MLYS: Dedicated to Starting Over

My Life, My Story

The My Life, Your Story program is a Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) initiative through its Office of Reentry Services. The program highlights the transformation of DJJ youth and grants them a conduit to reach other youthful offenders and at-risk teens through the art of letter-writing. The following letter from a DJJ youth illuminates various nuances of wisdom and grants other opportunities to learn from these lessons. 



When I first got my sentence, I thought my life was over. But to my surprise, it wasn’t. I met people who helped me along the way and people who believed in me. And between everyone I met and everything I experienced. I learned that it wasn’t over: it was just going to a new chapter. My life was only starting from that point forward.

I began to dedicate myself to everything that got set before me. I spent every moment making myself a better person. I excelled in my groups and encouraged others to do the same. I worked as hard as I could on my schoolwork and refused to acknowledge any distractions that came my way. I was determined to be the best person I could, be because of this experience instead of being torn down by it.

And then came the day where I got let go, and the time I had to serve was over. I can’t explain the feeling because I don’t know what I felt. But the dedication didn’t stop. I was enrolled in school and immediately finished my 10th-grade year almost two months early. I used that time afterward to find a job and begin making money that I saved up. I worked as hard as possible for that job and was eventually the reason they got back ahead of schedule.

Then came more bumps in the road but I was still determined. I didn’t let any of that stop me. I put everything into my schoolwork and my job. I am ahead in school again and plan on finishing before March. I plan on going to college for family law and becoming a lawyer. I am happy with how everything turned out. I believe I am a better person because of the time I spent in DJJ and how it shaped me for what is to come. I trust that everything I have gone through will only help me with my future endeavors.



Former DJJ Youth




Additional Youth Stories:

My Story Your Life: Life Can Be Challenging