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You might wonder why I’m in prison. Perhaps you think I’m stupid or I made stupid decisions. My father always thinks I am on drugs. But the reason why I am in prison is because of things that were out of my control.

I knew I wanted to move to the United States from a very young age. I dreamt of becoming a rapper. When people tell you that you can’t do something, or you will never amount to anything, it makes you angry. If people disrespect you or undermine your worth, sometimes you’ve just gotta get away, so that’s what I did.

I came to America for a better life. I always knew there was a better way, work faster, not harder, but it’s all a process, and you have to gain the respect of people when it comes to making big decisions.

The big decisions are the hardest to make. Sometimes, the decisions you make can be life changing for better or worse. You could easily become just another person in the “struggle,” which I knew I did not want to become. I saw my mother struggle for years as a single parent, and later on my immediate family struggled, too. More about that later, for now I want to give you a snapshot of what California prisons are like during a pandemic.

We are locked down most of the time, being “cell-fed” most days. Everything pretty much stays the same. We get let out at the same times, and we get afternoon yard, morning yard, night yard, or no yard at all, which means we are pretty much in our cells — our “houses” as I call them — all the time. My house is pretty comfortable, I like to make it nice inside and I keep it immaculately clean. I have a print on my cabinets and wax my floor so it looks like a floor from the army. I try to wash my shoes on our off days from yard. I own some cool Reeboks, which have my British flag on them.

It gets extremely dirty out in the yards here in California. I have to wash my shoes with a bucket, a toothbrush and laundry soap to keep my laces and my shoes white. My white t-shirts don’t last long if I am out on the yard. When the tower says get down to your whites, it’s not very nice going outside in yellows, if you know what I mean. But it’s preferable to county jail. County was hard.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Krysis is a writer incarcerated in California. He is originally from Australia and is working on a book about his life story. He has asked for his name to be withheld.