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Broken Crayon Still Colors

by Son Nguyen

I like the saying, “Broken Crayon Still Colors,” because it could help us see things from a more positive perspective, especially during difficult times.

Being locked up no matter where we are at, whether it is in juvenile hall, jail or prison, it is easy to get discouraged. We are stuck behind concrete walls, while the world on the other-side carries on without us. We have been banished from the rest of society. People who we were once close to start to forget about us, while others have turned their backs on us.

Confinement often causes people to feel despair and induce them to lose their sense of self-worth. Life might seem dark and you may feel worthless because of the situation that you are in, but I’m telling you not to give up hope!  You may be down right now, but you are definitely not out.  Look at the circumstances that you are facing as a blessing in disguise. Take this time as an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover yourself. The greatest treasure you will ever find will come from within, that is when you learn to love yourself for who you are. read more

I Control My Own Destiny

by Tomi

From the day I got out of my Mom’s womb to the day they bury me six feet under, I’m in control of my destiny. I believe no matter what circumstances we lie in or how bad we got it, our life is de ned by our decisions.

My decision making in the past got me where I’m at now but I won’t let my past dictate my future. I control my own destiny, so with that being said, I declare myself accountable for the steps I’ll take to get there. I see myself being “the man” when I age to my thirties. My de nition of being “the man” is being nancially free with the mentality of being broke.

I plan on attending school and staying in school long enough to learn everything I can about owning and running businesses. I know becoming an entrepreneur isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but what’ growing without challenges? Besides my career, I de nitely need support in order to stay in school and keep my goals in mind. read more

Dear Friend

Angelo J. Vasquez

I’m writing you from prison like l always.  I’ve been here since I was sixteen years old and I’m twenty-seven now.  It’s truly amazing that I’m not dead.  My life wasn’t ruined when my mother and father got a divorce when I as five years old.  No that just meant more presents and two bedrooms.  It was when I first began to smoke weed.  When I was a nine-year-old boy I began to smoke rock, meth and PCP.  I couldn’t be sober once I started.  I began to steal from my family, anything of value was going to ‘the connect’.  Then an idea that seemed to solve my problems.

I bought a couple ounces and began slanging.  I got in a gang so I wouldn’t be robbed.  I got lost in the streets.  I didn’t even know who my family was anymore.  My mother would cry herself to sleep, driving around every street pulling up to every crowd looking for me because she loved me.  My father gave up on me, moving out of state.  I was so numb on drugs I didn’t even care.  I thought this gang lifestyle was the top, that it doesn’t get better than this. read more

My Last Hugs

by Rh

Remembering my last hug
before I got locked up makes me upset.
I hugged my little brother and told him I love him. Turned around and told my sister the same thing. She hugged me tight and called me her sweetheart, before I walked out the door
not knowing what was waiting for me.
My house was surrounded before it was raided,

I turned back to see my sister crying,
panicking not knowing what’s happening to her baby brother. I got locked up right in front of her.

Change Yourself and Change the World / JJIE /The Beat Within

Greetings Friends!!

Today our wonderful long time partners over at the JJIE (Juvenile
Justice Information Exchange), based in Kennesaw, Georgia, have picked up and posted a powerful letter/submission, that was originally published in The Beat Within, from juvenile lifer Michael Arreygue, who wrote this magnificent piece from Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California.

He states; “All of us during our lives as children, adolescents and
eventually adults need some encouragement. As the individuals we are, we tend to learn differently, have different perspectives and take risks on different levels. For those like myself, words of
encouragement were really needed in my life to fulfill my true
potential in the activities that I engaged in.”

Here’s the piece, “Change Yourself and Change the World” read more

What Does Success Look Like for Me?

by Anthony B

For me, success has many different ways that it can be viewed or displayed. One thing for sure is the fact that my current situation does not at all de ne success; but what I do with the time while I am con ned will de nitely lead towards success. Taking my life one day at a time. By not wasting time, so that I can achieve my desired or favorable outcome.

For example: Me living a productive life with a happy family, no longer being a resident in this jail, or any other correctional facility. Being a provider instead of a taker. Being active in my daughters’ and my grandbaby’s lives. Being available for them when they need me. Truly giving my mother a reason to be proud of her only child. Her only son.

Success is waking up in the morning before my wife and kids, cooking fried pork chop, cheese grits and scrambled eggs with hot buttered buttermilk biscuits with g and strawberry preserves and an ice cold glass of vitamin D whole milk and a cup of coffee. And a bowl of frosted akes for my wife and kids! Just kidding. Just being able to do that for them is success. read more

Child of the Ghetto

by Lil Bane

Forgiving is hard, especially forgiving ourselves. I’ve always been the type of person to hold grudges and make silent moves, but when it comes to forgiving myself I just can’t do it.

I feel like the reason people believe in God is the idea that God can help them forgive themselves, but God has abandoned me.

So many choices from my past are coming back to haunt me every night. It’s like I’m living in a horror movie. I can never forgive myself for the things I’ve done since a young age. The streets swallowed me and turned me into something or someone I’ll never be able to forgive.

I wish I could forgive myself and be at peace with myself, but that’ll never happen the way I am living. Maybe one day I’ll stop carrying heat and selling dope, I just hope that won’tv be my last day. Until then I guess I’m just a child of the ghetto. read more