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  • Writer's pictureEarlSun

Journeying Through Bars: My Childhood Visits to My Incarcerated Father

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

During my childhood, I would accompany my mother on lengthy bus journeys to visit my father who was incarcerated. It appeared to be a common experience for kids in our community. We would take multiple buses, enduring hours of travel, just to have a few hours with him before repeating the process to return home.

During these visits, my mother and I would be seated in a fenced area alongside other inmates' families. My father would talk about the reasons why certain inmates were in prison. He made it clear that prison was a place one wouldn't wish to be. Inmates were restricted in their daily activities, such as when they could eat, sleep, or have yard time, as their lives were controlled by the warden. It was a life where you were alive but not truly living, akin to living in poverty according to my father's perspective. Survival was paramount, and one had to do whatever necessary to get by.

As I grew into a young adult, I came to comprehend this reality to some extent, but I still struggled mentally with the fact that my father was absent, regardless of the reasons that led to his incarceration.

WHO AM I? I've spent half my life in the penitentiary and I'm only 32. Do you see some of these traits in you? I know the penal system like the back of my hand that's because I was raised there from a boy to a man. I've seen all kinds of talent there go to waste, they'll always be known as a number and never a face. I've been hardened by what I've seen in that dark place, and I find myself at times filled with hate. I know I will go back; I know this as I speak, I'll be going to see my father again next week.


I wrote this when i was 32 years old. During that period, writing became my outlet for dealing with emotions that society taught me to suppress from a young age. The cultural expectation was to be tough, refrain from displaying emotions, and never show vulnerability by shedding tears.

In one of my spoken sentences, I had written, "I'm a victim of my father's crimes," but I have since changed my perspective. I now refuse to see myself as a victim of my environment or circumstances. Instead, I've chosen to break free from that mindset and take control of my life.

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22 sept. 2023
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05 août 2023

I remember those bus rides to Chino & Tehachapi State Prison. Granny would also pack some good grub to take with us. One thing that always stood out was how well known Earl was in the facility. Other inmates would yell across the yard to him, ”Those yo kids, Earl?” It was almost as though they adored him in some sort of way. I found this ironic, because I barely knew the man I was visiting.


05 août 2023
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