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!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Entry #33
You are my moon
Only with your influence
Can I pull the tides of my dreams over the shores of earth?

You are my stars
Only with your illumination
Can there be light in times of darkness

You are my wind
Only with your breeze
Can I wisp away the hot rays of uncertainty?

You are my river
Only under your currents
Have I been eroded into who I am?

You are my rock
And you are not perfect
But then again, nothing really is

Entry #34
The rock in my life is my little brother. He is a year younger than me, but at times, it seems that he is the mature one. He has never been locked up or in trouble with the law. I would die for him. We have been through so much together. There was a time in our lives when we were separated for a while, but even so, we kept each other in our hearts. God brought us back together. At the time I was too young to understand it, but now as I look back, I realize how lucky I am to have him in my life. I can’t forget and NEVER will; my parent fought so my brother and I could be together. Adopted or not, they are my parents. Even though at times, most of the time, it might seem ungrateful, but really in my heart, I am so thankful for the things they have done for me and my brother. For that alone, I love them. My brother is my life and I can’t think of ever living life without him. Even when we argue, I still love him.
What can I say, we’re brothers and we always will be.

Entry #35
I have felt so down that all I wanted to do was end my life. Well, I have talked myself out of it, knowing I have someone who loves me. I know I may not have someone on earth, but I do have someone and he has changed my life. When I sit in this green shirt every day, all I see are the brick walls. Here, there are so many rules I have to follow. I wake up at 6 am every morning, grab my towel, take a 3 minute shower, and put on a new shirt. I sit in this county and wonder why green? Why blue pants and shoes? All of our clothes are Bob Barker. There are ten other green shirts around me. When will I see my family? Will they be there for me when I am down to the point that I have knife in hand and think down the stream, not over the bridge? When will I wake up and apologize to my loved ones. I will do it no matter how hard it hurts.

Entry #36
When I walk out of the hall there are a couple of things that I want to do. First I will go see my friends and family, just to check in. I will call my dad and tell him I’m out, ready to move in with him or I’ll go live with my best friend.
One thing that will be different when I get out is that I will be eighteen and my mom doesn’t have to let me live with her. I might be on my own and I will have a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. I just pray that my mom will forgive me and at least try to help me do the right thing. I know that the only way these things won’t happen is if I don’t believe in myself and let someone stop me.
I plan to stay out of trouble, stay away from the police and go back to school, so I can get my high school diploma. After I get my diploma I will go and sign up for junior college. I will look into taking classes to become a RN or a Midwife, because I always wanted to work in health care.
I want to change the things I’m doing because if I don’t who knows where I will end up in. That’s really why I need to grow up and get my life together. I don’t want to walk out of here and just leave everything I told myself in booking. I want to walk out of here and know I’m going to change; I want to know that the person inside of me will come out and not just die. I want to achieve my dreams and goals. When I walk out of the hall I hope nothing is the same but my name and my birthday.

Entry #37
The day I took my first hit off of a dope pipe was the same day I heard that my child passed away. I was sitting at home on EMP (Electric Monitor Program). They gave me the big 180. I was stuck at my pad and as soon as I got home, I lit up a black and started to think about things. One night I got a call from my girl saying that our baby died. She was only 4 months old. All of a sudden something in my stomach curled. I hung up, cut my EMP, and took off. Losing my daughter was the most difficult thing that ever happened in my life. The next thing I know, I am drinking and popping pills. A couple of my friends asked me if I wanted to smoke some dope. I took the pipe and smoked the rest of the bowl with them. After the first hit, I felt like I was superman. Next thing you know, I’m strung out on meth. I was strung out for two weeks. It wasn’t long before I was dealing and eventually got caught up. Looking back on it all, I wish I would have talked to my parents before I left that night.

Entry #38
When I walk out of Juvenile Hall…First I’m going to be on my way home. When I get home I’m going to take a long shower, brush my teeth, and then get dressed. After I’m finished getting all squeaky clean and getting dressed, I’m going to go to the shop so I can get my hair done. When I’m finished getting my hair done, I’m going to most likely go to Home Town Buffet and eat all I can. The most important thing I’m going to do when I get home is talk and text on my cell phone. The difference in my life will be me. I’m going to stop getting high, drunk, and going to parties. I’m going to have a positive attitude and pay more attention in school. I’m not going to hang around people that do bad things. The most important decision I’ve made to be different is to go to church more often.
I know I’m going to have a lot of temptations because I’m so used to just being me and not caring about anything else. To be honest I’m scared of my temptations because I know if I don’t think right, I will end up back in Juvenile Hall fighting another case. That is one thing I don’t want to have to do.
I’m going to change my whole life around and also change who I choose to hang around. I’m not going to smoke weed, drink, or party anymore. It’s going to be very hard but I have a lot of faith in myself.

Entry #39
Who is the rock in my life?
I don’t have one. The only rock I know is the one I put in a pipe and smoke.
It keeps my mind free
Of the words they speak to me.
Who cares? When my life’s in the gutter,
When I’m looking into the eyes of my own mother,
I have forsaken her. My corruption has finally changed my fate.
Now I’m sitting here alone in this cell with no one there except for the words that I said that day.
They are etched in my brain like an endless mind game.
Within these stone cold walls are my stone cold thoughts.
I have lost what I had and anything of worth.
I have turned my back on the people who gave me birth.

Entry #40
A few weeks ago if you asked me, I would have told you that the only rock in my life was the one in my glass pipe. But when I have time to sober up, it’s no mental fight. The one and only rock in my life is my father who has always looked out for me. I feel ashamed at the place we are now: no home to call ours. I know it is time to go….to Florida for a better cause.

Entry #41

My rock is my dad. He has always been there when I needed food, clothes, and a place to sleep, so I don’t have to put up with violence in my household. The qualities I admire about him are he is a great cook and he is always available when I need someone to talk to. He actually listens. He loves fishing and he’s always respectful when you should be. He let me down when he was struggling with drugs and alcohol and couldn’t stop. I have done the same with my drug problem when I was struggling, but I’m working to stay sober and clean. I hope he will always be in my life and not leave mine like my other dad has.

Our next conversation will be about my future and how we will stay away from the harsh and hard drugs in this world. Drugs change us so much from who we really are. I am a good kid and I can help out people a lot. Whenever it comes to my harsh drug problem I tend to do stuff I normally wouldn’t do and I regret the stuff I have done so much.

Entry #42
Sometimes I think I should have gone away, never to return, but I know now, running away from my fears is a bad idea. I have been running from my past for 3 ½ years. It’s not worth it, because in the end, it always seems to catch up to me. I have been in and out of the hall since I was about 13. The last time I was here was because of running from a group home placement. The judge said that was the last chance, but he found a spot in his heart ad he will let me out one last time. On the 15th I got committed for 90 days. He said if I ever return, I’m gone: gone to a group home. No more chances. This time I’m going to prove I’m not a screw up anymore. I can find a way to do what’s right.

Entry #43
When I walk out of the hall I’m going to stay out of trouble. So I am getting my record sealed because I want to go in the army. The thing that I want to be different is to stay out of trouble and out of places like this. The things that will be the same is that I’m going to still be around guns but in a good way. I’m going to be learning new things in the army. Another thing that will be the same is I’m still going to help my mom with the problems we may have. One of my dreams is to put my mom in a house that she has wanted and to make her happy. She deserves to have something nice. Mom has always supported me and was there when I needed her. I want to stay out of trouble because when I am in trouble I can’t accomplish my goals. I want to stay away from the temptation of doing drugs.

Entry #44
When I walk out this place I am scared of what I might face. I wish I could just disappear without a trace. Doesn’t everyone at some point wish that? Sometimes their life may be upside down. When all they want to do is turn it around. I have the power in my hands but that is something they can’t stand.
What will I do? I am not sure because the love for crystal is so pure, well at least I think it is and I’m not too sure I want to kick the habit. I feel like a rabbit without any food not knowing where to go or who to turn to. I am completely stuck, like glue I am not sure of what I will do.
Temptations, they’re all around even when I look up especially when I look down! There inside my head and that’s the worse spot they can be. Oh how I wish I could just be free from me maybe things would be easier.
Change, what does that word mean? It’s something beyond what I can do. I just can’t stand it and I’m losing it too. So when I walk out of the hall what will I do? Maybe I’ll go back to crystal who knows? Do you?

Entry #45
The rock in my life is my grandma. I value her love beyond measure. She helped raise me. I know I can call her at any time when I need her. If I was to get released at 4AM, she would be the only person I know would come to get me. She has never let me down, but I wish I could say the same. She never said I was a disappointment, but I could tell. She said she worries about me, worries so much that she went back to seeing a therapist. I took her love for granted and I never apologized. I believe our next conversation will be about my time in the hall. I’m going to apologize for stressing her out. I’m going to let her know I’m done drinking. I bet she’ll remind me of the time I climbed two stories to get to see her.

Entry #46
My dad wasn’t part of my life until my mom died in 2008. He is what kept me going. He bought me clothes, loved me, and was always there for me. Things went bad for me when cancer viciously took over my mother’s body. I couldn’t control myself. I started drinking and doing drugs, doing things I always told myself I wouldn’t do. I started hurting the people I love the most, like my dad. I would drink and drink because I couldn’t take the torture of the thoughts going through my head. I blacked out, recalling only that I was looking down at my dad. I had made him feel my pain, my rage, my fear of having nothing. This is what changed my life. I find myself screaming and apologizing. I found myself in here having no life.

Entry #47
The person that I would consider as my “rock” would have to either be my grandmother or my older brother. The reason why I chose those two is because no matter what kind of problem(s) I have or what kind of situation(s) that I get myself into they’re always the ones who I can go to and talk to about anything, and they will never judge me or get mad at me for the trouble I get myself into to. They have also been the ones who I can go to talk to about my father passing away. My older brother, John, went away to college last year, but no matter how busy he was with his school work he still made time to call me. On some occasions he would take a trip home for the weekend just to make sure I was on the right track and I had no problems that needed to be talked about. The same goes for my grandmother, she lives in another city but she is constantly calling almost every day just to make sure that I’m staying out of trouble and that I’m doing good in school. Also, she is one of the only family members that writes letters to me on a consistent basis when I am locked up. If it wasn’t for my brother John and my Grandma I can honestly say that I do not know where I would be today.

Entry #48
When I get out of the hall I will go home with my family and eat a lot of food. I will chill with my father and brothers and kick back and relax. We will catch up on things; ask how everyone else has been doing since I’ve been locked up. Then I’ll go see my mother and she how she’s been doing.
The things that will be different is I’m not going to go chill with all my boys all day and night like I used to do the last time I was out. I’m going to go look for a job anywhere I can find one. I’m going to stay occupied so I won’t get into trouble when I get out of the hall. I’m going to get off probation this time when I get out. I will go to school to get my high school diploma. I will stay away from the drugs and alcohol.

Entry #49
The rock in my life is my grandpa. He has always been there for me and never let me down. If I call, he answers the collect calls and talks to me for however long, no matter what he is doing. I feel bad just writing this and realizing how many times I have let him down, getting expelled from schools. The time he found out I was smoking weed was probably the worst I have ever felt. I know he was very disappointed. I know I let him down just coming in here and for what I did to end up here. If I could take it all back, I would. When I get out I am going to tell him I’m sorry. I will try not to let him down ever again, and he will tell me I better do more than “try,” but I can’t promise anything. I wish I was more like my grandpa, smart and a hard worker. He has a nice house and car. I know that if I keep doing the drugs I won’t have any of that. Instead, I will be prison bound. I don’t want that, but if I let the drugs keep ruining my life, that’s what will happen. I know when I get out I won’t just change, but I will work towards it. It’s something I know I can achieve.

Entry #50
Everybody has a person in their life that they can look up to….someone who is always there through the thick and thin…somebody who’ll give them the time of day to sit down and listen. I hope those people know how lucky they are. Some of us aren’t so fortunate. Some of us have to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Some of us don’t have that special somebody to even give the time of day. So, I ask myself, who has been there through everything? Who did you cry to when you were all alone? Who stuck by your side when everybody turned their back on you? You want to know who stuck by my side? Me. Who did I run to when times got rough and there was absolutely no one I truly felt safe and secure with? Me! I put myself through so much that I went into this game by myself and I’ll be happy leaving by myself. I’m thankful that I was mentally and emotionally able to get through it by myself. So for those who have someone special, be thankful. Some of us might not ever have anyone else but ourselves.

Entry #51
When I walk out the hall I will go back to school get my grades up, catch up on my credits and work hard so I can graduate from high school. I will stop doing drugs, stay sober and try not to get tempted because I don’t want to hurt my mom anymore. I get tired of being tired when I’m on that stuff. I want to make my mom proud of me. I will be on probation till June, but I’m going to chill for those six months off probation so I won’t come back to this place. My temptations will be drugs, but I am not going to let it get to me this time. It isn’t worth me losing my mom’s trust and it isn’t worth me looking like a ghost all strung out on drugs. When I get up out of here I’m done doing drugs.

Entry #52
When I get out I am going to get her done. I will be a good kid. I will not come back here ever again. I know I can do what’s best for me. I know I can make my family proud. So when I am on EMP, I will not screw up, because if I do I will come right back into the hall. I do not want to return. I will stop all my bad ways before I get out of here. I want people to trust me. I know if I do good, they will.

Entry #53
When I walk out of the hall I am going to get a job. I will get started at a junior college so I can eventually get a better paying job. After junior college if I am doing well I will transfer to a four year college. What’s going to be different is that I will stay away from drugs and negative people. I will stop taking life as a joke and game. Nothing will be the same except still loving my family and being there when they need me. I am going to avoid my temptations by playing football and jogging down the canal. I might take time out to go swimming with my nephews and nieces. I will change my life. It will be way better than what it was and people will know it. I believe that if I can change a lot of my friends could change with me.

Entry #54

Throughout my life the only solid person I’ve had is my Grandpa. He passed away when I was only ten. Since then my life has been going downhill. He was the only positive adult that I was around when I was younger. I never let him down but if he was still around I know he’d be very disappointed. I admired the fact that he was always supportive to everyone. His presence always kept me up. He isn’t in my life now but he’ll always be in my heart. If I could have another conversation with him, I’m sure it’d be one I remember for the rest of days. Mt Grandpa continues to be my rock. I look at him as my only fatherly figure. No other person will ever have the influence on me that he has.

Entry #55
I sit here and stare at these white brick walls, the numbered blue doors, and the steel toilets, wondering, why me? Why now? How can one minute you be having fun hanging out with your friends and then the next you’re in the slammer looking at a lot of time? Sitting in a cube, a blue mattress hardly comfortable on a cement slab, just wishing I could be home in my bed and in my own domain. I wake up in the morning at 6AM, groggy. I hear my door pop and the last thing I want to do is get up in that misty shower for three whole minutes, Woo-hoo! It’s barely enough time to wash myself and then I wonder what I could have done different. I sit here in this environment, where everything’s timed: how long your shower, how long you eat, sleep, and I’m honestly surprised that they don’t time how long you’re going to the bathroom as well. I wish I could have done something else or said “No” to all the bad choices I’ve made in m life, but I guess from now on I’ll always be asking myself, why me? Why now?

Entry #56
When I get out of the hall, I want to change my decisions, but not who I am. I want to become successful and actually be somebody. I’ve got to man up now because I am having a child and a kid can’t raise a kid. That’s a man’s job, my job now. I’m going to start going to school more often and get the education I need to in order to get a good paying job so that I can help raise my child and help make them a better person, like I am trying to become. I can change when I get out of the hall.

Entry #57
I have an addiction, but not to drugs. My addiction is the hustle. I like the easy money. Making a couple of thousand made me feel like I was doing right. “Money is life.” That’s what I thought. Now I’m in juvie missing out on my son’s life. He can walk now and I wish I could see it, but no. I had to see that dollar sign one more time. I have seen so many horrible things happen to people because of money. I have done bad things to people that didn’t have it coming. Money, guns, drugs, and hommies have been my focus and now I have missed almost a year of my son’s life.

Entry #58
As for me, I have not rock in my life. I can’t depend on anyone but myself. I’m 16 years old and have been living mostly on my own. My mom has been in and out of prison, always in fights. As for me, I picked up her traits. I cannot go a day without getting into a fight, but that has just led me behind a door that I never imagined I would be: locked up. I guess it is good that I am here. I can stay out of trouble in here.
I wish I could change my past. I wonder where I would be if I went down the right path and not the wrong. I have three sisters, a brother, and an eight year old niece I miss so much. I sit in my cell at night wondering if she will remember me.
I sit back and wish I would have listened to my grandma and stayed in school and not gotten into trouble so much. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now. I wish I would have never hung out with the wrong crowd and did the things I did. I hope that one day I will open my eyes and stop the nonsense. I want to do the right thing. I have to learn from my mistakes and take responsibility when I make them.

Entry #59
When I walk out of the hall the first thing I am going to do is go sign back up for school. When I am done with that I am going to go to a program that helps teen’s get jobs. I will have to be serious about getting a job because that takes commitment. I know that my mind will be different and I am going to have good intentions because I do not want to be back here locked up. I actually want to be doing something with a good cause. I will have a complete attitude change because attitude really counts out there in the world. I also feel that it’s not going to be easy because I know some of my old ways, like smoking, will be a problem. I think that if I have a smoking problem that can hold me back from my job or even stop me from getting a job, but I am one hundred percent sure that if I am really serious about doing what I say I want to do then I need to let old temptations stay in the past by being responsible and stay out of trouble.

Entry #60
Who is the rock in my life? I don’t know. I wish I could answer that myself. When I was twelve, my cousin was. He would protect me from our demons, the demons that now haunt my life. Who is the rock in my life? I wish I could tell you, but it would be a complete lie.
I was with my cousin every day until he died. We had just moved to Chico. I was 13 and was sitting with my friend smoking, kicking it with my demon. I got that call that ruined everything. I ran all the way home thinking that this was a horrible joke. I was at the end of the hospital bed. My cousin had been shot in the head. It ruined everything. Now my demons are in control. Who is the rock in my life?

Entry #61
The one person I can always count on is my mom. I could be in a different state and need to be picked up and I know I could call and she’d be on her way in a heartbeat. I don’t understand her at all though, because I always let her down. I’ve been in and out of the hall 10 times: always making empty promises. I can’t stay in one place. I have an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Recently I added a new heavy drug to my variety. I can’t stop, won’t stop. I love my family, but I can’t live with them for more than a few hours. We have our differences. I guess you could say I am the black sheep of the family. I love my younger brother and would do anything for him. My parents don’t like us communicating in fear that I might change him. Little do they know that is my worst nightmare. I’m still not completely sure why or how I changed. All I know is I need to keep my head up and remember that I’m in control of my life decisions, nobody else.

Entry #62
When I Walk Out Of the Hall
The day I walk out of this place, I’ll know I will probably be one the happiest people alive. The first thing I am going to do is eat as much good food as I want. I’ll actually go to my grandmother’s store and get some chicken.
Before I actually leave, I will meet with my probation officer in his office. My requirements are simple and easy to follow. So I know what I’ll do when I actually leave. One of my requirements is to finish school. I plan on graduating from high school and to get my diploma. Next I’m going to work on going to college. Since in six months of ‘Aftercare’ I can accomplish getting my credits up, I can work on what I want to go to college for. My goal is to go to Cal poly in San Luis Obispo.
I will be different. My way of life I will drastically change so I will fit into society. That is the reason I am here. Society will be the same. That I can count on.

Entry #63
The rock in my life is my grandmother. She’s the most solid person I’ve ever known. My grandmother was able to go through an abusive relationship, not bitter or phased. She taught me the true definition of unconditional love. My grandmother is such a balanced and strong person, it amazes me. In her lifetime, she has been a nurse and had 12 kids (not including all the foster kids my grandparents raised). Even though none of the foster kids were her own, she gave them unconditional love as well. And on top of that, my grandma had a brain tumor before I was born and she wasn’t supposed to make it. When she lived a year after that, the newspaper wrote an article about her. Whenever my grandma is going through something, she doesn’t show it. She wants nothing but the best for everyone. I love her so much and I know she loves me more than anything. Even though I’ve done some grimy things in my life and ran away, my grandma has always been there for me no matter what I’ve done. She always encourages me. My Nana has never let me down. I want to be more like her because she is so caring, loving, and forgiving. I’ve never trusted anybody else in my life how I trust her.

Entry #64
I shouldn’t have picked up that crack pipe. I shouldn’t have done it. I should have stayed home and loved my baby sister. I should have left the drugs behind when I had the chance. I should have told my grandma that I loved her before she died. I should have loved my mama better. I should have tried harder for my girlfriend. I should have gone to school. Now I have to take one more year of high school. I should have stayed home instead of running the streets wondering where I would sleep. I shouldn’t have picked up that crack pipe. I should have kept my life.

Entry #65
When I walk out of the hall I really have to make some changes. I have been getting locked up since I was fourteen. I have locked up ten times and it’s time to break the cycle. When I get out I need a plan. I am going to finish high school, look for a job, start going to church, and focus on my relationship with my girl to keep busy. What is going to be different for me is that I am going to find new friends, ones that are supportive, and keep me out of trouble. I am not going to abuse drugs anymore because they screw your mind up and are bad to your health. What’s going to be the same is I am the same person with the same mind I had before. I will still want to get out and do the same things as before, but it’s time to break this cycle and do something different for a change. I will make my family proud.

Entry #66
I remember how I felt the morning after from what I had done, thinking I had gotten away, but no. The phone call came and it felt as if I was hit by a car: as if the floor had fallen from under me. The call was from a friend saying the police were looking for me. Now I’ve done it. Everything I’ve done has caught up with me. I remember thinking that my whole life was about to change. A few days later, the police were knocking at my door. There was too much evidence. After the questions kept coming, more lies fled from my mouth. They knew. There was nothing I could say. I know what I did was terrible. I had to face it. My mom was balling. What have I done? Now I’m in juvenile hall. I never thought I’d end up here.

Entry #67
The one person that I know I can always rely on is my grandma, who I call Nonnie. She always gives me good advice and tells me what I need to do to be successful. She never sugar coats anything and I love that she loves me as much as I love her. I don’t ever want to disappoint her or make her feel bad even though I have a few times. She has never let me down and is always there for me when I need her. I hate when she feels lonely or is hurt by something me or one of my brothers did. I want to be able to be there for her whenever she needs me, like she’s there for me. I’m going to be there by staying sober and educated for her and myself. I think the next time I see her and talk to her we will both be very emotional because we haven’t seen each other in so long.

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