The System is Broken

The System is Broken

by Wendell Bates

Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020

The thing that bothers me the most in my life is that I would love to live a normal life but I am not giving the chance to. Being labeled a felon does not give me a real chance of changing my life around and being a productive citizen.

I try to go out and gain employment but I am still being asked am I a felon and just by me being one disqualifies me from getting jobs that could help me turn my life around.

How many people do you think would continue to break laws if given a chance to gain employment with liveable wages?

Being a felon I am not given equal oppurtunity to live a productive life as a citizen. The system is broken, I am punished for breaking the law by being incarcerated.

When I am released everybody wants me to stay out of trouble and get a job. The job they offer us as felon’s you really can’t make a living off of. So when life gets hard and bill’s back up what do you expect me to do? Human’s are creature’s of habit, I go back to what I know to try to get out of my finacial slump.

I would love the oppurtunity to work a job making a livable wage were I can take care of home and live a content life. I don’t want to committ crimes, I love and want my freedom, I want to spend time with my family especially my kid’s so I can break this cycle that a lot of African American families go through.

I pray for the day that we are all given equal oppurtunities especially at gaining employment. The day that my past does not affect me from becoming a better man in my future. How do I better myself and get out of this gray box I’m living in if my employment oppurtunities are limited because of my past.

I want to live a better life and I pray someone one day will give me an oppurtunity to be a productive citizen outside of these wall’s.

You’ve Been Warned

You’ve Been Warned

by Walter D. Kissee

 Second place winner, fiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020

 Hus lay in his bunk in his cell staring up at the ceiling. ACDF in VA had been his home for 1 year. The only thing he had to look forward to was that he would be released in two month. Hus didn’t really talk too much usully stayed to himself Most of the time he lay in his bunk and look at how big his to son boys where getting.

Him and his child mother relationship began going down hill when DOIR began hangout with a pimp called Moe. Moe was well known in VA for having the badest sexist females in VA. He was also known to be violent  and don’t take no mess attitude. When Hus hurd about DOIR hanging around with the well known pimp. He ended ther relationship.

While locked up Hus heard rumors how Moe had DOIR stripping and selling her body and mouth for him along with the rest of the female hoes Hearing those stores mad Hus sick Ever since DOIR began dealing with the pimp she slowly eased Hus out of her life The vist stopped the letters, then finally she stopped answering the phone calls.

During these times Hus stayed postive and did his best not to take his anger out on anyone else In do time he would be a free man and be able to live a nomal life The first thang Hus was going to do is go get his two boys Hus cell door popped open He new it was lunch time He stepped out his cell and hopped in chow line.

“How you feeling today?” an older man named OG asked in the chow line

I cant complain as Hus looked around to cheeck his surroundings, as Hus look at the back tables he saw 20 men all brothers wearing all black sitting at the tables for the past four months Hus noticed the group of men stayed to there selves and didn’t interact with any other inmates

What’s up with those guys Hus asked being noise

Who the ACE’s OG said. Bunch of loose canons trying to start a movement that’s sure to get the killed

“A Movement?” Hus repeated, what kind

They claim they gone to be the next Black Panther Much Bigger Better OG said there going to clean up the streets

Hus smiled the more OG told him bout the ACE’s He became intersed He wanted to know more. As the grab ther food Hus asked OG How are they going to clean up the streets OG said what they need to be worrying bout is how there going to be cleaning up the blood they on a suicide mission

OG laugh

Whats so funny Hus asked.

Jail is crazy OG said Niggas in jail always got all the plans on how they going to do this and that he lauged But as soon as they get out they jump right back into the shit that got them locked up.

Its wild Hus agreed He looked back over at the ACE’s, he hurd what he said But these men look about there business

The ACE’s where in deep converstation what ever it was It was serious, OG said you see the one talking right now He’s the leader Way  The guy sitting to his right is his right hand man His name Real-Live He definitely lives up to it

Hus ask where did they get those names from

I don’t know but to me it looks like something is bout to go down ****

Way and Real-Live sat back and watched young knuckle head sell dope to a few customes Way and the ACE’s already approched the young man who called hisself TRU told him to stop selling that poison in the jail

But of course TRU continued to get his hustle on, since the Bloods gang were backing TRU he felt he was untouchable and ignord the ACE’s warning

Im bout to clap that nigga Real-Live said looking for any reason to put in work. He was in charge of security and muscle of the organization Real-Live was violent. And a vicious man who lived for action

“If we catch him make another sale its on until then we chill,” Way said He was the leader, the creator, and the brains behind the ACE’s. The hole purpose of the ACE’s was to clean up the community and get rid of all druger dealers and any body who was trying to destroy the community Way knew he had a lot of work it would be no easy task

He was up for the change Way and Real-Live were ready

You Been Warned



by Derrick Barnes

 First place winner – fiction, Heard/Arlington County Detention Center/OAR writing contest, August 2020

            As Thomas approached the intersection he avoided the turning car by mere seconds. This was not the first time that this has happened. Thomas Adrian was known to be different. Even as a child he was a loner. Although he was born with striking good looks and an abundance of charisma he was standoffish. It was always like he couldn’t quite fit in.

            At three years old he had a terrible fit of colic, that was so bad that it required both parents to miss work. The irony of the episode was that his dad, Thomas Sr., was a managing director of a shipping company who was experiencing downsizing. On that day a disgruntle employee came into the company’s wharehouse and shot eight people. For some it wouldve been considered a coincidence but for some reason the hairs on big Thomas’s neck stood up.

            Thomas Sr vowed to watch his son very closely from that point forward. At age five Thomas Jr saved his sister from falling down a flight of stairs. Six months later Thomas Jr created a scene that alerted police to stopping an attempted robbery of the neighborhood gas station.

            At age twelve Thomas Jr action prevented a fire at his Jr High School. His teacher was preoccupied and forgot a bunsen burner was on near a flamable gas. Tommy turned off the gas a moved the substance.

            As he got more in tuned with his ability Tommy realized that he was gifted with the ability of foreshadowing.

            Unlike most peoples belief he saw glimpses of the future in certain situations but these brief flashes were enough to help him become more aware of his surroundings and the people in his space. This created a super sense of awareness.

            For many years Tommy thought that he lost his ability but on his eighteenth birthday he got a flash of many things all at once. The first vision showed him his mother crying and kneeling on the ground. In his mind Tommy saw this like a movie being fast forward. The scene cut to a water view and tall palm trees. A quick cut again it was a scene of him speaking in front an assembly of some sort.

            Tommy was baffled by the things he was seeing. As the night progressed Tommy’s friend wanted to show him a good time. They arranged a party at a mutual friends house. It was there that one of his friends had tried to give Tommy cocaine. But paying attention to his earlier flashes it all made sense to him now. He was seeing alternatives of his actions or consequences. The first was his mom reacting to the news of his death. The second was the view from his honeymoon suite. The last was him accepting the Nobel prize.

            In reality we have choices daily that define our lives but could just redefine that moment choose wisely and your dreams may become your reality.






Elizabeth Barker, Friends of Guest House, September 10, 2020

The sun is out,
I lay in my bed and look out the window,
I have pictures of my family,
I miss my boys.