Terrell Burwell

“In Colorado is the freest I’ve ever felt, just going to school, work, the gym. I can’t do that where I’m from. I’m from a neighborhood where there’s shooting. I got shot twice.”

I’ve gone basically life on an installment plan so far. I did all my twenties right here in jail. My first arrest was when I was 20. I left when I was 24, then, after I did so much time here I forgot how to adapt to out there. I came back and did another two years, 25 to 27. I got out when I was 27, and I was home for three and a half months and went right back in, 27 to 30. It’s like I’ve always been there.

I’m about to transfer back to Colorado where I graduated high school and college. I went to school for sociology and psychology, and I’m trying to go back to school so I can be a counselor for juvenile detention facilities. I did it when I was in Colorado for my externship. I’d rather go back and do that. It’s a passion – I would do it even if I didn’t get paid.

Out in Colorado is the freest I’ve ever felt in my life. I didn’t have to worry about shootings or drugs, just going to school, work, the gym. Normal stuff, that normal people do, I can’t do that where I’m from. I’m from a neighborhood that there’s a beef everywhere. There’s shooting everywhere. I got shot twice, on two separate occasions. I left to play football in Colorado for Overland High School. After I finished Overland High School I went to Cambridge College, and to Arizona State for little bit. Then, I came back here to help my brother. He got kicked out of my dad’s house, and I ended up taking a case for him. Then I did from 20-24 for him. I told him as long as he graduated high school, I got money to fight the case. He was 18 about to be 19, a senior in high school and he was about to quit. I was like, “you just finish high school. I’ll fight the case.” It’s cool. He graduated, so I was happy about that.

You have to find your way. Once you get released, you have to find the way to become human again, because you cannot be human in here. It’s not possible because you’ll get eaten alive. So, you have to be unhuman in here. You eat food out of garbage bags. This jail is inhumane. You can’t be human and survive in here. You have to fight every day to hold on to whatever humanity you have, but you can’t show it until you get out. You have to try to not be worse than you were when you came here. That’s all you can possibly do.

 

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