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!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writing Exchange
Fresno, Lassen, and Butte County Juvenile Halls
March 26, 2014

Entry # 517
I remember wanting to grow up fast to be an adult.
I remember telling myself, “I will never end up like them.”
I remember hate, heartache, and pain.
The drugs, drinking and fighting.
I remember waking up wondering where my mom was.
Making my brother and sister breakfast at age 9.
I remember calling the cops because my baby sister’s body was so hot I thought she would die.
I remember waking up to a punch in the face, asking, “Where’s my drugs?”
I remember not being able to sleep through all the yelling and things being smashed.
I remember praying for God to take me away, then worrying about who would take care of my brother and sister; they were my babies.
I remember wondering why God would do this to me.
I remember waking myself up for school because my mom was coming down,
Thinking, “Why go if she doesn’t care?”
I remember getting into fist fights to make myself feel better. For some reason other’s pain began to make me feel better.
I remember getting locked up.
I remember thinking, “I like this place. Juvie is my new home.”
Now I’m making better memories.
memories of success.
All the hate and pain betters me as a person. Time for changes. I won’t fail anymore. I just want to better myself and be all I can be. It’s time for a new beginning.

Entry # 518
The Real Me
I remember a time when I felt free, when I felt loved, when I wasn’t an addict.  My family was everything to me.  I had friends, but meth took them all away.  Now meth is my only friend.  I get angry and clash with everyone.  Now all I feel is darkness, creeping up my heart, consuming my soul.  I seem to hate everyone.  Can I keep going on like this?  I don’t know. 

I put on this fake smile.  I pretend that everything is okay, but my fa├žade is crumbling.  People are starting to see the real me. 

Entry # 519
A View
I can remember the first time I heard the blare of the siren behind me.
I can remember the long journey to the station for booking with the emptiness of intake.
I can remember the loneliness flooding over me the first time the door slammed shut.
I can remember every time it’s happened since then,
but I can’t remember where my life went.
I can remember the smell of fresh air with a view that lasted forever; the feel of the wind in my face as I raced downhill.
None of that is mine now. All I have now is recycled air and a view scarred by chain link fence and razor wire.
I can remember the look on my nieces face when I would come home after a long "vacation"; well at least that’s what we would tell her. At just 8 years old she knows now the person I am and no longer believes us. In fact she no longer looks at me the same way. I can't see the joy any longer, now its fear of her own uncle.
I can remember when I could see love. 

Entry # 520
Last Time
I remember when my brother put a pair of rims on his truck; he got done putting them on and we were going to drive around. As soon as we left the driveway, the front tire flew off and the truck was scraping, but it was funny.
I remember when my brother saw the rim on the other side of the street he was mad because those rims were new.
I remember when he saw me laughing he told me to get out and go pick up the tire and help him put it back on.
I remember when he used to tell the story to his friends and they would mess with him about it.
I remember when the cops came and arrested him because he was a known gang member.
I remember realizing it was the last time I was going to see my brother.

Entry # 521
Clear as Glass
I remember when I was six years old living in Fresno. We lived in a house with a separate bathroom so you would have to go out the back sliding glass door to go take a shower. When I was finished taking my shower my mom had just cleaned the sliding glass door so it looked like it was open. It was a cold morning. I was trying to get back into my house as fast as possible, so I was running across three 2 by 4s and I was covered with only a towel. I looked at door thinking it would be open but it wasn't. I ran face first into the door and fell into the ditch next to the house.  I remember it like was yesterday.

Entry # 522
On The Porch
I remember that horrible day. It was my brother’s birthday actually. My brothers and sisters and I were in the front room of my house just talking and a cop car pulled up out front. We had thought it was the cop from my brother’s school because he had ditched that day. I opened the door for the cop and he said, “Hello, good morning. Is your mother home?” I got my mom and he asked her if he could talk to her without the kids around. They went out on the porch, but left the door cracked and me and my siblings were all trying to hear.
He asked, “What’s the relationship with you and Ernest?"
My mom responded, "He's my kid’s father."
The cop said, "I'm sorry to tell you ma’am, but he passed away early this morning." 
We all started to break down crying, including my mom.  Right then she came in and just grabbed me and my sister and held us so tight trying to comfort us.  That was the worst day of my life.  If you really knew me you would know this.               

Entry # 523
I remember when everyone said I was a nobody.  I remember when they all called me a low-life animal.  I remember when everyone said I’d wind up in jail or prison shortly after my release or how all I would ever be is an institutionalized prisoner, confined to a jail cell for the rest of my life.  Sometimes I think they’re right.
I remember being told by the few friends that I love and trust that everyone has their haters, but it always seems like mine is the world.   I smiled to show them that it didn’t bother me, because I’ve got my flaws, but I know this time is the last time I’ll be in here.  I’m off to a fresh start!

Entry # 524
My Control
        I am sixteen years old I live with my mom. I have two sisters who, also, live with my mom. Our parents are divorced. They separated when I was about five. They didn’t finalize their divorced till I was eight. Throughout those three years my mother, my two sisters, and I were running and hiding from my dad. We moved from place to place because my mother didn’t want my father to know where we were.
        Growing up, I didn’t really understand why my mom didn’t let us see our dad and it made me have some bad feelings towards my mom. Despite my mom’s warnings about how my dad needed help because he was an addict, I would always pick my dad over my mom. I treated my mom like crap for years.
        When I finally had the chance to build a relationship with my dad I did. I put in a lot of effort to get to know him, but all he cared about was the next time he was going to get high. I finally had enough and slowly, but surely, started to give up on him. Well, that put a damper on our relationship. My mom sure did make it a point to say she told me so.       
        Being a child whose parents suffered through a divorce is difficult, but I never really took the time to look at how it affected my parents. The divorce affected my mom to the point that she didn’t trust any man for a long time. My mom wanted to raise my sisters and I in a safe, unchanging environment (the things she could control). She set her needs aside to take care of her kids. My dad’s affects were more drastic. He started to take more drugs, slept around, and ended up having more children that he doesn’t father. He dug himself a hole that he couldn’t/still can’t climb out of and now my sisters, my brothers, and I watch him bury himself in drugs, women, and gambling, etc.
        As a child I took in the divorce and treated it as an issue of my own, picking sides and making a bigger problem. I was too young for my mom to confide in me and talk to me about what was going on. As if I would understand what she was even talking about.
        Growing up without a dad, I would look for love in different places, with different guys. Now when I look back at how it all went down I was using the divorce as a crutch and an excuse. I don’t want to be that person. I’m bigger than the problems of my parents. Yes, the divorce did affect me in ways I have no control of but I’m not going to let it rule my life.

Entry # 525
Time's Up
I remember when I first started drugs
I remember when it affected me at school
I remember when I got kicked out of school
I remember when that affected my family
I remember when I started drinking
I remember when I was in the hospital
I remember how that affected my family
I remember when I got out going back to my ways
I remember when I started a new school
I remember when I met a girl that changed my life
I remember when she told me, “We are going to have a baby.”
I remember when my daughter was born
I remember how happy I was
I remember how all that changed my life
I remember when my family told me to stop using drugs
I remember when I had a court date
I remember when I still kept doing badly because I did not care
I remember how doing what I do got me in here
I remember how that affected my family
I remember how I did not listen
I remember regretting all that
I remember when I wanted to change but it was too late
Entry # 526
The Unbelievable Win
      It was October, only a few days before Halloween. I was sitting in the school bus, ready for battle, wearing my pants, pads, jersey, and even my helmet. There was deep red glistening off the windows that lined the inside of the bus. I was not alone. I was accompanied by my other 44 teammates and our four coaches as we made the short journey across town to where our enemies awaited our arrival to their home field. I had taken some grass from our field and put it in my sock to remind me what we were fighting for. We stepped off the bus with determination and the will to win.
      A half-hour later and, with the sound of the whistle, the ball was soaring through the air after having just been kicked off; the football game had begun. Each side battled fiercely, both gaining yards and scoring two touchdowns a piece. Half time came and went and the game resumed. Then, the unexpected happened; P.V. pushes to the five yard line and is about to score. As I play on the defensive line I eagerly await the call. “HIKE!” I hear the opposing quarterback shout and I run in for the tackle but he quickly throws the ball into the end zone and my heart drops as I think “Oh no they are about to score and this could cost us the game!” However, as I watch the ball soar through the air like a bullet, I realize that instead of a player clad in blue and white, the player who caught the ball was clad in bright red and gold. It’s an interception! Immediately my teammate, who now has the ball, starts running back up the sideline of the field and I turn and make a beeline to meet him and we start running together. First I make one block, then another, and then another, without which the outcome of the game would have been drastically different. I start slowing as I see my teammate running to the Promised Land. As he ran into the end zone, the crowd and my sideline of teammates went crazy and roared with cheers. After all, we just scored to take the lead off a 104 yard pick-6! The third quarter comes to an end with that play.
      After another fifteen minutes of play and one made field goal for our team, we are successfully able to hold the other team from scoring. For the last 2 minutes of the game, I was filled with more energy and anticipation than in any other game we played that entire year. As the game came to an end and the clock struck 0:00, my teammates came running onto the field from the sideline to give a high-five or chest bump to someone else and the air filled with cheers and roars of victory. Against all odds, when even our own classmates at school and even our cheerleaders said we couldn’t do it, we had won! I look up at the score and see the final: 24-14. My team and I were ecstatic and roaring with the sweet taste of victory. A task I thought would be impossible and something we would never be able to do. To this day I still find it unbelievable that the  Panthers Freshman football team had won the 2010 Peanut Bowl against the  Vikings. 

Entry # 527
A Better Daughter
I remember being daddy’s little girl.
I remember my long gold blonde hair.
I remember always being a crybaby.
I remember having fun with my sisters.
I remember when my mom gave up on me, my sisters and brothers.
I remember getting adopted by my aunt and uncle.
I remember not feeling loved by my aunt and uncle.
I remember giving them a hard time.
I remember my aunt gave up on me and my sister too.
I remember trying to earn my aunts trust again.
I remember me forgiving her.
I remember her always being there for me when I needed her.
I remember her telling me she loved me for the first time.
I remember me never giving up on becoming a better daughter.

Entry # 528
I remember when I was free; being able to go outside whenever I felt like it, eat whenever and whatever I wanted. That all changed for me when I got locked up. I remember the day I got arrested hearing those handcuffs close on my arm and being put in the back of the cop car. I realized that my freedom was going to be taken away from me. I remember on the way to the police department, looking at all the cars that would drive by us on the freeway, looking at everything around me and realizing this was going to be the last time I get to see the free world until I get out for the crime I did. I remember the police officers talking about whether they should take me to the juvenile hall in my county or the one here. I remember looking outside the back window of the transporting van wondering what hall we were going to. I remember trying to see the signs on the freeway, but it was difficult for me to see through the window because of the white cage I was in. I got a glimpse of a sign and then I realized I wasn't going to go to my county.
I remember when I was free, man how I miss that freedom. Only got a couple days left till I get out. I hope they go by quick.

Entry # 529
Pop Click
I remember the birthdays I’ve spent staring at these white brick walls and blue steel doors.
I remember all the times I got out and started doing good, but ended up back in the hall.
I remember saying I will do good and not come back. The next thing I know I feel the steel cuffs on my wrists.
I remember waking up four months straight at 6:00 in the morning with the sound of my door popping open.
I remember all the times I spent away from my family; utter disappointment on my mind because I failed once again.
I remember the freedom I felt every time I got out.
I remember all times I could have done good but failed.
I remember my life as a push and pull situation.
I remember.

Entry # 530
Past and Present
Dear person I was in my past:
You failed me!  I trusted you to lead me down a good path, and you lead me to the last place on Earth that I wanted to be: Juvie.  I wish I would have listened to my parents, never picked up those pipes, never took those first hits.  One kept me calm, the other kept me awake, but both ruined my life. 
Dear Person I want to be:
In the near future, we are going to rehab, so that I can be the man I always wanted to be.  I want to grow up, have a family of my own, and stay out of jail.

Entry # 531
The life I am living right now is a struggle with all this probation stuff. I wish I was off already. I get tired coming back every 5 or 6 months and hate seeing the same old people everytime I come back in here. When I get out on my 18 birthday I’ll be looking for a job and looking forward to going to college. I’m ready to make a change for my family, to make them happy. I hope to go back to football and get myself back together, maybe even get a scholarship or possibly make it in NFL.  I hope to play for the 49ers. Playing running back while trying to beat Adrian Peterson and all of those good players rushing yards. That will change my whole life around. I still got a chance to do it.

Entry # 532
He Apologized As Usual
        I remember when I first met my ex-boyfriend. When I first saw him and his pretty long eyelashes. Every time he blinked those eyelashes batted as if they were wings. I instantly fell in love, of course. He was so nice in the beginning. He took me out places every night. We never argued only laughs and smiles.
        One day he went to jail. He was gone for about 3 months. I wrote to him all the time and couldn't wait for him to get out. But when he did, nothing was the same. He became angry all the time as I watched him physically hurt other people. So many people came to me and told me he was bad news. But I didn't care, I loved him. I honestly thought he would never hurt me.
        One day we got into an argument that turned into him slapping me. And that's where the abuse first started. For some reason, I kind of liked it at first. I was like "Yeah, take charge." Aha. But it got worse. I moved in with him, and from that moment on it went downhill. I was being abused physically, emotionally, and mentally. And each time I'd take him back, because I loved him. I told myself, "You're stupid, stop making him so angry, just do what he says." I wanted to be loved so badly by him that I allowed myself to be tortured. I remember he made me strip naked one day as he beat me with a leather belt: in my face, on my neck, everywhere. Tears fell, screams were let out. And each time I yelled he would say, "Shut-up, don't scream or I’ma hit you again!" I tried not to scream anymore. When it was over, I laid down and he apologized as usual. I took him back, because I loved him.
        That dark bedroom is where I spent most of my time. I quit school sophomore year; I was just too ashamed of my bruises. I didn't want to be questioned, and I didn't want to answer. He told me all my friends were stupid, and all I needed was him. I cried myself to sleep every night while he was out with other girls. I stayed, because I loved him. I thought about hurting him in his sleep one night. I knew I had to leave. I waited until he went out, then I packed as many clothes as I could, and ran. I never looked back. Although I think about him often, I know he will never change. I feel sorry for the next girl.  Somehow I still love him. And I always will. But I know that I am beautiful, and I know that I don't deserve that. 

Entry # 533
On the Ground
I witnessed something so painful and horrific. I witnessed a guy on a bike coming from the store and getting hit by a car driving fast. I remember seeing the guy trying to beat the car to get across the busy street, but he was too slow. All I heard was the car trying to stop and then the sound of the car hitting the guy on the bike. The car hit him so hard that the guy’s body looked like a rag doll getting tossed around and his bags of food went flying all over the road. His bike was bent in half and the front tire smashed all the way in. The man got hit so hard that he left a big dent on the hood of the car and busted both of the headlights. He was on the ground, like twenty feet away from the where the accident happened. He started to twitch and there was a lot of blood too. After a while the ambulance came and took the man to the hospital.

Entry # 534
        I remember the most amazing thing I ever laid eyes on. It was in sixth-grade. It gave me the best spring break I could realistically have. It had started with a long drive. My two cousins, my brother, my grandpa and grandma went camping on Mt. Madonna.
      I remember it was the most amazing two week trip. Everyone was happy about it. We had all kinds of food and Starbucks coffee. We had a R.V. with a shower, DVD player, all kinds of movies and board games. It was my perfect paradise. Most of all I remember the fresh mountain air, the beautiful forest, staring at the blazing camp fire, and hiking until I could walk no more.
      We would wake up at 6 a.m.. My grandpa would make fresh cooked bacon and Belgian waffles. I remember sitting around the camp fire finishing breakfast and listening to the birds chirp. Later that afternoon my cousins, brother and I had gone on a hike. Once we were a quarter mile into the forest it was so “ Peaceful.” We rolled logs down the hill and listened to the river. There were amazing red salamanders that glittered yellow and green. Turtles were racing each other in the river following the currents. It was so beautiful with the cool breeze, blooming flowers, and little critters everywhere.
     I remember the best part of the camping trip. We went on a hike that was three miles long. It was a steep hill. As we walked up toward the summit it became foggy. I remember eating an apple, drinking cold water and being covered in sweat. When we reached the top there was an open grass area. I remember the fog dissipating and a rainbow going over everything. We all sat down. There was an animal enclosure. We watched the deer  running everywhere. It  was the best camping trip of my life.
      I remember the day I left. I would miss all the little critters. I would miss long hikes, running around in the forest and getting covered in mud, while we pushed logs down the cliff. The best thing of all was that it was spring and I woke up to all kinds of flowers blooming. I remember nothing but “ WOW” !

Entry # 535
No Sequel
It was Thursday afternoon. My  family and I were getting ready to go to my uncles funeral. It was a dark depressing day, everyone felt torn to pieces inside. We didn’t know what to think at the time. We knew he was gone, but it's like we didn’t want  to face it. I remember when we got the church everyone in the room had tears of pain and anger running down their face; I felt some run down my cheek. I couldn’t believe he was gone. He was one of my uncles that said I would be something in life and I would be ok. When I took the stand to see my uncles body in the casket, it was like everything I knew in the world was gone. I prayed that he would wake up but he didn’t. He laid there with his lifeless body just building pain and anger inside me. My dad’s brother was gone. What could we do? I experienced something so wrong. I wondered why life was so damn unfair? From that day on I knew life was never going to be the way I wanted it to be. To me life was a big movie with a horrible ending and no sequel. How could life take away people you love so much?  To be honest I guess this made me a stronger person. After the things I experienced as a young boy I now know I have to deal with whatever life throws at me.

Entry # 536
I remember when I first saw you,
I remember the moment I fell in love with you.
I remember being with you all throughout the night,
I remember you holding me tight.
I remember telling you all my fears,
I remember the first time I saw your tears.
I remember you telling me you had never had anything this real,
I remember the beautiful ways you made me feel.
I remember the day they took me away,
I remember you promising me you would stay.
I remember waiting for a letter that never came,
I remember my heart feeling like the victim of a cruel game.
But then one day out of the blue,
I received a letter that was 3 months past due.
Asking for my forgiveness and love,
My heart floating hopelessly, as if a dove.
Although my mind is unsure yet of what to do,
The message I'm trying to relay is that, I Will Remember You.

Entry # 537
I remember when I was just three years old.
I remember I experienced how the world is so cold.
I remember the hurt; the losses; and the people who stole.
I remember the haters hating.
I remember when my mother lost her rights.
I remember my dad had an asthma attack and couldn’t put up a fight.
I remember the hard times in the struggle that I had to go through.
I remember those adoption papers on the counter by my aunt.
I remember the good old golden days with my family.
I remember the tears I had on my father’s grave.
I remember the rain.

Entry # 538
A Follower
I wish I had listened to real friends.  I hope to get out in a few days. 
I wish I never drank that Sunday night, and I wish I never did pills. 
I wish I listened to my mom.  I learned my lesson.
I wish this had never happened.  I hate it so much! Ugh!
I wish I was never a follower in life.  I would not be sitting here in an orange jump suit. . .
Entry # 539
Dear Meth,
I remember the day I took my first hit.  You didn’t taste the best, but it was the best feeling I had experienced in a very long time.  The first time I ever tried you, I was hooked.  The next time I tried you wasn’t the same, but I was already addicted.  I will never forget the day I got arrested for smoking you, and neither will my family.  They lost a loved one to you, and I lost them, too.
P.S. I do hate you.  I never wanted you in the first place.

Entry # 540
"POP!"  It sounds like someone shot off a round. Jumping up quick, ready to deal with the dance of death. "CLICK" Now I hear them putting a round in the chamber. I look round; my eyes struggle to adjust in the dim light. No one in sight. Was it just in my mind? Then I hear, "Hurry your ass up, it’s shower time.” Realizing that it was my door all along, I grab my white stained towel and my roll of clothes, heading to the showers.  Can't help but feel sadness, stress, irritation, and frustration all bottled up in my chest. They won't understand. They can't understand this feeling of mine. The only thing I would hear is "He only feels that way, because he's guilty of his crime,"  "He's a gangster, who cares how he feels," "He has no value of life. He's a menace to the public."
You don't know me. I'm a child in need.  Why won't you help me instead of treating me like a full blown criminal?