Joseph “King Chuck”, 37

Housed: Fort Stockton, TX 

I must serve 30 years flat before being eligible for parole. My story is not too different from many but yet still my own.

I grew up raised by a single mother with four older sisters and a little brother and two more brothers on my Dad’s side. I was introduced to the street life at an early age and started using drugs at the age of nine -nothing hardcore-weed, pills, alcohol. At 13, I was initiated into a gang and started causing all kinds of trouble. I saw how it was taking a toll on my mother, but I didn’t care because I felt she didn’t want me or love me and my father wasn’t around.

My father’s oldest son hurt me one day and I told my mother. She called my father who said it would be taken care of. Nothing ever happened, so I blocked everyone out and went on a rampage.

Years later, I was heavy in the local music scene. I was supplying drugs and doing them. One night, I was pulled over with crack cocaine in my possession and swallowed it to avoid going to jail. To this day, I wish I was arrested that morning. That crack cocaine I swallowed caused me to make the biggest mistake of my life and now I’m here.

When I was arrested I had two children on the way by two different women. Today, my son and daughter are about to turn fourteen. I’ve never been home with them. The struggle of being a father behind bars runs deep when you aren’t present. How do you father from prison, how can you provide for them, how do you love them, why do they love you? If something happens to them you blame yourself, if they’re misbehaving you feel it’s your fault, anything they struggle with, you shoulder the blame. I don’t understand how or why they still love me. In here, I’ve been mentoring kids, dads, moms and young people about the dangers of drugs, prison life and the value of life. I would like to just continue to spread my voice to help.

William ‘Romeo’, 23

William ‘Romeo’, 23

Meet William…

I’ve come to learn I need to care and love myself mentally, physically and spiritually before I do anyone else.

Being locked away has helped me realize the real differences between my wants and my needs. Inside these walls, my feelings of being lost and forgotten haven’t made me lose hope or give up on my success. I’ve come to learn I need to care and love myself mentally, physically and spiritually before I do anyone else. I crave to write and talk to someone from the outside just for a sense of comfort. While this seems reasonable, I know I need to spend time educating myself first. How can I help someone else when I can’t help myself?  I am trying to figure out how I can be a better person than I was yesterday. By spreading positive energy, gaining knowledge through wisdom and simply taking “I can’t “ out of my vocabulary, I know I will be able to be better. I ask myself, how can I not do something – I haven’t even tried? If I fail, I will have something to study upon and get better at. One thing I do know, we, as in every living organism on the planet Earth, have the power to control the environment we live in because we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls. We have the power to control our thoughts and turn them into GOLD.

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.