Category Archives: The Beat Without

Dear Youth

by Ernesto Rodriguez

I wanted to take the time to write to you about the importance of relationships. You see, relationships do not only mean the kind we have with an intimate special someone, but the kind of relationships that pick you back up in life when you fall.

You see, in life, we have the illusion that the friendships we build with homeboys or the homegirls are everything. We believe that if we are accepted and build up our reputation in our hood, in our street, that somehow it will erase or blot out the heavy and painful things we go through in the darkness of our lives. In the darkness we are born to. Some of us go through things that may traumatize us and make us feel vulnerable in a way that we turn to aggression and violence to mask the insecure thoughts and feelings those experiences may haunt us with. We may grow up seeing our mothers beat mercilessly, we may see our little sisters struggle psychologically because they experienced sexual molestation or rape, we may grow up in poverty that never allows to develop some kind of stability in our lives and therefore become apathetic towards others… So why should we nurture the kind of relationships that promote the very things we are trying to escape and hide from? Yes, the gang life, the street life and the homegirls/homeboys only represent the very things we are ashamed of. We tell ourselves a lie that because we are brave enough to defend our neighborhoods through gang violence, that somehow we are brave enough to carry the vulnerable secrets in our hearts that we want no one to know about. That somehow, we are being aggressive, not to the human beings we are hurting in the process of our internal struggle, but to the monsters that took our innocence during our vulnerable stage of childhood. read more

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

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

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

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

Mirror

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

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

Words of Encouragement

by Michael Arreygue

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 ful ll my true potential in the activities that I engaged in. Always being in juvenile hall and camps as a kid I did receive a lot of encouragement to break out of my shell and try to think differently. It took a long time for me to grow, but I hope for you it comes quick.

Knowing that many of you in detention centers may possibly hear or read these words gives me the feeling of talking to myself when I was a kid. Many thoughts enter my mind, what would I tell myself? What have I learned since? What has impacted me? Was it worth it? Regardless what your ethnicity is I was you in juvenile hall, I was you in camp, I was you possibly going to the California Youth Authority, and I was you charged as an adult. read more

Never Forget

by Harry C. Goodall

I’ll never forget the rst time I saw my daughter. I knew her mother was pregnant but never knew whether she actually had the baby or not. It was a woman I met while selling drugs in another state. I was told that she left Washington and moved to Kansas. That was the end of what I knew about the pregnancy. My stay in that state ended with me coming back to California and getting a parole violation and another year in a California prison. The next time I heard of her was when my friend told me that my kid’s mom had a daughter that looked just like me. That I should go and get her as the woman was addicted to drugs and doing bad. That she was putting my daughter in harm’s way. I called her and we talked brie y and she said that she would send me photos of my daughter. The crazy part was after I gave her mother my address to send me photos and info about my daughter a Marshall showed up at my door with a paternity test. read more

Pushing Forward

by Dortell Williams

If you’re anything like me, you’ve made some mistakes and even bad decisions. I am a man of many regrets, but someone once told me that it isn’t where you’ve been, but where you are going that counts. It’s true. No matter what we done in the past, as regrettable as it may be, we are like books – waiting for that next chapter to be written. The great thing is that we are the authors of our own books. What is said in each chapter is up to us. One decision at a time each its own chapter.

For instance, when I decided to quit smoking, that was a new chapter. When I decided to learn Spanish, that was a new chapter. When I decided to start teaching myself to draw, that was a new chapter. The more major decisions the more chapters. The next thing you know, your book is going in a completely different direction. People are reading your book in a new way. Haters even must admit your story has changed. Truth is, your story didn’t just change – YOU changed it. read more