The South Street Gang Goes Downhill--Fast

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On these streets, children watch how they dress for fear of being confronted by a gang member. Residents complain of break-ins and gunshots. Nonprofit workers tasked with removing graffiti have faced threats. Finding a person who has been the victim of or witness to violence is as simple as walking the blocks and asking.

Christopher Caver Jr. Caver, 38, has lived around here for more than a decade. Two years ago, he was shot seven times inside his car. He lifted up a red Buccaneers jersey to reveal a thick, jagged scar that runs down his stomach. Richard White, who works in the area as a gang investigator. But after he survived eight bullets in and his brother and cousin were killed three years later, he made it his mission to help quell the violence in the area. He is one of three gang interventionists and two case managers for Soledad Enrichment Action, a nonprofit headed by Arias that gets private funding to reduce violence in Westmont.

The area has long been controlled by a gang named the Underground Crips whose members would, in more violent days, walk across Normandie to shoot at rivals. Isaiah Kevin Gray , 28, was shot to death in December on the balcony of the light blue apartment complex where he lived for three years. His brother has been charged in the murder, which allegedly took place after a dispute over keys to a storage space. She avoids grocery shopping in the area. With three children, ages 3, 5 and 7, even the expense of school pictures can be a setback. Hawkins, an in-home caretaker, volunteers for overtime shifts whenever she can, and has a family member watch the kids.

Her shifts sometimes start as early as a. Thoughts of her children keep her going. Staff writer Maloy Moore contributed to this report. Follow latimeshomicide to track killings in L. For the record: A previous version of this story misspelled Jacky Pineda's first name as Jackie and incorrectly gave her age as 22; she is For the record: A previous version of the map showing homicides along South Vermont Avenue incorrectly said nearly 60 homicides took place within feet of the street between and The map should have shown homicides in an area within 1, feet of the street; that is where 61 homicides occurred during that time period.

Instead, the map showed 60 homicides that took place over a longer time period, to , within a smaller area, feet of the street. Of that 60, there were 42 that occurred since See the original map here. Explore seven years of homicide data using our interactive maps. Remember, all posts are approved by a Times staffer. Profanity and personal attacks will not be approved. If you enter anything in this field your comment will be treated as spam:. The Homicide Report.

FAQ Contact Comments. He has lived in the Westmont area of South L. This is bigger than worrying about what to wear to school. This is as big as life itself! I encourage you to take action. Go to school and learn.

Meet The First Generation of BMX In Nigeria

Finish school and go to college. Walk away from what you might believe is right in these neighborhoods. I encourage you to do this now, while you have the chance to. I grew up in California in the LA area.

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I was once a well known member or one of the biggest gangs in the United States. This is my third time in prison. People are already in positions to ensure your success in this country. You just have to be there. We live in a country where good things happen to us no matter what at one time or another. Even if nothing good has happened to you yet, keep living - something will. This is because of the overall cycle which is in motion.

This is no way to live when we have the opportunity to become anything we want to. I encourage you to join the majority and be part of the solution and not the problem. I have been to prison three times: once when I was 18, again when I was 20, and this time when I was I am now 30 years old. I have been in here for 8 years with more to go.

I am an ex-member of one of the largest gangs in the United States. When I arrived here prison 8 years ago, I was very negative angry. I was gangbanging. What made me change the way I think was that the prison was on lock-down. I was in my cell with no T. I looked at my life. I was getting ready to turn 28, and I had noting to show for it but prison. It seemed like the right path to take at the time, so I took it, and I took everything that followed. To make a long story short, I took on the respect of the streets.

I became somebody everybody in the neighborhood had best at least heard of me. Then jail Juvenile Hall became a part of the game. After Juvenile Hall came camp, followed by prison. There is no house on the hills. There is no pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow. This is the truth. I write you from the mainline of one of the dangerous prisons in California, not from some protective area of the prison. It is hard for me to be seriously considered as resigned from The Game.

But this is not an act. Nor can I be released any earlier than my release date. This is the truth because I honestly care about you all. I was your ages once before, so I am not just guessing. The solution to this area of your lives is: learn how to read, write, spell and do math real good, because in this lifestyle called The Game, you will need it.

You will need to know how to spell so when you write your family so they will be able to understand why you need money on your books to buy soap and food while in jail. I speak the truth to you all. There is nothing for me to gain in this speech. I speak from my heart. The Game is no place for none of you. It will take you down!

Forgotten by society, Believed to be a monster, Forgotten by destiny, Since I was a youngster, Forgotten by life, In a cruel unusual way, Forgotten and forgotten, Day by day. Cursed by everyone, And no wants to bless me. Seems like they were perfect, To throw the first stone. Shattered every dream, And broke every last bone. They see my sins As if I was a Cinemax. The world resents me, But your love for me is the same. I come up when I go down. I keep my head over the water Because I refuse to drown. So please God, Help me on this journey And help me overcome The obstacles before me.

Listen to me homie. I sadly see you soldiers goin down the wrong road Taking on a hateful life and its hated dreadful loads. Where your homies want be with you when God tells you of your fate. A life of hated dreams doin lots of stupid crimes. Only take you to a place of grittin teeth and many crys. In for a priceless string of beads with a cross that hardly sags. A person who was raised with a silver spoon in their mouth may feel entirely different about the situation.

But look at the princes who gained their royalty by fortune alone. Is that when the problems may arise? I was locked up at 16 from a road trip that went bad in California. Be one who has gained royalty and power through knowledge and hard hardy work, not through foolishness and lazy spoiled upbringing, in which everything is given to you and placed in your lap.

Poems and Stories

To those who truly care and would like to gain royalty with hard work, begin working for your life instead of accepting hand outs. Every stone and rock in my life Has been a painful experience, but an outcome of strife. Every problem to which I found no solution Has been cause to try harder and find absolution. Every single failure and every single fall Has been my inspiration to always give my all.

Every obstacle that seemed too high I gave it all effort and gave it a try. Even now that all seems lost, I never give up no matter the cost. Every day is a chance to do better, So I start a new chapter letter by letter. I am the one I am the free Except from the Shadow That walks behind me. Walking down this dark road That's where I am Trying to escape misery. Seems like I can't. There is little hope For the great lot of those Who try to escape this life Into which they are thrown. But for the few of us Who respect and understand, Who have been through the darkness And continue to stand, We will travel and prosper Not settle and fail Not moan or cry Nor burn in our own hell.

We'll still carry The burdens of our past But continue to move Despite what is had So for you I say this Whatever person you may be If your going to choose Choose to be free. Lewis C. Lopez BACK. As the years go by I feel my tears multiply Because God took you from me. Prison has become your home.

Come home please and stay with me! In prison inmates do not really look forward to many things. Birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries become part of this blur as each and every day are mashed into the same monotonous day. Like what my last cellie said, "Everyday is Halloween, everyday is my Birthday. It's all the same old shit day in and day out. Those are visits. The outcome of a visit is crucial to the mental and emotional state of mind for many inmates. The way one's visit goes can dictate one's mental predicament until the next one.

If it goes well, then more power to you. If not, then may God have mercy on you. Fortunately, my visits have been wonderful and I was graced by a little girl name Kaylyn. I woke up eyes wide open early Saturday morning. It was still dark outside as the sun just barely began to caress the horizon. I couldn't go back to sleep as the adrenaline rushed into my veins with a million thoughts racing into my mind. I will finally see my family today after a year of waiting. My roommate was still asleep recovering from the night before.

The remnant of last night was evident as the stale smell of alcohol lurked in the air. I didn't mind though. I just laid there imagining what I'd say to my family, how I'd love and miss them. My roommate finally awoke from his deep sleep with a hangover; which prompted me to rush to the sink and brush my teeth; then I proceeded to cut my hair with a clipper, going over it several times to make sure I had not missed a hair. Afterwards I shaved my face with a razor, once again going over it several times. It had to be perfect. I wanted to look good for my family.

Finally, I removed my prison blue shirt and pants from underneath my mattress, which I had neatly folded and left there until my visit. They were creased to precision as if someone had just ironed them. Eight o'clock came and I became excited as the names of inmates were being called for visits. Some of those who got visits look jubilant, while others carried the same stone countenance they carried on a daily basis. Three hours had passed and people began coming back from their visits. All my thoughts of happiness were replaced with anxiety and despair.

Are they okay? Did they get into an accident, or had they simply forgot to come? Thirty minutes later I heard my name called for a visit. I quickly got dressed and began repeatedly flashing my lights to let the Correctional Officer know that I was ready. But after close to thirty minutes, panic set in when they still didn't let me out.

Dressed in Chains

As soon as the door slid opened, I rushed outside not bothering to let my roommate know where I was going. I hurried across the prison yard. As friends and acquaintances waved and wished me a wonderful visit. No time to talk, I waved and hurried on. I got to the outer visiting check-point and was stripped and searched by a slow meticulous guard. I wanted to yell, "Come on man, hurry up. I reminded myself that my hassles were nothing compared to what my family had gone through.

I imagined them driving all night for nine hours or more, then having to wait in line for hours to be processed through - standing outside with little or no protection from the elements, such as: rain, wind, and the hot sun. Getting through in under an hour is considered a blessing.

If they wear clothes that is not acceptable, such as; blue jeans, white or blue shirts, bras with metal lining, skirts or blouses that is two inches above the knee, etc. They are given an opportunity to rummage through the used clothes that are provided by charity. Then they are told to line up in the back again.

Once they made it inside, they are inspected for contrabands, making them feel as though they were criminals themselves. Thinking of their sacrifices put me in a calm state of mind. After the guard finished inspecting me, I walked into the visiting room and began scanning for my family, but wasn't able to pick them out. I finally met my mother's eyes and at once was relieved. The feeling of joy took over. My mother was standing there looking tired, but still had her beautiful smile when I approached. I stopped in my track, not because I was arrested by her presence, but rather by the fact that I didn't know how to greet her.

My rigid culture has always preached that it was not right to show affection or hug one's family after a certain age, for men at least. At that instant, I thought it was crazy to obey such tradition and decided to relinquish my strict upbringing and do what I felt right. I opened my arms and gave her a big hug. She paused for a second before returning the display of affection emitting tears of joy. I was surprised when she held me in her embraced longer than I expected. At that very moment, I felt this undeniable love from my mother and she in turn confirms that no matter what happens, I will always be her son.

Rules of the Road

The South Street Gang Goes Downhill--Fast - Kindle edition by Richard Benyo. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. The South Street Gang Goes Downhill--Fast (Volume 2) [Richard Benyo] on equmoqenyk.gq *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. It's in eastern.

For a second, I was consumed with my mother's love that I almost forgot to greet my older sister and younger brothers. The surprised look on their faces that my mother had shown such emotions was evident, and by the wetness in their eyes, I could tell that they were happy for me. I sat down on the dull cushioned chair adjacent to my mother and inquired how she was doing.

The hard part was getting my mother to talk about herself. She is too consumed about helping others and paying little attention to herself, so what little she shared means so much to me. While my sister Katie was asking me questions about prison life, I noticed a crib to her side. This must be my newborn niece. I looked inside and saw this beautiful angelic face. She stared intensely at me with her big beautiful brown eyes. It looked as if she didn't have a care in the world. All she was focused on was sucking her thumb and this stranger staring at her.

I couldn't resist any longer. I had to pick her up. I lifted her up and cradled her in my left arm, and with my right hand I fed her with her star covered baby bottle. With her free hand, she held on to my shirt and snuggled in my arm, and for a moment she made me forget that I was in prison. I felt peace and joy just by holding her. Kaylyn didn't come again until the following year at which time she was about one and a half.

She could barely walk, but somehow managed to stand up on her own. She looked like a baby doll wobbling back and forth every time she stood up, and she never cried or frowned whenever she fell. I couldn't help but to take her around and show her off to my friends and their family. My friends thought she was adorable. They asked if they could hold her. Knowing that some of my friends haven't held a baby in years convinced me to let them hold her.

She seemed to be as comfortable in someone else's arms as she was in mine. Kaylyn seemed to enjoy the attention that she was receiving. Not saying much, Kaylyn would giggle and laugh when people made faces or funny noises. After close to a year of not seeing my family, especially Kaylyn, I was becoming anxious, always asking my family when the next time I could see my niece again. She finally came, but the prison at the time was going through major turmoil.

Tensions ran high as the prison was inundated with racial riots and staff assaults. The occurrence had brought down a very glommed environment among all its residents and staffs. It was as though the wall had become grayer. As one old convict put it, "In prison one's program or even one's life can be changed in a heartbeat.

Kaylyn had grown; she was almost three years old now. She looked adorable in her star spangled white and pink sweats. She even had pretty little pink shoes to match her outfit. I could see her beaming with joy bouncing behind the two foot visiting table, pretending to hide from me. I was so happy to see her, but a little worried that she might not remember me.

My fear melted away when she rushed over to give me a hug. The only word that was lucid was my name. I lifted her up as far as my hands could reach and spinned in a circle. She laughed and giggled uncontrollably. Kaylyn would crossed her arms and bow her head like she had been taught. She attempted to repeat what I just said, but instead, she mumbled, "Ha ar Yuu? After all the introduction, I brought her back to our table. My family and I began conversing.

We had lots to talk about. While we were deeply in our conversation not paying attention to Kaylyn. She wandered off. Panic gripped my heart. I knew that we were in a safe area, but this is still prison, and due to the current situation on the yard, I wasn't sure if she would be well received by other inmates. We began scanning the room. Our worries were quickly laid to rest when we saw her playing with a black family.

She wasn't actually playing but rather stacking the chess pieces. We could see that the family was enamored with her. I went over and apologized for I did not know what she was up to.

To my surprise, the family implored that she's nothing but a joy. They were hoping that she could stay a little longer. The inmate explained, "Man, your niece is so cool. She kicked it with us like she is our folks. She doesn't seem to mind about my tattoo, or the fact that we have different color skins. She walked around the visiting room as though they were her parents. She giggled and laughed when they lifted her up. I was amazed that Kaylyn could gravitate toward a complete stranger. She didn't seem to have a care in the world. My sister, Katie was getting a little frustrated with Kaylyn for wandering off again.

I tried to reassure her that nothing was going to happen to Kaylyn. I explained that some inmates haven't seen their children in years and others don't have children, so they treat Kaylyn as their own baby. But that didn't ease her worries or frustration with Kaylyn. Katie tried to wave Kaylyn over, but Kaylyn pretended not to see or hear her mother.

That only further upset her mom. My sister once again finally got Kaylyn's attention and gave her the coldest stared and waved her over. Kaylyn reluctantly let go of their hands and mumbled something to them. I could tell by the look on Kaylyn's face that she was afraid of her mother. The couple escorted Kaylyn over and praised Kaylyn for being such a sweet and well behaved girl.

They even joked about adopting and bringing her home. My sister managed a faint smile after hearing their comments. After seeing her mom smile, Kaylyn began to relax, believing that she was off the hook. Not long after receiving a stern lecture from her mom, we realized that Kaylyn had wandered off again. This time we had found her talking to this Caucasian inmate. This inmate shook my mom, because he doesn't look like any ordinary guy. He had muscles bulging out of his shirt. He could have easily been a football player, but instead is serving a life sentence for murder.

Fortunately, he was a friend of mine. I tried to reassure my family that my friend "Tom" is harmless, but it didn't ease their worries one bit. I walked over to where Kaylyn was and I could hear her and Tom talking about the candies in her hand. I'm pretty sure Tom didn't understand what Kaylyn was saying, but he pretended to conversate with her anyway.

I told Tom that I needed to take her back before her mom gets mad. When I got Kaylyn back to the table, my mom discovered that she had a dollar bill in her hand. The look of embarrassment was evident on my mom's face. My mom asked that I bring Kaylyn back with the money and apologize. Tom was talking to his girlfriend when he saw us coming. He motioned to his girlfriend to turn around and they both smiled.

We got to their table and I asked Kaylyn to cross her hands and bow her head, which she did. I asked her to say sorry, but instead she mumbled something that I didn't understand. So I pointed to her hand and explained that the money belongs to my friend. Kaylyn somewhat understood what I was saying and tried to return the money she was holding in her left hand. But Tom refused to take the money. He would pull his hands away when ever she tried to put the money in his hand. He then raised his enormous hands and coax Kaylyn to give him a low five, which Kaylyn playfully obliged.

That only made Kaylyn laughed harder. Tom couldn't help, but smile and laughed along at the sight of Kaylyn jumping up and down laughing. Watching them interact toward each other causes one to believe that they must be best friends. She had refused to sell them, but managed to walk away with his money as well.

After visiting that day, one inmate wanted me to know that being with Kaylyn gave him hope of being a better father to his children when he gets out. Other inmates requested that I bring her back as soon as possible. Kaylyn came back the next day, but she wasn't feeling well.

She wasn't outgoing as the day before. The whole day, she wanted to be held by either her mom or grandmother. At the end of our visit, she was walking up the ramp heading towards the exit. For some reason she stopped midway, looked back at me for a few seconds and ran back down to give me a big hug. She didn't seem to hear my family or the guard yelling at her to stop running. Maybe she did, but chose not to listen. Kaylyn held on to me as though she didn't want to let go and neither did I. I guess we both knew that we won't see each other again until sometime next year.

It's funny how we are constantly searching for happiness in things that do not make sense. We choose money, materialistic things, or a broken relationship, but none seems to make us happier. Then you look at something so simple as a sweet little girl like Kaylyn, who through her innocence and color blindness, she manages to touch hearts and break down stereotypes. It was by watching her that I began to appreciate the time when things were simpler and we did not have a care in the world.

I believe that there will always be that little boy or girl in us, flickering like a candle in the winds of change. All we have to do is keep it lit. You see them on TV, you see them roaming the streets, sleeping on park benches and waiting for an uncertain meal at the local church, On signs, newspapers, and book reports. But in statistics is where they are best formed. They are everywhere and yet, no one seems to notice them, no one seems to care. No one bothers to stop and listen to their stories. We must keep our busy stride nothing can stop the mighty giant of progress To face this dilemma is not a matter at hand.

Let someone else take care of their pain; let someone else bear the blame They are the dirty patches staining our shiny cities, the unaccounted few who will soon die by crushing winter storm - in our hearts. Grey floor, grey door and grey wall. No black and no white in grey I see it all.

Grey sky, grey clouds and grey air. For a long time grey is all I have seen. No black and no white, only inbetween. Just take me away from this indifferent grey. Make up your mind and tell me where to go. This anxious color grey is breaking my soul. Will you take away my hopes For doing something I regret Or will you give me back my dreams And place your own bet. It must be great, to one day wake up and hear that peace in our world is no longer a myth; and that the hunger of millions has been finally quenched.

It sure would be fantastic to one day wake up and learn that all our borders have finally crumbled It must be ecstatic to one day open my eyes and see all the people celebrating the power of love and not the might of their cannons It must be great to one day wake up and realize that was not just a dream. Depression is heavy. People find this out too late. My lifeless eyes Show sorrow and fear Depressed and confused, Wishing death would be near.

My life is unimportant To those who act like they care. I can read it in their face By the expressions they wear. Yet I lost another friend, Another person like me, Another place in my mind With a sad memory. But as I write this, I am feeling my shame. If I could turn back the Hands of time, I would. I never thought That I would have ended up here. When I walk these prison yards, I always stand tall. I just want everyone to hear What I have to say, I must do it soon, Or find another way. I want it. I need it. Feaning for this game Like a crack-head in rehab. Orange flags, blue flags, What do it all mean?

Is it me addicted to this hood Life like crack for a dope fean? The only difference from me and a crack-head Is he has a pipe and I have a gun. Weapons of destruction Being past amongst each other. Why instead of helping the black man I would kill the next brother. Gang banging, dope slanging, Crack smoking and shooting-up. All trends of the community All of us never gave up.

Like the streets to a crack-head, The streets will always be your home. No matter how much we try A lot of us fail to succeed. Like an old wound pealed Its only destiny is to bleed. Gangbangin and dope slangin Was the life that I was gave. From the womb of a lonely Mother, To the streets I was made.

A broken home, a shattered heart, No lights ever revealed, The cries of a burning baby, With the flames needing to be shield. The pain in my heart Was slowed down by violence. But then I was alone, Coming down left with silence. The pain was still there, Even stronger than before, So off to the streets I headed In search of a violent war.

See I want to stand up And be able to stand tall But before a baby can walk, A baby must learn to crawl. Glancing at the vast emptiness, Reaching as far as the mind can imagine. I pause - To take in another breath. Days waiting for a letter that never seems to arrive - Placing phone calls to an unaccepting line This is the reality of what is now my life. I am the son who lost his way in the turbulent currents of youthful rebellion. I remember when my life was much simpler, when a smile from mama chabe let me know all was going to be okay. Those days are over now - no more, no more.

I am a trapped man condemned to live my life with other men who like me traded their freedom for a few moments of wild fun No one takes notice, No one seems to care. As I sit here wondering what life has done for me, I wonder. I wonder. Thinking about the ones I left behind, Will I ever see them again On the outside of these walls? My life has left we wondering If I can change my ways for the better. Only you or I can change ourselves From wondering what we can do About changing ourselves.

How your grace has brought me to you. You said with you, you would make me alive; feeling, growing in your sweet love. Well, today I had to remove myself from what I felt was going to turn into a bad situation. You and your Spiritual Sight helped me see before it got started. I can remember before you came into my life, I would have stayed and possibly been in chaos, but today is a new day, a new person. How faithful and true you are. You said with you I would see a new person. I am chained, under lock, and key.

No calls, no cares. If you are lucky your family will stand by your side, but if not, then they like your friends will say. Pedro Concepcion New Jersey. After the remarks, there is either a change, bad grade, or dropping out of school. I never took advantage of my education. The only time I really applied myself was to play sports. Then I went to college.

During a sober moment, I decided to major in education. I wanted to work with all ages of the emotionally disturbed. I loved the challenge. I loved teaching, but because of my drinking I may never teach again. Your education is the key. The biggest key to your future. Put that key on a string around your neck; never loose it no matter what you go through.

Celebrating SF Port Anniversary April 28th

No matter what happens in that classroom, if you talk to your teacher something can be worked out. Your teacher is a human being too; believe it or not, they have problems and feelings too. Sometimes it is hard for teachers to leave their troubles at the door too.

Maybe they are hard to get along with because they are having problems. Maybe they have a sick family member, problems with their children, problems at work, worried about paying the bills, an addiction, etc. I believe if you talk to them the way you would like to be spoken to, amazing things will happen. So take some time to really get to know your teacher. You see I am faced with a dilemma, I let my addiction take from me my teaching career. I drank even while I taught. I believed the more I drank the better teacher I was.

See how cunning and baffling our addictions can be. I taught for many years while drinking and now I will never be able to make amends to those children. I am driven, motivated, inspired, often crippled, by fear. Failure is an option and success is scripted. How I felt has never mattered, only what others think. I carry around the pain like so many nickels and dimes, while others poke fun at my insecurities.

And why not? Eugene Thomas New Jersey. Things change. Everything that was no longer is. Different ideals form new actions. Who am I? Who are you?

Tiny Westmont has highest homicide rate in the county.

I ask no answer just a gust of wind sweeping my pleas away We are living in a bizarre dream, a misperception of what it means to be. What do we really know about being warriors dying for a righteous cause? To who do I owe my loyalty to? To the green-walkers whose actions are only mechanical and without feeling or thought. I hear many theories on how life should be and what some of us should do with ourselves; but what should I do sit around and wait for others to decide my fate?

Curles Neck

Like what my last cellie said, "Everyday is Halloween, everyday is my Birthday. Charles Dickens had visited the five points and is recorded as saying it was the worst place on Earth. A fitness center and clubhouse with fireplace frame the heated indoor pool and whirlpool spa. Was this review helpful? Does the family enjoy swimming or wading through tide pools?

And maybe catch another ten, or fifty more years. Each day the battle to keep my sanity amidst this madness continues. As a young teenager I always thought of the possibility of getting incarcerated one day even though I graduated high school and eventually went to college for 4 years. I was caught up in the sub-world of drugs when I was 13 years old. I managed to keep in on the "down-low," masquerading and hiding it from my family. I was so good at hiding my extra-curricular activities that even my father, who is a psychiatrist on drugs and alcohol, didn't have a clue.

Totally ironic, right? I was raised in Puerto Rico where crime and drug use are sky high. I used to hang out with individuals older than me twice my age. I felt I belonged with them instead of my high school friends that were too "naive" for me. I was naive too. I skipped stages in my life - from a child I stepped into a woman's shoes. At 15 years old I was already packing and cutting drugs.

I became an expert on them by the age of 17 - cleaning and taking guns apart, filing the serial number, and selling them. I managed to graduate high school in Puerto Rico with excellent grades, so I cam to New York to go to college. My drug habit escalated and a normal, legal job wasn't paying enough for rent, clothes, and especially that habit. I continued to work in different places but I felt empty. I was in love with living the fast life, on the edge. I'm the kind of woman that doesn't like to be bossed around, I like to set my own rules.

Well not anymore. I've been inside these walls for a year and a half; my bust is only starting. This is what living the fast life got me, a quarter of my life in this hellhole. This is real and it can happen to anyone. Not everybody here has committed a violent crime. On the contrary, the majority are on drug-related charges. I don't believe in the efficacy of incarceration. In a way, I always thought differently than what is already established. I know that everybody is not going to be in the same line of thought, but we have got to think collectively and come up with better alternatives.

How do we do that in a socio-economic structure that believes in demolishing a school to build up a youth detention facility? We need to organize and educate ourselves. When people stop entering and festering inside these walls then we will challenge an obsolete system. Until then which path are you going to take? I'm hanging as hard as I can to a very thin string, The string of life and of a human being. The string that goes through the core of your heart And the string that's keeping me from falling apart.

Life is like a string - you make it thicker or thinner. If your heart is into it then it gets bigger and bigger. Depressed is how you'll live if depressed is how you feel, But if you fight for happiness then the feeling can be real. I've been through hard times just like everyone else, But I live in the future and let the past take care of itself.

There's many chapters in my life I would like to erase, But I leave them alone and live life page by page. I can't keep regretting and living life in the past, So I think about the future and try to take the right path. I know I'm not perfect but I always try my best, Put a smile on my face and ignore the barb wire fence. I try to finish the puzzle taking it piece by piece Until the Lord calls my name and it's time to rest in peace. Rafael G. Same pain in my heart, same thoughts in my head, Same late nights up thinking about the evil crowds I lead.

Sometimes I sit and wonder, what if all thangs could change, To go back into time instead of walking down this memory lane. No mail tonight, better luck tomorrow. No love comin to me, maybe my cellie got some I can borrow. Eighteen bars and three walls to stare at Twenty three years at war, with soldiers for me to bear with. How did I get here? Where did I start? How did I come from a star in the spotlight to just another figure in the dark?

  • St. Augustine: On the Proceedings of Pelagius.
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It all happened so fast, like at the drop of a dime. I awoke from my dream and realized this life is truly mine! DJ California. True, you have some good times but in the end you wind up going to a lot of funerals or visiting a lot of prisons! But when it turns into a life or death situation then you want to take time to reflect and question your present position in life!

What I want to do is make you question that life style now! Ask yourself, do you really want to spend your life in prison under the control of some else ? Or how about dodging bullets every time you walk to the store? Maybe you would like to bury someone every other week? Behind these gates where I do time, no fun or games you will find. No grass to touch, no birds to sing, the only escape is in your mind. So if you value your liberty to smell the flowers, touch the grass, hear the beautiful birds sing, do not cross the threshold to this place.

This is not home, and there is no peace to be found. Because no matter how hard its life may be, the bird is truly free indeed. That means looking back at things gives you perfect vision. One question that seems to come up a lot is this: if you had it to do all over again, what would you change? Or can you? Is retrospect completely without benefit? I say no! But, what could I possibly gain from looking back at my life and identifying where I went wrong?

My personal story goes like this: I grew up on the south side of Chicago. When I was fourteen I took my first taste of beer and began to experiment with drugs. I chose to continue to get high because I thought it was what made me accepted and a part of something. Eventually, I got addicted and began to commit crime to pay for my habit. At this point, I liked drugs and no longer got high to please others, but to please myself. I dropped out of high school and went to school high. As an adult in the system, I continued to make one bad decision after another until I ended up with life without parole for killing another inmate.

Now I write this story; it is the PG version. I have much time to think about the choices I have made and how I would have handled them differently if I had it to do all over again. This has helped me tremendously because I can see clearly where I went wrong. What I can impart to you about my life can equip you with the tools to sidestep this path and make your choices based upon my mistakes, not your own. Some sick rite of passage into manhood; yeah right! Anyway, I continued to make choices with this flawed method for years. In a way, I got selfish. I began to look at myself for who I was, rather than be concerned about what the next guy is thinking about me.

This means standing up on your own two feet and representing you as you. How does this help me today and more importantly how can it help you? Refuse to lose, and be yourself!!! We were two good friends who went for a ride. Can you hear me friend?

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Everything will be all right. Where is my friend? I woke up in ICU and started to cry. They just broke the news that my friend had died. No one knows what happened that night, But the prosecutor is ready to fight. The prosecutor is trying to cut a deal. No amount of time can take how I feel. You were my good friend, my very best. But now the family has laid you to rest. A Remorseful Inmate New Jersey. I heard somewhere that the moon is the counterweight of earth. That the miracle of life itself is embedded in our genes. I also heard in a midnight whisper that tomorrow is not an argument to be discussed that today in all its presence is the best moment we have.

It is very hard living here in prison. I am a 43 year old woman. I feel so much sorrier for the younger people here and in other prisons. This is a very cold place lacking love and concern for your wants and needs. You are no longer an individual person; you are now just a number. If you have issues from abuse or neglect when you get here, you will have twice as many when you leave.

This place is full of negativity and peace is a dream for the future. The food is not the best and the medical care has a lot to be desired. You can no longer decide what you want to eat, wear, or even what time you want to get up; you go according to their schedule and what they decide. So, I beg all young people to make better choices now, so you will still be able to make your own decisions later.

It is only by the grace and mercy of God that I can make it through this. I sit in a prison, long hours to spend, Sitting and waiting, until my years come to an end. The streets were rough, I had no love, Only that which came from above. There is one who loves, without a cause, It does not matter, if you broke His laws. He always forgives with. His arms open wide. I knew I must pay for that which I have done.