Light in the Darkness
Before I ever got incarcerated I saw my dad get locked up and sent to prison, not once, but twice. I remember feeling alone and just wanting him back home. I remember feeling angry at the cops for my dad’s mistakes. After that I started kicking it on the streets and a lot of the homies got locked up. One that really hurt was when my brother got arrested and they were talking about sending him upstate. I remember seeing his son cry when they put the handcuffs on him and took him away.
My incarceration has affected a couple of people. First off, my girl and my son. I'm in here and I can't provide for them the way I would be able to on the outs. Second, my parents. I know it really hurts my mom seeing me locked up and visiting over a screen instead of in person. I know my dad needs me. His mom died not that long ago and since then I've been his main support. Last but not least my brother. Just a couple of days after he got out I got locked up and I know how he feels.
One thing that has really been on my mind is how much my son needs me to change and how much he needs me to succeed. I know I need to break this cycle of getting locked up and sent away. I need to be the father that I never had. My son is my light when it’s dark, my motivation to do better. Am I going to be able to be there when my son takes his first step? To be completely honest I'm scared to get out and mess up.
I Remember What I Want To Forget
I remember when I watched my Mom struggling when I was young.
I remember the look on my brother’s face when we saw our mom getting beat up at such a young age.
I remember the look on my mom’s face the day she saw her thirteen-year-old with a gun
I remember every funeral I
have attended and the tears being shed.
I remember close friends laying in caskets.
I remember the look on my family’s face when “undercovers” pulled out guns on my mom and baby sisters because of me.
I remember the last words my grandma spoke to me before she passed.
I remember the faces of my siblings who cry for me when I’m not there.
I remember the purple and blue face of my mom when she was almost beaten to death.
I remember the way my heart dropped when my mom told us she had cancer.
I remember dreaming for better days, but it just keeps getting worse.
I remember the first time I was in here I said I was never coming back. I’ve been back six times since.
I remember feeling like I’m letting everyone down but now I’m starting to realize I’ve been let down too.
I remember but I wish I could forget.
I have known a lot of people that have been incarcerated, but the person that affected me the most was my dad. Dad went to prison when I was about five-years old and I didn’t see him again until I was about thirteen years old. It wasn’t a time I really enjoyed. I didn’t like seeing my father incarcerated but for the first few years, I didn’t know where he was and at the time I didn’t really understand. After a while I just knew he was away.
I was first arrested when I was maybe fifteen years old. Up until then I was doing good. I was in sports and going to school. I was an all-star on my ball teams and my grades started to go up. I ended up getting kicked out of my aunt’s house and moved in with my dad. I started a new school, I was in a new house. and I started messing up. I ended up getting locked up. I never would’ve thought that would happen.
My incarceration is affecting my son because he needs his father around. Also, it’s affecting my mother because she needs her son around. Most of all it’s affecting my son’s mother because she is stressing out dealing with an eleven-month-old all by herself; he’s really a handful.
I am not the same person as I was five years ago because I’ve grown more into a man than I ever thought was possible. I am a great father, son, spouse and a better person in general, so yes, I’ve changed in many ways.
Escaping Bad Habits
Before I was locked up my parents would tell me "Oh your cousins got locked up," or “Your uncles got arrested.” It went from cousins or uncles and then to my dad. I never liked seeing close ones being behind bars, especially my dad because my mom would suffer and cry and be lonely. I knew I would end up getting locked up some day if I kept going the path I was going on.
My incarceration has affected others in the same way it used to affect me when I would hear loved ones were locked. I would not stop thinking about them, missing them. I couldn't move on with my life because they were a part of it. Sometimes I sit in my cell and wonder, what if incarceration runs in my family?
I’m 17 years old and I’ve been locked up for 6 months and yet I still don’t feel any different on how I was 5 years ago. I still am and have been around the things I was 5 years ago or I'm still doing the things I was doing 5 years ago. Sometimes I feel like there's no escape because those were things I was born into and grew up on and I see no way out. In other words, I would say I got used to it and my lifestyle became a bad habit. I’m still not done. I will keep working on it.
I remember living in small country town
I remember seeing my mom get beat up everyday
I remember being so small, even when I tried to do something about it, I couldn’t
I remember we didn’t have any money for food
stealing for those things
starting to get into trouble
getting expelled from school in 5th grade
I remember having nowhere to stay
I remember staying at friends’ houses for almost 3 weeks
I remember when my grandma went to look for me
when I moved in with her
being young and kicking it with the older heads in my hood
when I got my first gun
I remember seeing my uncle get stabbed and my dad get shot
I remember seeing my house get shot up
seeing my love ones in and out from the pen
when I first got arrested for a firearm
I remember getting out and coming back in
I remember when I thought I was going to get out
I remember getting rebooked and getting an extra 40 days
Before I was ever locked up, every man in my family had been incarcerated from juvie to prison yards. It hurt to see the people I love and grew up with all my life, being taken away by a system that doesn't give a damn about us. We still stay strong and make sure we don't forget about the ones we love. We’ve all been through it a lot of times.
Still there’s homies that say they got your back, but end up switching up in the other ear, females saying they ride or die then leave you on the side. I knew I was going to get caught up in the game someday sooner or later. That's how life goes. I can say I'm thankful for not getting caught up for the worst thing I ever did.
Being behind bars affects me, but mostly affects my kids. I remember 5 years ago: I was 13, skipping school, trying to get food on my table for my family. Coming home with my backpack half full, but my mother knew I wasn’t at school. My father always told me never to leave the house without protection, so when I did go to school on my side was a weapon. My 5th grade teacher told me I’ll be dead or in jail, but only God knows where I'll end up. Will I make it to see 21? That's something only time can tell.
I'm forever street cause I lost some of my people in the field when I was only 5 and I witnessed my uncle being killed. You probably don't feel me, but I’m just keeping it real. Traumatized from bullets flying. I got wounds that probably can't be healed. I just want to give my son a better life. Show him what’s right, keep him from the wrong. I’ve been locked up seven months. I don’t know when I’m coming home.
Aging Seven Years
In five years, I have changed a lot. I used to be a really good kid. Some would even call me the teacher’s pet. After I went through a lot of tragic events including abuse, fires and breakups. I really changed. I no longer was trying to get A's on all my tests or trying to be the best student. With everything I went through it got harder and harder to be a so-called “perfect kid.” Having negative influences everywhere, from peers to where I live, to my parents, it became easier for me to do what they were doing. At the time I believed it was the only way. Like it was just part of growing up. Where I’m from that is partially the truth. The other piece of negative change was my anger at the people I was trying to be perfect for. Once I didn’t care for them then I was free to do what everyone else around me was doing. With that, my whole mindset switched and I went to the extreme on the other side.
I started to drink and smoke, something I said I would never do but I did it anyways. When that wasn't enough. I started doing pills and after that, things got really bad. I saw life in a whole different way. I became like a completely different person. Since I was trying to do the most and be the best when I was doing good, I guess I did the same thing when I was doing bad. I would always drink the most or smoke the most out of anyone around me. That would always make me so far gone that I would do anything and I got into a lot of trouble because of it. I always felt this need to show everyone up and for some reason I still feel that need.
The way I write this sounds like I just got worse over 5 years, but there have been good changes too. In the last year or so, I matured a lot. I feel like I have aged like 7 years, going through a lot of stress played a big part in it. I saw the importance in being respectful. All my relationships got stronger, especially the relationship I have with my sister. She and I used to fight all the time. Now I’m there for her and I try to help her anyway I can. Drugs used to be a big joke to me around the time I started using. I used to make jokes about drugs all day. Now I understand that its really serious and I see now how stupid it was for me to be doing what I did. For the last good change, I became a lot more caring. Sometimes I care too much because at times I seem to care about others more than myself. Still, overall I became a better person in my eyes.
I remember I got rebooked for fighting.
I remember when my dad left me when I was six years old.
I remember when my mom caught me with a gun in my room.
I remember selling drugs to put food on the table.
I remember sleeping on the floor, hungry, because my family was struggling.
I remember I got my family kicked out of our apartment because I broke windows.
I remember I had to stop worrying about others because they didn’t care about me.
I remember I wanted to give up so many times but my family kept me going.
I remember others wanted to put me down but I still kept myself up.
I remember I was down broke but I had to start making money for myself and my family.
I remember I woke up with police and helicopters over my house looking for my dad.
I remember when I got shot at and almost lost my life.
I remember when I quit sports to join a gang.
I remember my best friend left me because I wasn’t doing good.
I remember I had to start carrying a gun because people wanted to take my life.
I'm tired of certain staff testing me
I'm tired of being in this facility,
I'm tired of being in my cell,
I'm tired of being away from my son and my girl
I'm tired of being played by the system
I'm tired of these youth thinking their tough
I'm tired of being away from friends and family
I'm tired of being respectful to staff when they aren't to me
I'm tired of people thinking bad of me because of my mistakes that got me here
I’m ready for change
I’m ready to go home to my son and my girl
I’m ready to prove everyone wrong and do the right thing when I get out
I’m ready to improve my life
I’m ready to just do me
I’m ready to finish this program
I’m ready to go home and be a father
Wondering About A Cell
Before I was in and out of juvenile hall, my uncles were in and out of prison. One of my uncles I never met in my life and he did twenty years in the federal state penitentiary. Knowing that he is serving time, I wondered all the time what he was doing and how it felt to be in a small cell for twenty years. Being a kid at the time, I never imagined myself being here sitting in juvenile hall typing this writing exchange and being in and out of juvenile hall as a young man. My being in and out of juvenile hall is affecting my younger siblings and all my younger family. It hurts to know my younger brother is coming in and out of this place just like my uncle and me. I just wish I could go back in time and change my ways and do the opposite of my uncles.
Any Last Prayers
Some seeds aren’t given
Any last prayers
I dream of a prison
Can’t wake up
I’m still there!
Look to the sky
So many questions of why
And if they were answered
Could I continue my life?
Head down below
Because the cold
Has found my soul
Led down a road
Or a hole
Those dearly beloved
And plenty who’ve cared
Will hear up
And love me, with,
Any last prayers
Before I was ever locked up, my dad was incarcerated. At first, it never looked bad, until my dad started telling me more about prison as I got older. My dad was locked up the majority of my life; I would visit him every so often, until he went to the maximum-security facility.
I never thought I would be arrested because of my experience seeing my dad in prison. Being in here is affecting a lot of people: my mom, my siblings, and my baby momma especially. They miss me because I do everything with them. My relationships with them are strong, but being in here feels like they are slowly fading away.
My Brother’s Words
I remember when I woke up in the hospital with bullets in my body.
I remember the look in my family’s eyes when with rifles aimed at me and my whole family.
I remember hearing my mom’s heart dropped when they called to say that her son was shot.
I remember feeling like everyone left me when I was alone doing my time.
I remember when I had to go to a couple of funerals and tears started dripping.
I remember being broke.
I remember my mom caught me with a gun in my room.
I remember when my brother got rebooked for a fight.
I remember the last words my brother told me before he passed away.
I remember when I broke the rules in school for the first time.
Standing Up for What’s Right
Five years ago, I was a lot different than the person I am now. Back then I went to school most days and did my best there. I wouldn't say I was a good kid, but I wasn’t such a bad kid either. I would get into fights here and there, but most the time I was sticking up for someone getting bullied. I remember a time when I witnessed a special ed kid getting bullied because he was different. I felt bad and eventually I ran up and sucker punched the other kid. I have a cousin that has special needs and the kid getting bullied reminded me of him in a way.
Tamed or Free
first time locked up
trying not to get ****** up
sit-in here in my cell doing my time
‘tryin to do good and get through it fine
I’ve been going through a lot
trying to change the way I talk
every time I wake up, I'm just trying to behave
I'm tryin to do good and change my ways
being locked up sucks
feeling like I’m stuck
doing the same thing everyday
don't think it will change
got to have hope for my mom, grandma, sister and ‘lil bro
missing ‘em like crazy
I just hope I get out and don't do the same thing
I hate being locked up and tamed
Good Things Will Happen
I knew a few friends that were on probation and got locked up before. After doing their time I remember hanging out with them. After just a year of being locked up I could already see the change in them. Unfortunately, it was a bad change and made them give up in their lives. They felt trapped in the system, that they would keep getting locked up.
Five years ago, I had never been locked up. I was a kid who's only worries were games, school, and living life as a 12-year-old. My change was not such a good change; I got into trouble too often and always searched for problems even if it didn't feel like I was looking for it. I thought I improved in those years. Old habits and bad ideas kept coming and it seems I haven't made positive change in all of it. Being locked up has had a negative effect on me, each day I try to make something of it, trying to find a learning experience. Good things will happen to me, but I am not sure if it will be in here or when I get out.
Spoiling My Family
I am happy when I am with my family,
I am happy when I’m with my baby momma.
I am happy that I am a father.
I am happy when I have a sense of freedom.
When I can sleep in my bed, and eat good food.
I am happy when I can be with my little family and show them love.
When I can spoil my baby momma and my kid.
I am happy when they are happy.
I am happy when I get out and go home.
I am happy when life gives me blessings.
When God blesses me with all the good things he gives me.
I am happy when life treats me right.
I am happy when I am with my family.
Before I was locked up, I saw my pops and one of my older brothers get locked up multiple times. Seeing my pops getting locked up was tough, but eventually, I got used to him being gone. It still hurts sometimes, but it’s good. When my brother got locked up it made my stomach hurt because he is like a father figure to me. Seeing my mother hurt, I told myself I would never leave her like my pops and brother did.
When I got locked up it broke my mother’s heart because I’m the baby of ten kids. My incarceration hurt my family. It really sucks knowing I am not out there for them. When I get out I’m not coming back because my pops and brother will be home and we will all be together and will not leave each other again. My pops has two years left and my brother is fighting a life sentence. It really sucks, but at least I know my family will be together sometime, maybe in two years, maybe ten, but eventually we will be together.
Being in here helped me realize what I have on the outs and helped me see who my real friends are and see who is really down for me. There is so much going on, on the outside right now. I really wish I was out to help out. When I talk to my mom, she tells me what’s going down and I can’t stand it because there’s nothing I can do to help while I’m in here. So, when I get out I’m staying out so I can help my mom. She needs me out there with her.
It’s long live Gilly ‘til the day I die.
I remember being at your funeral when everyone cried
I remember talking to your brother like damn he died,
I know you made it to heaven so I always pray,
I pray for your momma and brother that they pull through,
I just want y'all to know that I love y'all too,
I never thought that I would end up like you,
Running around hitting licks and ditching school,
Hitting mokes ‘til my lungs went black, drinking ‘til my liver goes bad,
If my sister was there that would have never happened to you,
Waiting on those train tracks for it to happen to you,
I can't believe you did that to yourself,
What you did to your mom, damn that's your mama,
Why did you put her through that drama?
It’s RIP Gilly it won’t ever change
Nothing To Worry About
My life story is complicated and due to my mom and her dad’s relationship things aren’t so good. Well I guess you could say it’s alright but not perfect because he spent most of his life in prison. Things you do will eventually catch up to you in the future and I’m guessing it caught up to him. I would have to say I met my grandpa at about six years old and I always wondered what all his tattoos meant until I got older and I found out that every one of them meant a certain thing.
As I grew older I began to pick up on bad habits which eventually led to bad decisions that got me kicked out of regular school. I had to transfer districts and lost many friends and I always told myself that I would stop. But I never did. It just got worse and worse to the point where I finally got locked up for some serious charges and my life, since then, changed.
When you get locked up for a long time, people start to forget about you. Honestly, that can really drive a guy crazy. I’ve always wondered how it would be if I ever got locked up and now that I think of it I wish that had never come across my mind because look at the situation I’m in now. It really, really sucks. Growing up I always told myself I would never get locked up because I was a good boy, a good boy who always followed the rules and never gave people a hard time.
All I can really do now is move forward and hope for the best in the future and hopefully, I have a good start when I am out of custody. I do know what I want to do with my life. I do not want to be a failure. I want nothing but success and good things to happen to me. I can take this as a lesson learned and do only positive things that will benefit me in the future. I can tell my kids, if I have any, that this is the life you do not want to live. A life with nothing but things you have to worry about.
Providing for My Daughter
I wish that I could go back to when I was little. I would never have grown up how I did. I started down the wrong path once upon a time. Now I know that I should have sat back and gone with the flow. I turned into a knucklehead. I look back at all I have been through and see I have changed a lot. Since I was thirteen, I ran the streets. I remember when I didn’t have anywhere to sleep. I remember when I didn’t have any warmth. I remember a whole lot I have been through that a thirteen-year-old should not have been through.
Since I had time to sit back and relax because I am locked up, I’ve had time to slow down and think about everything. I have to get my life together and become a man. I need to provide for my daughter and be a better father. I have to prove to myself that I am not a deadbeat. I remember when life was so much easier. I remember when waking up was a good feeling. Now I hate to wake up because then my dreams start to fade away all over again.
If you really knew me, you would know I am responsible for my actions and you would know I want to be a good person. I don’t want to continue down the wrong road. I want to make sure that I make my mother proud and to make my dead uncle happy as he watches over me.
Before I was ever locked up in juvenile hall, my uncle was locked up in jail. He was serving a couple months. I remember when I heard he was locked up. I was a sad little kid. I thought that he was going to get stabbed in jail because he was an active gang member. Also, he would do a lot of crazy things. I wish I was with him when he got arrested, so I could’ve been on his side then maybe the cops wouldn’t have arrested him. It was depressing when I saw him in jail. We were told he was in the hospital because he had been jumped and beaten in jail. We didn’t even know what had happened.
As a little kid I never thought I was ever going to get locked up because I did not do anything as bad as I have done now. I always had a good mindset and never worried about the cops. But time changes and stuff happened that made me run into the law and eventually I got locked up.
My incarceration is not affecting others in a good way. My mom is always worried about me and my grandma and grandpa are sad to see me locked up. My friends and family are always getting stressed about me getting locked. Honestly, I changed in the last five years because I wouldn’t do the same things right now. I wish I could’ve changed my life around a long time ago. Still, the life I live isn’t right.
I remember when I got beat up.
I remember being broke and seeing my mom stressing.
I remember robbing somebody.
I remember my brother providing for me.
I remember finding out my sister was deceased.
I remember my brother getting locked up.
I remember going to juvenile hall for the first time.
I remember fighting in juvenile hall.
I remember smoking marijuana for the first time.
I remember witnessing a shooting by the park.
I remember going to and from California and Nevada.
I remember running away from my house.
I remember hitting a police officer.
I remember talking to my brother over the jail phone.
No One’s There
I remember being locked up when my mom was locked up.
I remember my uncles were also incarcerated.
I remember going to see them and it hurt.
I didn’t think I was going to get arrested.
Getting locked up is affecting my parents.
They’re upset and disappointed with the choices I made.
I changed from the past because I’m getting older and started thinking differently and making different choices.
My parents were locked up and I had no one to tell.
My grandma only speaks Spanish, and I don’t speak any Spanish.
My mom and dad were not always there for me.
I didn’t meet my mom until I was six.
I always wondered about my mom, who she was, where she was, and how she was doing.
She went in and out of jail.
My dad would just send me off to my grandmas and aunts.
No one was really there for me, so I started running away.
That’s what put me in here.
Before I ever got locked-up I knew certain people that had been incarcerated, a lot of those people were my friends. One of my closest friends got arrested when I was in the 8th grade. He served a year in juvenile hall. I would write him to make sure he’s good and to keep him updated on what’s going on, on the outs. I also had another younger friend that got arrested; he was in and out from a young age. I hated to see my close friends arrested and not being able to go to their houses. We all lived by each other and we would be together all day long. I hated that I couldn’t call them. The only way to keep in touch was through letters and even the letters would take a week to get back and forth. At that time, I didn’t think I would be incarcerated even when I was messing up. I thought I was being smart, but in the end, karma caught up to me. Now that I’m incarcerated, it’s affecting my family because they miss me and can’t see me every day. It’s affecting my little brothers because I’m their role model. I should be a better example for them.
Throughout my childhood, I’ve seen and known some people who have been locked up, are locked up, and will get locked up. I saw these people serving time, but I never really thought much of it because I wasn’t worried about them. As a little kid I would tell the grown-ups that I wanted to be a firefighter because they are heroes and no one likes cops. People thought that was funny.
While growing up though I never thought I would get locked up. Getting locked up has affected my family because they miss me, and it hurts for them to see me in here. I’ve even lost a couple friends and feel like people see me in a different way because I get locked up. I wasn’t always like this though: getting into fights, doing drugs, stealing things. I used to be a good kid getting alright grades like B’s and C’s and staying out of trouble. When I turned ten and started hanging out with the wrong people, I slowly changed. I started messing up. Eventually, I ended up locked up for crimes I did like car theft and recently taking a phone from a lady.
My mom always taught me to be good. She would give me long lessons about not listening to my bad friends. She said, “You will get locked up, killed, or end up in a hospital.” I felt like I started giving up because I didn’t have papers to live in the United States. I thought I would never be able to have a good job anyways, so I didn’t care what I did or what happened to me. I thought I was going to get deported at some point. Now I’m learning that even if I don’t have papers or have a good record, I can still be someone, if I change my life now.
I know a lot of people that have been incarcerated. Growing up I saw my dad get locked up; it hurt me to see my dad in that situation. Now I see how it feels to be in his shoes. It hurts being away from my family for so long. Now that I’m older I have been in the streets a lot more. It’s a normal thing seeing my friends and family get locked up. When I was a little kid, I had big dreams to make something of my life, but now I am locked up and it’s not a good feeling to be in a cell. I know my family misses me. When I’m on the phone with them, they tell me what’s going on in their lives. My little sister tells me to be good so that I can get out. So, when I get out, I’m going to try to do better for me and my family. When I was a little kid the only role models around me were doing bad things like robbing people. I grew up thinking it was okay, but now that I’ve gotten older, I see that it’s not. From now on I’m going to make better choices so that I won’t get arrested and disappoint my family again. Hopefully, one day I will be able to be happy and be with my family.
We Don’t Know
In my life, I was once a person that treated others badly. I guess I was thinking that it was cool and a fun thing to do. The people that I surrounded myself with thought that way as well. One day at school, I was hanging out with my friends and there was a new kid at school. He passed by confused on where his classes were. He stopped by us and asked, “Do you know where this class is?’’ I replied, “No I don’t. Go help yourself, dumbass.’’ The new kid did not reply but his facial expression was sad. The next day he was wearing some cheap shoes, I yelled out, “Look at that bum!” I started to laugh but his face still expressed a sad look. Later I apologized to the new kid and invited him to hangout, making him feel comfortable. We don’t know what other people go through in their life.
I remember I was at home and my brother told me, “Let’s take a trip to the mountains.” I was getting things ready so we could be there the whole day. We went to the store to buy snacks and food and charcoal so we could barbecue. We started driving and it was a long drive. I was just listening to music all the way there. Once we got there we started to walk around and explore in the snow, taking pictures of the mountains. We built a snowman, my brother, his baby’s momma, and me. It was a big snowman. Once it was built some random guy running by, ran into it and destroyed it. Next, we walked towards the car to eat. We set up the stuff to eat on a table and started eating some snacks: chips, soda drinks and barbecue. We headed home. That was my trip to the snow and my first time to the mountains. Once I got home I told my mom about my trip and she was happy because I’m not really a happy person but really loved that day.
Cops, Crashes, and Injuries
I remember when I was riding my bike and I slipped in water and fell and cut my tongue open, it hurt.
I remember when I was in a wagon and my sister pulled me over a speed bump so hard I fell out and hit my head on a speed bump.
I remember the concussion.
I remember selling drugs at my old school.
I remember when I played baseball and some kid hit me in my foot with the bat giving me a hairline fracture.
I remember playing outside and dodging cops.
I remember looking for any way to get some money.
I remember trying not to get caught.
I remember the car crash.
I remember running from cops.