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As tough as I tried to stay, each time I witnessed another person being brutally beaten, viciously stabbed or a person, just like me dying from an overdose, it changed me, it put cracks on my barrier.

For a long time I have tried to find my purpose. I have always wondered if I was on Earth to hurt or to help. When I was first incarcerated five years ago, at the age of 16, I was lost, bitter, fighting my own demons, filled with hate, and deep seated resentment. I would blame others for my failures without thinking maybe I could be the problem.

After spending two years in the Youth Authority, I was transferred to a state prison the day after my 18th birthday. Prison is nothing like I had imagined and it’s not what you have seen on your screen, on TV or in the movies. Prison is segregated, you stick with your own people, your race, those simply that have the same color skin, it’s very unsettling, that train of thought never checked out for me.

Throughout my time here, I have been witness to brutal beatings, stabbings and overdoses. In the beginning, I put up a barrier that helped blind me to what was going on around me and detrimentally, taught me to believe that what I was seeing was normal. 

Eventually, my walls came down and reality finally hit. I realized that I couldn’t live in this belief system, it wasn’t who I was and I wanted out. I realized peoples skin color, background, religion, etc. shouldn’t matter. I learned to accept people for who they are. It’s been a sobering but educational journey and I still have a long way to go and many years of amends. 

I share a life and mindset with my brothers in prison, we share the same struggle, we bear witness to the same brutality, we live away from our loved ones and we will survive. My wish for them is that they see each other as human beings, they learn to get along and that we each care for one another. Through my time in here, I have found my purpose, it’s to help.

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