by Felix "Phill" Rosado
June 21, 2016
I'm in the cell on this hot, sunny Monday morning after having just come back from mopping floors and scrubbing toilets in the chapel. The list for next week's Mini Intro RJ Workshop needs to be in tomorrow. I had just sent a list of twelve to my co-coordinator Charles first thing this morning, but I'm thinking I should get a few more just to be safe, in case some get transferred between now and then. Popping my head out the door, I see a recent alum walking the top tier.
"Yo Reese, you got anybody for the next RJ workshop?"
"How many you need?"
He immediately starts talking with a guy standing a few feet away. I stick my head back in. I try to not interfere, even with my presence, when alums give their friends the talk.
Within a minute, the brother Reese had pulled up is knocking on the door. I ask him to step in and as he's telling me about why he wants to take the workshop, another guy knocks. I ask him to give us a couple minutes. After the quick convo, the first brother writes his name, number, and cell on the scrap pad I keep on the steel shelf by the door and then steps out. I hake hands with the next man, "I'm Phill."
Looking over his shoulder, I notice another waiting outside, and another behind him. Suddenly a 3-man line forms, drawing the attention of an officer who wanted to know why there's a crowd in front of my cell. When he looked in, I gave him a quick smile and nod and he raised his hands as to say, You got it. Two days prior he worked the school where we had a Steering Committee meeting and was helpful getting things set up for us.
After the five workshop pre-meetings, as we like the call these encounters, I lay back and reflect. The men are hungry for change. They shared stories of kids, wives, parents, of being tired of the cycle. There's beauty behind the masks, the ones we all wear at times. I'm thinking if not for Reece, I likely wouldn't have met these unique and eager men, despite us walking past each other several times a day. And they, in turn, wouldn't encounter a new way of viewing - and doing- justice.
In one of the videos we watch in our Intro RJ Workshop, it's said that justice should be done from the community up, not the government down. Here, we do it form the cell block up. It's the only way it works. It's the only way we know.