“Women mature faster than men” is something I heard often while growing up. When I reflect on my childhood and the men I have associated with, it was easy to see how true that statement is.
I remember women who had to raise their children on their own and I wondered where the fathers were during that time.
Did they love their children? Did these women leave their husbands as my mother did because of abuse? Perhaps they ended up like me, in prison.
It is a fact that my children wondered the same thing I did about my absent father. I am no different from the next man as I begin my 21st year in prison.
When I glance across San Quentin’s prison yard, I am not surprised to see those father figures that I searched for while growing up.
There is a large number of aging men behind these prison walls, and many of them have been incarcerated for 20, 30 or even 40 years.
When I was in Centinela State Prison from 2001 to 2007, I watched a family of four — two sons, a father, and an uncle, all with life sentences — continuing to follow a false belief system that landed them in prison.
Now, there is an influx of young men coming to prison. Many of them were not even born when I began my prison sentence.
Do I blame my generation for not being responsible enough to break this prison cycle?
I once believed the deceptions about gangs, and I am ashamed to say I followed that same belief system that was not right.
I find it hard not to blame the generation before me; however, I would rather find a solution so that we can be responsible for our own actions and somehow, some way, break this cycle of incarceration.
Although it has taken me a long time to mature my way of thinking and appreciate life, I hope the so-called men I know can now bear the burden we put on the wonderful women in our lives.
I love and respect the strong women I know; however, I must realize that I have a duty as a man and father to help guide the younger generation to a better future.
My responsibility is to help men mature a little faster than I have over the years, or else the battle against generational incarceration will be lost.