By Larry Stromberg
December 7, 2019
My name is Larry Stromberg. I am a facilitator for Let’s Circle Up!, a Restorative Justice workshop at SCI-Phoenix State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. I was co-facilitating a mini-workshop in March 2019. It was the last day of the workshop on a Saturday afternoon. I was facilitating an exercise known as the 3 R’s, for “Respect, Responsibility and Relationship.” This was the first time for me facilitating this exercise and I felt that I was fully prepared to present the exercise to the group. Now there’s a point in the 3 R’s where we have to honor a person in our lives, past or present, alive or deceased, an individual who has had a positive, lasting impact on our lives, a person that we have known personally. So I humbly asked everyone to stand up as a group around the peace circle (a place of harmony and deep sharing and listening). Then I showed everyone in the circle the name of the person I chose to honor, whose name was written with purple marker on a small green piece of paper. I was nervous and filled with anxiety, my heart beating hard and fast, a million times a minute. I chose to honor Stefan, my wife, who is deceased by my hands of insanity, in a double homicide I committed decades ago. Something that I have endless remorse for. Something that I’ve tried to change in my mind over and over again, but that never changes. I have to look back on that horrible night that hurt so many and where two lives were taken because of me. I chose to write Stefan’s name in purple because that was her favorite color. I try to write everything in purple to remember and honor her. It’s almost like a supernatural connection that I keep close to my heart. Purple is the color of royalty. I also looked back on the beautiful times me and Stefan shared together. Our wedding day on September 7, 1993, in Louisville, Kentucky. The wonderful walks we had in the park with our great dogs, Spartacus and Bandit. Our lives together when we were happy and in true love. Her beautiful smile. I chose to honor Stefan. She was an amazing woman. I will always love and adore her. I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done. I have vowed to God, to Stefan, to everybody that I hurt, and to myself, to try to find good out of this tragedy. To leave a good, sincere legacy, even from my horrible choices in life. It grieved my heart even more when another man broke down in tears during the 3R’s exercise as he spoke about when his wife passed away. How he missed her dearly. The 3 R’s dared and changed me to look back with eyes wide open. That my guilt and remorse can help keep others from making the same mistakes in life. From making any mistakes in life. I honor Stefan. I honor her family, and my family as well. I’m grateful that I can do that. That I will always do that. I need to do that.
--Larry has written and directed over sixty plays for the prison’s Christian community, general population and for “Let’s Circle Up!” His play, “Fight Another Day!” was staged at the Pennsylvania Convention Center event, Feed Truths: Short Plays from Inside America’s Prisons. Larry’s play, “I’m here for you” is a 2019 drama category winner for PEN America. His feature film, “Spiritual Warfare,” is distributed on-line as well, along with multiple plays, screenplays and poems. Larry has acted in many films and plays and was a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild before his incarceration. A biography about his life, entitled “Death by Incarceration,” was published in 2017. Larry takes great pride helping others as a “Let’s Circle Up!” facilitator, a Certified Peer Support Specialist, and a student of Education for Ministry (EFM). --Larry is a dreamer; a writer; a man full of feelings, hopes and regrets; a Christian with longings; a genuine caretaker of the needy and sick; restorer of peace, whose passion and work ethic have blossomed his work, but also ignited the light of others. He has such insight, a decent human being in his chosen field. Larry is always willing to join up, volunteer his time to how he can help other people. A creative man on the road to redemption. A visionary who cares deeply for others to find their path of redemption. A man of God who is loyal and loving in all his ways and is an example for others. He cares deeply for all human beings with a warm heart, as he has found peace with himself. He is forever remorseful for the horrible choice he made decades ago that hurt so many and that resulted in his death by incarceration sentence. Larry loves his family and animals. He dreams someday to see the ocean again, with two dogs by his side.