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?


Anonymous said...

Here is a comment from Holland. We admire your spirit. Life is though.

If you like, do as if you are here with us some time of the day. Just a house in just a town in just a country.

Sentences for life for obvious plain stupid juvenile things is 17th century like. We live in 2007. Whatever happened.

Keep up your works and inspire. There are no boundaries on that.

firsty said...

this is a moving account. something that deserves a wide readership.

i am a writer and activist living in pennsylvania (western lancaster county). i am the founder of the Steal This Book Now! effort, which is an update of Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book, a handbook for surviving on the outskirts of society.

We have taken our lead from the movements of the 60s, and our group believes in the full efforts of freedom for all groups. I have been using my presence to publicize injustices such as those involving Genarlow Wilson, Josh Wolf, the Jena 6, 9/11 first responders, etc., and I am very interested in continuing to read this blog and hopefully connect with some of these events at some point, considering my proximity.

Please contact me or our group at if you'd like to contribute information to our book (which already includes information about surviving in prison). While individual contributions are wonderful, we are open to establishing more formal connections as well, which we've done in a few cases.

This effort that you are engaged in is simply wonderful and potentially groundbreaking. There is a similar blog that you might be interested in...


marc said...

wow I am impressed!
very original initiative. I am working with youth in similar conditions in Panamá and your idea is really great.
I will pass now and then in case I have the opportunity of being helpful.
i you prefer to have some comments in spanish, just let us know!

I will spread the adress as much as I can. Cheers for today!

Anonymous said...

Hola James,
En España acaba de salir de la cárcel un violador en serie, después de cumplir una pena de 17 años, creo. En casos así estoy de acuerdo con la perpetua. Además no está reinsertado, según todos los médicos volverá a atacar a mujeres.
Pero un chico de 17 años, que ha crecido en un ambiente como en el que creciste tú, y en en un país como el tuyo en el que quieren "limpiar" las calles para la tranquilidad de los republicanos... no veo justo que estés ahí toda tu vida. Aquí hubieras estado como mucho 4 años, como menor que eras cuando cometiste el delito. Espero que todo cambie. Creo que eres un preso político, al fin y al cabo.

PD: Perdón por no escribir en inglés pero lo hablo muy mal.
Seguro que tienes compañeros latinos, vaya si los tendrás!

MJ Aguilera