November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Incarcerating US | SLJ DVD Review

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redstarIncarcerating US. 84 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2015. $350 (PPR). Rental $95. ISBN 1941545629.

DVD-IncarceratingUSGr 9 Up –A brutal and honest look inside the U.S. prison system. Colorful graphics help viewers visualize alarming statistics. For example, the federal prison population rose from 36,000 in 1985 to 200,000 today. Five grams of drugs, the amount equal to a sweetener packet, can get someone a five-year sentence. Additionally, judges, under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, have little room for compassion. Experts in criminal justice, lawyers, and those who work in the prisons are interviewed. Eric Sterling, the executive director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, extensively explains how the prison institution today is also a mental health facility, a school, a hospital, and more. He explores the history of the prison system and analyzes the changes that placed so many people behind bars. The documentary will lead to reflection and critical thinking about the role prisons play in our justice system and whether our penal code system should be reformed. One caveat: the film is subjective and should be paired with other perspectives. Viewers can continue the dialogue by following @incarceratingUS on Twitter. VERDICT This is a raw, emotionally charged film about how the prison system has failed society. A valuable resource for criminal justice or government classes.–Ellen Frank Bayer, Flushing High School, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.

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