out there that I wish I hadn’t and would regret it. What makes me happier is that my mom is supposed to bring my son tomorrow, and that’s the birthday gift I was wishing for. Every minute that he is with me is a minute that I’m going to cherish and to me that is the best birthday gift I can ask for.

Entry #11
I thought you cared, but you left me alone and scared. Why didn’t you show up? Probably sick and throwing up. It’s amazing how what someone else does can cause great changes in another’s life. Living with no love will just have to suffice because there’s none from where I come: only negative statements toward me like, “You’re going to grow up to be a bum.” I just want you to love me. I don’t know how to make that more clear for you to see. My hope for you unfortunately will never die, so I sit back and watch you destroy yourself. It makes me cry. I don’t know what else I can do. I’ll just have to pray more and more for you.

Entry #12
I remember watching my big sis hang out with guys that were drinking and smoking. They carried guns. I watched them shoot at a group of people just because of the color they were wearing. I watched two bodies hit the ground. I was in the back of the car with my sis driving. One of the guys said to turn around and we drove back up the block. The other guys had their guns out and I heard, “Pop, pop, pop,” as we took off. I didn’t know what to do. The next day cops were at my house. They had my sis on the ground with guns pointing at her. She went to jail. I lost my sis that day for the next six years just because she wanted to impress her boyfriend.

Entry #13
I remember when one of my closest friends got killed right in front of me. We were on our way to the store to get some swishers. A car pulled up next to us and we exchanged words. The next thing I knew I saw a 45 pointed at us, so we took off running. Then I heard the sound of gunshots. All of them went into my friend’s back. I kept running until I heard the screech of the cars wheels taking off. I turned back and saw my friend slumped right next to a curb. I ran up to see if he was alright, but he wasn’t even breathing. I made an anonymous call to the cops, gave him a hug, and ran around the block, waiting for the cops to show. His body was just lying there. I’ll never be the same.

Entry #14
I remember the happy days when we were all one family, when there were no arguments and fights, when we used to BBQ every Sunday. I remember the divorce that tore my family apart… my parent’s arguments. I tried to shut it out of my mind, but it was everywhere, even when I slept. I remember staying up countless nights listening and praying that they would stop fighting. I remember the first time I started smoking weed. It felt so good to forget about the divorce, but when the high was over and I came back to reality, the problem was still there, so I kept smoking. I also started drinking and all the other drugs that came my way, I did. I remember the look on my mom’s face when I walked out because I was tired of all the bullshit. I remember yelling at my dad. I remember the sound of my parents’ voices when I called and told them I was locked up. I remember telling my brothers not to follow in my footsteps, but to go in the opposite direction. I remember telling them not to look up to me. I remember the look on my family’s faces when I got out. I will always remember that.

Entry #15
I remember when I had my freedom. It seems like so long ago now, but it’s really only been twenty days. I miss the freedom of hearing my baby cry, because when he cries, it makes me feel wanted. I’ve never felt wanted until he was born. My father was never around and my mom used drugs. I was taken away at just under two years old. My whole life I felt betrayed by my parents. I hated them for having me. For a really long time I wished death upon myself. I came close to suicide a few times. Life got even worse for me when my little sister died. She was beaten and never taken to the hospital. She passed away in 2002, five days after her second birthday. I was devastated. Once again, I no longer wanted to live. I wanted my sister back. I still want my sister back. Every day I wake up and decide to dedicate it to her. I’m only seventeen and I guess having a kid was kind of my way of trying to replace her. I have learned she can’t be replaced, nor do I want her to be replaced.

Entry #16

One day I was walking to go pick up my little brother from school and I happened to see the cutest Chihuahua ever. She was just a baby and so small? She was all alone and so was I. I picked her up and took her home. I had her for almost two months. I loved her so much. She was very light tan with green eyes. I named her *******. She became my baby; I took her everywhere with me, and when I say everywhere I mean everywhere! I took her to school, the mall, and the park. When I went out of town I even took her with me. I never left her alone because I loved her so much. The days I spent with her I felt like a mother. I always had to wake up in the middle of the night because she would cry to get on the bed and I had to wake up to feed her. I never really knew how much I loved her until one day we were walking by a church and it just happened to be right after a wedding. The man that got married came up to me and asked me if I wanted to sell the dog. I didn’t want to, but I really could have used the money. He said his wife always wanted one and that the puppy would be the perfect wedding gift. Also, who would turn down $200? So, reluctantly, I sold her. He told me to wait and see the look on his wife’s face when she came out. I did and she was so happy. She cried and I cried. The lady said, “Oh my gosh she wants her dog back.” I did want her back so badly! But that wouldn’t be fair to take and then give something back, so I said go ahead and keep her. It happened so fast. That would have to be the saddest time of my life. Still to this day all I think about is that dog. She really taught me what love meant. Sooner or later I will get another dog and I will love him/her just as much as I loved ******* because you never know what you have until it’s gone.

Entry #17
I was born into a one parent home with a mom who did dope. I was taken by CPS when I was 8 months old and adopted at 14 months. The home I was adopted into was a loving, caring environment. We went to church every Sunday and had a family group on Monday nights. When I was in the 6th grade, I started to “kick it” with the wrong crowd. We would smoke, drink, and commit crimes. At the end of 6th grade, a couple of us committed a burglary. I got locked up the next day. I was in only a night, but it felt like forever. When my mom picked me up the next morning, she was crying. She said, “It broke my heart to have you away.” I thought that would be the last time I got into trouble, but it wasn’t. I’ve been in and out of the hall 10 times. They even put me in private schools and group homes, but none seem to help. Now I’m 16 years old facing juvenile hall time till I’m 18, then five years in the county jail. I don’t know why I mess up as much as I do, but I wish it would stop.

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