Juvenile Hall

Juvenile Hall

Writing Exchange 2006-2018

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

Planned Exchanges

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Entry #1346
Nothing Was The Same
We were a very happy family. We always got along. Lots of laughs, lots of smiles and love, but, eventually, very slowly, we were all drifting apart: my dad, mom, three sisters and I. My mom was starting to act weird and hang out in her room when she was home. Also my dad would work from six in the morning to ten at night. My mom was gone half the time leaving us alone and I took care of my younger siblings. I grew lots of anger in me wondering where she was going and it hurt me when she was here. She started picking me up from school really late, telling me not to tell my dad and I never did. One day my dad caught my mom having an affair with a 17-year-old... I couldn't believe it. Then there was constant yelling, banging on the walls, crying, more yelling, and cop calling. I couldn't take it anymore. I ran away from home and from all the anger. I started doing hard drugs, stealing, fighting. When I was 14-years-old I left home for about a year. When I came back nothing was the same. I didn't really know my family anymore. My mom was sent to prison while I was gone and I haven't seen her since, not even a word.

Entry #1347
Just To Feel Good
My mom was a single mother supporting two kids with another on the way. Dad was never there to help mom take care of us. He was out getting high, worrying about his habit. When he'd get locked up, and nobody would visit him, or put money on his books, my mom would be the only one to help him. He'd say he was sorry he was never there for us, and that he'd change when he got out. When the time would come, and he'd get released, the first person he'd see was his dealer, and do his usual routine. I started using drugs at the age of 12. Started off with weed and went to alcohol. I used those everyday just to feel good. Around that time, my mom got laced by my step dad and she didn't know. She'd talk to birds and animals like they were talking to her. She'd walk around town dragging a chain behind her all the time. She'd stay in caves and under bridges without letting us know where she was. When she'd leave the house she'd turn the power off to the whole house  and put a padlock on the breaker. She thought people were living under our house, and made me crawl under to see if anybody was down there. She got locked up a few months later and sent to prison for seven years. Now I'm locked up, thinking about the mistakes I've made.

Entry #1348
2 Letters
They’re on the outside looking in
They don’t know about loss or losing a close friend
They ain`t been through half of the stuff we been in
They haven`t felt pain in the worst way
Talk to me, you lost a homie on your birthday
How are you gonna let your momma shed all those tears?
I ain`t even see my momma in 9-10 years
Grandparents, I don’t know none
Of course I got feelings I don’t show em
To be real It’s not like sad feelings
Cuz I ain`t ever had anything in the beginning
Got took in by my auntie
If I wasn`t mistaken, I think she hates me
Probation don’t even make it no better
I was locked up nine times and only got two letters.

Entry #1349
Running Away from my Problems
I’ve been running from my problems for a little while.
Well, maybe it’s been longer than a little while,
seems like everything’s going outta’ style.
Put on my shoes and try to walk a mile,
still wake up and wear a fakeass smile.
Don’t know how I’m supposed to help myself.
Won’t really help to go and kill myself
so I hope that my heart can just heal itself.
Wish I could just be myself.
I don’t even want to see myself.
I’ve been running away from my problems for a little while.

Entry #1350
Destruction comes from death
Pain caused by stress
From the insanity that is mine now there is nothing left
It's upsetting to see
All the anger people are aiming at me
Wanting to be almost as hard as they seem
Clouds cover the sky
Caused by an explosion of lies
Father’s gone missing
Mother’s on drugs and think the government’s listening
Living the life that to a child is sickening
I was abandoned by my father at my grandpa's place
My memories are clear of leaving the state
Now I've adapted into a new mind
Stuck in a new place, trapped in time
Willing to take what is mine

Entry #1351
Things I Know
This is it my last chance before I get taken from my home and placed somewhere where I don’t want to be. I need my bed, my food, family, my home. I value my freedom too much to come back. I can’t believe I’ve even been here this many times already. I’m smarter than this. People tell me so, but I know that I am too.

Entry #1352
Doing Fine
I push a hard line
I've been through some hard times ,
Grew up poor my family only had nickels and dimes
So I had to hustle to get what's mine
Had to help pay bills and  fines
Had to stop doing lines so I could be in the right state of mind
Everyone who hated on me I just left them behind
I've struggled most my life but it never killed my shine
I'm staying motivated so I don't get stuck in dark times
Even though I'm in the hall doing time for my crimes, I'm doing fine
I'm just waiting to get out and get my release papers signed

Entry #1353
I remember growing up and the stories my parents told me that there was no other way to live than to live the life of a struggle. Mexico was such a poor state; it still is. My dad always told me how hard it was to earn money for the family once his dad walked out on five kids. He was the oldest and had to take care of them, meaning he had to provide food, clothing, and a shelter for them to live in along with his mom. He realized living in Mexico that the salary he made there was not enough for the family to be supported so he decided to come and work in the U.S. to provide the family with more money. He was only eight years old when he left Mexico and was only six when he left school to start working. Once he arrived in the United States, Los Angeles to be exact, he said he found a job within a couple of days of arriving. He told me he worked as dishwasher only earning $3.50 an hour.

Entry #1354
My Parents
I have parents that I am so grateful for. They’ve been through so much more than I could imagine. My parents barely survived the Vietnam war. At 15-years-old, my dad left his parents and went 21 days with almost no food or any water. He had to drink elephant urine to survive and eat what he could find. He watched people die in front of him. And he had to leave people behind. At  13, my mom barely survived a landmine. She was hit in the leg. She could barely walk and her brother had to carry her miles on out. They both came to the United States after a long fight. They met in Portland, Oregon which was a blessing. They have eight kids and are still together. The reason why they still work so hard to make it in the U.S is so my siblings and I can get a good education and not have to work as hard as them. Me being the only sibling getting locked up really hurts them. What my parents want from me is to graduate high school and never come back here again.

Entry #1355
My Life
            My life is so crazy I can’t even think. All these police trying to take me away from my family. But I try to look forward to a better life. But all these people around me make me want to do a crime. Yes I’m young and I know right from wrong and sometimes you have to think no one is perfect. That’s how life is. I’m just a kid, I shouldn’t be in this place. All these people looking at me like I’m out of my mind. I don’t care what they think. I am going to just be me. I travel these streets with all my friends having an enjoyable time until that one day I get trapped in a box looking at four walls. Then there is nothing I can do but listen to all these rules eating this nasty food. When I look in the mirror I can see my reflection, I touch my rough skin and see that it is not me anymore. I used to be that good kid who listened to her mother, but now I’m just trouble bouncing from house to house running the streets thinking, “Why am I in this adopted family. Probably my mother didn’t want me. I’m sorry, please give me another chance.” I am crying out to God…why is this happening again.

Entry #1356
Broken Down
Okay look, I'm in juvenile hall. I've already had a bad day, and I'm sitting in class doing my work.  The next thing I notice I get a tap on my shoulder by a staff member. They tell me I need to step out of class because I need to call my mom. It's important. Then right before I call her they tell me there has been a death in my family. I didn't quite know who it was yet but then I called my mom and she was crying and told me that my uncle had passed away. It broke me. The only thing I could do was drop and cry. It's bad enough that I'm in here and can't be with my family like I wish I could have. The only thing I can really do is remember the good times we had, all the smiles and laughter, all the things we did together when I was younger, like being at the Ocean in Eureka. Life feels so much different when you lose somebody close to you. But one thing that it tells me is to just spend as much time with them as you can because nobody is here forever. You never know how much you appreciate something or someone until it's already gone. You can't bring back the past but you can bring up your future.

Entry #1357
From Now On
How I am feeling is sad. I'm in juvenile hall when I need to be out with my new born baby. I was so hurt when I got that phone call saying my baby was about to be born. I was here and couldn't do anything about it. I couldn't be there to see her birth or anything. I was so heart broken that all I could do was cry in my room. So, from now on I am going to stay out and do the right thing so I can be there for my child, as in finishing school, going to college and getting a job.

Entry #1358
Passing Lane
I remember being with my other family in Spain. I remember living in that huge house with my grandpa and mom. I remember the different foods and the salty water in my mouth. I remember coming to America and being in a brand new environment. Seeing the joy on my dad’s face when I first stepped into the house, dogs barking and the smell of good food. Then I remember my mom leaving and never coming back. Years later I found out my mom and grandpa went to prison. She was writing me but I didn't understand until years after. I remember not caring, because she left me, but deep down it killed me. I remember slowly drifting away hanging out with the wrong people doing the wrong things. I remember spending Christmas on Columbus with my boy. We went out to eat and blew all our cash on dro thinking it would bring us joy from the hole in our soul. I remember starting to make big moves but then I got caught up. I remember getting out, then coming back in. 15 days then 30 then 120 and now the big 14 months. Now there's no time for bullshit. Time to redefine myself and really start to change. There's goals I want in life, places I want to see. I don't want to be the family on food stamps or welfare. My kids are going to get everything they want and I see myself doing big things with my life and being very wealthy. I’m glad I have my dad to show me the right path and help me achieve the things I want and one day I will pass him up, and one day, I pray to God that my kid passes me up.

Entry #1359
White Walls
Used to have a dream that my daddy wouldn't fiend and choose to live a life with me,
Wake up in the morning hit the shower and I scheme,
Tryna escape this box where white walls is what I see,
Just turned sixteen and I can't believe,
This is what I get for sippin some Hennesy,
Feeling like I'm drowning but I continue to breathe,
Violations of probation while I try to succeed,
Memories of mom cashing out with EBT,
Hunger was my friend mom could barely feed me,
Stealing steaks from Raley's and clothes from the mall,
Tryna feed my family like I can support us all,
I wake up in the morning still thinking I'm in the hall,
Money on my mind,
Grind till I shine,
Paying half my momma's rent, just happy to be alive.

Entry #1360
Candle In The Dark
Damn how'd I wake up in the hall
Mama started crying when she got that phone call
Always told me, "Do good baby you can have it all"
But I was living big in a world that’s so small
Then I got all caught up in the mix
Got tired for my lil brothers missing things off their Christmas list
Couldn't see em cry so I said I had to go
See I'm a go getter, yeah, my mama even know
She said, "Don't worry about things, focus on your flows,
You've always been a star man just look at how you glow,
You’re just like your dad and I'm the one to know"
But how does she bring light to the darkest situations
Said we’re going through it, but I could of been mistaking
Cuz no matter what man we always seem to make it
And the times I couldn't go, you told me, "Baby, yes you can,
Cuz I'm your number 1 fan and when you make it big
I'll be front row up in the stands."
But if you have dream you get shot down and killed for it
Wanna live my life but boy you ain't built for this
Just to have a normal life, man I would kill for this
Mama said, "Think about your family, stop being so selfish."
Tried to stay outta trouble but damn I couldn't help it,
Candle in the dark but, man, it’s slowly melting.

Entry #1361
I have a lot of things on my mind. I've really been thinking about my older brother and my mom. My mom is in prison and my older brother has been taking care of me since I was eleven or twelve. Now I'm about to be seventeen in less than ten days. I feel like I let my brother down for coming back again. I’ve been locked up fifteen or sixteen times. Before I got locked up this time my brother and I had been fighting for a week straight or longer and five minutes before I got locked up we got into a big argument. I wish I could take back the things I said and listened to him. I would of never got locked  up this time and I would have still been out and doing good. Now I am going to camp for eight to fourteen months. I miss my older brother so much and all my homies, so I actually learned something this time getting locked up. Sometimes your older brother might sound like he is trying to control you and tell you what to do and sound hella mean, but all he wants is the best for me and for me not to get locked up and to stay out of trouble.

Entry #1362
If I wake up in the morning and the hurting is so great
I don’t want to get out of bed and face a world of hate.
If everything in life goes wrong and nothing I do seems right
I just try a little harder and soon I see the light.
For every person who has put me down and filled my life with pain
I strive to achieve greatness and show them I can.
For every disappointment for the times I am let down
There will be a better moment and my life will turn around.
Because everyone feels heartache and everyone feels pain but those who have true courage can get up and try again.

Entry #1363
Well my parents never did officially get a divorce but they don't see each other anymore because my dad got deported for beating my mom with a beer bottle. After that everything got messed up. We were homeless, living with our aunt, my mom’s sister.

We got money and moved to Mexico. We were there for a while but there was a lot of shooting and I got really sick, to the point where everyone thought I was going to die, so we moved back to America, to Lake Tahoe, with my mom’s boyfriend. He would beat her and beat us but that's a different story. Well after being alone for weeks because my mom would leave for days to weeks at a time, we weren't going to school. So when we did, the teacher and kids would look at me funny because I had bruises all over my body from my mom’s boyfriend.

Child protective services came in and took me, my little sister, and my little brother away. We went through one foster home together and then these people wanted to adopt us so we ended up moving in with them. I was with them for less than a week until they kicked me out for reasons I still don't know, but they kept my sister and brother. I went back to foster care. Six months later my sister got kicked out and she went back into foster care too.

We were in separate foster homes, but after two months she moved in with me again.  Well, the people we lived with, our foster parents, wanted to adopt us. They sent us to this little summer camp for about a week because they had to go somewhere for a little while and they told us they would come to pick us up, but after that week our social worker came to pick us up. I thought maybe they couldn’t come because of some reason. Then I saw all our stuff in the back.

Our social worker told us we were moving again, so we went to this other foster home and when we got there, there were already two other kids: one of them was a boy about my age and the other was a 14 years old girl. After three days my sister came crying to me about something. I thought maybe she was just missing mom again, but then she told me that that boy had made her touch him. I got so mad I lost it. I asked her where he was and she told me he was in his sister’s room. He was laying there watching something on his sister’s laptop. I grabbed it and threw it on the ground and beat his ass.

I got kicked out and my sister ended up staying over there and the other boy ended up leaving as well. I had to leave that foster home anyway because if I would have stayed my sister never would have gotten adopted. Once the adoption finalized they stopped all visitation rights and I never saw her again. That was almost 6 years ago. I'm 17 and I'm always getting locked up for gang banging, doing drugs, and  doing stupid stuff.

Entry #1364
My parents didn’t exactly divorce. It was never final because they separated and got back together all the time. I remember when I was little I would get mad when my mom had a new boyfriend or when my dad had a new girlfriend because I wanted my parents together.
I think if my parents would have stayed together I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’m happy that I went through everything I’ve gone through with my family because it shaped me into who I am. My parents would split up all the time but they would always get back together. I don’t know if it was better when they were together or not.
There was a point when they both had their lives together and both had jobs. And there was a time when they were both gone and I was with my grandma. My mom would always leave but she’d always come back. My dad would leave and not come back for a long time. But when he did come back he wouldn’t leave again for a long time.
I’m happy my dad doesn’t leave anymore he just stays home and goes to work. My parents still talk. I’m glad that both of my parents come to visit me every chance they get. I love my mom and dad and I’m happy they still love each other even though they aren’t together.

Entry #1365
My Dad and My Dog
When I was young, maybe twelve, my mom and dad split up. They were doing drugs really bad and my dad had just got off parole, so he thought he could do whatever he wanted. He started hanging around his old friends. Then my mom came home one day and caught him cheating. They got in a big fight and my brother, mom, and I went to my aunt’s house for a couple days. When I went home my dad was gone. The whole house was thrashed and he had taken my dog.

I was so angry that I didn't talk to him for a while. Then his friend told me that my dog had been at his house, but he had ran away. So my mom and I went to the dog pound and asked if they had a new red-nose pit bull.. They said that they did and I could go find him. I walked past kennels with dogs barking and growling. I thought that the lady might have made a mistake, that they actually didn't have my dog. As I was walking up to the last kennel there was no dog barking so I thought it was empty, but then, to my surprise, there was a dog all curled up in the corner and he was my dog. Right when he saw me he started jumping around. My brother went to give the money that my mom had to pay to get my dog back and when they opened the kennel my dog ran to me so fast that I thought he was going to tackle me.

We went back home and after a while we moved. I later found out that my dad got locked up and is going to prison and that his mom had just died, so I felt sorry for him. I wrote him a letter and told him that I forgive him. Now he calls my mom every day and asks about how I'm doing in school and stuff, and he writes me.

Entry #1366
It’s Just Coffee
Coming from a home where money was a drought.
Family in and out, always sleeping on the couch.
Will I make sure my kids got it all, hell yeah no doubt.
I'm gonna make it far in this life.
Even if it means I gotta do a couple suckas trife.
Don't see my dad much, he's always with his wife
I try to stick out like a diamond in the rough.
If I talk about success, you know I'll never bluff.
To get my life right, the process will be tough.
Sitting back sippin on this cold bottle of Gatorade,
Thinkin to myself, I'm gunna be so paid and have my life really made,
Like a fresh glass of lemonade.
C4 and F5, the numbers on my cells,
Could be out making that good legal money by the bells.
But I'm sitting doin time in a lil kids jail.
This ain't for me you see,
Everyone out here tryna be a G.
You wanna be bummy, and the biggest known thug.
I'm tryna get rich, live in my own mansion, and sip a latte out my million dollar coffee mug.
I say this not to flex, and sound the best.
But to let you know I can make it, cuz I plan on success.
For my family and future I cannot just fail.
I may slip, stumble, and fall, but I'll always prevail.

Entry #1367
When I was young, my parents divorced. I was only four years old and my little brother was two years old. My mother was married before she met my dad. She already had my big sister and my big brother. Her first husband (my older sister’s and brother’s dad) got locked up two years after my older brother was born. He got twenty five years in prison so my mom divorced him.
A while after that happened, my mother and father met. After I was born my dad would take me everywhere. I was two years old when my little brother was born. Our family was a happy united family, I never saw anything wrong, no arguments between my mom and dad. I guess they would argue when we weren’t there.
My dad was an alcoholic, he was also doing cocaine. I was still too young to know. I was only four years old. I never thought that my family would end up like this. I never knew that my dad would hit my mother when he was drunk or coked out. Soon I saw it with my own eyes. I walked inside the room while my dad was beating my mom. I was only four, so I didn’t know what to do. I remember my mom grabbing me and taking me outside. Soon after that, my mother divorced my dad. That was when my family broke up; it wasn’t the same anymore.
I would always dream about my dad coming back home, but it was just a dream. My mom went through a hard struggle. She had a hard time paying the rent, the bills, and bringing food to the table. But she made it through, she never gave up. She’s been here for us. That’s why I love my mother with all my heart.
            My parents’ divorce affected me, but I really appreciate what my mother has done for us. She never gave up and still hasn’t. I never imagined my dad doing what he would do to my mother because he always showed us that he loved us, and he still asks for forgiveness.

I see nothing but blank walls in this blank place you couldn’t fathom being locked away in this cage. When you just wanna press the backspace, erase the pain away from yesterday, trapped with all this anger in me. Emotionally abused now that’s the cell that I don’t want to be in. It reminds me of my dad who abandoned me ‘cause he couldn’t manage me or my emotions. Hurricane (Name) feel my wrath. Here me out. Don’t use me now or you’ll pay in collateral damage, insidious is blind inception. What’s life with all these questions? It’s like my head is a cell I’m trapped in. No appetite but I crave perfection. There walls are my blank expression. My cell is a cage I trapped in. It’s lonely inside this prison.

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