Growing up in an economically deprived environment can teach you many things.
One thing that becomes apparent is the roadblocks set up by the system to ensure your failure.
Many of the men in our community fall victim to the system long before they grasp all the moving parts.
After speaking with father & former Hustler Issac Anderson it was obvious that he learned what he needed to before it was too late.
During our interview, we talked about how he felt about being incarcerated. His thoughts on the criminal justice system & dealing with having a child behind bars & much more……
Thinking about growing as a young man in our community. What enticed you to get involved with the street life?
Well, I wouldn’t say that I was enticed. What I will say is, sometimes it’s your surroundings. It’s what I was seeing every day. Money was limited in my household and I had an older brother who got involved in the street life early.
He was coming back with real money though, seeing that let me know it was possible. He was the only role model around that I could physically see. I didn’t have a father or mother in the home that made a great deal of money to show me if you work hard at a job you can have a good life.
I actually saw the opposite. I saw everybody that was trying to have little jobs or the people that were on welfare……the result was the same, they struggled. On the flip side of that, all the people that I saw in the streets lived good, they made moves, they had what appeared to be real financial stability. Even though over time you learn that’s not the type of stability you want, momentarily it looked appealing.
That’s a good point. All of us are products of our environment. Okay, so thinking back to that first encounter with the police that resulted in you going to jail. How did it feel knowing that basically, you were going to be living somewhere outside of your home??
I felt captive. I felt basically kidnapped. It’s one thing to know about or hear about jail but it’s another thing when you actually get incarcerated yourself. You find out exactly what it means to be in complete isolation, away from everybody else.
Your stripped away from everything that you know for a period of time or until the judge decides that you can go home. I also learned that when the judge slams that gavel whatever time he gives you, that’s what you got.
In the state where I’m from California, they give out life sentences like free cheese. California is also one of the only states that will give you a million dollar bail. They put the bail so high, there’s no way you’re getting out. I mean, who has enough property in our community to do that? Who actually has enough loose cash to make a million-dollar bail?
In your opinion, Once someone is locked up and have to spend a considerable amount of time in jail. What mental adjustments must be made in order to deal with your new circumstances.?
There are definitely some adjustments that have to be made. When someone goes to jail, the people who do their time smoothly are normally people who know how to create a program.
Whether it’s reading books, exercising, working a job, you create a program for yourself, you make yourself a schedule. However, once you get back into society, you have to readjust and that involves creating a new program based on what you’re doing in society.
Keep in mind, on the streets you have those extra distractions. In jail, you don’t have those same distractions as you have on the streets. That’s why when you talk to someone on the phone who is in jail, there thinking clear, they don’t have distractions.
They tell you what they’re going to do when they get out, how they’re going to be a new person. It’s difficult to keep that same train of thought once you’re free, especially with all the temptations that are out here in society.
Ok, I understand what you’re saying. Creating a routine helps the time go by, but in order to operate in society successfully, you need a routine as well. What’s your take on the criminal justice system as a whole?
In some instances, jail may be needed. Ultimately, I don’t think jail is necessary for everybody’s crime. Incarcerating a person doesn’t always fix their issues. Jail doesn’t make a person fly straight like you would think.
The time needs to match the crime. Some people need rehab, some people just need the proper resources to help them make a better decision. I mean, if it’s a violent crime I understand why you may need to be locked away.
At that point, you’re a threat to the rest of society, but there have to be other ways besides incarceration. Putting someone on probation doesn’t help either, it’s nothing more than a leash. It’s just a long rope that they let you hang yourself with.
Once you’re on probation, they take away your rights. When they pull you over, nothing is off limits they can just run through your car, run through your pockets. Being on probation gives them the right to do whenever they want to you. Every part of your house that you walk into, they can search.
Wow, it’s almost like once you’ve committed a crime you’re no longer a person. Ok, so let’s talk about your immediate family for a moment. How did you feel knowing one of your children has to spend time in jail?
It makes you feel terrible. Especially if you’ve talked to your kids about your experiences with the system and how to avoid being incarcerated. Sometimes a conversation isn’t enough. Sometimes they still want to learn on their own.
One of my sons use to get into all type of little trouble when he was younger. As a form of punishment, I would put him in one of the small bathroom’s in our house and tell him “If you keep messing up, you’re going to end up living in a room this size.”
He would laugh it off and say things like “Dad your crazy” not taking it seriously. Now, in present-day he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, someone commits a crime, he’s standing there next to the person that commits the crime. Long story short, my son gets 10 years in the penitentiary. So, that bathroom I was talking to him about is really his home now…… literally.
It’s unfortunate he had to learn the hard way. If you could talk to a young man from our community that thinks the street life is the way to go. What advice would you give him?
I would tell him to start flying straight now. When you think about the streets, there’s no loyalty.
At some point, everybody in the streets has to figure out a way to fly straight. So why not just fly straight from the beginning? The street life is not going to last. It’s not about if you’re going to jail or if you’re going to get killed, it’s merely a matter of when.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around that. Your separation from the streets will happen whether you want it to or not, that’s just a fact.
Ok, Issac, Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and expertise with our audience!! It is our goal to create honest dialogue in hopes of making a difference!!! You have definitely helped with that today!!