People can be just like tomatoes. Gardeners know that if tomatoes are planted in the same soil over and over again, they will not grow. The soil lacks nutrients, and minerals, and is unable to sustain life. Even if the little plant grows, it only gets so big before it withers away. Would anyone grow if they were to be “planted” on the same “soil” over and over again?

According to reports by the Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice organization, inmates made about $19,185 per year before they went to prison and people who make little money have a much greater chance to be incarcerated than those who are considered higher-earners.  Almost 2 million children have parents that are incarcerated, and about half of those kids are 9 or younger. Many people wonder how families with one parents missing from the household provide a nurturing environment for their children. Has there been any change in the “system” in the last few years to address this? Will there be any changes in the next couple of years?

To some students that are about to enter the working class, they do not at all see themselves as potential inmates.

“My plan after high school is to go to college. No, I don’t see myself in prison because I don’t intend to do bad things,” says Allicia Lee, a John F. Kennedy senior who’s graduating in June of this year. Prison is not an option to some because they were raised in an environment that who focuses are learning.  Many high school graduates intend to continue on the path of educations in college, not crime.

Another senior that will be graduating this June believe that he will not go to prison. However, he does see himself in prison when thinking about it.

“I would sometimes imagine myself in prison when coming across the subject of prison,” says Andy Zhao of John F. Kennedy high school. To him prison is like a shadow lurking from the behind, waiting for the right opportunity.

To others, however, it can be seen as the ground they live on. They live in low-income neighborhoods, which lacks in quality educational options, making the youth who live there all the more susceptible to turn to crime. Their parents are prison inmates, making life much harder without a “model” to follow.

People can survive in these conditions, but will the children ever have any hope to prosper?

They Call Us Monster is a movie focusing on the youth who are incarcerated in our country. Free tickets for a showing in Sacramento on March 3 can be found here.