On a rainy Thursday in December my twin brother and I made a decision that we both regret. We’d been smoking and drinking with some girls, and, when we were about to walk home in the rain, my brother said, “Let’s get picked up.” I said, “Nah. Let’s walk. Mom’s probably sleeping.” He called her anyway. Then, when she was on her way, I saw an old “friend” who jumped me back in August. My brother told me not to confront him, but I didn’t listen. I regret that decision every minute of every day.
Being separated from my mom and my little brother hurts my heart. I pray to God a lot, everyday, to forgive me and to let me and my twin brother go home on GPS or supervision. I just want to see my loved ones again. I hope they all forgive me—my twin for what I’ve gotten him into, my mom for breaking her heart and my little brother for not being there to play with him. Every time I call home and hear my mom’s or my little brother’s voice, I cry, asking them for forgiveness. When I get out, I’m going to get a job and turn my life around.
Wow, like our friends over at the Juvenile Justice Information
Exchange, The Crime Report, based in New York City, picked up and is
featuring on their site their favorite “Dear President Obama” pieces
from The Beat Within and are featuring these standout pieces today. We
must say, they did an outstanding job with the spread on their site.
A couple months ago one of our writing prompts in our weekly writings
workshops inside juvenile hall, county jail and state prison was a
“Letter to President Obama.” We were overwhelmed by the response from
our many writers, and are so humbled that our friends at not only the
JJIE but The Crime Report picked up and is sharing these words with
their community of readers and followers.
Our prompt was written as… Letter to President Obama – This January
2017, President Barrack Obama, our first African American president,
will be leaving office. We want you to take a moment to share your
thoughts with the President. Introduce yourself and explain why you
are writing. Let him know your concerns. Offer your thoughts on a
current issue, and express your support or constructive
criticism. Share your truths about the last 8 years he has been our
commander and chief. Come from your heart and thank him for his
amazing service, or let him know your disappointment. Dear President
Like all milestones that inspire genuine pride, our self-satisfaction is accompanied by a big dose of humility, as we reflect on all the incredible writers and workshop facilitators who have poured their energy, talent, compassion, and love into this program. The Beat simply would have long since ceased to be without the courage of our participants and the dedication of scores of workshop facilitators, typists and editors who gave so much and asked for so little in return.
Now we humbly ask you to reaffirm your belief in the power of the written word to enlighten minds, elevate spirits, and liberate our most disenfranchised and ostracized citizens—incarcerated youth—from the shame and stigma of incarceration.
Fostering a culture of compassion, camaraderie, and creativity can make all the difference to children who find themselves entangled in a punitive institution that degrades and dehumanizes.
For many years of my life I had refused to blame myself for my wrong doings. For some reason, it was always the teacher’s fault, the other kid’s fault, the victim’s fault for leaving their doors unlocked. It wasn’t until recently I learned to tell myself that every bad thing I did was of my own will.
When you blame others for things you do, how are you ever going to x yourself? If one doesn’t see a problem, then there is nothing to be xed. But there is a problem and if it goes un xed the person will follow a path of destruction and evil. Eventually, it will lead to some form of trouble, so those of you that are still unable to blame yourself for you own actions you need to learn to do so for the sake of your own well-being.
I didn’t have the best life growing up. I grew up without a mother or a father. My grandma played both parts as a parent, not only to me but to ve other grandkids, working hard to keep a roof over our heads. Many times we had beans and rice for days. I didn’t have much of a childhood. I was forced to give that up at a very early age and help my grandma look after my cousins and my baby sister. I remember telling my grandma that I would be the only one out of the whole family that would graduate and go to college.
But somehow things started to change. I started hanging out with a bad crowd; grandma never liked them and told me so. I started doing drugs, stealing, ditching school, and running away from home. My grandma would pray that I would change and go back to the good girl I use to be but I wouldn’t listen. It nally caught up with me and I landed in jail after going from one group home to another and becoming a ward of the state. And where are my so called friends now while I sit in my cell? I wish I would have listened to my grandma when she told me they were no good for me.
My name is Darrell McGreggor. I am forty-eight years old and I am an ex-gang member. When I was fourteen years old, I moved into my father’s home and I became troublesome— most of which was internal. I was headstrong and did whatever I wanted to do.
I started hanging with the wrong crowd of people. I became mischievous and looking for love in the wrong places.
At age sixteen, I joined a gang for acceptance and to be known. I wanted people to fear me. At the same time, I wanted my former peers to respect me. I was attracted to the gang lifestyle because in school the girls gave them lots of attention. They fought for one another and showed each other respect.
The gang gave me a platform and there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for their camaraderie and love. I wanted to be just like them, if not better. I began to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol because I wanted to fit in and feel like them and I liked it!