Philip Melendez was 19 years old when he committed a double homicide and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole by the State of California.
Running from the scene of a gunfight, he couldn’t believe what he’d just done, it didn’t feel like it was really him.
On the inside, he quickly learned to survive and play by the rules of prison politics. He would volunteer to beat people up who “broke the rules”, and earned the trust of fellow gang members.
He began to leverage this trust by being the mediator between different gangs on the prison yards, using words instead of violence to resolve conflict.
After 19 years, 11 months and 3 days behind bars, the State of California revised their laws on life sentencing and Philip was able to apply for parole and was released.
Now, he’s the Los Angeles Outreach Associate for Re:Store Justice. Re:Store Justice is an organization created to re-imagine and reform our justice system. They launched an in-prison media project, the first of its kind, sharing personal narratives from inside prison walls. It is directed, shot, cut, and scored entirely by the men on the inside.
For full show notes and resources: https://www.baktashahadi.com/podcast
Learn more about Philip Melendez and Re:Store Justice
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Produced by: Dana Drahos
Edited by: Joseph Gangemi
Digital Marketing by: Katherine An
Theme music by: Qais Essar
Artwork by: Masheed Ahadi
Additional Music: Yehezkel Raz & Jon Gegelman