Age Seventeen – First Felony
(Note, Matt Brooks is incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He is writing a book. The words in this article are a draft of his book, “Tears and Psalms of an Outlaw.”)
Smithville Swim Club was a place of fun filled days, splashing in the pool or lounging in the sun. By night, you could most assuredly find a way to pick up your first felony, which I did. If there was trouble to be found, wait around a while and I would be in it. What a place to start my life of crime!
A little insight into the American justice system starts here as well. A group of kids goes out for a night of fun, looking for something to get into. It’s a small town, so there’s not much to do. Being such a small venue of choices one kid chimes in, “Let’s go to the pool and we’ll do a little swimming while we drink under the light of the moon.”
It seems harmless enough. Right? that’s where the story gets tricky. The swim club has a concession stand attached to it that calls out to the children. This wily group of teens saw a chance to get a bunch of candy, so they broke down the door. Like a band of robbers in a brazen attempt to overthrow, they made off with the loot; candy bars and all! Now, the authorities in these parts caught up to a few of the cagey crooks, only to find some empty candy wrappers. This was enough to scare, then turn them in on their other unsuspecting brothers. They vowed to a life of crime with – that means they dropped a dime – for all you laymen, then the rest of the story goes.
The troopers came storming to my house while my granny and her sister from Texas were sipping coffee, talking about old times. The rap on our door was swift, then the two sweet little old ladies answered in a panic. The officers said, “Mam, we’re here for Matthew.”
They replied and said, “Why would you be here for that baby?” They stood their ground.
They said, “He has to come with us. He’s wanted for a crime, so it’s time to take him to jail.”
“The hell you say,” they replied, “you’re not taking that baby anywhere.”
Needless to say, they took me. However, I never made it past booking before they came and bonded me out.
Shortly after that, it was back to rehab in Canton, Texas. The court process was a mess, but it went by quickly. I was sentenced to long-term treatment, compliments of my mother’s insurance. This was to keep me from going to some run down state facility. The game plan was to be a thirty day stay at Cedar Ridge detox center, then to Sundown Ranch. I even got to pack my Ritalin. I knew this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
By the time of my arrival, I was incorrigible. I went there, saw what they had to offer, then got kicked out. Hey, at least I tried! I really liked the place, however they just had too many drugs and too many freedoms.
The place was similar to a Dodge City town, sitting in the middle of Texas. The amenities there boasted pool tables, weights, lakes where we could go boating and fishing, not to mention horse stables and nature trails. They had dirt bike tracks out back. I wouldn’t mind going back for a stay, if there was a way. You get the picture? It was more like a cool summer retreat with a bunch of cool new druggie kids to meet.
This was punishment? According to the vice president of El Salvador’s son it was. They tricked him by telling him he was on his way to an all expense paid vacation in Miami. Just as soon as he arrived on the plane, the orderlies were waiting to whisk im away.
My personal favorite was Slade, the lead guitarist of a popular thrash band based in Dallas. Luigi was a prize fighting pugilist, who was there during the pinnacle of his career, after being derailed by his cocaine addiction. This was just to name a few of this all-star cast, that mixed with the freedom and drugs. Eventually, it got the best of me.
Was there a miscarriage of justice in what happened to me? Here I was, a kid doing what kids do in small town middle America, when I was marked with a felony. Nobody was hurt, nor did anyone lose their life. In fact, I believe the grand total of our take was less than fifty dollars.
Today’s Incarceration Reality
When I look at seventeen year-olds today they are merely babies to me. In contrast to my life, I see a system in place, misplacing our youth onto a misguided path. Ultimately it leads to their impasse, by way of modern day slavery. If a person’s economical productivity is not satisfactory to the powers that be, they are deemed unfit products of our environment. The ones doing the deeming deeds are seemingly far worse then the ones being marked with this stigma. It remains an enigma as to how and why the system is so unbalanced. Pick and choose who will win or who will lose, while they roll the dice and spin the wheel to get a deal. It’s all a game as long as the blame never falls on its players. Tax payers pay taxes annually for a variety of what appears to be just illusions.
Let’s take the case of national security. The state sentences the felon to prison for punishment in the process of protecting society from this animal for crimes ranging from stealing to murder and everything in between. As the state is stealing your money, they’ll start casting their spell to steal the felon’s money as well. Consider this example from the Missouri Department of Corrections.
A young seventeen year-old child goes to prison for his first time. I say first, because after this state is finished with them, there will be a second, a third and fourth term to follow. Next, take a look at crimes victim compensation. I can’t begin to tell where this money goes. So, the prisoner starts off in debt, in a dark world all alone, and broken. Then comes the fees, such as the inmate revolving fund that equals thirty dollars a month, taxing canteen items, selling us such items as toilet paper and bread. How can they expect any man or woman to survive off the five dollars a month they allot?
Back to the seventeen year-old as he starts to find his way around the prison yard. He sees there are other ways to eat and get hygiene items, if the state doesn’t want to provide them. Since his debt is racking up – the state takes theirs off the top, before any money sent in from his family gets deposited into his account – he is left with a mere pittance of five dollars.
Here is how the spinning wheel of his life looks. He buys a razor and uses it to shave his head, so now soap will suffice. He’s ready for the yard with head gleaming in pursuit of a new identity. Enter the gangs, the drugs and extortion. Forget the zombie programs that aren’t even there in the first place. Rehabilitation! Ha! All the new alum at his disposal after their proposals of loyalty will serve just fine. They say, “I got you bro, take this, bring me that, just make sure I get mine back with a profit! Or else, (comes from under his breath). Oh, by the way here’s a knife so you can earn your bones. We never ride alone.”
Now, he can get two tubes of toothpaste this month. The fix is in, then comes the rules. Oh, they know, I’m speaking of the corrections officers put in place, to stay in your face, while poking and prodding in the process of dehumanizing you. They deprive you of human vitality, personality, or spirit – an animal, if you will. They will. Rules like “reckless eyballing,” talking back, creating a disturbance, covering a vast array of any God-given emotion. This foray is set in place to teach his natural ability to be rational.
Now that your son, her son, his son has all the tools to fail in society the state is ready to unleash their latest creation fueling the revolving door fund and their industry of chattel, formed for their modern day slavery. This is the grizzly truth of what your tax dollars are being used for to wage war against yourself by way of corrections.