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by Michael Russell
I open this letter and greet you with honor and respect. I’m addressing you as child because I want you to know and understand that you’re not yet an adult even if you feel that you are. Your childhood and teenaged years are a special time, and you should enjoy it and not waste it doing things that are counterproductive. See I was you once.
By the time I was thirteen years old I was sexually active, a drug-dealer, a car thief and out on my own. I swore I knew it all and I had an answer for everything. So less than two months after turning seventeen years old it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I was tried as an adult for the murder of two men and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole.
More than twenty-one years later I’m still in prison. I’m now thirty-eight years old. I have four adult children and four grandchildren that I don’t get to see very often. Four children and grandchildren that I didn’t and can’t help raise. I lost not only my youth when I came to prison, but I also lost my family too. Someone else raised my children.
I feel like a caged bird. Not being able to fly is torture, literally. I’ll prove them all wrong, that I don’t belong here by staying out when they open my cage door to let me fly. But in the meantime, I sing.
You may ask why? I’ve heard people say it’s because that’s what birds are made to do. I sing because it makes me feel free. It gives me hope. Although I do not literally sing, for I am not a bird, metaphorically I do sing. For when a bird sings, it does so not realizing that its captor may not want it to. It is, therefore, without meaning to, rebelling.
That is what I do, as well, so to speak. I don’t try to escape. I wait for them to open my cage door so that I may fly again. All the while I am “singing” by remaining in my cage. I sit there passively, eat the bird food they give me so that I may regain my strength, so that I am ready to fly when it’s time. This is how I rebel, I “sing.”
by Alvin “JRoc” Richardson
In the abyss of Californians vast prison complex, I find myself lost and unaware of the things that matter to small minds captivated by institutionalization. At one point I thought I belonged amongst these small minds, so I did as drones do, follow blindly! But now on my 18th year (in prison), I no longer fit the bill, because my thinking has evolved and my knowledge has elevated. I feel awkward and out of place, based upon my personal growth, not anyone else’s lack thereof.
Nothing even feels the same, as I go on with the monotonous routines of prison life. Wake-up, wash my face, brush my teeth, go to chow, make a shot of coffee, go to yard, eat lunch, call home, go to work, another chow, go back to the cell, listen to music, watch TV, then off to bed. Those mundane things are exacerbated when you couple it with the negative energy, the hateful atmosphere, the depressive environment. With that comes the degradation one receives from the ninja turtles (CO’s), who think it’s their call to strip us of our human dignity. I try to make the changes required of me by the scientific theory of evolution, but only to be halted by arrested development.
We’ve all had someone in our life that even the thought of their face can make your heart skip a beat. I had a friend who was very dear to my heart, but my actions caused our relationship to slowly wither away.
I feel like there is still hope though because between us there was always something special; like a flower that needs water. We just need the right spark to ignite our flame that will start the fire that will last a lifetime.
by Rahsaan Thomas
“Ain’t nothing to talk about,” was the motto I grew up believing in. I didn’t think there was anything to talk about when someone had wronged me. Talking to someone who offended you was viewed as a sign of weakness. Discussing peace at that point meant they would get the last laugh. So I thought like the rapper Papoose said, “Peace makers sound funny like Heathcliff with that dead the beef (crap), why would I dead the beef when I can dead the (negro) I have the beef with.”
At the same time, I never wanted to hurt another human being. It feels so wrong to shoot someone that has the same problems as me, who lives in the same neighborhood as me and who looks just like me. It made me feel like a puppet being manipulated to serve someone else’s agenda. Yet I did, because being viewed as weak seemed worse.
I’ve lost too much on the streets that I cannot even comprehend. Many of my friends have gone on a different path in life and I wish I went with them. I’ve lost over half of my friends and gained new ones that have only dragged me down since.
This is the first and last time I’ll be locked up. Dedicating this much time to the system is not the way of life. You’re locked up in this facility when you can honestly be anywhere else in the world. That thought haunts me every second of every day in here.
I probably have spent over $20,000 on drugs. Imagine what all that money could have been potentially used for.
I’ve lost all respect from my family and I’m slowly earning it back by doing good and improving myself while being in here. There’s been a few times when my family was visiting from out of state and I was just too high and ashamed of myself to come face to face with them.
by Mr. Daniels
Finding balance in all that we do, will keep you from much of this unnecessary stress, heartache and frustration that is out there in the world. As we travel on our journey to acquire the finest things very rarely do we properly prepare a plan for the end game. We rush into plan “A” without even taking notice of plans B – Z (B through Z).
We let our image, ego and the fantasy in our heads constantly run us head first, into the brickwall of life called reality. Why is it that our most happiest of times in the world seem to be at expenses of someone else’s grief?
Do we question our teachers?? Not to be disrespectful, but to make sure that we understand the good, bad and ugly of the lesson being conveyed!! There is nothing new under the sun. The only thing that is unpredictable is how a person will respond to situations that he/ she will face in life.