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Cellblocks to Mountaintops

Cellblocks to Mountaintops

A podcast and video series that examines how America addresses violence, defines justice and seeks accountability through the journey of one man. Years after committing a horrific crime, Sterling Cunio fully faces the ripple effects of the harm he caused. Through the power of artistic expression and human connections and inspired by restorative justice principles, he forges a remarkable personal transformation while serving decades in prison.

This story is a poignant reminder that hope, healing, and redemption are never beyond reach, even in the darkest of places.

To see our companion video series and find out more about the show, go to our website at CellblockstoMountaintops.com

© Narrative Alchemy 2024 - 2026

A podcast and video series that examines how America addresses violence, defines justice and seeks accountability through the journey of one man. Years after committing a horrific crime, Sterling Cunio fully faces the ripple effects of the harm he caused. Through the power of artistic expression and human connections and inspired by restorative justice principles, he forges a remarkable personal transformation while serving decades in prison.

This story is a poignant reminder that hope, healing, and redemption are never beyond reach, even in the darkest of places.

To see our companion video series and find out more about the show, go to our website at CellblockstoMountaintops.com

© Narrative Alchemy 2024 - 2026
6hr 18min
Thumbnail for "Introducing: Cellblocks to Mountaintops ".
​​"Cellblocks to Mountaintops"  examines how America addresses violence, defines justice, and seeks accountability through the journey of one man. Years after committing a horrific crime, Sterling Cunio continues to face the ripple effects of the harm he caused. Through the power of artistic expression and human connections and inspired by restorative justice principles, he forges a remarkable personal transformation while serving decades in prison. This story is a poignant reminder that hope, healing and redemption are never beyond reach, even in the darkest of places. This show has 8 podcast episodes and 14 mini-documentary companion videos. For more information, please go to our website: www.cellblockstomountaintops.com
Thumbnail for "Gasping for Air".
Wildfires, phone calls and fire hydrants
Thumbnail for "Bonus Episode: Behind the Scenes ".
Director Lydia B. Smith and Host Phil Stockton discuss the making of the series.
Thumbnail for "Making Amends - Episode 1 "If I Die Tomorrow, What Legacy Do I Have?" ".
Making Amends - A podcast series that investigates the heavy use of incarceration as a response to the harms of crime.
Thumbnail for "Video 1A - The Hearing".
Video 1A: The Hearing: A Bid for Freedom
Thumbnail for "Throw Away the Key".
The hearing: A bid for freedom
Thumbnail for "Video 2A - A Legal Quagmire".
Examining the complexities of juvenile justice
Thumbnail for "The Making of a "Superpredator"???".
From a happy home at 12 to life without parole at 16.
Thumbnail for "Video 3A – Anthony’s Story".
How childhood trauma led Anthony to prison
Thumbnail for "Push. The. Button. ".
A teen’s tale of life inside
Thumbnail for "Video 4B Excerpts from "The Bucket"".
The performance of his life
Thumbnail for "Video 4A - Turning Points".
Sterling turns a corner and sees the light.
Thumbnail for " Love, Loss & Art ".
Compassion, connection and creativity spark transformation
Thumbnail for "Video 5C True Accountability".
Acknowledging the harm caused
Thumbnail for "Video 5B Class Inside ".
College students get schooled in prison
Thumbnail for " Video 5A  Restorative Justice".
Owning your actions
Thumbnail for "Restorative Justice".
Changing prison culture at Oregon State Penitentiary
Thumbnail for "Video 6B – The Rehearsal".
Strategizing for the hearing
Thumbnail for "Video 6A – Fresh Hope".
A potential path to freedom?
Thumbnail for "Standards of Decency".
Life or life without parole - for juvenile offenders that is the question
Thumbnail for " Video 7B – Yellow Fire Hydrant ".
The significance of the yellow fire hydrant becomes clear
Thumbnail for "Video 7A - The Decision".
Finally, to be released?
Thumbnail for "Video 8B - Antonio Sánchez Performs “The Bucket” ".
Another repeat performance of a lifetime
Thumbnail for "Video 8A – An Act of Mercy".
A phone call moves Sterling to tears
Thumbnail for "A Path Forward ".
Let’s build a movement, not an empire
Thumbnail for "Cellblocks to Mountaintops Video Trailer".
​​"Cellblocks to Mountaintops"  examines how America addresses violence, defines justice, and seeks accountability through the journey of one man. Years after committing a horrific crime, Sterling Cunio continues to face the ripple effects of the harm he caused. Through the power of artistic expression and human connections and inspired by restorative justice principles, he forges a remarkable personal transformation while serving decades in prison. This story is a poignant reminder that hope, healing and redemption are never beyond reach, even in the darkest of places. This show has 8 podcast episodes and 14 mini-documentary companion videos. For more information, please go to our website: www.cellblockstomountaintops.com

Gasping for Air

Thumbnail for "Gasping for Air".
April 11, 202430min 49sec

Everything stopped in 2020 with the global Covid-19 pandemic, but in Oregon, another catastrophe was underway… unprecedented wildfires. Prisons across the state were forced to evacuate, adding even more strain to an outdated infrastructure. The twists and turns of Sterling’s legal battles finally come to a head.

Watch Sterling’s attorneys and loved ones react to the results of the hearing in The Decision.  See Anthony’s life take a sharp turn in Yellow Fire Hydrant.

Correction: Four prisons were evacuated to Oregon State Penitentiary in September of 2020 not three as mentioned in the podcast.  Coffee Creek Correction Facility, a women’s prison also has an Intake Center which processes both men and women.  The men from Coffee Creek Intake Center were evacuated to Oregon State Penitentiary.


To watch our companion videos, read the transcripts, and to see our complete show notes with media links, sources, and references please visit our website: www.cellblockstomountaintops.com

Featured in this episode:

Sterling Cunio

Karuna Thompson, Former Prison Chaplain and Victim Liaison at the Oregon Department of Corrections

Alleen Brown, Independent Investigative Reporter covering climate change and its impact on communities with a focus on prison populations

Ryan O’Connor, Criminal Defense Attorney

Cheryl Cunio

Professor Aliza Kaplan, Professor of Lawyering and Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Chloe Williams, Criminal Defense Attorney

Anthony Pickens

Companion Videos for this Episode:

Video 7A - The Decision

Video 7B - Yellow Fire Hydrant