I have worked in a prison for over 10 years now, and while these letters are very common, Lawrence Phillips describes the prison as a wild and insane prison. He talks about his time in segregation as well as some incidents that have occurred in the prison. While he is right that some inmates do not want to pair up and sleep in the same room with gang members, an inmate cannot dictate where he lives.
These letters were obtained by USA Today Sports, Here are some of the letters written to several of his high school coaches and college coaches.
JAN. 14, 2014
Dear Coach Zane,
How are you doing? I’m doing well. As you might have noticed on the envelope, I have been moved from the cell I was in. I spent some days in the hole for refusing to room with a gang member. They have now took my privileges, which include yard (exercise), canteen, vendor packages, and all personal property for 180 days. I will of course appeal this decision as I was refusing to room with gang members after already having had incidents with gang members.
At any rate, I just wanted to write to you and let you know in case that the package I requested was returned. I have not received any mail since moving, so I do not know if you sent the package. They are supposed to re-route mail, but they usually don’t check and make sure they guy in the cell is the correct guy to receive the mail. At any rate, I will appeal the situation and I should get relief due to my several incidents involving gang members.
We are on lock down at this time due to a murder and the stabbing of five other dudes.
I hope you and your family are well and had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
MAY 29, 2014
Dear Coach Pagone,
We are still today on lock down due to some stabbings and assaults between black and white inmates. It has been ongoing for sometime.
I am glad to hear Marie’s wedding was great. Usually an open bar leads to a lot of dancing.
I do not have a cell mate. All of these dudes want to use drugs and (illegible) weapons in the cell. I’m in the process of applying for single-cell status. I will let you know how that goes.
JUNE 15, 2014
Dear Coach Pagone,
I received your letter and package a day apart. We do get the packages in lock down as the companies do not really want the items back.
We have been in lock down about 80% of the time. You would be surprised at what these altercations are about! Nonsense! But when your world is this small all one has to care about is nonsense. That is why I do not want any of these idiots in the cell with me.
All they they want to do is the drugs, make knives and make alcohol. Then they say when they get out they will not come back. I tell them of course you will. You are doing the same thing that got you locked up. Of course they do not want to hear that. It is like speaking to a brick wall.
Now I understand how people must have felt talking to me. So needless to say I have zero friends inside here. Not one person is in line with my way of thinking.
Well that’s all from here, Pagone. I will stay out of trouble. I might have to endure some write-ups for refusing a cell mate though. Better that than them getting me into serious trouble.
JULY 6, 2014
Dear Coach Zane,
I hear you were in Hawaii. I am sure you had a good time. Remember when we went out there and kicked their butt in the all-star game and they tried to hold up our bus and all that crap? Good times.
Well there is not much happening here. We are still on lock down because they found a hacksaw in someone’s cell. Apparently people use the saw to cut up the bunks and make knives. It is completely nuts in here. It is pretty much a free for all.
SEPT. 14, 2014
Dear Coach D,
Huskers kicked butt out there. I only listened to the radio. The game was not televised here. (Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah) has a real chance at the Heisman and the Huskers could win the Big 10, although the Big 10 is a bit watered down with the injury to O-State Q.B. (Braxton Miller).
NFL is going through some stuff. Unfair to blame the NFL for what guys do. … These misdeeds by the players (are) being used by the liberal parties and the media to further their particular interests. Next they will be forcing out owners like they did with the Los Angeles Clippers owner (Donald Sterling).
Well, there is nothing new happening here. We are still locked down. One of the guards was assaulted so it may be awhile. Coach D, this place is a jungle. Trouble everywhere. One must swallow his pride constantly or one will always be in the hole. But we must deal with the situation we put ourselves in.
APRIL 9, 2015
Dear Coach Pagone,
I was able to get the necessary paper to prove that the court had made a mistake in closing my case in appeal. I was not informed of the ruling by the court and could not have responded in time.
When I refer to prison lawyers, I am referring to guys who have been incarcerated for 20-30 years and have been in the courts for most of those years. They pretty much have a top notch legal education.
Once you have been out of the hole for a certain amount of time you are cleared for a lower security prison. I have been cleared but I have not been moved. There are many people in this same boat. They say it is due to the overcrowding.
On the Level IV yards, which is the highest level, not many people go home. Most have life or 30-40-50 years and in some cases 350 years. So not much new space opens. Hopefully my time will come soon.
MAY 3, 2015
Dear Coach D,
How are you doing coach? I am doing well.
As far as the package, due to my current situation I may not be allowed it. So if you have not already sent the package do not send it.
I cannot speak of the situation here but I am alright. Please let anyone know who asks you that.
I hear Husker spring practices are a little more spirited. That is a plus. I do not think teams will ever practice how we practiced. … If a team ever comes back to that mentality, they will crush the college ranks.
Alright Coach D, that’s all from here.
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