In recent years our inner cities have become plagued by the deaths of teenagers through the use of guns and knives. My intention is to give youngsters and parents an insight into the dark side of criminal activities surrounding guns, gangs and knives and the consequences of those activities. In the North West of England and the Midlands (where I grew up), as well as across the country, this criminal culture has made a major impact on young lives, mainly due to the lack of understanding of this generationís upbringing. Due to rundown estates, poor accommodation, a lack of education and disharmony caused by these conditions, a great sense of deprivation has been caused amongst young people.
I am a prisoner currently serving 18 years, and along with another prisoner currently serving a life sentence, we have decided to make this booklet. On a daily basis we witness youths coming into prison between the ages of 18 to 21, who will not be released until they are old age pensioners. This is consistent across different races and backgrounds and is made up of young men who have not had the chance to start a family of their own, will never experience marriage or going on holidays, or any other necessities of a fulfilling life due to the sentences recommended and imposed by the courts. Life for these youngsters will be non-existent.
When people come to prison they get stuck between life and death, a form of limbo that exists only through the experience of being in prison and being away from home and the comfort of loved ones. The realisation of where you are hits home when that freedom of movement that you used to enjoy is taken away from you, and those places you used to hang out are no longer a short walk or drive away.
Prison becomes a community by itself; it is like a big estate with all the love and respect removed. It is an environment built on aggression, which stems from the stress caused by the constant loneliness of your thoughts as you think back to the things you used to have in life, and most importantly your loved ones and family members that you have left behind. Your individuality is stripped away from you and replaced with a number, making you nothing more than a statistic. At this point, your life is worth nothing. Dying in prison is simple, and can occur at any given time.
Not only do you go into prison, but your victimís family will also suffer because of your actions. Your family and loved ones are also affected by that split decision you made to commit yourself to the offence you committed, and were convicted for. Most often the victims are someone you know or have some kind of relationship with at some point, being it social or otherwise. Your actions will affect your conscience at some point or other, as well as continuing to affect a lot of peopleís lives as long as they live.
Caught Up By Influence
Friendship and admiration of peers or elders who we see as role models can easily influence our decisions, which ultimately become our destiny. It will be you who will face the consequences of your actions, and allowing someone to influence your decisions allows them an element of control over your destiny.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Growing up in inner cities can prove to be tempting. Crime is often glamorised and our role models become those who are successful through the profits of criminal activity. We are often drawn into situations through association and sometimes circumstances, but we must remember that we have our own minds and it is up to us to make our own decisions, and therefore prevent committing ourselves and being convicted in the first place.
Guns and knives are not a part of dressing as it may sometimes feel. Therefore, leaving them where they are is another way of prevention. These weapons are merely objects, so as long as it is not taken into a personís hands and used against another human being, they will remain to be so.
Idle Hands Find Work
A lack of meaningful activities in our inner cities often leaves us feeling bored. With nothing substantial to occupy our minds, a breakdown of confidence leads to negative thoughts that push you towards the apparently Ďeasy way outí. However, as you will find out sooner or later, there is no Ďeasy way outí. Choosing gangs, knives or guns is the fastest way to self-destruction, as well as the destruction of those around you, especially those closest to you. Therefore, be creative by using your positive imagination to do something meaningful with your spare time; it doesnít always have to be for financial gain. Anything that will prevent you from coming to prison in order to serve a long, or even life sentence, is the best way forward. One mistake shouldnít take a whole lifetime to correct.
Make or Break
Now you must decide to make a positive man or woman of yourself, or if you are going to be affiliated with breaking up your families and sooner or later your own heart. Only a fool breaks their own heart. I hear big men cry, have seen the toughest go soft and even the brave, shaken. That is prison, the one you donít see on TV.
It is critical in this day and age to be morally competent in your duty to your community and your fellow human beings. You are duty bound to correctly live a lifestyle that leads to your own fulfilment, and to the benefit of your community and family.
It is you who make the right decisions, no one else.
Donít let influence play a part in destroying your life and future.
Love and respect yourself.
Make some goals and stick to them. Plan your work and work your plan.
Educate yourself and take part in activities.
Keep a clear vision of your surroundings and your aims in life.
One mistake can equal a lifetime of misery!!