July 17, 1998

Voices From Juvenile Hall — Any Town USA

"Tarzan is captured in the land of the Fire Queen and is ready to be sacrificed. He's tied up hand and foot and being carried up to the sacrificial alter. He's surrounded by five thousand of these fierce beast-like characters, and a knife is about to be plunged into his heart, and someone says to him, "My God, Tarzan, why are you smiling?" And Tarzan says. "Because I am alive."

Michael York

One More Chance

By Jerone S.

Rebirth, light shining from an age old earth. A chance to see freedom as a Phoenix, raised from the ashes of earth. Rocketing towards heaven's eye, disappearing into the ethereal boundaries of heavens unknown, forever blue skies.

As I now see my life as a tree. With autumn-colored leaves of yellow, brown-green, orange and red, I see life as it slowly walks within the company of those once living now forever and eternally dead.

Now as my old leaves fall to the ground, floating all over this corrupt country's ground. My new leaves shall soon come around, representing my new life and all its fruitful turn-around.

Can anyone see how God's glory and grace have given me a taste of something so great as that which was once bitter, now sweet? Sweet as the taste of death. It's truly me that they have set free! Not he who would always belittle me, just to see how much he could torment my life and the true me.

But now it's me who shall prevail and set sail. Once a voyage of vengeful life, now voyage of sweet, sweet freedom. So that I can conquer the ambitions of the old man. But with the hands of a man in freedom's land.

Yes! I will succeed, because I no longer feed on the seed of unfruitfulness. It is life and it's bliss to which I own my exuberating nourishment.

I am a man who has accepted life, put handcuffs on strife, beat stress out of my life. And even torment is no longer welcomed in my spiritual life. So I must proceed on my journey with Christ, but remember... Life was not always divine. You must first make it that way in your heart, soul, body and of course your mind...


Mirror Images

By Marlon R.

When I look out of my window, I can see the blue sky filed with clouds that are glowing in the sun's reflection. Cars and people moving about on a small street that leads to the Juvenile Court Building in front of the institution. The bridge that connects to a park on the east. I remember passing through this area once or twice. I can't remember the park in detail; but I recollect that it was somewhat large. I never thought that one day I would be standing inside a small cell, staring out of this window, which has become only means of freedom to me. There are few of us detainees who have the chance to mentally escape through this tinted window.

I wonder if the people I see have destinations. I wonder what they are thinking. I'm in here with nothing to do but look out the window and ponder things that might seem senseless to a person with freedom. Through this window, I see things I once took for granted and lost as a result.

I think of how lucky they are. I wonder if they know how lucky they are. I think of how good it may feel to walk on the warm concrete, with the sun's warmth hitting your back and touching your skin. To decide whether you want to wear shorts or pants, if you would rather spend your day on the beach or at the park. Whether to eat a sandwich or a hamburger. To take a long warm shower, with no one supervising you, or telling you when to step out of the shower. Having a conversation with whomever you want, for as long as you want. Those are some of the things I lost because of the mistakes I made.

I remember when I was younger I wanted to be someone important such as a cop, doctor and most of all a judge. Unfortunately those dreams are shattered now. I can't blame my environment because I was the one who made the wrong choices, but it did play a part in the gangs and violence that I was a part of. It reminds me of something author Scott Kody wrote: "My participation came as second nature. To be in a gang in my environment was equivalent to growing up in Michigan and going to college: everyone does it. Those who don't are not part of the fraternity. As with everything from a union to a tennis club, it's better to be in than out." I never forgot about my goals, but I let my lifestyle get in the way.

I see a girl around my age walking. She walks slowly and her face seems tired. I assume she is on her way home from school. She is carrying a backpack that looks heavy. Most of the times I carried a backpack was either to conceal a weapon too big to place on my waist or spray cans used to paint graffiti on walls.

Nobody, not the people walking by nor the passengers in the vehicles pay attention to this brown building. For all they know, this could be an office building or fire station. I ask myself questions that will never be answered: Do they know that they have what I have prayed and begged for countless days and nights? Do they appreciated what they possess? To me their invisible possession is the world I lost: Freedom. I feel somewhat resentful. I ask myself, What I would do if I were in their shoes? The answer is a painful one.

I had their freedom once. I had my own choices to make. I controlled my life once. So the answer is: "No I didn't take advantage or appreciate life as I should have." I never thought that it would be taken from me. I am glad that I learned how much life is worth and how I mistreated and abused my life.

I feel that I deserve what I got. What fools me into thinking that my situation is not fair at times is that the person I am now has to pay for the person I was in the past. But I have to pay for what I did. To be honest, I know that I was given a second chance. God knows I deserve more time than what he granted me. I also know that God is sure that I am no longer the person I once was. I feel he has forgiven me for the suffering I may have caused my family and others. I hope that, maybe, they will forgive me.

Now I am standing in this small cell, looking out this tinted window onto the society I was taken away from. Watching school buses go by, kids either on their way to or from school, and I think of how many kids with dreams like the ones I once had will become mirror images of me.


A Whole Life Of Regret

by Maria

Q-vole, they call me La Morena de Valinda Flats, but that's on the other side of the wall. In here, I'm just another number. In case you're wondering what that wall means, I'll explain it to you:

The wall is what separates me and my daughter, the big brick wall that doesn't let me get through or see the other world. Now I know what that other world meant to me, now that I know I won't see the outs ever again. Now I know that what I called my barrio, it was just a piece of land that would never be mine. I'll never be able to walk on the streets of Valinda, throwing my placaso in the air, getting all the enemies out of the way, scaring them with my .38, killing them with my stare.

But that is all finished. All that is in my past and gone. Now it is too late to regret what I did those nights sitting in the park, smoking a big blunk, rolling up the primos and drinking the 40oz, waiting for the kill or the P. Boys to go by. When midnight would come we would be chased by the cops, spreading ourselves throughout the park.

That night my homeboys ran and I was left behind. I guess it wasn't my night. Now I am here, serving my time, waiting for my judgment day to come. I guess now it's up to God to let me be free or to let me die. Now my life is God's, now that I am his child. I scream out loud with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart, my arms high, reaching to him, telling him to give me back my life, for him to give me another chance, for him to let me raise my daughter and be a good mother.

Now I know that the life he gave me, it was nothing. But he gave me the biggest gift, and that was to be a mom. Now every night I cry myself to sleep, knowing that tomorrow it will all be just the same, waking up in the morning with four white walls and a hard bed. I guess that's okey, I got used to it. Maybe someday I will see my daughter again because I know that God will hear my prayers.

I know it's too late, because I lost her. Now all I got left is hope and sad memories, like when she was born. I can't look up, I can't smile. Everything is gone, all my life is ruined. The only thing is to get on my knees and say sorry to my daughter for not being a good mother.

And to all the Botos and Locas, don't waste your life on something that is not there. Don't fool yourself thinking you're never going to get caught. But I guess I'll just leave that up to you. Take this as advice from a Loca who cares and now she's serving life. I am only seventeen and I lost everything, thinking that I had something when it wasn't really there.

Now the only thing I got is sad memories, a flica of my daughter, and a whole life of regret.

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