My name is Todd Haxton Jr. I read the articles of your organization [Kid CAT] helping youth with programs and vocations. I was 16 years old at the commission of my crime. I have been in the system for 10 years. I’ve been working hard on rehabilitating myself, growing as a man. I need help in a lot of areas. I’m in a position where I have few resources at my disposal. The prison that I am housed in doesn’t have any programs and for certain programs you have to be CCCMS to participate. I don’t meet the criteria, so I am on the outside looking in.
I’m reaching out to your organization asking for help. Can you please send me information to help me participate in your organization or can you please send me in the right direction to help me? I really take my life seriously and I made a bad mistake. I need to do everything I can to succeed and I don’t want my victim’s life to be in vain.
My name is Miguel Quezada. Currently I have 18 years in and, like you, I came into the system at age 16 with a life sentence. Let me commend you for your sincere desire to change your life and make amends under difficult circumstances. My first 14 years in prison were spent in Level IV and III prisons with minimal programs and long lockdowns. While I tried to do something different with my life and time, it was difficult without access to rehabilitative programs.
Growing up in the adult prison system is a struggle. The way you can help yourself is by taking advantage of available resources. For several years, I read books: history, psychology, political science, novels and newspapers — anything that could feed my mind. Begin by going to your library and looking for “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.
Also, I studied myself by writing about my life: past, present and future. In our circumstances, reading and writing are a good way to grow on a personal level. Your life story is important and you can make a difference by sharing it with others who might be headed down the same path.
Kid CAT publishes writings and shares them with youth who are in the juvenile justice system. If you would like to take part in one of Kid CAT’s projects, write to The Beat Within, P.O. Box 34310, San Francisco, CA, 94134.
You’ve already started the work by wanting to do something different with your life. Kid CAT hopes the information in this response is useful for you and any other juvenile lifers and youth offenders.