JH Artwork

JH Artwork

Writing Exchange 2006-2018

This blog was created to display some of the powerful writing being done by incarcerated youth. Participants currently include juvenile hall facilities in Siskiyou, El Dorado, Placer, Fresno, and Butte County. Students are given journal topics and asked to write what needs to be written. Several entries are handpicked from each classroom site and posted to the blog anonymously. Students at each site then read the material together, discussing the writing and connecting with others.

Planned Exchanges

Planned Exchanges 2018: May 24; June 27; July 25; More To Come!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We are looking forward to exchanging writing with Lassen and Placer County Juvenile Halls in February!

Entry #707
Surrounded by betas
In alpha facade
Watching closed mouth & jaded
Their fool-hardy jihad
Taking introvert
To new extremes
Reliving times of hurt
While waiting for dreams
My conversations take place
In the security of my head
Insanity finally got a taste
And now is just waiting to be fed

Entry #708
Family Visit
There is so much pain in my family. My mom is back to the drugs and doesn’t have a place to live except for my grandpa’s house, and that’s not really working out for her. I feel so sad because I can’t be out there to help her get better. My mom came to my family visit all by herself looking so heart broken and in need of some love and support. She sat down and tried to act like everything was good but I knew something was wrong so I said, “Mom, you know you can talk to me about whatever you need to get off your chest,” and she started crying, saying that no one cares for her and that my brother and sisters blame her for everything.  I embraced her and started crying with her, telling her that I love her with all of my heart.  I wiped my mom’s tears away and gave her a kiss on her cheek and told her she will always have me and no matter what I will be there to help her find the light at the end of the tunnel.  I think sometimes our parents need us as much as we need them.

Entry #709
In Search of Hope
My journey has been spent on the road that contains the many rather than the few. I regret to admit that my life is littered with the bad karma that accompanies the mistreatment of my peers. I was born with endless possibilities at my feet, but I simply stomped them out on my way to the path leading me to rock bottom. My grandparents weep with the confusion and despair that has grown in them as a result of the careless nature that is my being. As I plunge forward, the road ahead grows both darker and lonelier; but how could I care, when I have lost the capacity to hope for myself? My family and friends may believe that I can still find The Road Less Traveled By; yet I stumble down my worn, dark path with my hands over my eyes, refusing to change course. Nevertheless, I am hauntingly aware that it ends six feet under.

Entry #710
Roll Model
       There was a road I decided to take a little while back. It was a tough choice to make, but my future depended on it. I decided to go back to school and get my high school diploma. When I did get back in school, I was doing very well for a while. I wanted to do it for me. Everyone always thought I was never going to make it this far without getting pregnant or strung out. I never did this for them, never gave them the satisfaction. I wanted to show myself that I could do it and not give up on myself. I was heading in a new direction when things changed.
       My road took a turning point. I was going to school every day but for two reasons. One was to get my credits up while I still could. Two, was because it was also court ordered. I had just got out of the hall. Probation gave me an electronic monitor and forced me to go to school. This was fine with me since I wasn’t going to school at all when I was out. I went to school until my monitor was up and then I felt free from people nagging me.
       Once I was free, I was like a chicken with no head. This is when it started to turn. I stopped going to school and only going whenever it was convenient for me. I started to do my old thing all over again. Four months passed along and I found myself back where it all started, in juvenile hall. Now that I’m here, I’m thinking of many ways to change my life and start over again. I never pictured spending my 18th birthday in custody. This new road I’m going to take is the one where drugs don’t dwell on corners and where temptation doesn’t’t cut you at the throat. The road not taken is the new one I’m taking. I am going to leave the other behind when I leave these doors. It’s a new beginning. A role model I will be.

Entry #711

I am frightened
I’ll be fearless
I am sad
I’ll be happy
I am impulsive
I’ll be mature
I am insane
I’ll be normal
I am untrustworthy
I’ll be loyal
I am addicted
I’ll be sober
I am a kid
I’ll be a man
I am foolish
I’ll be smart
I am locked down
I’ll be FREE!

Entry #712
My First Everything

My new year’s resolutions for twenty-fifteen are to change and make my life better. The goals I created to start this New Year off are: First, keep on striding forward on the good path I’ve started on with no smoking. I’ve been sober for two months going on three. The only thing that smoking did for me was make me broke in my pockets and slowly caused me to be less focused in many areas that I really shouldn’t be. Secondly, I’ve been thinking of living life with being occupied with an activity like a hobby. The activity I’ve put most of my attention to would have to be boxing. Doing so, I can keep my head straight by staying out of trouble and most importantly, relieving stress by being healthy and fit. My final goal is to let go of people who are irrelevant in my life. So I can do some things that are worthwhile such as finishing school and getting my driver’s license and even better get a job so I can provide for my son. My son will be in my life pretty soon. He is going to be my first everything, the very first priority of the day. He is going to be the motivation for me to keep on this good path for the new year of twenty-fifteen.

Entry #713
Me, Myself, and I
It's a new year; I have a past, a past that if I continue to live will make it so I don’t last. My new year’s resolution is to finish my G.E.D., get a job, and become self-sufficient.
I alone am choosing to CHANGE. This program is not changing my ways. My probation officer is not changing my ways. Ten months is not changing my ways. The judge and the jury are not changing my ways. I am CHANGING MY WAYS

Entry #714
Left-Lane Crash
I’ve been switching lanes all my adolescence. I never really knew where I fit it. I was too nice for the bad kids, and too bad for the nice kids. I guess people call them phases, but for me it was like trying on new identities, trying to find one that fit. Banging, which happens to be the left-hand lane, seemed to fit pretty nicely, and it was the one I stuck with, for better or worse (namely worse). When I was out I would say everyday was a good day to die (something my brother once told me), because I lived with no regrets. Bad things would happen, I would make mistakes, but at the end of the day it led to me being who I was, and for the most part I liked who I was. Now though, I can’t say that; I’m filled with regret. It becomes me. I no longer like who I am, because who I am led me to be here, incarcerated. I should have stayed in the right-hand lane. 

Entry #715
Go Away
It’s pulling me out the door. I try to run. I scream “NO MORE”. It got me out although I tried to fight. It turned me out into the night. As I walked all alone I search for the place that I call home. It always pushes me down when I get close. It finds a way to hurt those that I love most. I tell it go away. I try to run. It always seems to sneak back in. It will never leave my side for it’s my EVIL past I cannot seem to hide.

Entry #716
       My New Year’s resolution is to become a better person with better morals, also, to not come back to the juvenile hall. When I get out of here, I want to do the rest of my probation and get off of probation for good. Some more things I want to work on are bonding with my sisters more since I haven’t had a good relationship with them for a while. One of my sisters is older than me; she is 21 years old. My second sister is younger than me at 13 years old. Yes, I am the middle child but I like it that way. I have someone to look up to and someone who looks up to me as well. With a little sister at my side in a way helps me with my New Year’s resolution because I, as a brother, don’t want my younger sister to go down the road I have and screw up what she has planned for the future.
       My plan is to get free and stay that way. The only time I should be coming back to this place is to go to court so the judge can tell me I’m getting off of probation finally after like a year and a half. Also, I want to get a job when I get out of here to keep me occupied and stay safe, away from drugs and crime. That’s the last thing I need in my life right now. I’ll be turning 18 a couple months after I get out. I want to get my driver’s license and be able to drop my little sister off at school and pick her up. I want to help out my family by getting food when no one else has the time, because everyone is at work or something like that. I would like to make a change not only in my family’s lives, but in mine too.
       I want to establish a new relationship with my older sister. Since I was a little kid I can remember that we would always argue and not really help each other out. Being a big brother to my older sister is something I will try to do, as ironically as that sound. She wants to help me find a job; she offered to teach me how to cut hair because she’s a barber and it is fun and easy money. I believe that cutting hair could be a way out of the life I’m living and the path I’m on. She could be my angel, saving me before it’s too late.
       Lastly, my number one New Year’s Resolution is to improve my thinking, morals and to slow down my impulsive decisions. Those things seem to be the actions I have the biggest problems with. But the New Year has started so it is all an uphill battle from here which I know I will be able to win. All I need is faith and to believe in myself. So all in all, my plans for the New Year are to improve my morals, my relationship with my sisters, and help out my family more often than not.

Entry #717
I Can’t Hear Me

1000 voices in my head
Days on end of doing meth
Judgement after judgement is all that would be said
Now I am clean, and you would think the voices would cease.
Some days are better than most.
Each day of recovery another voice leaves.
Hopefully one day the only voice in my head I hear will be me.

Entry #718
My Little Family

It's 2015. I'm locked up, trying to maintain. I hate the feeling that I’m stuck, I need to get out and change the way I live. I’ve got a family to take care of. I just had my second child. I’d do anything just so I could be with them. I hate sitting in my cell because all I can do is think about how messed up my life is, and what I would have changed. I can't go back in time. Now I'm stuck doing time. My new year’s resolution is to make a change in the way I live and be there for my little family because they are all that really matters to me. I love them more than anyone can imagine, more than life itself.

Entry #719
Connoisseur of Roads
In my life there are several different roads I can take. The one I travel is my choice, good or bad. I started on a good road and took the wrong exit. I went down a road that was strung with pot holes and cliffs; on both sides canyons were ready to swallow me on every turn.  I took this road and now that cliff that was always there just waiting has taken me. I have fallen. I may be stuck here at the deep bottom, but I’m still breathing that sweet air that keeps my mind functioning. Now with every breath, every step, I get closer to the top of that cliff. Once I get back to the top away from this horrible void which I am consumed in, I will find a new beautiful road that is aimed in the right direction.

Entry #720
The Plan

       If I had a do over, the changes I would make are that I would have listened to my parents, stayed in school, and not got involved in drugs. If I had done these in the beginning, I wouldn’t be in the position I'm in right now. I’m kind of mad at myself at this point because I had all I needed in life. I just always did what I wanted and never listened which I regret. Now I’m in the juvenile hall, a place no kid wants to be. I’m working on changing my ways to become a well behaved young man. I’m almost 18 years old. I want to make myself a brighter future and be a successful hard worker. The way I’m going to do this is to stay off of the streets which is where I’ve been most of my life. I also need to say goodbye to drugs. My goals for the future are very important to me. I want to finish high school and get into college. After I get through with college, I would like to work with youth and probation. I want to be able to tell kids this isn’t what they are going to like throughout life. I also want to be a kind hearted person who helps kids changes their lives.
        I can accomplish these goals by staying committed to getting all the credits I need to finish high school and earn a scholarship that will get me into college. That way I can study criminology and other courses I will need to become a peace officer. Ultimately, I will work on my abilities to connect with minors and let them know how they can become successful in life. This is my plan for success.

Entry #721
Wasted Years?
Destined for the road most others wouldn’t have taken,
My world was abruptly shaken.
I did not take this road by choice;
but back then I couldn’t find my voice.
Accepting my fate was what had to be;
never letting on to the entire story.
Wasted years is what I got;
what it’s like to be free, I almost forgot.
Yet I have learned a lot- I cannot complain;
faith and patience are what keep me sane.
But it goes deeper than that if you venture past the cover,
compassion and love is what I sought to discover.
Without coming here I wouldn’t have had much time for reflection;
making my priorities straight, I shall now have a better selection.
Finding the good in even the bad,
is a gift that before I wouldn’t have had.

Entry #722
A Road Not Traveled
Traveling down this road is full of consequences. When faced with a problem I put up my defenses. I chose to ride with G's who were lurking in the streets, riding with the choppas and counting triple beams. At 9 years old I was faced with a choice, a little one of two who grew up without a voice. Now me and my brother are both locked down because we made some mistakes. Thinking some days about the road we didn’t take, a life got thrown away and a new one was given. We chose to be ruthless, not knowing if we would end up in prison, but my little brother is on his way first to DJJ, then maybe Pelican Bay. Who knows where this life will take us next because the road not traveled got deleted like a text. We chose our way and we'll handle what we were given. I just hope when we meet God all our sins will be forgiven.   

Entry #723

Being stressed out is one of the biggest challenges for me. I have to find ways to control myself and get rid of my negative thoughts. My stress is like an overwhelming wave that takes you by surprise: that’s it, it’s over, I’m doomed. I pray that the lord helps me get over all these drowning problems. Sometimes I wonder if I will get my shit straight. I keep telling myself that to every dark and damp cold night there is a bright and beautiful sunny day. Somehow I’ll find a way for the sun to come into my life. There are  situations that I still have to face. Will I make it? I don’t know. All I can do is try my hardest. When I stress it feels like I’m dying. Tears pour down my face like a waterfall. But to the people that love and care for me, don’t worry, I’ll be alright. I will keep my head up to the heaven’s way and defeat all this stress and anger. I will be one of those people who make it(at least I hope).

Entry #724
When I was younger, about 14 years old, I used to play soccer. Nothing was more important than my sport and school. My mom liked what I was doing because I kept my grades up and I kept myself active. As I started growing up I began to hang around with a different set of friends. That was the turn I took to a wrong road. They used drugs, tagged on walls and caused trouble. I began to follow their steps. I started smoking weed, tagging and always looking for trouble. I thought it wouldn’t keep me out of school but it did. I began to ditch classes because I felt the urge to smoke weed and chill with my homies. I also quit soccer. My mom asked why. I told her I was tired of it because I’ve been playing for too long. I lied. The truth was I was either too high or out in the streets. My mom started getting suspicious about why my eyes were red, why I would come home late and why I would eat like I’ve been starving. She searched my room and found my stash of weed. She was disappointed and she started crying and giving me hard lectures. I decided I would stop smoking and hanging around with those friends, but I didn’t.  Soon I was back at it. That was a stupid choice and I’ve made a lot of stupid choices in my life, and that’s why I’m in juvenile hall now. This is going to be my last time here, I promised my mom and I’m going to keep that promise. I am going to go back to school, graduate and attend college. I no longer want to give my mom headaches and see her cry and suffer for my dumb decisions. I’m ready for a big change in my life, A SERIOUS ONE.

Entry #725
Missing Christmas
I feel that the road less traveled for me would be that I’m locked up for not attending school and using drugs. When my father was a child he was never in any major trouble in school or with the law. He also graduated. In his early adult years however he was incarcerated for more than 25 years, people say I’m going to be like him and I'm starting off young. I don’t want to be like my father. I want to go to school and get a career. Because he was incarcerated my father was never there for me or my twelve older siblings. The smart thing for me to do would be to continue school and get an education, but it’s hard for me to do this because I’m addicted to the street life and what it brings. I’ve been trying to change because I’m tired of being told I’m going to turn out just like him. I’ve decided to finish school and get off probation, because I’m done missing Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Entry #726
My Year
My New Year’s resolution is to become a better person, to put kindness into my words, and love into my heart. I want to build positive relationships with the people around me. I’m going to find the strength to let go of the ones that are bringing me down even if they are my relatives. I’m going to forget about the past years and start over this year. I might be starting in a crapy situation, but from this point on I can blame no one but myself. I decide how negativity impacts me. I’m kind of at the bottom, so there is only room to progress. I don’t really trust myself, but this year I will get out of my own way. When 2016 comes I’ll be somewhere, I’ll be doing something, and I will be somebody, living. This is my year.

Entry #727
Negative Self Thoughts

I’ve been in here for more than 3 months already and it’s been 3 months too long. My dad had two surgeries since I arrived. He’s really depressed, and lonely. In some ways I think it’s my fault because I’ve been in here too long. The same goes for my very beautiful girl friend; I’ve missed her birthday and our 2 year anniversary last month. It sucks because I’ve been here for Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year’s. People say that they have to learn from their mistakes somehow, and that everything happens for a reason…So maybe someday later on I’ll look back on this experience without hating my decisions.

Entry #728
Dope is Nothing
I’ve been on hard drugs since I was young
And now I have decided I am done
Selling that dope was all that I knew
Now I’m locked up with nothing to do
The judge is my savior but I thought I was the maker
Stealing cars, and making that paper
It's not the way of my future
And in the end it's nothing

Entry #729

I was careless.
I remember saying hurtful things to my mom.
I heard her cry.
I worried about my mom when she had to stay with her “FRIENDS” until she got back on her feet.
I thought chilling with the homies everyday doing stupid things was what I wanted, but I want to change.
I am a good person.
I think everything happens for a reason.
I need to push myself to become someone successful.
I try to control my temper.
I feel like giving up sometimes.
I forgive my mom. Now I can change.
I will make it in life.
I choose to stay away from negative things and people that will affect my life.
I dream one day I’m going to have a nice house and beautiful family of my own.
I hope for the best.
I predict I can do it.
I know I’m STRONG, I will CHANGE.

Entry #730
The Road With The Devil
At twelve I knew I was born in a messed up world. I was always surrounded by the drugs and the violence, even at home. My parents wanted me to succeed but they, like everyone else I knew continued to proceed differently.  I went to the Skate Park and believed I found an escape. I was wrong. When I got there they passed me the blunt. I didn’t take the hit so they thought I was a runt. I finally found my escape. It was in a book and when I’m done writing this I will go back to my escape...I thought I would be cool if I caused trouble but I wasn’t and at that point I saw two roads. My decisions were clear but my intentions were in tears. At 14, I could be the kid with his nose always in a book or the hoodlum with a blunt. I’ve opened my door and now I’m in juvy for half a year.

Entry #731
Due to the System
Another one of my friends have fallen 6 feet under,
It was just another funnel to me that I couldn’t attend,
I was in the system fighting this case,
I still had three months to go and I didn’t know want to think,
When I read that letter I sat and put my hands to my face,
Only me in my cell no one around me,
I sat and cried to the 4 walls that surround me,
The sad part is that they were against me,
They sat and told me that I may be next,
I didn’t believe it, I thought of it as a test,
A test to change myself to better for good,
Or a test to see if I'm going to go right back to the hood,
I’m still kind of scared to get out in 30 days,
Because I don’t think I’ll be successful like back in the days,
I mean way back before all those Facebook and Twitter days,
Way before rap and hip-hop were all about material things,
Everyone’s out here trying to get big and famous,
They're not worried about what they're saying in their language.

Entry #732
What I Want
I took a road that was less traveled because I thought that I didn't have to worry about anything. I thought that I was free and clear because I was ten years old, drinking and smoking. I thought I was the coolest kid ever. I was trying to put myself out there. Since then, I have been on probation and now, four years later, I am spending most of a year in the hall.  I have four months left to go. I think that it is a good thing that I am here because if I was still out my anger would have resulted in me shooting or stabbing somebody and probably going to DJJ. I feel that I have changed a lot. I get to go home and see my family because I am doing very well and I know I can't change in less I want to change.

Entry #733
I would say the road that I did not take was to do well in school. But now that I’m getting older I’m starting to look back at the things I did to myself and the things I put my family though. If I had a clean slate, I would say I wished that I would have paid attention to my grandma and my sisters when they were telling me to do better in school. Without an education you will not have many advantages for jobs in the future. Many people don’t take the time to think before they act, but that doesn’t mean they are bad people; it just means they didn’t think about the consequences before they act. I’m saying good bye to drugs and some of my old friends. My goals for the future are to get a good paying job and finish school for my high school diploma. I can make this happen by trying my best in school and redirecting my life.