10 years ago I saw the movie True Crime and it triggered something very strong within. It showed the injustice of the system, the pain, the suffering and it moved me… I decided to find a prison penpal and write to him. What really hit me back then was that Paul was my age. The only differences between us were our circumstances & life choices. It sent chills down my spine to think he was my age and behind bars for the rest of his life. How could he want to wake up every morning knowing this reality is the last he will ever witness…? The letter below is the first letter he sent to me.
** the prisoner’s real name has been changed for privacy reasons. The entire letter are his words, grammar, punctuation and spelling have not been modified.
August 24, 2006
How are you? Hopefully this letter find you doing well! My name is Paul I received your letter. Thank you! For taking the time out to write me it really made my day and brought a smile to my face ! You seem like your real cool and have a good sense of humour! =) Like me!
Well to answer some of your questions and let you know some more things about me. As you know I’m 20 years old and been in prison since I was 16, before that I spent 2 years in juvenile lock up. So I really only spent 14 years of living on the streets. I’m 6 foot 3 and 200 pounds. I’m in good shape and exercise 5 days a week. I grew up in a ruff ghetto in south central Los angeles. Me and my 17 year old little sisters raised by my lovely mother. My father been in prison all my life. So being that I was raised in a low class poverty neighborhood at a young age. I had to step up and take care of my mom and little sister. My other family members were living the same way. So I got caught up in the hustler and gangsta life! I came to prison for 3 gang shootings. I’m in the process of appealing my case!
Where I come from you don’t have to be guilty, if you are young black and live in a ghetto that’s enough to be guilty in the minds of the jury! It’s a cold world, but I continue to stay strong and better myself! Most of my real friends are dead or in prison. The life style I used to live leads us to prison or death. No ones comes to visit except for my mom and sister every few months.
I would describe my personality cool, calm and collected at the same time I’m very open minded, free spirited, honest, and sincere in what I say. I’m always down to try new things! Being that I’ve been through so much at a young age I still remain strong and try to make the best out of every bad situation. I use to have a girlfriend but I dumped her because she use to lie for no reason. You asked what kind of girls I like. I like straight forward, honest, trustworthy women. Also I like women who are open minded, sexy and who have a good sense of humor. Looks are okay, but it’s what’s behind the looks that matters to me.
I don’t discriminate at all! A woman is a woman to me! =) What type of guys do you like? Brad Pitt, David Hasselhoff or Seal? =) I’m joking. I like to listen to rap and r&b. My favorite artist is 2pac. My birthday is February 8, 1986. I’ve never met anyone from France so this is new to me and believe it or not I use to be shy around girls! =) A long long time ago! =)
You asked if prison was like the movies! not at all! You know the media put a twist on it. Prison is hard if you don’t have any outside support or someone keeping your mind out of here! I have my own cell by myself. prison is a dark, and violent place and I have to have a strong mind to survive. That’s why I looked for someone like you to keep my thoughts out of here. Hopefully we both can get something good out of this correspondance. I understand when you said you wish the world was free of money, past and mistakes. We all can learn from each other’s mistakes, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. There are 2 types of people that are not welcome in prison over here. They are the rapists and child molesters! Them cowards get done real bad in prison out here. Anyways Ms Lils, what do you do for a living? Do you live with your good friend Indi? Do you like to dance? Do you have a boy toy? (smile) I mean boyfriend? Can you send me some pictures? Do you like to party? What type of books do you like? or movies? I like all types of books, thrillers, romance, or philosophy.
You asked if I need anything and what I can get like CD’s food or pictures! You can send pictures, 10 per envelope and you can send us stamps no more than 40 in 1 envelope and 50 pieces of paper. Now as far as the CDs or food you can’t send them personally. You would have to send me a money order and I buy it from the prison store. You can send 20 stamped envelopes like the one this letter came in. For us to keep writing. Now I’m not asking you to send me this stuff unless you want to do it out of the kindness of your heart! I’m just answering your questions but stuff like that does make time go by easy and faster. Plus if we broke and don’t have money to buy food we lose weight and they feed us like 5 year olds. But I’ve been strong enough to handle it if I don’t have it. Lils anything you decide to do for me will be highly appreciated and I will be very grateful.
Anyway, Im going to let you go and get back to your life. I truly hope to hear from you soon and hope we can help each other grow as time goes on. Until then stay safe and focus.
PS: Sorry it took so long for me to respond. They don’t give us our mail until a week after it gets here.