Allen, 34

Allen, 34

Meet Allen…

Today, I see the law as a guide to keep us straight, and it is also a reality check for most.

I thought I had life figured out and the law couldn’t tell me nothing, I lived by my own law. Living with different people who were just like me, doing drugs, partying, and chasing a false reality.

Until the most dreadful moment of my life. I committed a crime that led me towards taking somebody’s life. Right then a new reality struck me deeply. I’m currently locked up with a 20 year sentence for manslaughter.  Before my incarceration I was lost in the wind, with no guidance. While being incarcerated after all these years,  I came to realize my actions were indeed wrong and so was my thinking. During my time here I’ve  started rehabilitating myself spiritually, mentally and physically. 

I took a class that would help develop cognitive skills so you can make better choices now and in your future. Today, I see the law as a guide to keep us straight, and it is also a reality check for most.  Due to my circumstances, I’ve come to change for the better. I am also hoping this letter reaches you to stop and think before you make a false thinking pattern like I did, because the law will serve you, or it will help you according to your actions!

Gerald, 35

Gerald, 35

Meet Gerald

My childhood is hard to talk about after they split up. I wish the world was different and families never fell apart. My heart goes out to kids like me.

I was an emotional wreck and nearly drove my momma crazy. By high school, I was struggling with an addiction to cocaine. My momma is the example of love. The faster I spiraled out of control the harder she tried to save me.

When I was a kid, I would argue with her, throw fits and tell her I was running away, then walk out the door like I was really leaving. She would let me go, not because she didn’t care, but because she knew I wouldn’t make it past the end of our driveway.

My Momma was a perfect example, she didn’t smoke, drink and never partied. I was never abandoned or abused. She worked night and day to support me and my sister and give us the life she never had. She taught us right from wrong.

As I got older and truly started falling away, she chased after me in my addiction. She was not gonna lose me and refused to give up.

Just thinking about my mom and how she managed to remain faithful and stay strong through my struggle brings tears to my eyes.

Now, I’ve overcome addiction, the biggest obstacle in my life. I’m getting somewhere, glory to God.

Since I’ve been in the system I’ve taken classes. I’m taking one on horticulture where we are learning about how plants grow, basic plant pathology and pest management. We grow our own garden and operate and maintain small lawn mowers, tillers, weed eaters, blowers and trimmers.

Besides going to school, attending my garden, and belonging to the prison ministry, I love exercising. Since last year about this time when my sobriety really took off I’ve been working out twice a day. Believe it or not amidst all the chaos in here there’s still lots of love and positivity.

One day, I’ll get to go home and live the life I’ve always dreamed of. I’ll be free from the bondage of addiction and no longer a slave to sin, prove to myself and others that there has been a complete transformation in my life that only God could accomplish, and, hopefully, one day marry the woman of my dreams.

Although I have lost my way countless times in here, I continue to choose just that, and maybe these words here will help some to see that. I caused more pain than I’ll ever be proud to admit, and plenty of havoc too, but I’ve also spread love on end. I have done good deeds, and leave laughter in my wake.

My intentions are always to put a warm smile on another person’s face. Everyday, I’m trying to be a better person. Despite my past and the malicious wrong doings upon me, that is what I choose. I am worthy of love, capable of so much, just like you.

Yes, my demons haunt me every single day and night! But I overcome them and try to be a good person, which is the only way to be free. I’m just like you. That’s my truth and I thank you very much for listening.

Isaiah, 21

Isaiah, 21

Meet Isaiah

From observation and the experience on this journey I have learned a very important fact; the Texas prison system does not rehabilitate prisoners, it’s all up to you to make that choice for yourself.

I give my grandmother credit for the majority of my rehabilitation. Since my mother died, my 70 year old grandmother has given me her full support. Growing up in Houston, Texas, being exposed to constant pressure in an urban community, my mind was flooded with traumas, while thinking that this is what life was all about.

I’ve grown in maturity since then. I no longer think, act, or talk like I used to. While living in here, diversity and incarceration has forced a mental, physical and spiritual test on me that not only strengthened my mind, but also has helped me form new positive habits.

Kevin, 28

Kevin, 28

Meet Kevin

Some of you may and some may not relate to my story. I was born in El Salvador, son of a strong, beautiful immigrant woman. When I was four, she migrated to the US after my father was killed from criminal violence. After a year of my mother migrating she gathered enough money to bring me to the US.

She is a faithful Christian and gave me everything so I can stay out of trouble, yet in the end, I was a lost innocent child tangled in the ways of ‘The Street Life.’

When I enrolled in elementary school, I felt out of place not knowing the lingo of the land. A couple of months later I learned to speak English and was making A’s and B’s. I was told by teachers that I was bright and smart. In middle school, I was easily influenced by drugs and gangs, that’s what the ‘cool kids’ were doing. This led me straight to juvenile detention centers.

One night, I almost lost my life to gun violence over a cheap $40 phone to a robbery at gunpoint. I thank the universe and my guardian angels that I survived. Not too long after, I was charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Since the victim’s personal belongings were in my car, I was guilty by association. I didn’t correct it or say anything because he was my ‘friend’. When we got pulled over, my so-called friend told me not to say anything, that ‘he got me’ and everything was going to be ‘okay’.

I knew what my so-called friend had done was wrong, because I had been a victim of a prior robbery. He never showed up, never helped out and the loyalty I had towards him and the ‘bro-code’ got me five years. That may not seem like much compared to 20 years or life in prison. but to me it is more than enough. In here, I’ve received my GED, a level-centered head on my shoulders and a friend that has helped me elevate and I can call a brother.

The last five years I have lost and I have won. I have accepted my wrong deeds by correcting them. I might have lost my opportunity for a brighter future in the US as I am waiting to be extradited back to my home country. I have found myself and I no longer walk in darkness, I’m finally free and illuminated. My journey is coming to an end behind these walls and I am looking at better possibilities. In this process of losing myself, I’ve found who and what makes Kevin and that friends are worth more than money.

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