Hey how are you? I got your letter today. If my mail takes a while to reach you, its not because im ignoring you, its because the prison plays games with the mail here. Sometimes the mail is weeks late.
I thought about everything that you said in your letter and I would love to share my story with you. I’ve been wanting to share my story for a while, I just never had the chance to.
I answered all of the questions that you asked except for the last one. I didn’t answer that one because I don’t feel comfortable telling you anything else about me and my life because I don’t know anything about you or your program, “The One.” Besides what you told me in your letter.
I’ll tell you everything about my life and everything that I’ve been through, starting from my earliest childhood memory, up until my life as it is now and the things I go through everyday. But if you don’t mind, first I would like to know a little bit more about you and your program. And how I was chosen for you to write, out of all the other young adults that are in prison. I just want a better understanding of who I’m dealing with, because I don’t know you and I haven’t heard of your program before.
I also agree with everything that you said about the discrimination against black Americans & racial minorities. But I don’t think that problem will be fixed anytime soon because no one is doing anything to change it.
The criminal justice system is also pretty bad. But its a lot worst if your black or Hispanic.
I think what your doing is great though, and I would love to share my story with you & help because I think it can really make a difference.
I’m answering the questions that you asked on a separate piece of paper because there wasn’t enough room on the original sheet that you sent.
I was born and raised in a town called Waukegan, Il. I grew up living with my older brother [name removed] & my older sister [name removed] My brother is 21 & my sister is 22. I also have a half brother named [name removed] who is 23, and a younger sister [name removed] that is 4.
My mom raised us on her own. My dad was an heroin addict & was always in & out of jail. He never lived with us for more than a month at a time. Eventually he moved to Ohio & stayed there.
My neighborhood was on the Southside of town. There really wasn’t anything positive about the neighborhood besides the Boys and Girls club. I liked going to the Boys& Girls club as a kid.
There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about my neighborhood as a kid because that’s all I really knew. The gangs & drugs & violence all seemed normal, so it didn’t bother me much.
My earliest child hood memories are mostly all of when I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I just remember all of the family holidays & just spending time with family.
I haven’t been told anything about what I was like as a baby.
Growing up my child hood friends were my 2 older brothers and their friends. I didn’t have any friends at all that were my age. Some of my friends were all teenagers & some grown men. I smoked & got drunk a lot. That’s what people in my neighborhood considered fun. It wasn’t until I moved to another town called Beachpark, IL at the Age of 10 that I made new friends that were my age and I enjoyed playing video games & sports for fun. But I still spent a lot of time in Waukegan because it was only a 20-30 min drive.
I didn’t stress too much as a kid growing up. [scratched out] I stressed a lot about trying to fit in & be accepted by the older guys in the neighborhood. I never stressed about things I couldn’t control, like food and clothes & bills.
My childhood pretty much ended at the age of 12. That’s when my life really changed.
I went through a lot as a kid. But it was mostly just me seeing a lot of things going on around me & sometimes being hungry or having the power being cut off. But once I turned 12, that’s when I started experiencing with hard drugs, gangs, guns, money and women.
I’ve been on probation since I was 9 & 10. I haven’t been home since I was 15 because of my charges now.
I hope this answers your questions.
How are you? I just got your letter today. Sorry if my letters take a while to get to you. The mail is late going out, and I usually get letters weeks late. For a sec, I thought my letter didn't make it to you. I thought they lost it or something. I wouldn't be surprised. It's good to hear from you again though.
I appreciate you telling me a little more about your self, and what your program is about. Like I said before, I think what your doing is great and I would love to continue answering your questions. Hopefully it can stop other kids from going down the same path that I did. Or maybe if others continue to write, it could inspire law makers. From what I've been reading though, the legislators are strongly against changing the sentencing laws. The're fighting for juveniles to continue to be able to get life sentences. Our U.S. Supreme Court took a step by saying it's unconstitutional and overturned cases in 2010-2012 finally. But they can only do so much. The laws are still the same, and if a judge wants, he/she can still sentence a juvenile to life with out parole. You know in majority of our states you can be charged as an adult automatically at ages from 12-15? For Illinois it is 15. So basically a 12 yr old, in other states could get life in prison. Only a certain amount of state's laws, have it where your case goes to juvenile court first, and you have a hearing to determine if you should be charged as an adult. The Illinois Supreme Court is suppose to be deciding on several cases this year that deal with that. If its Successful, it will stop kids in the future from spending decades in prison. And my conviction will also be over turned and my case will be sent back to juvenile court for a transfer hearing. But I'm sorry for talking so much about that. My appeal is everything to me though. And I promised my family that I wouldn't stop fighting. But my relationship with all of my siblings are great. I'm very close with all of them. Both of my brothers are locked up though. We write each other. My oldest brother [name removed]. He's 23. He great. And he always encouraged me to do right. I just was hard-headed. My other brother is [name removed] (21). He was the one that I followed growing up, and got into trouble with. Now we pretty much do our own things & have our own friends, but we're still close. I'm more of a big brother to [name removed] than he is to me now. And if you don't mind, can we not use my siblings names? But yeah, I also have 2 sisters. My oldest is 21. She & I are very close. She's been by my side through everything. From day one of me being locked up. We keep in touch on a regular. I call when ever the prison lets us. And she sends me money so I can survive inside of here. If it wasn't for her, I would have it really hard in here. My youngest sister is 4 years old. She was only 6 months old when I got locked up. She's my everything. We never were apart when I was out. She growing so fast, but she still remembers me. I talk to her on the phone and we have full conversations. I was kind of tripped out at how smart she is for her age. She also knows I'm in prison, but she don't know why. he is the biggest reason why I fight to win on my appeal. My mom and I have always been close. I hate I put her through so much. She did everything she could to get me on the right path and I just ignored it all because I loved the streets and wanted to hang out & fit in. ASns I didn't like being looked at as a kid cause I wanted to fit in with all of my older friends. Byt my mom & I haven't spoken in months. Mostly because its hard for her to see me like this, and the calls are a constant reminder. She cries evertime I call. And that makes it harder for me cause I know she's in pain because she loves me. I don't look at my pictures either cause I see how much she's changed from stressing over my situation. And my mom has always been my mom & dad at the same time. As crazy as that sounds. But to be honest, I loved having my dad around, but I got used to him not being around. I never knew what it felt to have a dad cause he wasn't around long enough. I don't blame him though. He had his own problems. And when he was around, he loved me & my brothers & sister. He just wasn't there on a consistent basis. The hardest part of not having him around was how much I missed him.
At the Boys & Girls club I played sports a lot. And I remember going to the summer camps too. But I don't remember what we did at the camps.
It was difficult sometimes not having friends my age cause I had to try hard to fit in. Eventually I was accepted & had a lot of older friends. But it made it alot harder to make friends at school that were my age. I couldn't relate to them cause I was always with older people. And I think thats how I became Anti Social.
Hanging out with older guys did expose me to alot. Everything from guns, drugs, money & women. And also violence & gangs. I think that seeing the things that I've seen & going through everything that I've been through because of the group of guys I was around really made me strong mentally, and I think that's a good thing. But over all I think hanging around older guys was bad, because the lives that they were living wasn't good. But I always thought it was cool for some reason, so I tried to copy just to fit in, I always wanted to be a grown up, but now I wish I could get all these years back & just be a kid again.
There wasn't a specific incident that changed my life at 12. I was actually in a residential home from 10-12 because I kept getting in trouble and I was too young to go to the prison for juveniles. Ages 13-21. I want to tell you more about my experience there at the residential home. it was like a group home. It was a nice place. Going there was one of the best things that happened in my life aroung that time. And one of the worst decisions I ever made was leaving that program. If I would have stayed, I would be in college today. I want to tell you more about what I learned, and how I changed while I was there, but I'll save it for my next letter. The reason why I say leaving that program was one of the worst decsionns in my life at that time is because once I left, I went right back to my old neighborhood, and my 1st day home, I started selling drugs for the first time. But while I was at the group home, all I was focused on was school, sports & just having fun being a kid. But I always missed my old neighborhood a little bit. Especially since the group home was in a nice area & the total opposite of my old neighborhood. Once back home though, I started selling drugs, getting into fights. There was always shootings in the neighborhood. I lost my virginity, and I started dating older girls & eventually women. By the age of 15, I had used ecstacy, weed & alcohol. I never used anything else. I stopped using drugs all together though. But I also was making money selling drugs and I had alot of enemies at 15 yrs old that were almost twice my age because alot of people didn't even know how old I really was. Being around older people so much made me feel like I was much older than what I was. By the time I was 15, I carried a gun everywhere I went because I made so many enemies over stupid stuff. I always seen what happened to other guys who was living the same lifestyle that I was living, whether it be getting shot, or getting beat up real bad, and I didn 't want that to happen to me. I always made sure my education was a priority. I was kicked out of high school my freshman year for fighting, and I was sent to an alternative school. I completed all of the programs and got my grades back on track and I was suppose to start my sophmore year at my regular high school, but I ended up getting cauight with a gun the month before school started. The judge sent me to the Dept. of Juvenile Justice (the prison for ages 13-21) for 3 months. The week before I was suppose to be paroled, I was told I wasn't being released because I was being charged with the charges I have now.
I haven't seen my family in almost 2 yrs. I used to see them every week before I was convicted. But they sent me to a prison almost 8 hours away and my family can't make right now. It's all good though. I don't put any pressure on them to come. I've had friends thats drove all the way down here to visit, but couldn't get in because the prison was on lock down. Anytime an incident happens, the prison goes on lockdown. I've had 2 people get turned around. You have to be careful cause the prison can go on lockdown at any moment. But I'm about to get some sleep. I hope this answers your questions. And if you don't mind, call me Dre. Take Care. I look forward to hearing from you again.
P.S- what's the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?