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, August 9, 2017

Entry #1447
No More Worries
I started coming to the hall 2 years ago when I was 14 and every time that I've been
Locked up right before I would get out I'd tell the staff, "I won't be coming back." But as soon as I'd go home, it's like my mindset would change again. I'd start committing different crimes and end up coming right back to the hall. This time I'm locked up for 14 months but I know when I get out things will be different. I can't explain it, I just have a feeling that I'm going to be alright. I'm also just tired of being locked up. I wasted a lot of time being locked up. These are my high school years; these are the years that I'm supposed to be having fun, not stuck up in a cell. I tell myself though, that it doesn't always have to be like this, that I can get out and actually do something with my life. I could choose to not change and blame other people for my mistakes like I've done before, but I would be choosing that same old lifestyle that only leads to regret, hatred, and incarceration, and that's not what I want. I want to get out and work. I want money, honest money so I can get out and buy stuff I want instead of stealing it. I want to buy a house or rent an apartment. I want to tell my mom, "Look mom I made it. You don't have to worry anymore!" I want to be able to give my mom presents and buy her stuff like she does for me.
By all means, I'm going to make it happen.

Entry #1448
When I Was Six
Where I grew up wasn't a good environment. There was always drugs on the streets and there was people mobbing around causing problems for families. I was only 6 years old when my dad got arrested and got thrown in jail for stabbing a guy. It put me and my family in tight predicaments and problems. When I got to 8 years old I got taken in by my grandma and everything was going great and then I was going through some troubles when I found out my dad was in prison for 19 months. My mom and I went to see him often and everything was going alright and then my mom started falling away from my dad. It put me in in hard thoughts and my life started getting more difficult. My gang family has always been there for me when I needed them. People on the streets would get up in my face and start talking in messed up words and I try and do the right thing and walk off. Even when I did they started following me and messing with me and then I felt weird letting it happen. So eventually I fought. When I got older it got worse . When I get out the hall I'm fitting to straighten out my life and be able to see my family and my kid. I will try and get a job and be there for my little one and be in his life, unlike my father coming in and out my life and in and out of prison. I will get my own house and be there for my kid and my baby momma. They’re the ones that keep me pushing. If it wasn't for them I don't know where I'd be. I'm fitting to change for them and my mom and my family and to do better than my dad ever did.

Entry #1449
I think thing will be different in a way. I'll still be smoking but all that other shit, I'm not even gonna mess with it . I have things I need to do on the outs, like look after my family . I'll try to get visits with my little sister and brother and try to get a job. I'm going to get a place when I get out . All I know is I'm done with that childish kid stuff. I got thing I need to do, places I need to be. I can't get set back because of gangs & drugs, and a bunch of other bullshit. But first things first… I made a promise to my siblings about how I would be there for them. If they need money, food, a place to stay, or need anything I would be there for them. That was my promise for them and I intend to keep it. 

 Entry #1450
11 Years
I grew up in a small town with big dreams.
Cops already knew me when I was walking down the street.                          
They compared me to my dad which I thought was kinda neat.
They asked me what I'm doing and where I'm going.
Told em on my way home, you see me skateboarding.
So they grabbed my board and threw it in the water.
All because the man they never caught, well I'm his daughter.
It's been 11 years now since I've been living without a father.
But now I'm walking home and I see the homie -----.
He asked me what's wrong is there anything he could do?
So I told him what happened and how I didn't understand.
That's when he told me all about my dad.
"He was a leader that's why we got respect for you.
I walk you home just so I can check on you."
He said the boys hate him so they always gonna mess with you.
That’s when I hit the block and started repping too.

See I was from the Ave ----- was from the town
But a year past ----- stop coming around.
Then after a while I heard what really went down
------ was only 18 and he got sentenced life.
Walking home alone now and it still don't feel right.
Everyone yell "Free Snoop!" But were ya’ll really tight?
But now I’m sitting in a cage too and it gets cold at night
Looking in the mirror, I see this life ain't right.

Entry #1451
Last Memories
I was scared and worried when I got a visit last year from my mom. She came to see me for an hour. During that hour she delivered some bad news she received from her doctor. We hugged each other and sat down and talked about everything that was happening while I had been locked up. I noticed something was wrong and I wanted to know what it was. I asked her what was wrong. She said she had something to tell me. I stood quiet and waited…she said, “I have breast cancer”. I felt tears running down my face. I tried to stop the tears, but, they just wouldn’t stop. I was so scared that God was going to take my mom. I told her I know I made mistakes and hurt you in ways I wish I never had, but I am going to change. I want Mom’s last memories to be proud of me. At that moment a tear fell down her cheek and she said, “I love you.”

Entry #1452
I regret lots of the things I’ve done. I don’t know why I always used to run from all my problems when I was really the one that caused them. I always blamed everyone who tried to help, always said, “You can go to hell.”  Well?  Honestly I wanted them to stand up and help me see what I could really be…. not a dope fiend on the side of the streets, but a man who when people see him they all smile with glee. I didn’t want to be put down for what I’ve done.  I want to be the kind of guy who goes and shoots hoops for fun instead of having to run from all his problems under the sun. I’m used to being shunned and being at rock bottom where I don’t even flinch when I’m at the bottom of a bottle. I just want to hit the throttle and escape all my past mistakes and live a life my family can really appreciate.

Entry #1453
Something that makes me smile is food, especially, enchiladas.
Something that makes me smile is knowing that my baby is healthy.
knowing that may parents are still alive
when I listen to music
when I get along with my family
when my boyfriend smiles
Something that makes me smile is my little sister
waking up to a new day
doing things with my mom
to be with my dad
waking up in a good mood
Something that makes me smile is when I wear makeup
my birthday
Something that makes me smile when people do nice things for me
video chatting with my boyfriend
wondering what my baby’s gender is
when I think about what it’s going to be like once my baby is born.
Something that makes me smile is summer
a compliment
when someone hugs me and tells me they love me
my boyfriend’s loyalty
Something that makes me smile is when my boyfriend got his high school diploma
when I go to church
going out of town
when I go shopping
Life makes me smile!

Entry #1454
Yea I do believe my home town has influenced the person I am today . When I was growing up I told myself I was never going to do drugs, but there is so much here. By eighth grade I was doing almost all the drugs available, besides heroine. I can't blame my choice 's on my home town. I made the choice to do the drugs. The town just made it so easier to get ahold of the drugs. When it comes to my hometown influencing my choices it just wasn't with drugs. There were gangs to. All my friends wanted to gang bang so I said ***** it and went right along with them. But like I said before, I can't blame my choices on my hometown. When I was younger I thought gangs were what I wanted to do. I made the choices to do drugs and gang bang. Hopefully when I leave the hall I will make better choices but I wouldn't count on it.
I never thought I would be locked up looking at life in prison.

Entry #1455
New Identity
When I get out of the hall, things will be different because I won't have the same mindset.
When I get out of the hall, I'm going to do my best to succeed.
Things will be different because I won't be out slanging in the streets,
I'm going to stay home with my family,
When I get out of the hall, things will be different because I won't be doing drugs that can kill me.
When I get out of the hall, I will miss that lifestyle, getting fast money and carrying guns.
But when I get out of the hall, things will be different because that isn't me anymore!

Entry #1456
Smiling Weird
Something that makes me smile is my Mustang
Something that makes me smile is racing in cars
a lot o money in my pocket
a lot of shoes
Something that makes me smile traveling
hanging out with friends
the first day I get out
rap music by Mozzy
Something that makes me smile is going to Buffalo Wild Wings
going on a furlough
seeing my mom happy
Something that makes me smile is being with my girl
is seeing my cousins
going to dinner with family
buying new clothes
going out of town on the daily
having a good day
going to the movies
being myself
Something that makes me smile is knowing my cousin is out of prison
meeting new people
going camping
waking up to a new day
funny jokes
Something that makes me smile is people being weird

 Entry #1457
Living in the Hall
I grew up in the streets of our town and started getting in trouble at a young age. At ten I started smoking everything possible to deal with the monsters inside my head. I got locked up for the first time when I was 12: gta and drug possession. Now I'm on my 23rd charge. I told my mom and son that it's the last time I would get locked up. I'm 14 now and still in the hall…ain't ever going to leave. But when I do I won't be coming back I'll be with my kid and baby momma. My son is going to have the dad I didn't have. My dad left when I was 3. I'm not going to be like my dad I'll be there for my kids no matter what I have to do. my son is my life. He and his mom are going to come live with me when I get out. I met my baby momma in my 8th grade year. We've been together ever since. Had are kid just one year ago. When I get out my son’s going to have everything he wants. He's not going to have to sell drugs in little baggies like his dad just to live. He's not going to have to fight every day just to get a bite of food. This time when I get out I'm saying by for good because I have something to fight for. My son is my life. My fight. My everything.

Entry #1458
One Day It Just Clicks
I realize what is important and what is not. I learn to care less about what other people think of me and more about what I think of myself. I realize how far I have come and I remember when I thought things were such a mess that I would never recover. I smile. I smile because I am truly proud of myself and the person I have fought to become.
Entry #1459
The Struggle
What should I do?
I should go,
But instead I sit here and do this blow.
I know if I stop my good personality will show,
But I do my best to hide this glow.
I’m handling so many drugs,
Always running around with these thugs.
How will I ever have a chance?
If I don’t stop and take a glance.
I run around these streets,
Hoping there is someone good I can meet.
I guess there’s not, but it was a good thought
So what would you do,
If that’s all you knew?

Entry #1460
Locked Doors Again
When I get out of the hall I am going to do things different. I am not going to do meth anymore and I am going to try to get a job. I have been in and out of the hall for the past three years, maybe longer. Every time I get released I say that I am going to do good, but I never do. I always end up running back to meth and all it did was get me thrown back in the hall. I am annoyed, getting locked back up every month or two. Now I am back in the hall again and I am going to be here for the next 14 months. I think being here this long will help me realize that I do not ever want to come back. Part of me still thinks that when I get back into that negative environment, I will just get back on meth. I have been smoking meth since I was 13 years old and I still look back on the first day I hit that pipe. I should have just said no.

Entry #1461
Riding Problems Away
I moved and thought it was a new beginning but what I thought didn't become a reality. I made some new friends and thought I would change, but the problems at home kept progressing. When I argue with my parents I ask them why we have problems. But then something big started helping… it’s called bmx. I fell in love with it. It helped me get away from everything that was going on. I could just put in music and cut the whole world out. But then I started doing bad stuff and bmx kinda faded from my life. I still rode but barely did. I miss the time when all I did was ride. I want it to be like that again. But I'm stuck in the hall, missing my girl, and wanting to start again. I would do anything to get my life back. I regret ever hurting the people I love. I just can't wait to get out and get on my bike and just ride and not think about all the bad things in the world. That's one of the only things that keeps me pushing, but my family and my girl are the other big thing. When I get out of the hall I’m going to make myself greater and be a better person and put my family over everything and just know that they are there. But bmx is one of the big motivations in my life and I will never stop doing it.

Entry #1462
No Fourth
“When I get out of the hall things will be different” is what I said the last two times I was here. This time though I plan on being a man of my word and not coming back to this place. I plan on doing a few things different when I get out to better myself and make my statement true.

This time it will be true because I’m not like everyone else. Unlike others I’m willing to change my habits. To start it off, once I get out I’m not going to let myself smoke because even if I smoke just one day, I won’t be able to stop. Also, I will try to stop leaving my house past curfew and every time I am out, I’ll make sure to be back before 11:00 p.m. Once I’m out I’m going to focus on finishing high school and getting off of probation.

Once I’m out there’s no doubt that I’m going back in the same environment with the same people and the same negativity. I know that won’t affect me. If someone offers me a blunt or some brew, I’m simply going to say no. My homies respect me enough to not bug me into doing things I don’t want to do. They might even help me to stay out of trouble because they don’t want to see me get locked up again for a fourth time.

Entry #1463
I Do
The town I grew up in most definitely did influence the person I came to be!  I believe if I were to grow up in a different town or a different area, I would be a different person; I wouldn't have been around role models that were using drugs. I wouldn't have started using drugs myself. I wouldn't have been born & raised around the bullshit, I wouldn't have been born around thugs and violence and thought it was cool or what I was supposed to be like when I grew up....

When I get out this time, I really will not come back to ANY juvenile hall... I will go straight to county if I get into any more trouble, but I don't plan to get into any more trouble, nobody ever does... When I get out I will marry the woman I'm in love with, if she will marry me. She told me before, on multiple occasions, that she would, I just had to get the rings... Then I get locked up AGAIN.

Entry #1464
It makes me smile to see my friends
It makes me smile to see my dad
It makes me smile going to school
eating food
being on my phone
seeing my home
It makes me smile getting good grades
Christmas Day
It makes me smile graduating
getting a letter
and knowing it’s from my baby brother
It makes me smile being on Faceboo
doing my makeup
It makes me smile being respectful
seeing my sister
my big brother
It makes me smile lying on my bed at home
It makes me smile seeing my heavenly father
seeing clean things
eating candy
when people make funny faces
It makes me smile going to college
making my stage
seeing my cousins
seeing my mom
seeing heaven
It makes me smile when it’s Halloween
going to a birthday party
It makes me smile seeing my face in the mirror everyday

 Entry #1465
When I am Locked Away
I feel the pain when I am away from my family for 365 days.
It doesn’t feel the same waking up every day.
My family doesn’t write me, it’s such a shame.
I feel hopeless most every day, but I would never give in because I have faith.
These are my feelings and I keep them locked away.
I’m surrounded by loving people, but it’s not the same as waking up at home every day.
Free me until it’s backwards, January 2nd, yeah, that’s the day I get active.

Entry #1466
Deja Vu
I'm in here stuck with my thoughts.
They keep me up making their roundabouts.
I feel as though I'm losing myself piece by piece,
 Into an eternal release.
Anyone who cares, can only sit there.
When someone is capable, they tell me I'll never be able.
I sit here in pain, going insane.
It's like a movie repeating in my head ,
All the scenes connected by a thread.
I try sleep them away, but they always pop up in my way.
I sought out what I thought about,
Then I wind up talking it out.
It starts out:
I'm stuck in here with my thoughts ,
They keep me up making their roundabouts

Entry #1467
Lost in the Crowd!
The town I grew up in influenced me to be a kid who has to turn around every once in a while because I can't trust anyone in this town. It made me become a drug user and a person who hangs around the wrong crowd, influenced by gang members, always having people on the hunt for me for the decisions I made in the past. I had to learn how to pack every time I stepped out my front door. If not I would be 6ft deep. I was born in the struggle, powdered eggs taught me how to hustle. Once my mom and brother got locked up, I was doing big things, until I decided to get high. That's what had me end up in here one day. My sister is on her own now, no one to call when she's lonely, or even when she needs to get shit off her mind. I know I messed up bad because she just had a kid and her uncles aren't gonna be there for a long ass time. There's days when I'm happy, sad but mostly stressing. I have a kid on the way. A lot changed since my family got locked up. I'll be a father in 3 months. My little darling won't see her father till she's 3. I need to get out of here. Thera a lot to look forward to when I get out, but also some things I don't look forward to. I feel remorse for what I've done. If my mom was still out I would still be a kid. But my crowd influenced me down the wrong path. That will never be the same. Once I get out everything will change. I hope to see my mom and my brother when I get out. I'm still waiting for that day to come, but I can't look forward to it anytime soon. All this time being locked up, now I’m just waiting for my sentence to go home. 

Entry #1468
Three Months of Learning
When I get out to the hall things will be different for me. This is the first time that I have ever done something bad enough to get a consequence like this. I got a sentence of three months. I don’t ever want to come back. I just want to stay out of trouble when I am out. I want to be able to eat whatever foods I want, to walk freely on my own and to go to sleep and wake up in my bed knowing everything will be okay. I’ve learned many skills during the time I’ve been here and I genuinely feel like I’ll use those skills to better myself outside. When I get out, my life will be guided for me by probation and I will have a monitor. I need to obey all the probation rules. Hopefully, I will not come back due to violations. I will do the opposite of all the negative things I did in the past to make my life better. I’ve learned from my mistakes. I know there is a pull I have to resist: when I walk back into the negative things in my old environment, I won’t transform into my old self.

Entry #1469
Should Not Be
Getting out...it's probably what every inmate thinks about at least once a day. I know I do. I also think about my two little brothers. One's six years old and the other is a year and a half. I also have a sister on the way I and I'm scarred I won't be there for her birth. I'm in here for starting a fire...a big fire and I think about how dumb my choice was all the time. I hate it in here. I can't stand it. Every minute and every second of every day brings along more anxiety and more stress than I can handle. Sure there's good moments, like at lunch time when I'm talking with my friends and I get distracted, but as soon as I'm sitting in my cell alone the anxiety and the stress of it all come's rushing back. I ask myself how could I have been so stupid? How could I let the demon drink influence my choices so strongly. I’d do anything to get a hold of it. Even going as far as selling my own PS3 and all my games just to get it. Just to feel that feeling again... To forget everything. Now I suffer for it, not seeing my family, not being there for my brothers as they grow and get older. This place should not be for me. I don't want to be here but I did my crime of endangering so many lives. Now...I have to do my time.  

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