What I see when I look in the mirror is a young handsome Hispanic male who has been troubled by drugs, violence and hell. I see, who I used to be, who I am now, and who I will be in the years to come.
I want to get my life together, get a job, get females and have fun. I have been through a lot and I already know how it feels to lose. I can only imagine how it feels to win, kick back and listen to the blues.
I see a scholar who has his whole life ahead of him, who has a family only and not any friends. I see a young adult marked by scars all over his body. Some were accidents; others were because of violence, which taught him not to trust anybody.
I see a boy who has been through hell and back. Taught never to discuss cheese around rats. I’d rather eat crumbs with bums than steaks with snakes. I am staring at myself in the mirror, trying to fix the mess that I made.read more
A place where “staff” run your life, a place where “freedom” is only a word you read in books or hear from kids who talk about it like they won’t ever know what it feels like to feel “free” again.
Detention is a place where the word equality does not exist. Detention is a place that steals your youth; it robs you of the precious and unique experiences of young-adulthood. It grips its cold, dark fingers around your self-pride, self-confidence, self-reassurance, and self-everything. It slithers in your conscious and slowly poisons the very few thoughts that keep you going and then snatches it all away like it never existed.
No matter how tough you are, from “cold blooded killer” to “sensitive as a daisy,” detention will always make you feel hopeless and “out of control.” It gives you a whole new meaning to “stuck in limbo.” It teaches you just how much you took for granted: the simplest things like wearing your own clothes or being able to go outside and feeling temperatures greater than 68.8° F or even just hearing the sound of your shoes stepping on the pavement that engulfs this earth, knowing that a single piece of pavement has more color than the whole Detention Center combined…read more
As a kid, I failed in many little things. Basketball, because I had no coordination. Or when I tried to ride my bicycle over a motorcycle ramp and fell and broke my wrist. Or when in the seventh grade I asked Destiny to be my girlfriend, but she said, “Nooooo!”
When I was young, I didn’t believe I was my failures. All they amounted to were failures. They didn’t get in my way. I kept falling, but picking myself up and trying and trying and trying.
As I grew up, I seemed to fail a lot more. It seemed I couldn’t do anything without failing. When I failed, people would tell me that I was a failure. I knew I wasn’t but I began to think: “hey, they might be right.” I began to doubt myself. When it came to trying new things, I instead skipped out, because I was afraid to fail. I gave up on playing soccer and science class. I stopped trying and trying and trying.read more
My nickname is Felisha. My life wasn’t always crappy. The first three years of my life were the best from what I remember. I remember my mom with long beautiful hair, with pink cheeks and luscious lips.
Little by little she faded away, the meth and heroin took her from me. I remember living in the projects/warzone/studio. Our studio wasn’t the best, but it was more than enough to me. I’d give anything to be back there before the drugs when it was me, my mom, her girl, my little brother Aliace.
Around three maybe four years old, a thuggish man started coming around. His name was Vic, the drug dealer I guess. When he came, everything went downhill. My mom got on meth, her girl on Heroin and for a while everybody seemed to think our studio was the best place to smoke dope or shoot up. There would be so many people, some passed out, others dancing wired as hell and even some overdosed.read more
“If you want anything done, you’ve got to do it yourself,” goes the refrain. That includes that ever elusive thing they call rehabilitation: self-help and personal development
The truth is that within the confines of our misnomer, The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, rehabilitation can be a difficult thing to tackle. Lack of class space, lack of vocations and lack of structure for personal growth. I recall asking a mental health specialist a few years back what “rehabilitation” is: What am I chasing here? Were my exact words. His response? He laughed, heartily. He told me: “There is no rehabilitation in CDC1:
A few years later, I learned that that was only partially true. While CDCR isn’t structured primarily for rehabilitation, there is room for personal development — if we’re creative, still-willed and persistent. Her at the Progressive Programming Facility — formerly known as the Honor Yard — we constructed in Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group we call Men For Honor (MFH). Approximately twelve years ago we started with one class: Critical Thinking. It was a thought-provoking class, with a little competitive debate and a lot of group participation. Later, we added creative writing. We got a few guys published, promoted literacy and had fun. With each class the waiting list always grew larger than the classroom limit. We read the section in the Title fifteen and Departmental Operational Manuals (state and local) under ILTAGs and studied what is and isn’t permitted. Each year the MFH grew in its mission and participation.read more
Since my incarceration my life has changed dramatically. The change came when I realized that I can do something constructive with my time in prison. This realization came to me while I was serving a twenty-six month SHU term. That is when I decided that I no longer wanted to be a prisoner of my own vice, so I started to study all sorts of subjects that would stimulate my mind. I began to see the positive aspects of being in prison. Once I realized that prison can be a positive experience for me, is when I knew I will be able to change my life around for the betterment of myself and my future.
I was serving a twenty-six month SHU term for an assault on an inmate with a weapon. I was in the midst of a fool’s drama when I stabbed a man. I was nineteen years old at the time, and I felt that my life had become desultory. I had given up all hope in life and wasn’t worried about the consequences of my actions. I truly believe that my life was over ever since the judge sentenced me to sixteen years in a state prison. It wasn’t until after I was almost killed in my cell and serving twenty-six month SHU term all alone in my cell that I realized I needed to change my life. Those moments of solitary confinement allowed me to think long and hard about my life. I came to the conclusion that I should use this time spent in prison to expand my mind.read more
When I was sitting in the back of that police car, I was thinking about a lot of things. I already have bad anxiety and PTSD so I was having lots and lots of flashbacks on my life. I was thinking a lot about my family, of me not being able to go back home, thinking wow, what a failure. I am thinking about all of those promises that I made. That I was going to change my ways and be a better person. And thinking about how many people that I let down.
I had a really bad memory of me coming home and finding out that my own daughter who was only two years old passed away of a brain tumor and me not being able to be there with her and me being able to be a good father because of my stupidity and being locked up. And that was when everything changed for me as a person. That loss to me felt like everything. Me coming home and finding out that news.read more
When I was sitting in the back of that police car, I was thinking about when was the next time I would sleep in my own bed again? My heart was pounding, my mind was racing, and my body was perspiring. I was looking out of the window at other people who looked at me as though I was a monster.
I put my head down. I was embarrassed of myself. I refused eye contact. I wanted to vanish. I could feel people’s eyes staring right at me. It felt horrible. I don’t like being labeled as a criminal or a juvenile delinquent.
I promised to myself and others that I would never be in that situation again, and I’m going to keep that promise.