The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth, was founded by David Inocencio in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I knew there was a chance that I could reach out to you young men and women in the Modesto Juvenile Hall, I was ready for the opportunity. You see, back in 1998 and ’99 from age 16 to 17, I was in the max unit, and in 1999 I spent some time in the boys’ unit too.
I see a person who has a lot of needs that have not been met. I see a person who’s been hurt and tossed around. I see a person who is in a deep black hole and is asking for help. She/he is lost up in the hair, the makeup and looking good.
It has been 10 years since he and others raised me and were raising other black, Mexican and Chinese troubled kids. I know the work takes a toll on you, for I’ve been in the field for almost four years now, and it has taken a toll on me.
I know it’s been a while since I said I’d send my story to The Beat Within, but it’s just such a difficult situation. I don’t even know where to begin. I’m so lost for words, my thoughts of sanity sometimes even leave me.
It’s cold out here and I’ve been practicing my left hand lay-up for about an hour now. I go up for another lay-up and miss it. It isn’t any help that the rim is slightly crooked. I can hear my brother talking about this girl he used to date and how she was good in bed.
I was born on April 5, 1977 in Harbor City, California. I am 35 and I have been incarcerated since the age of 16. I was tried as an adult and sentenced to 15 years to life for second-degree murder and two attempted murders.
The false belief that I had was that I was protecting my block, making sure no outsiders messed with my friends and family. But in reality all we do is lie, cheat and steal from each other and in most cases kill one another.