First Person: Young And Locked Up
November 28, 2016 1:48 p.m.
D'Andre Brooks, case manager, Metro Community Ministries
Related Story: First Person: Young And Locked Up
This month California voters approved a major criminal justice reform initiative Proposition 57 among other things would institute a shift in how the state treats juvenile offenders. Judges instead of prosecutors will decide whether teens should be tried as adults. Advocates hope that will leave to fewer miners behind bars. Today is far -- part of our First Person series we hear from DeAndre books he was tried as an adult. It was a fight near a trolley stop that landed him in prison for 10 years. He spoke with Marissa Cabrera about what it was like to be young and lock..
I was it juvenile Hall in I know it well. I spent my childhood here in and out. I wish I could get that back. The last time that I was here as a juvenile, I came in September 5 September 5, 2003. I think I left here a couple days after Christmas and I was shipped to Hatch be -- to have to be state prison. Where juveniles were tied as adults. I was heavily into gangs. That's where I found the connection and the relationship. I did not care about school or anything else. Going in at 17 years old you don't know what it's like, you all these different stories, convicted murderers, rapists, people have committed the most heinous crimes. Here I am 17 years old and I felt like I was being thrown into a pack of wolves. I remember the first night it was the first night I had been in snow. I am transferred there from where we are now. They dropped me off at the prison and it was so cold. I remember eyes on the ground. I looked out the window and it was just barbed wire in snow. I started to cry, thinking that this is the real deal. I did not know what was in store for me. I was getting into trouble, riots and fights. I got sent to the whole. I got out and was sent to another maximum-security prison in Corcoran. There were stabbings on a regular basis. I left a level III facility, there was more fighting than anything. When I got to the maximum-security prison, everything was a stabbing and shots were always fired. I was like, this is no way to live. I started thinking about how I had a date that I was going to get out. There were people here that were never going home and they just didn't care. It was a different environment. I knew if I got a third strike this is what they have to offer me. I grasped that concept. I said I was going to be 27 years old and I will be so far behind in life when I get home. I thought about how I could prepare myself for when I came home to win and not be another statistic. I decided to take correspondence courses and do my college thing. I acquired 36 transferable credits. It took 10 years. I did it. In the midst of riots and lockdowns, I did it. Had I been tried as a juvenile, I would've had an opportunity to have my record sealed and not be walking around with two strikes. That's like a crash, the worst position to be in. Especially mentally. A lot of people are not able to continue to move forward as I have and show resiliency until the door opens. You feel like you are running into brick walls when it's time to get a job. You go on interviews and you feel like you did great and they expressed in dose -- interest. They tell you you are a felon and anything you do you will be out. You try to explain that you are 16 and just a kid. It still haunts you. Everybody doesn't come back from that. Some people are just lost forever.
That was D'Andre Brooks of San Diego sharing his experience behind bars. Today he works with at risk youth. Still ahead of San Diego exhibit explores the myths and realities of cannibalism. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition