Friday, September 28, 2007

How I Became a Lifer( Luis's Story)

When I was 16 years old, I thought I knew it all and nobody could tell me anything. My mother tried to talk to me many times, warning me about what could happen if I didn't live right. I didn't listen and I had to learn the hard way: by losing my freedom for life. I know how it is to be in your shoes, when you feel like giving up and taking short cuts, but is it really worth it? Would it make your family love you more? Would it be a good example for your lil' bro' or sis' who looks up to you? Is it really what you want? Think about that for a long time and be honest with yourself.
In prison I have no control over my life. Someone tells me when I can eat; what I can eat; when to go to bed; and when I can go outside. I'm always told to go back in my cell. You have a choice to avoid this life by making something of yourself. How do you do that? It starts with education-meaning-school. You may not like school, but if you break the law and get sent to prison you will wish you were back in school. Also, you have to think before you act. Don't do anything that may ruin your life by not thinking things through. When you do something wrong and think about it later you end up regretting it, but you can't change it. You may think to yourself this is lame, but I'm telling you I have been where you are; from sellng drugs to doing drugs, and from being in a gang, to running a gang. I was fighting my entire life until I got here to prison and discovered I was only destroying myself.
My brothers and sisters, I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, stay in school. Educate yourself and pursue your dreams. You can be whatever you want in life no matter what other people think of you. Be a leader not a follower. Respect yourself and your parents. Stay away from drugs and guns. Violence will only take you two places: To prison and to death. Don't wait until you are in prison to think what you could've done. Be real with yourself and start making it happen now.

Stay in school and stop the violence.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

"How to Play the Game" booklet

How to Play the Game is a collaboration of work by Juvenile Lifers in Graterford Prison. All stories and artwork are copyrighted. The distribution of the books is dependent on the copyright owner, whom we are waiting for a response from concerning the numerous request for the books.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"How to Play the Game" booklet

If you are interested in getting copies of "How to Play the Game" booklet please contact Thanks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How I became a Juvenile Lifer - James' Story

I am currently in prison for the rest of my life. When I was 17 years old I was arrested for shooting a man three times. This man died of those gunshot wounds and here I am now 32 years old serving a life sentence. When I was a teenager, I was very angry because my life growing up was rough. I lived in a home where drugs were abused and fighting was normal. My hood was just a larger version of my home and I began to imitate the negative behaviour I saw others do. I was a follower and didn't even peep it. I wanted to get money, but instead of using my skills as an artist, I tried selling heroin, crack, and then sticking up people and places. Like a fool I thought I was doing something "slick," but all I ended up doing is becoming a weedhead, alcoholic, and thug with nothing positive to show for all my stupidity. I do have a life sentence though. I couldn't listen to THE TRUTH when people who were concerned about me spoiled my high. They told me to go back to scholol and get my life together. I was too hard headed. Now, after being stuck with no chance of getting out, I wish I would've listened. People probably try to encourage you, do you listen?
Why did I write this short piece of real talk? I wrote this because this will be the realest thing you ever read. So you can realize that you're not the only young brother or sister who's had it hard. You can still turn your life around. There are things you can start doing to avoid becoming a juvenile lifer. I've had my chance, now its yours. What will you do with your life?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What is a Juvenile Lifer?(excerpt from "How to Play the Game")

You are sixteen(16) years old; you probably hate being told what to do by anyone. You hang with your homies; you might blow an "L", you might even carry heat(a gun). People probably hate on you and that might lead to drama here and there. You know like I do that sometimes things can get hectic in the streets, so you might end up using that "heat" in a beef.
In this case you busted your gun and think everthing's cool. WRONG! You get arrested and now the homicide detectives wanna talk to you. You're a soldier though(maybe somebody schooled you about your rights{Miranda}, so you ain't saying nothing to the cops). So you think you're ready for this. Next move, they charge you with criminal tell the police, " I want a lawyer." You're given one you can afford...a Public Defender who might not even know your name. He thinks you should plead guilty. You know nothing about the law in Pennsylvania or the system so you think, " I might beat this...I'm not an adult." Hold up though. The Court has decided to allow the District Attorney to put you on trial as an adult, which means you get punished like an adult, if you're convicted of this homicide. Somebody told you the other day you might get life, bu you told him he was crazy and you're not scared. You should be scared! After a quick trial(maybe 3 or 4 days) and cats you thought were "real" and "thorough" testify against you; you are found guilty of first-degree murder. First -degree murder in Pennsylvania means you're not gonna see the streets again; and its not even gonna hit you yet. This happens so fast that it doesn't seem real. Heart-broken and confused, you are cuffed-up and escorted out of the courtroom. You are sixteen, maybe seventeen now, no friends, no freedom, and on your way to a maximum security prison for the rest of your life. What is a juvenile lifer? You!

"How to Play the Game" information booklet

This informative booklet is intened to serve as an educational tool for "at risk" youth. Inside is a section titled"Discussion Points" This section can be used as a guide to engage in a more in-depth dialogue with children. We're hoping that with our collective knowledge, insight, and experiences, today's youth can be empowered to make positive lifestyle choices and thereby avoid the destructive behavior that inevitably leads to a lifetime of addiction, incarceration, and death.