Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Prison journalism: I'm a Father Serving Life in a California Prison

29/11/2023

Prison journalism: I'm a Father Serving Life in a California PrisonI hope my son does not fall victim to our generational curse.

by Prison Journalism Project

29-11-2023 15:17

in Prison Journalism

Prison

Image via Unsplash

Andrew's birth was complicated. His mother had to be very strong while doctors used a vacuum to extract him. When my son was finally born, he weighed 11 pounds, 7 ounces.

--

It was a beautiful day. I looked at him; he looked back. Andrew shared my face, and he was gorgeous. I remember crying and promising him that I would be a good dad, that I would be present no matter what.

A life sentence soured those promises. I have only seen my now-14-year-old son three times. Locked up in a California prison six hours away from my son, I still resolve to be a good dad in spite of the challenges.

But what does it mean to be a good father? It has been difficult being a father from prison. When I first came here, I didn't have access to the technology I have now. I was only given one call a month, and building a relationship with my son using the little tools I had was hard. I used to write my son many letters, offering up advice. But this doesn't replicate being there in person.

--

Earlier this year, I got more access to placing calls and sending messages through a state-provided tablet. I'm trying to overcome new challenges because my son is now a teenager and always busy with school. The new tablets have helped a little. For a while, we had constant communication, but then life circumstances separated us again. Despite the obstacles, my son, who splits his time between his grandparents and mother, is doing well, and for that I am grateful.

When my son was born, I felt I was the best dad I could be. I worked and took care of my family. I would tickle him and tell him, You are my son. I held him and carried him gently in the air, and at night, when he cried, I would wake up to hold him and give him his bottle. When he felt sick, I was the first to take him to the doctor. I wanted him to be happy.

Being a good dad is about being present during good and bad times. It means helping with homework, listening and treating my son with respect. Children should not lack. Fathers are key to children becoming good and productive members of society.

--

Being a good father also means improving myself so my child can someday feel proud of me.

I don't have many memories of my own father, Sim n. He was a tall, handsome man with curly hair; he was full of life. He was a fisherman, a hard worker, good at business, and a kind person. The fishing trips he took me on when I was little were the happiest days I spent with him.

Yet I also have a few memories of his severe punishments and excessive discipline. Even after all these years, I am not ready to talk about these memories openly.

When I was 7, my father drove away one afternoon and died in a car crash after drinking. He paid the price for his constant partying.

Today, I still feel resentment towards my father. His death caused a severe crisis for my mother and sisters, and I had to grow up fast while still a child. My family suffered through poverty and other hardships; my mother died from complications with tuberculosis.

I see the lingering effects that my dad's sudden death brought upon my family. We lost the care and guidance of a father. Who knows what would have happened for me had he stayed alive?

In a tragic twist of irony, I followed in my father's footsteps, suddenly disappearing from my son's life when I got locked up behind bars.

In 2010, I was indirectly involved in a crime where one person was killed and another person was injured. I was found guilty of this crime and sentenced to life without parole. For this I am remorseful and I have paid the price of not being part of my son's life.

I wanted to be that loving father that I did not have. I planned to be strict with my son, but also reasonable, unlike my father. I wanted to be with my son in his triumphs and when he needed my help.

I would love to visit my son one day, and I imagine by then that he will have his own family. I would like the opportunity to get to know them and recover some of our lost time. I hope we can eat together at a restaurant, and I can talk to him about the circumstances that twisted my path.

Or, if I am still in prison, I hope he will continue to visit me. The visits I've had with my son have not been as regular as I would like. But I understand the reality of things. It is very difficult for those who care for my son to bring him to see me. It's six hours on the road to get here, and six hours back.

I imagine that it must be very hard for him to understand this whole process, and that's why I give him his space. I think that the day he is ready, he will know that I tried as best I could considering my circumstances, without giving up. There's not much you can do when you are trapped.

If I ever get out of prison, I hope I can earn a place in his life. And I hope that together we will break the generational curse that I was unable to break on my own.

Written by Sans n Andrade for The Prison Journalism Project

Should you wish to assist in the rehabilitation of former inmates and help put money into the pockets of those who have struggled to earn a living during and after incarceration, click HERE

Do you have any question you would like to ask our prison journalists, WhatsApp us on 060 011 0211

Do you have contact with a prison inmate who would like to write for The South African website?

If so, send an email to info@thesouthafrican.com or a WhatsApp to 060 011 0211

You can also follow @TheSAnews on Twitter and The South African on Facebook to get the latest prisoner journalism articles.

WIN R250 per day with our Christmas Advent Calendar competit
LINK: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/culture/prison-journalism/im-a-father-...
See more stories from thesouthafrican

More from The South African

02/03/2024

House of Zwide: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

House of Zwide: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episode of South African soapie House of Zwide on The South African we...

02/03/2024

Skeem Saam: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

Skeem Saam: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Missed an episode of Skeem Saam? No problem! Watch the latest episode of your favourite South African soap...

02/03/2024

Smoke and Mirrors: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

Smoke and Mirrors: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South Africa...

02/03/2024

Umkhokha: The Curse - Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

Umkhokha: The Curse - Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South Afr...

02/03/2024

Uzalo: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [video]

Uzalo: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [video]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South African website. ...

02/03/2024

Generations: The Legacy - Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

Generations: The Legacy - Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South...

02/03/2024

Scandal!: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

Scandal!: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South African website...

02/03/2024

My Brother's Keeper: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]

My Brother's Keeper: Friday's episode, 1 March 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South ...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Smoke and Mirrors: Thandiswa talks Caesar down from killing Jaxon

Tonight on Smoke and Mirrors: Thandiswa talks Caesar down from killing JaxonDon't miss Friday, 1 March's riveting episode of South African soapie Smoke ...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Skeem Saam: Mapitsi may have pushed Bullet far enough to commit murder

Tonight on Skeem Saam: Mapitsi may have pushed Bullet far enough to commit murde...

01/03/2024

Big Brother Mzansi 4: Khosi Twala and Phila Madlingozi to surprise housemates

Big Brother Mzansi 4: Khosi Twala and Phila Madlingozi to surprise housematesPhila and Khosi are poised to inject new energy into Big Brother's house, addin...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Generations: A fallout between the alliance trio ends in a tense stand-off

Tonight on Generations: A fallout between the alliance trio ends in a tense stan...

01/03/2024

Muvhango soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?

Muvhango soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?Muvhango is full of twists and exciting drama this month. Muvhango airs on SABC2 from Mondays to F...

01/03/2024

Generations: The Legacy Teasers - March 2024

Generations: The Legacy Teasers - March 2024What an entertaining month we have in store. Generations the legacy episodes airs on SABC1 from Mondays to Fridays a...

01/03/2024

Smoke and Mirrors Teasers - March 2024

Smoke and Mirrors Teasers - March 2024What an entertaining month we have in store. Smoke and Mirrors episodes airs on e.tv from Mondays to Fridays at 21h00. by...

01/03/2024

Gqeberha: The Empire 2 Teasers - March 2023

Gqeberha: The Empire 2 Teasers - March 2023What an entertaining month we have in store. Gqeberha: The Empire episodes airs on Mzansi Magic from Mondays to Frida...

01/03/2024

Streaming today: Blood & Water Season 4' on Netflix - 1 March 2024

Streaming today: Blood & Water Season 4' on Netflix - 1 March 2024Looking for something to watch tonight? Check out all the new streaming releases from all...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Muvhango: James is worried about Imani's whereabouts

Tonight on Muvhango: James is worried about Imani's whereaboutsDon't miss Friday, 1 March's riveting episode of South African soapie Muvhango on SAB...

01/03/2024

Tonight on House of Zwide: Isaac delivers a moving eulogy

Tonight on House of Zwide: Isaac delivers a moving eulogyDon't miss Friday, 1 March's riveting episode of South African soapie House of Zwide on e.tv on...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Gqeberha: Hlumelo's plan faces challenges at every turn

Tonight on Gqeberha: Hlumelo's plan faces challenges at every turnDon't miss Friday, 1 March's riveting episode of South African soapie Gqeberha: Th...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Umkhokha: MaNzimande gives Siphamandla a devastating call.

Tonight on Umkhokha: MaNzimande gives Siphamandla a devastating call.Don't miss Friday, 1 March's riveting episode of South African soapie Umkhokha: The...

01/03/2024

Tonight on My Brother's Keeper: Mshengu finds out about Puseletso's betrayal

Tonight on My Brother's Keeper: Mshengu finds out about Puseletso's betr...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Champions: Ferrari finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place

Tonight on Champions: Ferrari finds himself caught between a rock and a hard pla...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Uzalo: Nomaswazi needs the Mhlongos' help to get closure

Tonight on Uzalo: Nomaswazi needs the Mhlongos' help to get closureDon't miss Friday, 1 March's riveting episode of South African soapie Uzalo on SA...

01/03/2024

Tonight on Scandal: Jojo's panel business success gives him confidence to expand

Tonight on Scandal: Jojo's panel business success gives him confidence to ex...

01/03/2024

Generations: The Legacy - Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Generations: The Legacy - Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The...

01/03/2024

Uzalo: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [video]

Uzalo: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [video]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South African webs...

01/03/2024

Umkhokha: The Curse - Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Umkhokha: The Curse - Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The Sou...

01/03/2024

Muvhango: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Muvhango: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South African w...

01/03/2024

Smoke and Mirrors: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Smoke and Mirrors: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South ...

01/03/2024

Gqeberha: The Empire - Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Gqeberha: The Empire - Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The So...

01/03/2024

My Brother's Keeper: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

My Brother's Keeper: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The ...

01/03/2024

Scandal!: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Scandal!: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South African w...

01/03/2024

House of Zwide: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

House of Zwide: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episode of South African soapie House of Zwide on The South Afri...

01/03/2024

Skeem Saam: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Skeem Saam: Thursday's episode, 29 February 2024 [VIDEO]Missed an episode of Skeem Saam? No problem! Watch the latest episode of your favourite South Africa...

01/03/2024

Proverb of the Day: Friday, 1 March 2024

Proverb of the Day: Friday, 1 March 2024A proverb is a simple, traditional saying that expresses a perceived truth based on common sense or experience. by Arn...

01/03/2024

Champions soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?

Champions soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?You are in for a treat this month on Champions. It airs on Mzansi Magic every weekday at 7 pm. Yo...

01/03/2024

House of Zwide 3 Teasers - March 2024

House of Zwide 3 Teasers - March 2024This month is going to be intense in House of Zwide. Don't plan to miss any episode. Episode airs every weekday from 19...

01/03/2024

My Brother's Keeper Teasers - March 2024

My Brother's Keeper Teasers - March 2024What an entertaining month we have in store. My Brother's Keeper episodes airs on Mzansi Magic from Mondays to F...

01/03/2024

The Daily Life in Prison: The Food

The Daily Life in Prison: The FoodJean-Pierre Le-Roux is a divorced father of two beautiful children. He was incarcerated for 20 months for pointing a firearm. ...

01/03/2024

Skeem Saam Teasers - March 2024

Skeem Saam Teasers - March 2024Are you ready for another Skeem Saam rollercoaster ride this month? Skeem Saam airs on SABC1 Mondays to Fridays at 18h30. by Ad...

01/03/2024

Prison Journalism: It said not to lose direction, even in loss

Prison Journalism: It said not to lose direction, even in lossWesley Leong was incarcerated at the age of 15 in 1996 at Pollsmoor Prison. He is currently part o...

01/03/2024

Prison Journalism: Jobs for inmates in prison

Prison Journalism: Jobs for inmates in prisonDean Mashimbwe, a Zimbabwean migrant residing in Cape Town, was incarcerated at Pollsmoor Correctional Centre from ...

01/03/2024

Scandal soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?

Scandal soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?This month is going to be intense in Scandal. Scandal! airs on e.tv Mondays to Fridays at 19h30. Do...

01/03/2024

Umkhokha: The Curse Teasers - March 2024

Umkhokha: The Curse Teasers - March 2024Get ready for an exciting month ahead! Catch the episodes of Umkhokha: The Curse airing on Mzansi Magic every Monday t...

01/03/2024

Uzalo soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?

Uzalo soapie teasers: What's happening this March 2024?Uzalo continues its fine form this month. Premiere episodes of Uzalo air on SABC1 from Mondays to Fri...

29/02/2024

Tonight on Muvhango: Nkele and Tendamudzimu start afresh

Tonight on Muvhango: Nkele and Tendamudzimu start afreshDon't miss Thursday, 29 February's riveting episode of South African soapie Muvhango on SABC 2 o...

29/02/2024

Tonight on Gqeberha: The Mxenges are nervous as they prepare for the heist

Tonight on Gqeberha: The Mxenges are nervous as they prepare for the heistDon't miss Thursday, 29 February's riveting episode of South African soapie Gq...

29/02/2024

Tonight on House of Zwide: Molefe comforts a grieving Isaac

Tonight on House of Zwide: Molefe comforts a grieving IsaacDon't miss Thursday, 29 February's riveting episode of South African soapie House of Zwide on...

29/02/2024

Scandal!: Wednesday's episode, 28 February 2024 [VIDEO]

Scandal!: Wednesday's episode, 28 February 2024 [VIDEO]Stay up to date with the latest episodes of your favourite South African soapie on The South African ...