This is the final installment of our occasional series of essays, poems and artwork by young people incarcerated in Illinois where youth write about a future outside of prison walls. “Looking In, Looking Out: Reflections of Youth Changing Their Lives” was compiled by the John Howard Association of Illinois.
Break the mold – To break the cycle
Incarceration is the destination of lost souls condemnation –
every judgment echoes down justice's halls.
Sins boldly written, screamin' guilty on the walls.
Handcuffed wrists shadow over shackled feet –
Serve as preparation to be buried in society's underbelly –
Specifically designed for separation.
Steel bars surround concrete for massive populations –
Confined sinners, state prisoners, bars meet locked doors,
No longer society's problem.
Legal representation, lackin' rehabilitation, punishment
instead of personal redemption.
Physically restrained to momentarily maintain the beast inside
the prisoner's mind, waitin' to release the rage inside.
Outsiders never wore prisoner's shoes, returnin' to the 'hood –
without a clue.
Confinement viewed through a f***** up rearview –
Future prospects left unclear.
Prisoner's mistakes initiate state to take privileges and time –
wastin' our lives on the nation's dime.
Crime flows through revolving doors, million dollar expenses –
Watchin' NBA players score.
Entertainment paid to teach, rehabilitation with no funds to
Lost souls in society's underground hole –
Time to break the mold –
Erasing lines between the rich and the poor-
Rehabilitation for drug dealers and whores –
Repeated mistakes –
Lessons learned too late –
To lessen the recidivism –
We gotta learn to stop the hate.