EDIT: Thank you all so much for this incredible opportunity to share my experience with you. Your questions were great, inspiring, and moving. I hope that you will take the time to look at our website, stay abreast of the life of the project, and share it with others. We are open to all inquiries for screenings, collaboration or any support. If there is demand for another AMA I would be more than happy to do one in a few weeks. Please see the info below for how to connect with myself and with the film. Thank you so much. -El


on twitter www.twitter.com/pullofgravfilm

on facebook: www.facebook.com/pullofgravityfilm

My name is El Sawyer. I was sentenced to 8-20 years for a shooting when I was 17. I served 8 years in SCI Graterford, Pennsylvania's largest maximum security prison. While I was incarcerated I had the chance to learn film/video production. When I came home from prison I dedicated myself to community service and video production, and am now a director of a community arts non-profit in Philly called The Village of Arts and Humanities (www.villagearts.org)

Re-entry and recidivism is a huge issue, and through my own struggles with returning to society, I felt the need to create a film about the topic to shed light on some of these issues. The film is called Pull of Gravity (www.pullofgravityfilm.com) and follows three men (I'm one of them) in different stages of reintegration. The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of PA reached out to me three years ago to lead classes for at-risk youth using video as a violence prevention tool. From the success of those classes they have put their full support behind the film.

Trailer for the film: https://vimeo.com/57340780

I'm happy to talk about what led me to prison, being in prison, the filmmaking process, etc etc.

Ask me anything.

EDIT: The guy I shot did NOT die. He lived and testified against me in court.


  1. Twitter pic: (https://twitter.com/pullofgravfilm/status/314821769007616000/photo/1)

  2. Video interview from Phila. Inquirer about the film: (http://www.philly.com/philly/video/BC2125099929001.html)

Comments: 2359 • Responses: 80  • Date: 

princeahleefabulous1682 karma

Why were you convicted if it was self defense?

pullofgravity2049 karma

I was selling drugs at the time, and he pulled a gun and tried to rob me in the process of a deal and I shot him as a result. When the cops came they found him two blocks away with no gun, bleeding. They arrested me one day later and charged me with aggravated assault. I was 17, he was 37.

princeahleefabulous746 karma

Thanks for your answer and doing this AMA. Is your target audience and projected screenings going to be inner city youth or is this more geared toward waking up middle class people to the very real problems of reintegration of released inmates?

pullofgravity671 karma

Both of those groups are in our target audience. Primarily we want the film to be seen by 1. inmates about to come home/ recently released inmates. 2. The support systems/families of released inmates, and 3. Service providers (cops, lawyers, prosecutors, parole officers etc) The goal is the film to be a resource for these folks. But yes, we are doing screenings in neighborhoods geared towards youth, and in university settings.

SilasDG212 karma

we are doing screenings in neighborhoods geared towards youth

Any chance you're looking towards free screenings in areas where it's likely the youth can't afford or won't pay (partially due to low income) to see the movie?

If this is something you want to do have you contacted any venues about it to see whether or not they would support a free screening?

pullofgravity323 karma

absolutely. We are looking for agencies/organizations/sponsors to cover the costs of doing free screenings for youth, communities, etc.

SilasDG185 karma

Thanks for the quick response!

I was going to ask about making donations but I checked out your support page on your website.

Guys if you haven't looked through the site to see whats going on and how you can help you should. Honestly it's humbling.

pullofgravity136 karma

thank you so much! Please use the contact form on www.pullofgravityfilm.com to get directly in touch with myself and the co-director, Jon.

MapleSyrupJizz220 karma

You shot him with his gun or your own?

pullofgravity873 karma

my own, unregistered, illegally purchased, no carry permit

Justagreewithme83 karma

Seeing as you used an illegally owned/acquired firearm, what are your views on gun control. More specifically, how did you illegally acquire a gun, and would stricter laws prevent it? Would harsher sentences for firearms have deterred pre-convicted you of buying a firearm to begin with? Would stricter laws reduced access I your opinion?

pullofgravity291 karma

i believe that stricter gun laws would not have deterred me from getting a gun. Look at Chicago and DC where it is illegal to own a gun for ANY reason, (I believe) and they still have high rates of gun violence. I bought my gun off the street so background checks would not have mattered. If there is a way to make money on a commodity (selling guns), people will find a way

ofa776168 karma

If you received 8-20 years by going to trial, what kind of plea deal were you offered? In retrospect do you wish you'd accepted it?

pullofgravity310 karma

I actually admitted to the shooting, expecting that I would be found guilty of a lesser charge (because it was self defense) so I turned down a plea deal for 8-16 years

marr732 karma

If adult you was a jury member in the trial, would you have voted to convict your younger self?

pullofgravity687 karma

wow good question. To me it was never a question of whether I was guilty or innocent, I admitted that I shot the guy. But at the time I thought I should have been charged with a lesser crime because of the circumstances.

So the me today would probably convict the me back then of a lesser charge. So maybe simple assault instead of aggravated assault, if that makes sense.

jdogrun631 karma

I was sent to jail when i was 19 for drugs, i served just under 4 full years federal time, done 5years probation, now have AA degree and 4 classes away from my BA. I have had only two jobs since I have been out and my current job is in the financial sector. congrats to you. they dont make it easy when you get home but you can make it. sometimes it feels like all the hoops you have to jump through are designed to make you fail. nothing on the inside helps prepare you for going home. wish you the best with your project and again congrats!

pullofgravity362 karma

thanks so much and please stay in touch. PM me or contact on the website: www.pullofgravityfilm.com

setafortasay479 karma

Congrats on getting out and doing something good, I really respect what you are doing.

pullofgravity271 karma

thank you!

saurebummer278 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA!

What do you think are the most important steps that can be taken to reduce recidivism? How can we, as a society, help more ex-cons become productive members of society? Do you think there is hope that we will see meaningful change in the way the criminal justice system handles the re-entry of prisoners into society (if you think that change is needed)?

Are there any screenings of the documentary planned in the Boston or NY areas?

pullofgravity308 karma

Thanks for the BIG question :) Hope this answers some of it.

There is hope for change. The fact that The US Attorney here has supported the film, and is implementing various re-entry programs symbolizes alot. There is a slow but steady growth in focus on re-entry issues spreading throughout the U.S.

I strongly believe that changing the environment IN prison would help reduce recidivism. In my experience it was the lifers inside who invested in me, fostered my ambition to come home and do positive work.

We are working on screenings in NYC and Boston. Please PM/inbox me if you have any leads. thank you!

flameohotmen225 karma

Did you make very good friends with some fellow inmates in jail? What is it like to be on the outside while they're on the inside?

pullofgravity372 karma

Thanks for being patient.

I made a lot of friends there. I was there from age 17-25, the early part of adulthood. I dont feel bad or guilty about being out here as long as I make good use of my time and try to do good.

When I write to friends inside I talk about how good it is out here, things I've done etc, not to rub it in, but because when I was inside, those are the things you want to hear about, you kind of live vicariously through people's letters to you.

Its hard to explain to somebody how you are happy out here knowing that they cannot be happy out here with you. Its always been tough for me to do that. Being on the outside I try to live my life like how I know my people on the inside would want me to, and how I myself always wanted to while inside.

pullofgravity299 karma

I would like to take some time to respond to this, I will come back and answer this question. thank you

broken33217 karma

What were the circumstances that led you into selling drugs at that time?

pullofgravity564 karma

I had a relatively "normal" childhood until my dad died when I was 10. He was the breadwinner in the house. I started selling drugs to feed my family. It was the early 90's and crack was everywhere. my older brothers got me into the game, and thats how we fed our family for many years.

iwantbeerrightmeow213 karma

My husband was incarcerated for two years and said that eating with a metal spoon for the first time was the strangest thing (after eating with a plastic spork for two years). What strange things did you find to be alien when you got out?

pullofgravity368 karma

Doorknobs, flushing the toilet, women ;), children, flavors in food. (prison food all tastes the same, bland overcooked)

pullofgravity418 karma

and Reddit! this shit is crazy and I've been home for ten years!

wesleyt89129 karma

What new inventions blew your mind that you saw when you were first released?

pullofgravity367 karma

internet, wifi, flatscreen tvs, laptops, Tivo/DVR. Anything made by Apple!

captcutty166 karma

hey el, glad you're doing this AMA. jon introduced us at penn last week (i'm going to be a DA in philly in the fall).

all of these questions are so serious! just seeing you on the film, i know you're like the epitome of easy going, so how about this.....what's the first fun thing you did after you were released? go see a movie? get some trim? i mean, you were under lock and key for 8 years, how did you celebrate?????

pullofgravity219 karma

Yo A! (jon is here too) First fun thing I did was a friend of mine came from out of town and took me shopping for a couple hours ( I was still in the halfway house).

Man, just having the freedom and time to hang out, being driven around without supervision... mind blowing! Having a sense that everything is open to you...

PhilGarber162 karma

Hi Mr. Sawyer,

I'm a documentary photographer starting a portraiture series of inmates. I want to show the basic humanity of all of persons, and that everyone deserves dignity and respect. I'll send you my official statement of intent if you'd like; perhaps we could collaborate at some point.

Phil Garber


Beyond my pitch, I wanted to say you seem like a good guy - I think your film will help a lot of people. Have you considered Kickstarter/IndieGoGo? Best of luck.

pullofgravity123 karma

Thank you so much Mr. Garber, please PM/inbox me and I will respond after the AMA.

duddle119 karma

Hate to be the one who asks this but I am genuinely interested considering I had a few cousins who were in prison.. Were you raped?

pullofgravity198 karma

No I was not, thankfully. A lot of people were. I really think it was just luck that I was not, there's nothing you can do physically to stop if its going to happen. Out of the 6 guys I came into the prison with, 4 of them were raped within the first week of being there.

ToxicRat71 karma

What do they do about rapists in prison? Does it really go unpunished?

pullofgravity116 karma

to my knowledge it almost always goes unpunished, just like a lot of the non-sexual assaults. Two things can happen if you report it (or any assault) : 1. you report it and cooperate, which then means you are labeled a snitch and will never be safe again. 2. or you could report and not cooperate, and they will ship you to another jail (which could be 5 hours further from home, harder to visit, more $$ to call home, etc) and call it "keeping you safe.

Karmaman997995 karma

How was it like in jail, is it like in the movies ?

pullofgravity287 karma

Which movies? Overall, I would say no its not like the movies. Its hard to show in movies the mental fuck of it all, the oppressed feeling of being an inmate, being watched, locked down. Limited access to anything. You are a "security risk" to society. The feeling of looking at people around you, swearing that you don't want that to be you, feeling like you are different than everybody else in there but you are all grouped together.

ThereAreDozensOfUs88 karma

While in prison, did you see or hear exchanges where tricks of the trade were exchanged between prisoners? I know while I was in college many of my classes taught us that in prison, criminals just became better criminals by telling each other what worked and didn't work.

Do you believe that if the War on Drugs was ended tomorrow, gang violence would significantly decrease?

This one might seem a bit off topic, but since youre leading classes of at risk youth, I need to ask: Is drug education for not just at risk youth, but youth altogether (alcohol included), a priority? I ask because I feel that drug abuse has such a strong grasp on our society due to our lack of education on the matter

pullofgravity110 karma

Great questions. We kind of take for granted that our students know a lot about drugs because they are around it 24/7 :/ but now that you mention it, its something we should address. Our students are high schoolers, so half of them are probably smoking weed and drinking, but easily could end up addicted to harder drugs. Especially now with prescription drugs... percs, xannies, its all over the hood, and there is def a lack of education around that.

ThereAreDozensOfUs40 karma

Excellent! It's something that I advocate and try to push more and more as to ensure that if the youth is going to be doing these things, they need to be doing them in a safe environment where they are educated on what they are taking, and what it does to their body. I look at things like DARE (which I was subjected to), and the "just say no" route isn't working anymore. That approach, combined with showing grotesque pictures of what happens in the worst case scenarios, is inefficient at this point. Kids are doing these things regardless of the horror stories. It's time to have them informed to cut back on the horror stories

thank you for your time!

pullofgravity100 karma

I agree, and i feel the same about "scared straight" programs. Instead of trying to drive fear into young people, we should educate them holistically on these kinds of issues

hachejay69 karma

What was your first day out of Prison like?

pullofgravity261 karma

It was exciting to be home but I was sent to a halfway house, so the excitement was trumped by being in a quasi-prison. I got car sick on the way to the halfway house because I hand't been in a car in 8 years!

SensibleMadness64 karma

You stated that you were dealing drugs at the time of the incident. Did you have any plans for your future prior to all of this? What were they? Do you think, given the situation you were in, you would have been able to achieve those goals?

Note that I'm not in any way trying to suggest that prison was good for you or anything like that, I'm more trying to understand where you thought your life was heading prior to having it cut off for 8 years.

pullofgravity124 karma

I appreciate the question, its a good one. You never know what life has in store for you and I think about that all the time. I consider myself very fortunate having been through everything ive been through. At the time not only did I not have any goals, i felt like i had no talents or skills to obtain anything besides street money.

chrix11163 karma

How much time elapsed between the day of actual crime/incident and your first day in prison? Curious how long this sort of ordeal takes.

pullofgravity108 karma

Heres a quick breakdown of my case:

Crime, arrested 2 days later, adjudication hearing 1 week later, pre trial hearing 4 months after that, trial 8 months after that, sentencing 1 month after that, then within two weeks I was sent "upstate" as its called for processing/intake for 3 months, then I was sent to the Graterford prison where I served the remainder. So about a year between crime and arrival at the final prison.

chrix11150 karma

That's a really long time to be in limbo, that sucks. Were you out on bail at any point during this?

pullofgravity75 karma

No bail.

naphini43 karma

Were you in jail all those months before and during the trial?

pullofgravity64 karma

yes, no bail

mxdtrini38 karma

Did that year in limbo count as time served?

pullofgravity76 karma

Yes it counted towards my 8-20 years.

0hai_59 karma

Did you meet any other inmates that felt they were wrongly convicted (e.g., given a harsher sentence)?

pullofgravity206 karma

so many... especially with strict sentencing guidelines that Pennsylvania has where you can be convicted by association and conspiracy laws. I knew a guy was snatching purses downtown, he was across the street and his friend grabbed a lady's purse. She fell and hit her head and died, and they both were sentenced to life without parole..

jimpreston89321 karma

His name is earl, and he has biceps larger than most peoples waists. I've actually met him in Graterford. I believe he is in his mid 50's. He likes his tim's and hangs out with the guy who is nearly blind who served in 'nam. Small world. Real cool guy, he's got a 60's harley that his friends are holding for him that I hope one day he gets reunited with if the governor ever grants him amnesty.

pullofgravity256 karma

please inbox me!!! it is Earl!! thats so crazy. Were you locked up there?

Are_Six32 karma

Woah, what?

Is there something that guy left out of his statement? I find it hard to fathom that a dude got life for not being directly involved in the crime.

pullofgravity169 karma

I did not leave anything out. The crazy part is that his partner who actually grabbed the purse was 14 at the time so he got "juvenile life" (until age 21), then released. The guy who was across the street and did NOT grab the purse, was 16 at the time, and was sentenced to regular life.

BillTowne113 karma

We should not forget the woman who died. She was much more innocent in this than the 16 year-old.

pullofgravity93 karma

absolutely. thank you for pointing that out.

artegos48 karma

how is your relationship with your son now? were you able to see him much while you were in prison and have you been able to bond with him since you've been home?

also, a lot changes in 8 years. how did the internet, cell phones and social media change since you got locked up and did it freak you out at all?

pullofgravity119 karma

I went away in 1995 and came home in 2003. Just the random common access to cell phones and the existence of the internet when I came home was really strange. When people come home, there is a huge amount of "acting" as if they were not away. So even if I was uncomfortable with something, I never shared that with anyone. Thats part of the mind set of people coming home that I want to shed light on... the fear and how crippling that fear can be to growth.

pullofgravity48 karma

Hi everyone, just getting back on, will start answering again momentarily.

swagginskersky47 karma

did you shoot him out of fear for your own life or more so because you didn't want to give up your product and money? also had you witnessed violence like that prior?

pullofgravity85 karma

It was a little of both, also anger, fear, disbelief (it was a guy who I trusted). I was surrounded by violence, it was a part of the life I was living at the time.

imlost1926 karma

If you had the chance to go back and do it again, would you still defend yourself or let him run off with the product confrontation free.

pullofgravity197 karma

I would let him run off without shooting if I had to do it again of course. But the thing is, who knows what would have happened to me next? I could have got killed the next day, locked up and gone to a different prison. As fucked up as the whole thing is, I'm in a place now where I can reach out and help others that are in simliar situations.

Schnippedilderich45 karma

Do you think there is racism inherent in the US justice system?

pullofgravity148 karma

short answer yes. Racism, classism, from police to courts, to prison. In no way shape or form did I have a "jury of my peers." Google jury selection process... and read "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander.

Beemorriscats40 karma

What did you miss the most while you were in prison?

pullofgravity108 karma

1 is family by far. My son was 1 when i went away. Prom, school, friends, meeting people, women, fresh air, freedom... so much

FlyingHigh2339 karma

Do you live with a lot of guilt in terms of the time you missed witht he little one growing up?

pullofgravity105 karma

absolutely. I've been home for ten years and its basically taken this long to realize i cant change the past. But I just work hard on my relationship with him, and make sure I don't make that mistake again.

alethiometer2139 karma

Does the film talk about race relations and the role of racism in recidivism?

pullofgravity68 karma

the film does not address it overtly, but it is all over the film and clearly visible.

LactatingDuck39 karma

How well does media such as the wire reflect the drug game?

pullofgravity112 karma

On certain levels its pretty accurate. You have to remember its TV. All of those characters you get to know in the show are written, even if based on real people. Also shout out to Michael K. Wiliams (Omar from the Wire) for supporting this film! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EntpPSaWE2c

Jezz8437 karma

Did you get to try any toilet wine? if so.. how bad is it?

what food did you miss the most?

whats the strangest thing you saw while inside?

how much about the outside world did you get to hear about? Was there anything that you saw when getting out that made you "wtf?!"

pullofgravity103 karma

Never had toilet wine, was never tempted. Food i missed the most: Cap'n Crunch and Turkey Hill Iced Tea (local brand) Strangest thing I saw while inside were probably suicides. The outside world was limited to letters, newspapers, and MTV.

Sidenote: MTV perpetuates a false depiction of reality and society so prisoners take that as truth. Then they come home and face real reality and are shell shocked.

Sub8male34 karma

How do you get first name like "El"?

pullofgravity56 karma

haha its in the movie! My nickname as a kid was Elvis.

antiandrea30 karma

What was the hardest thing to get used to about prison? I think the lack of privacy would drive me crazy.

Also, good on you for doing all you are. Best of luck!

pullofgravity58 karma

Thank you. Its hard to say because it was a whole 9-12 month process to go from arrest to prison. Each time you go to a new place, you are brought into a deeper level of incarceration and institutionalization. In that first period of trials, local jails etc, you are still trying to get your life together on the outside, bills, communication etc etc.

So when I got upstate it was in stages also. First missed my son, then missing my girl, then having to really adjust to being around the hardest people you could possibly imagine 24/7.

bigcatdaddy30429 karma

You had a really bad attorney. Thats the main debate of the 2nd amendment right now is self defense against self and property.

pullofgravity95 karma

my attorney was terrible. He fell asleep during trial, gave piss poor arguments, didn't do any pre-trial motions for jury selection. And he was not a public defender, I paid him for his services.

pullofgravity28 karma

Breaking for dinner, will be back at 9:30pm EDT/eastern time to answer more questions, so please keep asking in the meantime. Thank you all for your amazing questions!

schmidt9825 karma

is there alot of " don't drop the soap" jokes in prison?

Were you ever attacked and did you join a gang?

pullofgravity97 karma

no theres not a lot of those jokes. that shit is not a joke. Its not like the movies where there is rampant homosexuality in prison, but there is definitely a subculture of "predators", and so joking about isn't the norm.

I did not join a gang but had a good network of friends. I definitely had my share of fights and spent a lot of time in the hole.

OptimumWaste19 karma

In the hole? Come again.

pullofgravity63 karma

solitary confinement. Segregated from the general population. 6x9 cell. 23 hours in, 1 hour out each day. The 1 hour is usually for shower and time in a small, caged in yard about 12x20ft. Longest I was there was for 90 days

smurftheburn7 karma

How did you get out at your minimum term if you were a "bad" inmate?

pullofgravity11 karma

i wouldnt say I was a "bad" inmate, I considered myself to be pretty good actually. Any of the discipline I faced for fighting etc took place early in my sentence, so I had enough "clean" time to go home at my first parole hearing.

OuchLOLcom22 karma

Are you allowed to leave the country? Why not go somewhere else?

pullofgravity58 karma

I am allowed to leave the country with permission from my parole officer. I'm on parole for two more years.

spitfire910722 karma

what kind of job do you have now?

pullofgravity66 karma

I am one of the directors of a community arts non-profit organization in North Philly (www.villagearts.org) we provide free classes and after-school programming to youth and adults in dance, fashion, music, photo, etc. I also do freelance film work as a director/producer.

royalteet20 karma

Im curious about your and the general reaction of inmates when 9/11 happened...

pullofgravity30 karma

wow... i think its safe to say that the prison where I was was not the most patriotic place... if you can imagine that. It was a really scary time for everyone in there, we thought the whole of America was under attack. The general reaction was shock of course. It was a time where our separation from society was really amplified. Most people were probably on the phone with their loved ones, and we were just stuck. Also, there was a mandate among the guards to take anyone to the hole who said anything anti-american in the days that followed 9/11.

mogadishupimp19 karma

Out of curiosity what drugs were you selling?

pullofgravity39 karma

"Crack, weed, whatever was selling he was selling it." -quote from my brother in the movie.

AlludingIllusion18 karma

Could you describe why you went to prison and it was not considered self-defense? Thanks for the AMA.

pullofgravity38 karma

the guy who tried to rob me (with a gun) was found by the police two blocks away bleeding, with no gun. He testified against me in court.

Mozadus16 karma

Do you think you would have been better off if you killed him outright?

pullofgravity58 karma

better off? no. And it was never my intention to kill him. It was a split section reaction. Shoot or be shot.

horrormoviess14 karma

I can relate. I just got out of prison on Jan 26th this year for a gun charge. My life's been forever changed, i have a really hard time relating to people now and although my education allows me to have a good life despite all thats happened i dont feel like i'll ever truly be who i was before prison. I don't agree with affiliating yourself with the gov prosecutors etc. but who am i to say what you should and shouldnt do. I guess what i'm saying is prison fucking sucks and changes your life.

pullofgravity24 karma

Thanks for your comment. I don't necessarily agree with what the prosecutors do by default. But the fact that they are supporting this documentary, and starting to invest in re-entry is a start. I see this as a chance to keep kids from going to jail and help those coming home reintegrate successfully

quarkdown13 karma

You mention that you have been dedicating yourself to community service and video production since you've been out of prison. Is there anything specific that prompted you to want to choose this as a career path? Did you have a plan of what you wanted to achieve once out of prison before you got out of prison?

Do you think most of the inmates you knew felt like you (want to make a difference) or were their attitudes more different?

pullofgravity29 karma

I wanted to give youth an opportunity that I didn't have, because I feel that if I had had some opportunities like video, art, etc, I would not have ended up in prison. My plan was to do what I'm doing now! Work in the community, mentor youth, produce cause-oriented films.

I wouldn't say a lot of individuals in prison feel the same way, but there are some. There are some that do not wait until they come home to start making a difference, i.e. the lifers who looked out for me and pushed me forward.

Iseeburritos13 karma

Good Gosh man down here in Texas you would have received a medal not 8 years. Do you regret shooting the perp? Not for the reason of doing prison time but for actually taking someones life?

pullofgravity28 karma

I don't regret defending myself at all. I regret that the whole situation changed my life. At the time I had a one year old son (now 19) and I missed his whole childhood, and a girlfriend and family that I had to leave behind who was depending on me. Also, the guy I shot did not die and he testified against me in court.

penis_of_justice11 karma

Big personal question; what happened to your son and girlfriend, are you estranged from them now?

pullofgravity28 karma

my girlfriend (sons mom) was married by the time I came home. They both live out of state now. My releationship with my son is strained for sure. Jon (the co-director) interviewed him for the film and we found out he really doesn't know much about me. But we stay in touch (my son)

penis_of_justice14 karma

Thanks for the response, respect for what you're doing bro :)

pullofgravity12 karma

thank you!

tredefing-2 karma

This sounds more like a drug deal gone bad, of which you weren't prepared for, and still don't accept, the consequences of the risk you were taking. Two dudes hanging out on the fringes of society, participating in actions that not only do they know are illegal, but very dangerous. 'deal gone bad' might be too much of a positive spin even- I can't believe you wouldn't disagree that performing these actions over a certain period of time and something like this will happen more often than not. Of course, being 17 maybe you feel like your 'time' wasn't up yet, but still...

pullofgravity5 karma

I dont disagree with this. Both me and the guy I shot understood that that was part of the game, it could happen anytime. To clarify, im not trying to justify any of my actions, but in that instance I felt I had to defend myself.

Poncheezled11 karma

8 years of your life wasted. Do you feel like you deserved it or were you shocked that you were found guilty?

Edit- Also, if you can describe the altercation between you and the robber, thanks.

pullofgravity36 karma

I wasn't shocked that I was found guilty. I was shocked that I was given so much time considering the circumstances. At the time I felt that both me and the robber were in the same game, and he understood the possible consequences of his actions (robbing me/getting shot as a result).

actonesceneone9 karma

Have you ran into this man since you've been released? Excellent read, best of luck and thanks very much!

pullofgravity25 karma

have not run into him. thanks for your posts.

BorderColliesRule9 karma

Is Film/video production a common work skills program in prisons? Did you have to quality via behavior and aptitude to take these courses? And was the quality of education good enough to get your foot in the door once you were released or did you need to take follow on courses afterwards?

pullofgravity23 karma

No to everything! But for real, film/video is not a common work skills program. There were inmates documenting programs in the prison, and I basically attached myself to them and started learning. There was a project that brought visual artists into the prison to work with inmates. They had a filmmaker with them to document the process, and he was not allowed to bring his own equipment and had to use inmate crew, and I jumped right in. That filmmaker came to the prison several times a week for years and taught me. When I got out, I shadowed him on his own projects, and eventually started doing my own.

ThePalinImpaler5 karma

Do you carry a gun now?

pullofgravity10 karma

no i do not.

kwikymart7113 karma

Hi, I just want to say thank you for shedding light on issues like this. A friend of mine had a very similar situation happen to him (selling drugs, had a concealed carry, guy ran away after robbing him and he plugged and killed him). He is currently facing some grave charges (Florida self-defense doesn't entail a fleeing victim) and I was wondering if you have any advice for him? I'm glad to see you're doing something about what happened to you, cheers.

pullofgravity2 karma

Im sorry to hear that, both for your friend and the victim. All I can say is he needs a good lawyer.

Civilmack3 karma

Interesting story. Do you think your sentence could have been at all related to the "kids for cash" scandal? Sorry if this was already addressed.


pullofgravity4 karma

pretty sure that was much later than when I was in trial. But that story is terrible, and probably happens alot more than we know.

PufffDaddy2 karma

You shot him with his gun or your gun? what country are you in?

pullofgravity4 karma

shot him with my gun. Philadelphia, PA, USA

3a4a2 karma

Do you know where that guy is now? Do you want to just punch him in the face for putting your life in danger, forcing you to defend yourself, and getting 8 years of punishment for it? Or are you at peace with the whole ordeal?

pullofgravity16 karma

I'm at total peace with the whole ordeal. It wasn't him who sent me away either. Like I said before, being in the game, you know the potential consequences. It was my decision to be selling drugs and carrying a gun in the first place.

immabeatchoo1 karma

Can you recommend any non-profits or volunteer organizations that allow people to do the sort of arts programs that you had access to while on the inside? I would love to do an arts program with inmates in California, but have had trouble finding in organization that does this. Do you think organizations that work with inmates in arts and literacy have an impact during and after re-entry? What can someone on the outside do to help those on the inside? Thanks for doing this AMA!

pullofgravity1 karma

there are several. please inbox me and will respond after the AMA.

conaddr1 karma

Is your position at Village Arts paid? Do you feel like you are in any way profiting from your crime and time you spent serving?

pullofgravity6 karma

My position is paid. I volunteered here at The Village for a year before I was hired. And I worked my way from up from cutting grass to teaching video to managing programs to director of operations. I worked hard and paid many dues over the past 10 years to gain a skill and recognition for filmmaking, and I hope this film will help others. Do I think i'm profiting from my crime and time served? No.

Fwyatt2501 karma

What did you do to try to make your sentence easier?

pullofgravity1 karma

sentence in court or time in prison?

Fwyatt2501 karma

Time in prison.

pullofgravity1 karma

I stayed busy. Was always doing something constructive, different programs (no matter how dumb or trivial they seemed), worked out, school, and different jobs I had.

QuigsTottalyRocks1 karma

Do you think referring to being an armed drug dealer refering to his trade as "the game" is your way of playing down what you were doing, and maybee masks the severity of the danger of the situation. It's like the scene in the Holy Grail where the knight says "It's just a flesh wound."

pullofgravity7 karma

No, thats what it is called by those who are in it. By no means am I attempting to downplay what I was doing. I referred to it as "the game" because thats what its called. I've never heard it called "the underground economy of profiting off of illegal drug sales."

G3n0c1de1 karma

Did you legally obtain the gun that you shot this guy with?

pullofgravity1 karma

no, bought it off the street

G3n0c1de1 karma

Did that play into the opposition's case against self defence? Do you think it affected the outcome?

pullofgravity1 karma

No not at all. I wasn't charged with any gun crimes.

HeroicLuke-6 karma

Are you more sorry that you killed someone or are you more sorry that you spent time in prison for it?

pullofgravity3 karma

I didn't kill anyone!