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I wonder why people be so quick to judge me based on my convictions.
Label me a threat to the community even though I have no violent offenses.
See, I come from a broken home.
My dad died before I was born, left my mama on her own.

She did the best she could to raise me, but eventually got addicted to crack cocaine
Then my aunty took us in, may god bless her remains.
I never knew pain until the day my Aunt Lura died.
Hurt me to the core, I couldn’t even cry.

Sometimes I ask God why I had to live such a hard life.
Abused and raped in foster homes, took my innocence for life.
Tried to tell my caseworkers, but they acted like I was lying.
Said I look healthy, but deep inside I’m dying.

So I constantly ran away, doing my best to survive on the streets.
My childhood stolen, a man at a young age is what I’m forced to be.
Not the type of man who goes to work to pull a nine to five.
I’m talking about a man who plays the block, hustling to survive.

Now years have passed and I still find myself behind a fence.
No longer will I sell my soul to the streets for a couple of cents.
I hope I get another chance to further my education and advance.
No more life of crime, today I take my stance.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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T'Andre Johnson

T'Andre Johnson is a poet who is incarcerated in California.