Dear Kid CAT

Dear Kid CAT

Hello, my name is William Jones. I’m a 49-year-old lifer doing seven to life plus three years for attempted murder in 1988. I’m writing in regards to my quest to help our youth at risk and give my voice to that cause.

I’m currently at Centinela State Prison and a facilitator for a program called Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth. We write letters to youth organizations in an attempt to prevent them [the youth] from joining gangs, doing drugs, etc. I’m writing because I’d like to do more in an attempt to help our kids at risk!

My goal is to start my own nonprofit organization to help our youth at risk obtain college scholarships and aid while attending school. In the meantime I [want] to help so please sign me up! I’m on board.

Kid CAT Response:

Mr. Jones, thank you and the men at Centinela State Prison for the work being done through Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth. Certainly there is a way to help.

One way you and any other of the incarcerated men and women can help is by writing and sharing your experiences. We all have a unique understanding of where destructive behaviors and actions lead. We have wisdom regarding what it takes to turn our lives around despite serving sentences as long as life in prison. We also have the motivation to make amends. Never underestimate the power of your story; it has the capacity to be the difference in someone’s life.

Kid CAT has several projects; one is a monthly writing workshop. “The Beat Within” facilitates writing workshops in juvenile halls throughout California and in other states. They publish youth artwork, poetry and stories as well as accept submissions for their “Beat Without” column from those in prison and the public. They can benefit from hearing your stories.

When space permits, Kid CAT Speaks will publish writing prompts from each month’s workshops. We include a selection from the month of April.

Kid CAT appreciates your letter and efforts.

Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth and any of our readers may respond to the prompt. Your responses should be mailed to:

The Beat Within
P.O. Box 34310
San Francisco, CA 94134

Breakdown of the Month/What is the real? The media glamorizes prison as an adventure and portrays it as a place you can go to and get out of, no matter what you do on the inside. In music and movies, individuals go to prison for serious crimes. While inside, they commit more violence and crimes. They get away with it or get caught, do some time in the hole, and then get out of prison. This is depicted as real life. Many youths believe the prison experience comes at no cost to them or to society. How long have you been down? What age were you when you came to prison? When you came into prison did you see prison in the same way? Why did you believe the hype? What are the “true” struggles and realities of serving time in prison? What is it like to spend years and perhaps much of your life in prison? Is it like in music and movies? What is the reality? Break it down to us.

-Writing prompt by Miguel Quezada


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