Behind Bars for 66 Years
The Marshall Project by Joseph Neff
May 23, 2019
ASHEBORO, N.C. — John Phillips has been behind bars since April 8, 1952, when he was arrested on sexual-assault charges. He was 18 years old and only in the ninth grade, and he was sent to be evaluated at the state mental hospital for black people. The report classified Phillips as a “moron” and said he had the mind of a child aged 7 years and 7 months. His lawyer entered a guilty plea. The judge sentenced him to life.
After 66 years in prison, Phillips is the state’s longest-serving inmate, a stooped and garrulous 85-year-old man whom inmates nicknamed Peanut and who gets around with the help of a worn wooden cane. Decades ago he lost his desire to live outside of razor-wire fences.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive