Remaking Murdertown: Delaware Center for Justice inspires discussion, action
Zach Phillips of Short Order Production House was initially approached by the Delaware Center for Justice to create some videos to help bring light to issues facing the juvenile justice system in Delaware.
He thought radio would be the best medium to explore the issues that became part of the now four-episode podcast series called Remaking Murdertown.
After an almost two-hour interview with now 23-year-old Enrique “Ricky” Reyes, he knew what the episodes of the series would be.
Delaware Public Media’s Megan Pauly spoke with him at the premiere of the fourth and final episode Thursday night.
The final episode of the Delaware Center for Justice’s Remaking Murdertown podcast premiered Thursday night at the Queen.
The final episode was a tearjerker, inspiring audience members to help bring about change in the community by volunteering for the Delaware Center for Justice, helping mentor kids in need or contributing financially.
Erin Coleman attended, and says she listened to the first three episodes back-to-back.
She was almost brought to tears when reflecting back on them, and her son’s own experience in and out of jail.
“I have to say it was very emotional, it hit close to him because I have a son who’s incarcerated for gun violence. And he’s not the typical – he didn’t grow up in the city of Wilmington but his two offense have been here in the city of Wilmington," Coleman said.
She says she’d like to get involved somehow in helping others, but also recognizes she needs more support as a mother watching her son constantly cycle through the system.
Coleman adds that she feels probation reform is needed after seeing her son struggle to meet probation requirements.
When Coleman spoke with him Wednesday he said he’d rather stay in jail for a year and be released without probation than have to make probation.
A panel discussion was held after the premiere, in which Delaware Center for Justice Executive Director Ashley Biden among other panel members insisted that Delaware businesses, law firms and corporations need to do more to support its kids.
"Honestly the students in our programs are some of the brightest students with passion, with compassion, with heart, with a drive. They just want an opportunity and a chance and someone who’s going to help them get access to that opportunity and a chance for a better life," Biden said. "These are our children, these are our children. We better address some of these issues head on because lives are at stake."
Biden says the true purpose of the podcast was to ignite a provocative discussion where the real issues are being addressed, and people are held accountable.
Additionally, a goal was to highlight the struggles of individuals living in poverty for those not as familiar with them. She said the podcast has had over 10,000 listeners so far.
The podcast followed Enrique “Ricky” Reyes through the trials he personally faced in the criminal justice system, and the difficulty in moving past them to take a higher road.
His mentor Eugene Young, currently running for mayor of Wilmington, encouraged him to participate in the podcast.
Reyes says seeing the audience’s reaction Thursday night was an energizing recharge for him.
"It’s a real humbling, eye opening experience," Reyes said. "It gives me hope, it gives me more hope. Even though I’m here and everybody’s saying you’re headed in the right direction sometimes your vision can still get clouded with all of the finances, personal issues."
Today, Reyes is working as a car salesman at Porter Nissan, where he sold his first car last week: and will become a new dad in December.
The podcast is available online here.