Siyo Young Man or Woman,
I am a Native American prisoner in the State of California.
I am from the Yuba Sutter area in Northern California. From middle school into high school I was a part of the Native American Dance group called the Snow Goose Dancers. I have danced in Sacramento, Oakland, Davis, DQ, Chico, Stanford, Berkeley and more as a featured specialty dancer. The only real setback to that is that I am indefinitely removed from my family who would love to dance with me.
I am here because of an armed robbery and attempted murder in which I shot the victim. I was eventually convicted of conspiracy to commit murder which is why I have 25 to life. That means the corrections officials can keep me in prison for the rest of my life. The worst part is that I got locked up when I was 17 and am 2 years away from being locked up for 1/2 my life.
Since I have been locked up I have learned that ignored a lot of chances to succeed. One in particular was when a probation officer offered to put me in a group home because he knew I was not adjusting well in my home. If I would have accepted that hand out I could have gotten away from an unstable home to a home structured to help me succeed in life. My point isn’t to leave home if it is bad for you, but to realize help when it is being offered to you in it’s various forms, even from the people we don’t trust because they have power over us. If I would have left I would have left my mother and three sisters. It may or may not have provided me the freedom from prison which was a set of choices I made, but I look back and wonder what if?
To have a sense of peace in here you have to let go of that sense of control you have to keep on the streets. Otherwise you will drive yourself, your family, and your new prison associates away from you.
The hardest part about being in prison is waiting to hear from loved ones through the mail. I do not know from day to day who will write back, who will pass on, or even if a loved one will take the time to sit down and write. I can’t blame them if they don’t, although I used to in my more youthful days. I know they have lives to live, children to raise, bills to pay, it is selfish to expect a letter just because I write them and wait, hope, and wonder. To have a sense of peace in here you have to let go of that sense of control you have to keep on the streets. Otherwise you will drive yourself, your family, and your new prison associates away from you.
I work in the first watch job. It means I go to work at 10:20 p.m. and go back to my bunk at 5:15 a.m. I then sleep in a dorm with 13 other guys who may be up doing things because they have day programs. I usually wake up at 11:30, drink some fluids, then I sometimes sleep until 3:30. At 6:30 when everybody is eating dinner it is my lunch time. Then I study my college courses, and prepare from work. On Thursdays and Tuesday for the last 6 weeks I have facilitated self-help groups that deal mostly with life skills for guys in another building. Even though sometimes I was tired I kept my commitment to them because a lot of us missed opportunities to learn life skills on the streets. What has really enabled me to do things like that is learning to control self doubt and self talk, and building my own self esteem to the point where I am comfortable meeting strangers, men like myself and say, I will help you learn some life skills if you are willing to participate in this group for six weeks.
I send my hopes and prayers that you all receive this in a good heart and hopeful mind set for insight and change.