Category Archives: The Beat Without

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

Sharing Our Deepest Scars

by Keith Erickson

The scars of my childhood are the very parts of me that so many men like me, incarcerated men, want to keep locked away from the rest of the world around them. The Alternatives to Violence Project Workshops bring out the courage in men that you would never expect to witness within a prison. This weekend was like a whirlwind of emotions and laughter that left many of us crying, yet with the realization that our personal af ictions are so much bigger than just ourselves—they also belong to so many others within and outside of these granite walls.

Fatherhood/Parenting: this was the focus of this weekend’s workshop. New faces, some familiar, yet uncharted territory for many of us to share due to the scars that are concealed beneath the billboard display of tattoos that take up much of out bodies. It is a well-known fact amongst us prisoners; the Alternatives to Violence Project is designed to make you comfortable in order to make you comfortable. There is no growth without the pain of nally beginning to confront the damage that’s been done to you, including the damage we’ve all been guilty of dong to others. That’s the beauty of these workshops: we learn to love, trust, and support men around us regardless of where it is that we’ve been, all within a crash-course un-fold of three days. In the bigger picture, we’re restoring our humanity while helping one another heal. read more

Introduction

by  Michael X. Bell

A lot of people often ask and wonder “How does a person manage to survive (mentally or physically) after spending nearly two decades of their life in prison? And what is to become of someone who gets incarcerated at age of fourteen and is sentenced to spend the rest of their entire life locked away in prison?” I ask, rather the conviction was just or not, how can such a cruel and unusual punishment tactic as giving kids life sentences in adult prisons, be allowable under the code of law?” And then there are those who believe, or at least “say” they believe that this doesn’t happen in America!

This Doesn’t Happen In America

This doesn’t happen in America? I cannot speak for every individual person who is in my same situation, or for people who are in situations similar to mine. Everyone should be entitled to speak on their own behalf. But do we really get the chance to do that? So while everyone’s situation and experience may be unique, there does exist some universal similarities. It is these universal similarities that I can and that I do speak, a universal truth. The truth of the situation is that when you are in prison, you are subjected to a constant and consistent state of suffering! In today’s society, prison is the closest thing/place we have as our own modern day version of Hell on earth. This constant suffering and the daily life in a prison environment is designed to attack your soul, your humanity, your mind, and your overall mental stability. read more

To The Beat! 

by Vernon Smith 

Greetings and peace and blessings upon each of every one of you that listen to this beat of ours… I want to share with you all some of my own “calls for help”– the first two relate to each other and a little bit more of what I’m going through now within my own journey. And the third one will be a shout-out and a cry-out for help from all of you, as you will see…

Alright now on my last prison term, which I ended up doing in ASP/Avenal from 2008-2012 I landed on the B-yard there, also known as the two yard. So anyways me being a Sephardic Messianic Jew, after saying what’s up to a few of my old friends, homies, and associates, I started searching for and seeking out any brothers of likeminded, beliefs based on the Torah roots teachings and come to find out we had a pretty nice strong minded congregation there- but not much at all in the way of any type of real programs or worship/service time in the chapel nor study books or Besorahs- bibles. Let alone DVD teachings or CDs within the two yard chapel there. So we all started to gather out on the yard on Shabbat/Saturday mornings between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. read more