The Only Story

Throughout school years you are often told to write about a story that has much significance to you in your life. Every single time, year after year, there was only one story that I ever spoke about. It is not a storyline about something that I did or something that happened to me, but this only story that I tell repeatedly affected me in ways that I never understood before. 
 In March 2005 my older brother was incarcerated for a gang related manslaughter. The whole process of it from the arrest, to the sentencing, to the day he was released (which was recently) was a complete nightmare. My family and I struggled, as we see friends and even family turn their backs. I was in the seventh grade at the time and was forced to leave school because detectives said I would probably be killed since the area of my school was heavily populated with gang members. Without knowing what to do my mother seemed more distressed every day. I vividly remember sleepless nights with her crying and yelling “they took my son.” We stuck together as family should but it was the hardest thing to do. We were able to get enough money together for a decent lawyer and went to every single court date there was until he was sentenced, all while visiting him frequently at Rikers Island (the most horrible experience itself). It was all a long dreadful process including forcibly moving from where we lived and staying wherever we were welcomed to stay from night to night. Throughout this long, dreadful process I lost my brother, not actually physically, but mentally and emotionally, I lost him, he was no longer himself.

Prior to being incarcerated, my brother was a straight A student, he was in a sophomore at a private Catholic High School and had a sponsor who paid for school and anything he needed because of his good grades. He was in many programs in Hostos Community College and was very interested in Science and Math. My mother would often get compliments on how good of a job she did raising him. From this, to being incarcerated, sometimes I cannot believe it happened. I feel like people in neighborhoods like where I grew up, the South Bronx, are set up to fail. None of these characteristics of my brother mattered in court, what the judge said was “if he was so much of a good kid, this would not have happened” there was no sympathy. The lawyer did little to nothing helping us fight for him. His fingerprints were not on the weapon, but regardless, they needed someone to be held accountable, whether it was him or not, he did 11 ½ years in prison and it changed not only his life, but my family’s life as well.

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