Letter from Phill on June 26, 2014
What strategies have you used in your organizing/advocacy work over the years that felt most effective and why?
The only strategy I used most of my incarceration up until a few years ago was my fight to get myself out through the courts. Only recently since joining R2R have I expanded my energy to the larger fight to end DBI. I’m sorry to say that I don’t think any of our efforts have been effective. We’ve been trying to change the conversation to include every human being’s right to redemption, that all people have the capacity to change and should have some opportunity to prove they are more than their worst act. We also have been trying to change the language with which we talk about these issues. By avoiding negative labels and giving common phrases more appropriate and critical titles, we believe minds can begin to change. We believe these are good strategies but we haven’t been able to implement or spread them much.
Letter from Phill on June 8, 2014
Please tell us something about yourself. Feel free to include whatever you feel comfortable or interested in sharing.
I’ll be 37 in 3 weeks (which I’d rather not think about!!) and have been fighting a death-by-incarceration sentence for going on 19 years.
My story began in 1977, in Newark, NJ. Pop left mom shortly after my birth. Left with no real choice, mom packed up me and our things and headed over to Reading, PA, where her mother and 14 of her 15 siblings had migrated from PR a few years earlier. We lived in a first floor apartment on Elm Street, in the northeast section of the city, notorious for drugs and violence. Most of the family lived nearby, many on the same block. We spent most of our days and nights together in a red-bricked alleyway that we considered ours. It was our safe space amid the danger.
Letter from Phil on January 21, 2015
What questions would you ask the other people serving life sentences who are participating in this project? Are there specific things you would most like to hear them respond to?
What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? What do you think of at night before going to sleep? What gives you hope of one day being free? What are some of your fears about life on the outside? How do you maintain relationships with people on the outside? If applicable, how do you nurture a loving relationship from across a prison wall or fence? What strategies do you think can be used to abolish DBI? What can incarcerated people do? How informed do you think you are about the politics of DBI? Have you read any books, studies, reports, articles, etc. on DBI? Seen any movies, documentaries, TV specials, etc.? Any recommendations to the rest of us?