Phillip Alvin Jones, Jr. has been fed through the brutal apparatus of the American prison complex for more than half his life. At the age of only 19, he was tried and convicted for a non-homicide offense, and sentenced under incomprehensibly draconian standards to life sentences plus an additional twenty years. At the very least, the punishment was harsh. At the most, it was an egregious miscarriage of justice. Throughout his ordeal, Phillip managed to navigate the brutality of the prison system while simultaneously shedding the shackles of his upbringing and fomenting the arduous transition from a misdirected and hopeless youth to a focused and dedicated man. After being incarcerated for decades, including at the Maryland House of Corrections Annex - one of the most infamously violent prisons in the country - Phillip has reinvented himself into not only a functional and productive human being, but a thoughtful, introspective and ardent man. His rebirth under the most extreme conditions imaginable is nothing short of miraculous.
Phillip grew up in the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, the oldest of three sons in a household plagued by addiction and violence. At the time of his birth, Phillip’s 19-year-old mother was already addicted to heroin. Drugs and alcohol played a tragically significant role throughout Phillip’s childhood, leading to the separation of his parents, and the recurring displacement of his family due to extreme poverty. Phillip and his brothers were left largely on their own, and as the oldest, Phillip was the primary caretaker of his two younger brothers starting when he was 8 years old. By the time Phillip was 25, he had already lost both of his parents to their addictions. And by the time he was 45, Phillip had already outlived both of the brothers he raised as his own.
Phillip has spent the last 17 years rebuilding his life and rehabilitating himself. Although Phillip has always been a loyal and hardworking man, he struggled as a youth with his incarceration. But with an out-of-state transfer that put thousands of miles between Phillip and his only support network, Phillip realized that the life he had lived on the streets, and the choices he had made during his initial period of incarceration, did not reflect the man he wanted to be. So with almost no access to resources, Phillip began taking counseling classes, drug and alcohol abuse programming, and earned his GED. Phillip then went on to excel at college courses, and started a non-profit organization called Inside-Outside Consults, to address the excessively harsh laws surrounding sentencing and the dearth of resources for the men and women reentering society after prolonged prison terms. Phillip has been instrumental in counseling other incarcerated individuals, educating students, and creating substantive justice reform modules for future use by educators and justice advocates alike. In addition, Phillip created a podcast called The Wall: Behind and Beyond, to give a voice to incarcerated men and women and their families around the globe. In short, Phillip has done incredible work to reduce recidivism and to support those impacted by the prison complex. His dedication to the struggles of others - even while he navigates his own incarceration - is admirable.
In 2021, Phillip’s co-defendant was freed from prison pursuant to Maryland Annotated Code 8-505 / 8-507, which provides a vehicle for release to in-patient treatment for incarcerated men and women who would benefit from mental health treatment in lieu of prolonged incarceration. Following suit, Phillip and his legal team filed a petition for release under the same code section, citing all of Phillip’s impressive accomplishments and demonstrating that Phillip is an ideal candidate for relief. And after the filing of a stipulation by the State’s Attorney’s office indicating no opposition, as well as voluminous testimony by family, friends, treatment providers and supporters, Phillip truly believed for the first time in over three decades, that he was finally coming home. However, after nearly a year of waiting and several hearings, Phillip’s petition for release was denied, with no substantive basis for the decision. It was the very lowest and darkest moment in Phillip’s life thus far.
Throughout his incarceration, Phillip has consistently expressed remorse for his role in the crime for which he was convicted. He has also, through his restorative justice work, sought to reach out to his victims in order to apologize for the harm he has caused to them, and to their families. Phillip has shown a critical understanding of his actions, and has held himself accountable at every step in his recovery. And, Phillip has used the regret that he carries as the catalyst for the work of his non-profit as a way of giving back to his community.
Phillip has spent the last three decades of his life in prison. He has never known what it is like to navigate the free world as an adult. He has missed out on experiencing nearly every appreciable milestone in his life: his daughter’s first words, all of her graduations, getting married, having more children, starting a career, building his community. Phillip is keenly aware that it was his actions and his actions alone that led him down the path he has taken in his life. But Phillip’s work inside of prison on himself as well as on behalf of others, is clearly indicative of the more mature, composed, and productive man that he is now. It is time to give Phillip a second chance to make amends to his family, to his community, and to spend the remainder of his years earning his redemption.