A Dog Locked in a Cage


Hey there. I want you to know this experience I am having while I am in here. This place is like hell with ice water. You can learn many new things from being where you are now.

The whole life thing changes from the second you get arrested and are in handcuffs to the point when you’re in your room thinking about everything you’ve done.

You go through the whole getting checked-in process (fingerprints to intake). Everything you get arrested with has now been taken away from you. Even your clothes you came in. They make you take a shower and fully dress in someone else’s clothes (something someone else has already worn, it’s only been washed). Once you are dressed in someone else’s worn panties/drawers to bra, socks, shirt and pants, you get that one last call to your loved ones. Let’s not forget you have to go see the doctor to be checked out to make sure you’re healthy.

Once everything is taken care of, you are led to your unit. The girls have a separate unit from the boys, so you’ll never see them unless you get lucky. Your room is four-squared, with a toilet in your room with all the things you need in one room. When I’m in my room, I feel like a dog locked in a cage. Trapped with your mind racing with no way to escape.

The food made me cry my eyes out when it was placed in front of me. I have to survive off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to get me by. Other than that, I would rather starve myself.

But that doesn’t stop me . I still manage to get up and go to school. Yes, they make us go to school, graduated or not.

But one thing I can say is being in here makes me realize what I have on the outside and to cherish what I have at home. To better myself for me to be successful in life, not for anyone else. This experience has been horrible but a lesson well-learned.

Thank you for letting me share my half of the story of the worst time of my life. Let’s not forget I have been away from my phone for over five days. I haven’t been away from my phone for over 20 minutes, but I manage to last.

Adajah is 17. She was just released from the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center on probation. Her charges could not be determined.

This column appeared in The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth. David Inocencio founded The Beat Within in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at dinocencio@thebeatwithin.org.

More articles on JJIE from The Beat Within:

Obey the Signs or End Up Like Me

The Start of My Prison Term

The Hardest Thing I Ever Had to Tell My Parents