In his own words:
Escape, a college essay
My tattoos mean a lot of different things: honor, respect, pride, acceptance, and fame. When I was growing up they meant all of the above, but mostly they symbolized escape for me.
I hated my home life. My mother and sister were the only ones who truly loved me. When I was about twelve, my youngest sister left the house for good, and my mom was never the same again. Because my father didn’t know how to raise us, my five siblings left home at early ages. I couldn’t do that though. I couldn’t leave my mom all alone.
Out of anger, resentment, and hatred, I defied every rule my father ever made. My older brother was the first one to get jumped into a gang at an early age. It wasn’t long before he got locked up. He was the reason my father hated nothing more than gangs. He knew it was only a matter of time before I followed in my brother’s footsteps.
It was never my intention to join the gang though, but hanging around one I thought I had found the acceptance and the love that was absent from my house. I had found my escape. Things got way worse after this: I became a very cold and angry person. Worst of all I choose to put my feelings aside. When I was around gang-bangers I couldn’t show any signs of weakness. About a year after I joined the gang came the tattoos. They were big, black, and they covered all of my forearms and back. I was marked for life.
Afterwards my whole life (what I had back then) went to Hell. Everywhere I went, people looked at me like I was subhuman. That was alright with me, I hated them all too. I had a real bad problem trusting people after this because it seemed like they only knew how to judge. A judge is right in front of where I landed.
The prison life always follows the gang life. As I look out of my cell window I can only see as far as the razor wire. I’ve been gone a long time, and that’s probably for the best. If I had never come to prison I would have ended up dead.
During my time in prison I have changed a lot because I have had a great deal of time to work on myself. Looking at my tattoos today I see pain, suffering, my sister’s tears, hatred, prison bars, and chains that hold me down in a deep, dark pit. Most of all, I see the hurt and loneliness on my mother’s face. But I am no longer that neglected kid or that heartless gang member. I have come to realize it is time for a new escape.
I decided to forgive everyone for anything they did or did not do for me, and I decided that the only person that was really to blame was myself. I learned that for the most part, you get in life what you put into it. Removing my tattoos will be ten times more painful than putting them on, but the relief of getting away from that type of lifestyle and the look on my mother’s face will be the best feeling in the world. With courage in my heart, I am escaping the things that have held me back, and I am beginning to design a life worth living.