JH Artwork

JH Artwork

Writing Exchange 2006-2017

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Siskiyou, Lassen, 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 2016: Sept 14; Oct12; Nov 16; Dec 14

Planned Exchanges 2017: Jan 11; Feb 15; March 15; April 12; May 17

Friday, November 2, 2012











Entry # 91
Why did he hit me?
Why did he cheat on me?
Broken promises, broken hearts
I want my son, I want to leave,
His demon eyes stinging mine,
He promised, he lied,
I ran to my son, he stopped me.
Locked me out, I got back in,
Trying to claw my way free,
A sharp pain in my head and ribs,
I turn to see his fist, pulled back.
The pain is nothing in comparison.
A black hole opening up in my chest.
Sucking all my air, I go black.
When I come to, I grab my son and leave,
Our neighbor comes to help.
Next the cops,
Statements taken, words spoken.
I’m told I’m going to my grandma’s house…
A lie
They take me in.
Now all I need is my son, to hold,
Tears stream, nightmares scream.
Why am I the one inside?

Entry # 92
Being behind that door the moment it closes, the first thing I think is, “Damn, when’s it gonna open?” I miss everyone on the outs: my friends, my family, an even people who irritate me. I play lots of card games with an annoying roommate, and sometimes I don’t even play the right way. I read a lot of interesting books that I haven’t even heard of. I bounce my little green stress ball off almost every brick in my room. I’ve even counted each one four or five times, 436 large white bricks. Whenever I can sleep I do. I don’t get much at night. When you’re in the hall it makes you appreciate everything a lot more! I miss my own boxers, socks, my choice of food, when and where I sleep, and my girlfriend! I miss people I don’t even like, and food I never think of. Being behind that door when it closes reminds me of everything I miss.

Entry # 93
Being alone
Ha what’s new?
Being lonely
What a story.
Every time those cell doors close I feel scared.
You ask why?
Because all I see are those mortifying white walls.
All I hear are those horrible voices telling me that this is all a lie. I’m never going to change.
The home girl crystal has me on lock. She’s the master and I’m just another puppet.

Entry # 94
Why do I keep getting locked up? I know why, because I keep doing the same things over. I just want to get off probation and get home. First I need juvie, where I am in my room looking at four walls, a cold hard toilet, and a sink. Man I need to stop getting in trouble. I need to get my stuff together and forget the drugs. I need to do better in school. I need to raise my grades. I need to be more respectful to my family. I need to get my life back on track. I need to stop worrying about girls until I get my life straight. I need to make my grandparents proud of me, but when I keep getting locked up it doesn’t make them proud. When I get out of juvie I need to start helping my grandpa because he just had surgery and he has to keep coming to my court dates and my IEP’s. It doesn’t make me feel good. I need to get out of here so my grandpa can get some rest. I need to treat my family better. I have been treating them like crap. My brother, I need to respect him because he is the only brother I got and I’m the only brother he has. We both need to learn how to respect each other I am always going to love my brother even though he doesn’t like me doing drugs. My whole family doesn’t like me when I’m doing drugs because I do stupid things when I’m high. I usually get in trouble. That is why I keep getting locked up. I need to stop with the drugs.

Entry # 95
Light
It is light, but it is dark
You passed, but still at home
I want to remember, but have to forget
Dads never there, I wonder where he is
Friend’s second, but families always first
I’m not alone, even though I’m never home
With this mark, I will always remember
It will always be light

Entry # 96
Being lonely is the worst feeling ever. All I think about is my son and my baby’s mom. I can’t get them out of my head. When I think about them I cry behind locked doors. I’m just wishing I could go home to see my mom because I know she just wants me to be the little boy that I once was and I know she misses me too. When I lay in my cell I just pray to the Lord cause that’s my only hope, but when I get out of this hell hole I’m going to stay out. I’ve got a family and a son to look up to me and I know I’m not going to be there for my son’s birth and that kills me inside. That’s one place I really wanted to be. He and his mom are the most important things in my life and world. I’m missing my family and I can’t get that out of my head because I know I can do better then what I’m doing now. It takes a man to raise a child.

Entry #97
The day passes and my life stands still. Time freezes. I look around and see if my angel is my by side, but I see darkness. I try to find a light of hope but yet again I see nothing. I pray to my god for help and faith and strength to help me get through my day. I try to smile but when I do it’s just a fake smile to hide my pain and if you ever look in my eyes you’ll see what I mean, the pain inside of me. The love of my family comforts me, but when I realize that I can’t be with them that little light I saw is gone once again.

Entry # 98
I’m in Juvenile Hall
Stuck inside these four walls
With nobody to write
And nobody to call.
I cannot wait
Until I get out of this place
Even though it’s a long time
Until my release date.
When I do get released
I promise not to come back
I’m going to make sure
That I stay on track.
I’m going to get out and get a job
No more being a lazy slob
I need to do this
Not only for me, but for my family.

Entry # 99
The worst feeling about being back is just that I’m back. The part that gets to me is the expression on my mom’s face when I see her in court. I see the disappointment in her eyes. My family says “it’s like raising my dad all over again, but worse.”

The part I hate the most is the feeling I get when I have to walk myself in the room alone. Knowing that as soon as it slams shut with a “bank, click” I’ll be stuck in the little room until I hear “pop, click.” I feel like I’m just rotting away in that room with the same routine: bad smells, trash talkers, and the constant banging that drives me nuts! All I can think about is how stupid I was to get put back here yet another time.

It gets worse every time I come back. My mom stopped visiting me. No one ever writes me. I feel alone accompanied by my toilet. I have no control over my life. In here I’m as good as a programmed robot going through the motions day after day. Another thing that’s depressing is I can’t even turn the lights off to sleep. I am in no control over anything in my life when I am locked up, like a caged animal. White walls and blue doors. Every morning I wake up and they put me in a depressing mood. I can’t hold my head high in here. I wake up itchy from the uncomfortable blankets that they give us to sleep with. My pants and shorts either fall off or are so tight I can’t breathe. With this yellow shirt I could be the suns twin. I’m a lonely soul trapped in a white room with a blue door.

Entry # 100
You were my world
That completed me and filled my hearing with joy
Endless times we would spend talking to each other
About the craziest things and funniest times we remembered
Together we would laugh and cry
Now it’s a part of me that’s not fully complete
Because you are not here
I try to play back the times in my head
But it can never be the same
When I begged God why take you away
Tears filled my eyes like a little stream
And now I look at it as you being
Away from all this crazy mess

Entry # 101
The time ticks by
Tick-Tock
Clocks counting down
Tick-Tock
Time slows down
Only an hour and a half left
Tick-Tock
I hear the clock in the back of my mind
Only it screams like a banshee
A forbidden mistress, this witch of time
Tick-Tock, goes the clock
Time counts down
Maybe I’ll stay here
Maybe I’ll leave
It’s up in the air like an opening kick off
Tick-Tock
An hour now
My heart skips a beat
Sharp breath as I see the time
Short time
Delicate time
But in the end
Not enough time
Tick-Tock

Entry # 102
When I’m in my cell I’m kind upset. When I get out I want to be better, a better kind of person for my family again. I would do anything to be with my family. I don’t like it in here, but I messed up and so I am punished for my behavior. I miss sitting on my bed at home with my pit bull. He’s my life. I wish I could be there with my family. My dad’s really upset with me for being in here, but I told him when I’m home I will be a better person and I will try my hardest to stay the out of the hall.

Entry # 103
It’s like this, I take them chances, I roll them dice, being in this game ain’t nothing nice. I did big thangs Makin’ no chump change, But the question is can I change? I can change! And if I gotta prove it then so be it.

Entry # 104
When I first came in I was mad and ashamed. I had a life…. Now I have to cope with someone telling me what to do. I was out with the homies and the family, kicken it, partying. I was up to no good and it caught up with me. Now I’m stuck. My mom’s finally getting out. Nine months have past and it doesn’t even seem that long. I been here seven months with a 2 week break. Time just flies. Soon I’ll be getting another chance. Can’t wait to be out, see my family and walk my pit….To see a beautiful girl and let her know. Only one more month to go. I’m going to get my life back. No more locked doors or getting hours. I’ll be home and living my life.

Entry # 105
How do I deal?
I deal crack, guns, anything I can get my hands on.
How do I cope,?
I cope with keeping my mind a blaze, but sometimes that doesn’t work.
So I go grab a bottle, and what I mean by ‘grab’ a bottle is really grab it, five finger discount.
Who do miss?
It would be freedom, I can’t wait to get off probation, and not go down that road with her again.
I’m not alone, I have my boys, but the thing that’s messed up is we keep coming in and out of here. Why cant we stay out there?
It doesn’t matter. It’s too late, but not too late to change.
What it feels like to be locked down?
It’s not too bad, yes it sucks, but there are times where I feel like it’s all good. It’s times where we are rappin in the vent, to thinking back to the old times we had.
I don’t know. It makes me feel like we are just one big family.
We understand where one another are coming from.
I hope we can make it through this every day struggle.

Entry # 106
Who cares what I do? I can tell you easily. The only people that care are the people close to me. There is my fiancé and a couple of friends that have dropped stuff that they were doing just to help me.


Not many people know I’m in here. Not many people care. But me being in here actually sorts out my true friends from the fakes. I’ve been through here a few times to know that my immediate family doesn’t care. I’ve been out there so long that being in here feels like a vacation, because out there is a lot of work while in here all you do is go to school and eat.

I’ve made plans to stick close to, obviously, those who care so I don’t end up making the same mistakes as I usually do because being in the hall sucks. Nevertheless, it has given me a chance to look at the stupid stuff that I did and laugh.

Although I am one of the few that care, I think that it doesn’t even matter about my past or future. It just matters about the present and then the outcome. I do all I do by choice. Most of the time I am the one to blame, but not this time. This time it’s my mom. She decided to be lazy and do drugs instead of getting a place to stay.

Entry # 107
Everyday
Every day is a troubled day,
It’s an everyday thing to me
Mean, nice, hatred,
What is a real friend who knows?
Always there for you,
A true friend doesn’t get you to do the bad
But the good
You are there for them
But where are they for you?
Doing their thing
In trouble every time
Can’t see them
For a really long time
Doing their time
Problems come and go
But stay in your record
Try to do good
But it’s harder than you think
Once, twice or even more
When am I going to stop getting locked up?

Entry # 108
Being alone is all bad for me. But when I’m locked up I’m not alone, I’m with my friends and homies. They show love and I show it back. I deal with loneliness by keeping my patience thinking about a lot of things I can do when I’m out. It’s hard because I miss a lot of friends and family. I miss my family more than anything. I always think about wanting to do good so I can be with them and make them proud.

Entry # 109
Captivity, isolation is what this is,
Dying for the liberty and emancipation of a kid,
that does not succeed but one day will,
people say it’s easy but I promise it’s all up hill.
I’m being held in a box,
I’m in custody, But I’m accomplishing so much,
There is nobody on this earth that can touch me, I’m am lucky!
People say there is a difference between heaven and hell but I promise I live both everyday in this cell,
I’m realistic, never again ballistic.Already leaving this messed up life I had,
I’m hoping to live this new life without a drag,
What I do realize is that I’m becoming a man,
I bow my head and raise my hand, I’m winning.
I’m moving on!

Entry # 110
I cope with my being locked up by thinking about the little things in life and enjoying them. I also take care of things I usually don’t do on the outs, like working out and brushing my teeth 3 times a day. When the cell door shuts I workout till I’m tired, then sleep. Plus we eat 3 meals a day and that helps me sleep. I think about getting out and how much easier I can make things for myself. I go outside at least once a day so it’s not so bad in here. It’s a big step away from county and a giant step from prison. I deal with it trying not to worry and knowing that if I do, time will go by slower.

Entry # 111
It’s sad being so accustomed to where being incarcerated does not affect you. This place is a home away from home. Sleeping is the best. My dreams can take me places. I think I’m dealing with it, but perhaps it’s really messing with my mind. When I get out getting locked back up is always in the back of my mind and that’s what brings us back. What I mean is that we’re always thinking about it on the outs, so we never fully eliminate this place from our minds and that’s what I believe makes us return.

Entry # 112
“You can’t do it alone”
I believed those lies!
Over my dad,
Over my twin brother,
And everyone I ever loved.
I need new words
I need stronger emotions to portray.
Feeling lonely and lost seems so miniscule
I wish I knew you now,
I could give you so much more love,
So much more to be proud of!
I Love You Mom
I don’t cry anymore
Your pain is finally gone
I smile to the heavens and know you’re in a better place.

Entry # 113
I lost two friends, more like brothers , both taken by overdoses,
How was I supposed to cope?
Instead of a pipe I got a bottle, my own kind of dope,
Life started to look like a downward slope,
Only thing left was my love, spread wide like the wings of a dove, but when push came to shove …
My addiction prevailed, the last of my soul, had just been killed,
Anger built in my heart, decisions not smart, now I’m in Juvenile Hall, in my cell doin’ art .

Entry # 114
Every time the doors close I take a deep breath & tell myself, “The thug life, I wanted this.” I look at myself in the small ass mirror & then I smile because I see all the things I screwed up. I ask myself why couldn’t it of been someone else instead of me? I’m not that bad. There are way worse criminals than me. Then again, I can’t do anything about it, so I deal with it & wait till I get out. My anger gets the best of me. I start punching my door & head butting it because I like feeling pain when I’m angry at myself. I do pushups until I can’t breathe & pound on my chest to encourage myself to do more. This life style is really messed up, but I choose it.

Entry # 115
The sky is dull but the sun is bright.
People die and kids cry.
The poor suffer and the rich do too.
Children laugh and have fun while the old
Are grumpy and all alone.
Everyone has a different perspective on
What goes on.
Day by day and night by night, not everything is
The same we all have different sights.
I see blue and you see white.
Nothing ever changes we just see it in different ways.

Entry # 116
Being alone… it gets easier I guess when you’re locked up. That sort of thing happens. I just try not to think about where I’m at. I know it’s for my own good. My mom only wants what’s best for me. That’s what makes me miss her so much. There are a lot of parents that don’t care and sitting in my cell made me realize that. At the end of the day when those doors lock, I just think of how I can change.


Entry # 118
When I was lonely I did not have my dad. I did not know him. I became increasingly upset because no one was there for me. At my sports games I never had anyone to cheer me on like the other kids.

I went to a foster home in 2008 and that is when I first met all of my family. I was 14. This guy came up to me and said, “I am your dad.” I didn’t believe him at first and even told him so. He had been in prison for the past 12 years due to his abusiveness. It is still hard for me to forgive him. I was only 2 when I was taken away from my family. I don’t really see him anymore. He is still involved in some hard drugs and it is hard for me to just sit there and watch him do it.

If I ever have kids, I will take them out of the house, teach them what is right and wrong, and stay out of prison. I will be there for them.

Entry # 119
A lost soul
I walk upon a broken road
No more hope
My survival consists in the cold
I’m on my own
I always have been anyway
Standing tall, don’t care what any say
Though many may
Diss on what they don’t know
But I’m proud of the road that I chose
ANGRY, TIRED and FED UP!
Feeling down
The pain gives my gut a tug
Out of luck
No more love
I’m feeling stuck

Entry # 120
Like a rabid animal at first I’m detained.
White walls surround, this is my cage.
Paranoia…calm down!
I still feel rage.
My little brother grows weaker.
I’m not there to stop his growing addiction.
He will kill himself, God please imprison him.
My mom cries for her lost sons.
It’s my fault and the drugs.
I need to get out in order to save life.
The ones I love are standing on knives.
If I had another chance, oh Lord I’d
Keep myself right.
Me and my loved ones must follow Gods light.
The world whispers my name, taunting me

Entry # 121
It all started at the age of twelve
Something went wrong and I knew my life was going to hell
Turning to my gang and the drugs too
Put me in situations I never thought I would’ve been through
Seeing the pain I put in my mom’s eyes
Wishing everything could just be a lie
This life that I live isn’t a joke
You can be rich one day and the next morning wake up broke
It takes 365 days for the earth to spin one time
But it only takes one step for me to change my life

Entry # 122
You never really think your alone tell the cell door shuts then you are alone, completely alone, like nothing you ever imagined. I hate when the door shuts, but I’ve learned to live with my mistakes and realize that this is how it has to be. This is how I’ve learned to cope, I just have to accept that I have no other option. Then your cell turns into your home and your cell mates turn into your family.

Entry # 123
I don’t like writing about my life because it makes me feel bad because of the things I went through. It hurts to talk about it. I’ve been through so much, in and out of juvenile hall over the last two years. I have to take care of my mom and my girl. I’m about to have a kid. I can’t keep getting locked up.

Entry # 124
Sitting in a room full of juveniles, taking on the world, trying to bear it all. I’m supposed to be the good one. Sorry mom. I didn’t mean to disappoint you by coming here, but there’s a first time for everything. I never thought things would be this way. Being stuck in a cage. I wish I was at home with my family instead of in here with my brother acting tough and manly.

Entry # 125
Being alone isn’t so bad. It gives me time to think and time to learn from my mistakes so I know how to do things better. I miss my family and all my homies. I hope they will all show up to my family visit. When I close my door and step into my cell I think of what it would be like to be in prison if I actually end up there. I also try to strengthen myself, so I work out. Not just physically but mentally too. I want to be able to have my mind straight.

Entry # 126
I’ve known you since I was 12,
I really loved you and cared
You were never doin’ well
In and out of a cell
You were the best boyfriend I have ever had and a good friend
Every time I thought of you I never thought what would come upon you was death
I look back and regret not bein’ there for your last dying breath
I imagine the day you died
Posted with the homie on the block
The homie see’s the killer
Next he hears shots
Blood everywhere
Died so young
Only 18
You’re in loving memory
Never to be forgotten
I love and miss you

Entry # 127
Being away from my family is not fun
Sometimes I think they will just be done.
With me locked up for doing drugs
I should have been there with open arms for hugs.
My little brother is at home alone
I didn’t know I was hurting him by getting blown.
He’s like an only child, yet with two brothers
I think when I get home he will feel smothered.
The first thing I will do is eat macaroni
On second thought I think I’ll have raviolis.
I can’t wait to see my Nonnie
I love her more than money.