To The Beat and Beat Readers

by Jesus Trujillo

This letter is written to anyone who needs or wants a change in life. I hope that my experience can keep you from walking the same path as me. I’m twenty years old serving a fty-years to life sentence, which means I won’t be eligible for parole until I serve fty-years, and even then my parole isn’t promised.

I was seventeen years old when I got arrested, and to be honest each year that passes I regret my mistakes more and more. It sucks to spend any birthday in prison but that’s my reality. In a couple of days I will turn twenty-one and the idea of spending forty-six more years is beyond explanation.

I began my downhill spiral at the age of twelve when I started doing drugs and joined a gang. It was like a rite of passage for me, a way to prove to everyone that I wasn’t a little boy anymore. That was one of the worst mistakes of my life. I grew into this lifestyle not knowing any better, all around me gangs plagued my neighborhood for generations. The false belief that I had was that I was protecting my block making sure no outsiders messed with my friends and family. But in reality all we do is lie, cheat, and steal from each other and in most cases kill one another. I know because I’m serving a life sentence due to a gang related murder. And you know what’s a trip? Out of all those who claimed to be my homies, not one remembers I exist. I no longer am relevant to them, just another dummy doing time. read more

A Message To Others

by Daniel

My name is Daniel and I’m about to be 17 years old. I’m facing 12 years for aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon. You guys really don’t seem to understand the bad decisions you are making. It doesn’t just affect you, it affects the others that are around you; your family and friends to be speci c.

It’s disappointing to see these kids that are fteen and sixteen years old serving life sentences without chance of parole. Think of how your mom feels about you being locked up. Think about the bad example you are setting for you little brother, cousins, nephews, whomever it may be. Stop saying I don’t care.

Where do you see yourself in ve-years? Living in your own apartment? Have a good solid job? You are not going to receive those opportunitites making dumb, ignorant decisions, getting locked up constantly. It just won’t work. Some people have it worse than me. Some people have it worse than you. Don’t give up. read more


Hello friends,

I am pleased to share with you The Beat Within’s latest piece that was picked up by the JJIE (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange).  The following piece, was written by one of our faithful writers, Michael Webb. Michael has been a consistent participant in our monthly writing and conversation workshop inside San Quentin State Prison.  These workshops were initially open to only juvenile lifers, but given the popularity, the classes are now open to all eligible men on the yard. Our latest class has over 30 participants.

We are certainly thrilled to be in partnership with the JJIE which is based at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, GA.   They are the only publication/website covering juvenile justice and related issues
nationally on a consistent, daily basis. read more


Hello all,

Today the JJIE (Juvenile Justice Information Exchange) picked up the following piece from The Beat Within.  This commentary was written during one of our recent weekly writing workshops inside the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center.  We encourage you to give Adajah’s piece, “A Dog Locked in a Cage” a read.

If you haven’t already done so, please consider reading other entries
from The Beat that the JJIE has posted, here’s the link…

We truly thank you for your continued support. As always, please
consider sharing these important writings with your community.

Opportunities for Hatred

by Rashaan Thomas

I could have been Bill Gates. Well, I could have been a half Black and half Puerto Rican CEO of a software company the size of Microsoft or bigger. Bill Gates could have worked for me. Instead, I let hatred turn me into a killer.

You see, my mother saw the future was computers. In the early eighties, she enrolled me in basic programming courses while I was still in high school. She also purchased the Commodore 64 computer. I put it to use programming and selling bootleg video games.

Then my little brother got shot. It happened right before my eyes and I ran as bullets chased me. I wanted revenge and I got it, but it set me on a path to becoming a convicted murderer. “The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less,” wrote Eldridge Cleaver in his book Soul on Ice. I didn’t understand what that meant back then. I felt the opposite way. I thought that I couldn’t love myself if I let someone get away with harming a family member. However, now I know exactly what Cleaver means. read more

My Story

by Reaper

I was born in Mexico but moved to California when I was seven months old We settled in the Canal (near San Rafael, CA) for about three years, then moved to San Pablo. In San Pablo we had two houses, a block away from each other. We lived in the smaller one at first but then decided to move to a bigger one as our family germinated. Meanwhile, we rented out the smaller house.

I went to school every day K-5. I used to receive perfect attendance awards ever year as well as my siblings. I have a two younger brothers and a sister. All three are four years apart from each other. I’m the oldest by a year and five moths.

I had a very good and loving upbringing. My parents are loving, helpful meticulous, benevolent, and strict. They gave us everything we needed, even excess. They would always tell us they loved us, hugged, kissed us, and would always try to prepare us for the future. We have never really been close to any other family members because most are in Mexico. The few that were in the USA have moved back. read more