by Q

When I look in the mirror I see this young girl that’s hurt deep down inside, Lost and confused, hurt and abused, don’t know what to do, trying to gure out my next best move. Addicted to the streets ‘cause I’m always on my feet. Ran away as a child because my young life was wild. Beaten and mistreated, still don’t know a reason. Wondering why I always get high to forget my problems. It’s just some hard shhh to swallow, nobody was there to listen so I stayed missing. Missing in action became a habit.

Starting boostin’ from stores to take care of myself nancially. Mentally I had a lot going on and didn’t have nobody I could trust to go to. I felt like everybody was against me. I ran away so much I ended up getting sent out of state. Got sent to Colorado for three years, came back to Cali in 2010. At this point I was 18 and you would think stuff got better, well in my case stuff got worse. read more


by Jazmyn

One thing I’ve always wanted from my parents but never gotten is something a lot of my peers take for granted, their love. Most kids grow up getting hugs and hearing their parents say, “I love you”. Even if their situation wasn’t perfect they could always fall back on that. But for me it was different.

I can’t remember a single time in my life that my parents did either of those things. More often than not I felt the hard blow of my father’s hand, or heard the screams of my mother telling me to die already. Even to this day the one thing I’ve wanted but never gotten was my parents’ love. Yet I can’t say that it hasn’t made me stronger. Not being loved by anyone only taught me the value of my own love, how much I love myself and how protective I am of those I love. Not being loved has taught me how powerful love really is. read more

Father’s Day Behind Bars / JJIE/ The Crime Report / The Beat Within

Greetings Friends,

Recently, one of our writing prompts in our weekly workshops inside
juvenile hall and beyond was the topic, “Dear Dad.”

The topic reads: A Letter to My Dad – The letter you always wanted (or maybe never wanted) to write. Though the letter may never be seen by this person, we want you, as a writing exercise, to write that letter. Tell your father, or the one who has played the father role in your life, whatever you think they need to know.  Are you happy with his role as your dad, or is there room for improvement?  Maybe share a specific memory of a time you two had together, or a time you truly wish he was there for you. We bet, for better or worse, there is plenty to tell your Dad. Dear Dad…

We were so moved by the numerous responses, we thought it would be appropriate to send these thoughtful pieces to our amazing and
supportive partners over at the JJIE (Juvenile Justice Information
Exchange) in Kennesaw, Georgia, and to our friends at The Crime
Report, based in New York City.  Today, both of these award winning
criminal justice websites are featuring selected pieces from The Beat Within prompt, Dear Dad. read more

An Unfinished Puzzle

by Harry C. Goodall

I do believe that life is a puzzle. That no matter how many books you read on its improvement, life is always a constant work in progress. I’ve been trying to put the pieces of the puzzle to my life together for the past eighteen years. It’s sad to be currently forty-three years old and can only account for the last eighteen of those years being spent putting my life together. Adding pieces to your life is about rst, the realization that pieces are missing. You can’t do this if you still have an ego bigger than the Grand Canyon.

After years of confusion and alcohol dependency, I had to break down the cycle of addiction that I had grown so accustom to. I had to realize that no matter how many times I thought getting loaded would ease the tension of the day only left me waking up the next day with the same exact problems, yet with a hang over, and the new ones I had encountered when loaded. My missing pieces of my puzzle were numerous to start with. But here’s a few, learning to love myself and except my faults. I know that you may think that you love yourself. But let’s think of how many mornings you stood on a corner with a pistol in your belt feeling you were invincible. Or think of how any shout outs you been in where you could have died. Think of how many times you were in a gang ght and could have been seriously injured. Think of how many people you seen killed in your presence. Yet you couldn’t wait to place yourself in harm’s way the next day. Heading right back to the same exact location. Is that loving yourself? Did you value your life? read more

Why I Write

by Isaiah

Why I write is because I have to,
because that the only thing that brings me peace.
Why I write, because it brings me joy,
happiness and a passion to just keep writing.
Why I write, because people say I am a very quiet person,
but very lethal with my writing and what I write about.
Why I write, because I’m motivated by my parents
and they love to see all my writings.
Why I write, because it’s very fun writing on a blank piece of paper, and it reminds me of the friends I couldn’t talk about my problems to. Why I write, because I can write anything
and never be judged by this piece of paper, never.
Why I write, because through this pencil,
it produces a sound to me with a symphony of possibilities. Why I write, because of this unit,
and all the times I’ve been in jail,
and just to relieve the stress that all of this comes with.
Why I write, because in my mind I’m a free man,
but it’s my body that’s locked up.
Why I write, so I can prove to my teachers
who told me I couldn’t write.
Why I write, because this pencil and paper
have become my truest friends ever.
Why I write, because I can write down all the mistakes I’ve done, so I won’t do it again and come back to juvenile hall
and graduate to jail or prison.
Why I write, because it put a smile on my face,
knowing I lled this paper with my feelings, thoughts and what I have to say. read more