No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck...
I first began the so-called life of criminal activity I was anywhere from the age of 11 or 12 years old. I began with petty crimes such as shoplifting from the stores. I committed such crimes not because I was poor even though in reality I was far from being rich. My parents worked hard labor jobs to provide for me and my sister. My parents sacrificed a lot in order to make sure that I had a lot of the important things that I needed in life and the things that I wanted.
I recall clearly the moments when I would hear adults complain about these hardworking jobs that they worked. The long hours, the harsh working conditions in cold weather or extremely hot weather, the threat of being laid off from their jobs, the small amount of money that was paid to the workers. These statements, this reality of unfair treatment that the proletariat received ignited a flame inside of me. I didn’t want to work as an industrial wage earner and to be treated as a slave. I didn’t want to have to worry about the day I would be laid off from work and when I couldn’t provide for myself and my family. I didn’t want to go to school or attend college just to get the same results relating to a hard labor job. This was my mind frame that I developed as a child.
This was my reality. So with that I choosed the path of crime because this was the alternative to provide what was needed. I found myself committing crimes and being arrested as a child several times. I began to spend the majority of my youth in the streets committing crimes or inside of the group homes or detention centers.
In the streets the older guys would show me how to make money. These skill tracks became more valuable to me at the time due to the fact I felt school was a waste of time. Inside of the public school system the teachers never taught lessons that related to my peers or my situation, lifestyle or circumstances. In the public schools I was never taught how to cook, clean, or act home and abroad. I never was taught in the public schools successful stories of my people from my ethnic background or nationality. The public schools never focus on the important survival lessons that should have been taught. So in return I took to the streets because it was there I seen promise. A promise to live and a promise to survive.
The times that I did show up to school was to make money. In every aspect of the hustle game. Distribution, gambling, stealing and robbing. Whatever it took to make money I was game inside of the public schools. One particular day I decided to come to school intoxicated extremely. I usually attended school all of the time intoxicated but this one particular day I was over the limited then I normally would be.
The night before school my girlfriend and I had an argument in concerns of my lifestyle in the streets, getting into trouble, etc. My girlfriend at this time was my best friend. She honestly had my best interest at heart and she always would pull me to the side to let me know that I needed to strive for a change. My brother Tremone was the same way when it came to my attendance at school. My girlfriend use to pass cut passes for the counselors inside of the school due to the fact she only had a few class periods and she was in the 12th grade. I was inside one of the bathrooms inside of the school, smoking and shooting dice with a few of my associates and someone came into the bathroom to let me know my girlfriend was looking for me. I went to meet her at one my lockers by the computer lab. We hugged one another then she began screaming at me about some of the altercations that I was getting into with [rival?] neighborhoods. The teacher inside of the computer lab stuck his head out of the classroom door and told me to keep my voice down. I waved him off and continued to talk loud. The computer teacher then comes out of the classroom and grabs me by my collar and slams me up against the lockers. I then punched the teacher and threw him against the locker. At this point I was so intoxicated that I didn’t feel like running at the moment so I walked towards the exit. The security guards tackled me to the ground and locked me inside an office. The principal and the security called the police department so they could arrest me.
The police entered the office that I was in. It was two of them. One of the police officers knew me by name. This was a police officer who monitored my neighborhood frequently; making arrests, assaulting the masses, chasing the masses as a lion to its pretty. He stated my full name then he started asking me questions about things that was going on inside my neighborhood. I looked him up and down and stated “Man I’m in school I don’t got nothing to do with anything you talking about.” Every question he ask I replied with a foul comment to the point he got really upset. After the police got tired of my foul remarks they decided to search my pockets. After the search was over they told me to turn around as they placed me in handcuffs. As the police officers escorted me out of the office into the school hallway the school bell started to ring. At this point the students flooded the halls headed to their next classes. A lot the students was asking me what happened and why I was inside the handcuffs. I was cool with a staff member who was a secretary inside of the school she was someone that I could talk to each day as a ran up in down the hallways. She walked behind the officers as they escorted me to the police car. As she continued to follow me other students began to follow me as well. Some students even spoked out loud saying I should be set free because I was attacked by the teacher. The secretary knew this as well due to my girlfriend speaking to her.
I was taught that if someone attacks me to defend myself by all means. The teacher put his hands on me so I did what I knew best. The teacher felt as if my reaction was a threat which was actually shocking for a grown man to be handled by a child.
When the police reached the police car someone screamed a loud foul remark so that the police could hear it. This was like throwing gas into a fire. The police officer un-handcuffed me and made me spread my arms across the hot hood of his car. He then smashed my face into the hood with his elbow as he began to pat me down again as if he was searching me for weapons. I then screamed out Yo! What the hell are you doing? You already check me inside. The police then told me to stop resisting or I'll regret it. I then said, Man let me go! The officer then took his knee and put it in my back against my spine. They hog-tied me and threw me in the back of the police car.
The police took me to the juvenile probation and parole office where I was handcuffed to a bench. I was charged with trespassing on schools property because I was suspended previously and wasn't supposed to even be at school. I received an intoxication in public charge, a possession of alcohol, an aggravated assault. A lot of the students and other staff came down to the police department and all of my charges were dropped due to the fact that I had witnesses that came to my hearing and also make statements downtown at the police department.
I always believed that my charges were dropped only because I was the one who was attacked and the teacher should have been arrested in the first place. I was expelled from the public school system so that simply meant I could hang out more in the streets without the police chasing me for skipping school etc. - which was a real popular trend for the police at this time.
I continue[d] to run the streets day and night the more further I got into my teens. The more violent the acts of crimes I began to commit. At first the money was all for tennis shoes, video games, basically child's play. As time passed I wanted other things, bigger things such as cars, jewelry, high priced clothing, bigger guns etc.... the hunger for more grew.
Two guys from my neighborhood had a serious beef with me. One guy hated me because of a girl that we both dated. The other guy hated me because I borrowed money from him twice and never gave it back. These two guys were relatives so every time they got together they would seek revenge against me. This was cool with me and pretty much expected in the lifestyle that I lived; it came along with the territory.
One day I was at a location that was very frequent for heavy criminal activity. But I guess this could actually be said about the whole hood; that was all crime infested.
An altercation thats place at this location between an associate of mines and another man. It was an argument over money that was owed. I hear two shots and the other man that was arguing with my associate hits the ground. Everyone at the location began to run away from the scene of the crime. I went to another spot and continued my day as normal. This type of thing happened everyday. People shoot and people get shot. It wasn't a big deal to me at the time.
Ironically the man that was shot was the uncle of the two guys I had beef with. For those who don’t know what beef is, beef is a serious problem that you have with another person that usually ends up with bloodshed. Beef is when I see you, guaranteed to be an I.C.U. The two guys had got word that I was at the scene when their uncle was shot. So these two guys went to the hospital and told their uncle and the police that I was with the person who shot their uncle.
The police kicked in my door to my home and then arrested me for the shooting. My associate was arrested as well. I was charged with attempt robbery, maiming two (2) counts of malicious wounding, use of a firearm and possession of a weapon. The police took me to the juvenile detention center. I was 16 years old at this time.
When I arrived at the juvenile detention center the correctional staff made me take all of my clothing off. They gave me a pair of underwear. I had to enter a dark cell that had a cart on the floor for me to sleep on.
Two weeks passed and my lawyer that was court appointed came to the detention center to speak with me. He advised me that the State of Virginia just enforced a new law stating that if a juvenile who is over the age of 13 years commits a violent crime he or she will be tried as an adult in the circuit courtroom. My lawyer told me that I will be having a hearing the next day that will certify me as an adult and then I will be sent to the city jail with the adults. I went back to cell in disbelief. I was in total shock because my chances of freedom was fading away by the seconds. I knew that I was facing some heavy charges when I was arrested. But before my lawyer arrived with the bad news I only thought the most trouble I would have gotten into was juvenile life. That only meant that I would stay in juvenile prison until my 21st birthday. When I found out that I was going to be tried as an adult a whole new reality set in my mind.
The next day I was placed in handcuffs and shackles, then I was packed on a small white van with other young teens males and females.
I arrived to the courtroom for juveniles and I was placed in the holding cell which is called the bull pen.
Usually when juveniles have to face the judge its inside an isolated room with only the commonwealth attorney, the judge of course, the clerk, the defendant, the defendant parent or parents or legal guardian. The defendant lawyer and the deputy or office of the court. If the defendant is on probation or parole, his or her probation officer would be present as well. Being that I was being tried as an adult the judge decided to have open court so that everybody inside of the large courtroom that was waiting to go into the small courtroom behind close doors could see and witness what can happen to a juvenile when he or she commits a violent crime. The judge wanted to make an example out of me. He wanted to use my circumstance to place fear inside the other people inside of the court, especially the juveniles.
The judge asked the commonwealth attorney how much time that I was facing for the court record and the commonwealth attorney stated: If Mr. Trent is found guilty he faces a total sentence of 30 years. When I heard this number my heart rate picked up fast. And mostly everything else that was stated I couldn’t hear. It was as if I was dreaming or something.
The judge and the commonwealth attorney had called up the man who was shot. They then asked him could he identify the person who shot him today here inside the courtroom. He replied with the answer Yes I can.
They then asked the man to point at the person who shot him and state the person name for the record. He pointed at me then stated my name.
The man then went into detail of the courtstand about what suppose to had tooken place the day he was shot. He told the court that my associate and I was trying to rob the location which was his home and people sold drugs there and he was buying drugs so he stated my associate and I was trying to rob him and he got shot in the process.
As the man continue to tell his version of what happen he also went into the role that I suppose to so-called played in this crime. The man stated that I never had a gun, I never said a word, I never touched him or moved toward him. I just stood there and watch what took place and when he was shot I ran.
The judge listen to the story and when he asked the man who was shot: Let me get this straight. You was buying drugs from kids and you got shot in the process and you want me to have sympathy for you? The man didn’t reply. The commonwealth then asked the judge if he could approach the bench. The commonwealth attorney and the judge talked for a little and I remember the commonwealth attorney showing the judge some papers when he sat down and the trial continued. The judge certified me as an adult and ordered the deputies to transfer me to the adult jail that was located across the street from the court building.
The court building was connected to the jail with what is called "The Cat Walk." The cat walk is a small bridge, a gated bridge in the air used to transport prisoners from the jail to the court buildings.
I heard a lot about the city jail from the older guys that I ran the streets with. I knew that there were rules one had to live by inside of the adult jail that had severe consequences if one broke such rules. Inside the juvenile detention center there were rules as well but mostly childs play rules where if one violates someone the result was a fight. I was already aware that inside of the adult jail it was different and the amount of violence was increased due to the environment. It's crazy how in the streets it seems as if one is already preparing or going to school so that in the future that can attend jail or prison. But as always there's a lot of things the teachers in the streets leave out about the prison industrial complex.
When I arrived inside of the jail a deputy greeted me at the door. He began to size me up by looking me up and down and then he stated to the other officer: "Man, this guy can't be 18 years old. Are you sure they got him in the right place?" The other deputy replied Yes he's in the right place but he's only 16 years old. The judge certified him as an adult today. I was then weighed in at 140 or 150. I was 5'4" feet. The deputies handed me my jail supplies and then threw me in the cell block with the rest of the prisoners.
The cell block was packed with prisoners. A lot of the city jails and county jails for the state of Virginia were overcrowded at the time.
The cell block was designed to hold 6 or 7 people inside each cell block. As time passed the law enforcement placed bunk beds inside the cell blocks so that the cell block could hold 12 to 14 prisoners. When I arrived inside the cell block there wasn't a bunk or rack for me to sleep in. There was guys sleeping on the benches, the tables, under the tables, under the phones, beside the showers etc.... I found a spot on the floor and I placed my mattress there.
Next, I did what I always did when entered a new environment. I began to look, listen, and observe my surroundings. I had to look to see who ran the cell block, to see if I had any enemies that I had beef with in the streets. As continued to observe the cell block I seen a fimiliar face that I knew from my neighborhood. It was a drug addict, a crackhead that everybody in the hood knew. He came up to me and began giving me the ins and outs of the cell block. He showed me the shower. It was a concrete box. The floor was concrete and the walls were concrete. The shower had a thick plastic curtain that made the inside of the shower dark. Fruit flies and other bugs was crawling all over the shower walls and the floor. The shower had a foul odor to it as well. He told me to never fully close the shower curtain so that I could see inside the shower and outside the shower just in case someone was trying to run up on me and attack me. He told me to always place shower shoes on my feet when I got into the shower because the floor was infected and my feet my fall off.
He then showed me the toilet. He stated that the toilet is used for many things. But being that there wasn't a washer and a dryer I had to use the toilet to wash my clothing. He gave me the basics to help me maintain while living inside the cell block. I can remember that it was extremely hot inside the cell block. Sometimes the heat was unbearable the deputies would place small ice coolers filled with ice inside the cell blocks at times. one day I got a cup of ice and I place water in the cup and began to drink the ice water. I then layed on my mat and went to sleep. When I awoke my entire throat was sore. My throat was hurting so bad that I couldn't swallow or talk properly. I learned that day what "dirty ice" was. The ice coolers are dirty, the hands that go into the ice coolers are dirty so in return the ice becomes dirty.
The deputies inside the jail who monitored the prisoners' activities had a mindstate that each prisoner must stand up for themselves. The deputies didn't care about prisoner upon prisoner violence as long as no one got killed in the process on their watch. I never seen a moment where the deputies actually shown concern towards the well-being of the prisoners.
Commissary was an important day inside the jail. Every prisoner looked forward to commissary day because it gave them the chance to receive must needed hygiene items and food that was actually eatable in comparison to the garbage that was passed out in the jail on the food trays served (3) three times a day.
Inside the cell block there is no lockers to secure your commissary items. No locks, no security devices or safes. So that ment that your commissary was up for grabs. The weak prisoners who couldn't fight, who wouldn't kill, or stand up themselves. These prisoners became food for the wolves. And food for the hyenas. The wolves was those who would run up on you and take your stuff. The wolves would strong arm someone and extort them. They would make another prisoner pay to live inside the cell block. This payment would be in the forms of washing clothing, cleaning cells, paying commissary items, putting money on someone account, sexual favors, etc.... Whatever the wolves wanted the weak the sheep had to pay in order to survive. The hyenas would not stand up as the wolves. The hyenas would steal from the sheep, the weak. When the weak prisoner turned his head, went to court, went to a visit, got into the shower the hyenas would steal their property. Both groups mostly ran in packs. And they attacked in packs at times.
Now here I was a 16 year old teenager who was anywhere from 140 to 150 pounds. I was 5'4" feet. But what I did have was heart. I had no fear when it came to my survival. The jail was no place for fear. I learned this in juvenile centers. I learned this in the streets.
I made a phone call home one day to talk with my father. My father told me something that stuck with me the entire time I was incarcerated. My father stated: Hakim, you are not in the kid jail anymore. You are now in a mans world. If you have to defend yourself do what you got to do in order to protect yourself. Even if you got to pick up a mop or broom, do it! And make it count. I replied with: I will and I'll hold it down don't worry.
My co-defendant sent me a kite to let me know that someone will eventually try me to see if I will defend myself. He told me to be on point at all times. To be ready to throw my hands at the first attempt of aggression. At this point my co-defendant was fighting all of the time.
On Friday the jail was serving chicken on the trays. This one guy stated that he was going to take a tray from someone today. He said that he was hungry and that he wanted to eat someone else chicken with his. He said this at least (3) three times and one time he said it he looked at me. The deputy brought the food cart to the cell block and the trustee began passing out the trays. The guy got his tray first and began eating it. I was the third person in line. I grabbed my tray and began walking toward the guy. He had his head down focus on the tray he was eating. I tapped him on shoulder and as soon as he looked up I smashed the tray in his face, hard. I then smacked him with the tray over and over. I continued to beat this guy until the other prisoners decided he had enough.
The guy was sent to medical to treat his wounds. I gain my respect out of the fear that my attacks would be silent. In that jail I learned that respect was not a given. One had to take it in order to receive it.
My court date was set and I went to trial. The man who was shot came to go court again and I was found guilty of all charges. The state of Virginia has an accomplice rule that states if someone is with someone that commits a crime they receive the same exact charges as the person who committed the initial offense and the accomplice can receive the same amount of time as well. I wasn't guilty of attempt robbery, maiming, malicious wounding, use of a firearm and for the possession of a firearm. I was guilty of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I ran that day because I had nothing to do with it. I had no reason to stay. In the end the judge made something that was not my business; he turned it into my business. I received 8 years to serve in the Virginia State Prison for running from a shooting. I was 16 years old with a 8 year sentence to serve.
I spent the ages 16 years old to the age of 24 years old doing an 8 year prison sentence within the Virginia Department of Corrections. During my first time in prison the prison facilities lacked the proper resources needed to rehabilitate the juveniles that entered the adult prisons. When I arrived to prison at 16 years old I was looking to spend my time either intoxicated, rapping, smoking tobacco, drinking, gambling, etc...
And this was exactly what the prisons created. I didn't have to go to school or work. There wasn't any programs available. There wasn't anyone to teach me how to shave, how to wear a tied, how to write a check, apply for a job, drive a car or truck, how to cook and clean. No one was available to teach me how to conduct myself as an adult once I was released from prison. From the age of 16 years old until I was 24 years old I spent picking up pieces of knowledgeable things mostly from my own mistakes and experiences.
The prison breeds more prisoners and it breed more crime. The juvenile who is sent to adult prison doesn't receive the proper guidance that's needed to correct him or her. To help develop a mature state of mind that's important to prevent recidivism and to help guide them into change. The programs that guides boys to men and girls to women wasn't provided for me. But what was provided was teachings of criminal activity, the savage way of thinking, the evil.
I spent the age of 16 to 24 in prison and I thought that I knew everything that I needed when I was released but actually I knew nothing. I never understood the reason why I was sent to the adult prison? Was sent there to be hurt? Was I sent there to be killed? Was I sent to adult prison to because a slave working inside of the prison industries? Why was I sent to the adult prison? Would justice have been served if I was sent to the juvenile prison instead and stayed until my 21st birthday instead of my 24th birthday? Why???
I was released from prison Feb 9, 2004. I was back in prison October 15, 2004 and was sentenced to serve a 21 year sentence. When I reentered the courts I remember my lawyer stating when the judge asked him what will assure the court and the citizens of the United States that I won't commit any more crime? My lawyer stated that I would mature! Maturity would allow me to grow past such criminal behavior. To be able to mature is to be able to grow.
Today I feel that education is the proper stepping stone needed to guide one down the correct path. What better tool to mature with than education. Over the years I've matured. I decided to make a change for the better. I've spent over half of my life inside a prison cell. I wanted to gain my freedom but I wanted to keep my freedom once I reached my new release date. In order to do this I had to destroy and rebuild. I destroyed the negative energy around me, the drugs, the alcohol and the violence. And began to build the positive energy around me. I went to the schools I received a trade in horticulture and threw Virginia Tech, I attended college working on my masters degree in Theology. I learned how to use or operate a computer, I got a track in electrical, I signed up for programs inside and out of prison. I exercise, I embraced religion, I build proper communication skills, I studied the art of peace, I began setting goals for myself so that I could obtain a job or become an entrepreneur.
Most importantly I began to read. I began to read any and everything. I fell in love with educating my mind. And with that I learned to separate right from wrong. I learned how to make sure that my means justified my ends.
The prison system is very strict on what prisoners are allowed to read. And I found this very frustrating due to the fact knowledge is what keeps people from leaving prison and committing more crimes. If a prisoner can read a book that will guide him or her in the right direction and stop them from doing crime then why?? wouldn't the prison system, the Department of corrections allow the prisoners to read? Why?? I'm constantly striving for perfection within the prison system. I made a tremendous change.
Note to self: You are a remarkable person who had to enter the workshop of the mind. Within this workshop of the mind you had to build a twelve step ladder. The first step was obedience, the second step was modesty, then gratitude, charity, temperance, prudence, justice, sincerity, diligence, benevolence, science and religion. The journey that you have embarked on is the twelve step ladder to success.
Hakim Trent is now 38 years old. Born October 24th, 1979. The author Hakim Trent is currently incarcerated within the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Hakim Trent #[redacted] is located at St. Brides Correctional Center 701 Sanderson Road, P.O. Box 16482, Chesapeake, Virginia. He is a poet, a writer of urban novels and philosophy. Hakim Trent aims to educate himself so that he can come home from prison to help at-risk juveniles by educating them and showing them righteous path. Hakim Trent aims to be an advocate and a motivational speaker for the youth. To put an end to the school to prison pipeline.
Upon the most dependent whether the child of thy bosom be a blessing or a curse to thyself, an useful or a worthless member of the community. Prepare him early with instruction, and season his mind with maxims of truth. Watch the bent of his inclinations, set him right in his youth and let no evil habit gain strength with his years. So shall he rise like a cedar on the mountains, his head shall be seen above the trees of the forest. A wicked son is a reproach to his father; but he that do the right is an honor to his grey hairs. The soil is thy own, let it not want cultivation. The seed which thou soweth that also shall reap. Teach him obedience and he shall receive benefits; teach him charity and he shall not be ashamed. Teach him gratitude and he shall receive benefits. Teach him justice and he shall be honored by the world.......
By: Hakim Trent
Write to me at:
Hakim Trent #[number]
St. Brides Correctional Center
701 Sanderson Road
P.O. Box 16482
Chesapeake, VA 23328
Email me at: www.Jpay.com
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