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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

The Pain of My Life

by Makiah

Life has many pains; emotional pains, physical pains, etc. You can’t really measure pain but we all endure it. Everyone thinks his or her life is so hard and so bad when in reality someone always has it worse.

I think emotional pain is the worst because emotions are so complicated. Sadness can lead to anger, and anger can lead to physical pain—not only to yourself but to others also. Everything connects and pain, happiness, and anger seems like the glue to keep someone from falling apart, or it could be what makes someone break down, depending on the perspective. I mean you might like to be happy or maybe you like to be sad or angry, because that is who you are. If you don’t actually want to be happy, you won’t ever be able to actually be happy. Yeah, pain can keep you down, but you have to ip your perspective to a positive mentality. You cannot let what happened in the past dictate your future, no matter how right it seem. read more

The Fruits Of My Labor

by Jesse

Sometimes I close my eyes at night and re ect back on my life and all the things I’ve done to get me to this point – and I must admit – I’ve worked really-really hard to get to where I am today! I mean all the things I’d done on the streets – the gangs, guns and violence – the drugs and shootings – the not going to school or listening to my parents or anyone else for that matter.

All these things had earned me a life sentence in prison – and if that wasn’t enough – once in prison I continued down that same path ‘till l the things I’d done in prison – the ghting, stabbings and assaults – the drugs, gang violence and prison riots had earned me a life sentence in Pelican Bay State Prison’s infamous SHU (Security Housing Unit) program! The “hole” – a prison within a prison – a place where they put the worse of the worst – where even ies refuse to land! And as I sat there in my cold concrete cell – staring thru the 5,126 holes that make up the front of my cell, all I could do is ask myself – is this what I worked so hard to get to?! Because now that I was there – I wished that I wasn’t! read more