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Incarcerating US

Exposes America's prison problem and explores various criminal justice reforms.

A printer-friendly version of this page 84 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Regan Hines
Produced by Vincent Vittorio
Director of Photography: Jonathan Baudoin
Composer: Lewis Hurrell
Editor: Asher Emmanuel
A Production of Life is My Movie Entertainment

"A film that everyone interested in understanding the history and dynamics of incarceration in the US should view!" Howard Zehr, Prof. Emeritus, Sociology & Restorative Justice, Eastern Mennonite University
[Note: Community screenings of Incarcerating US can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Incarcerating US exposes America's prison problem and explores ways to unshackle the "land of the free" through vital criminal justice reforms. With 2.3 million people behind bars, the U.S. has the largest prison population in the history of the world.

Through dramatic first-hand accounts, expert testimony, and shocking statistics, Incarcerating US asks fundamental questions about the prison system in America: What is the purpose of prison? Why did our prison population explode in the 1970s? What can make our justice system more just?

The film begins with a brief overview of U.S. prisons and the flawed policies that fueled unprecedented overincarceration. In many cases, these laws exacerbate problems they were designed to solve. Through both empirical evidence and the eyes of those tragically affected by the system for committing minor crimes, we see the failures of two major initiatives: the War on Drugs and mandatory minimum sentences.

Incarcerating US tells the story of America's broken criminal justice system through the eyes of those who created it, those who have suffered through it, and those who are fighting to change it. After decades of failures, now is the time to unshackle the land of the free.

Grade Level: 9 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2016     Copyright Date: 2016
DVD ISBN: 1-941545-62-9

"A gripping depiction of the drug war run amok, showing in deeply human terms how inequality, racism, and politics have led to the most massive wave of imprisonment in American history. This heart-felt film provides excellent background on the causes and consequences of the mass incarceration crisis."
Craig Reinarman, Professor of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of California-Santa Cruz, Author, Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice

"A powerful film, well-done. This is a film that everyone interested in understanding the history and dynamics of incarceration in the US should view!"
Howard Zehr, Co-director, Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, Professor Emeritus, Sociology and Restorative Justice, Eastern Mennonite University

"Brutal and honest...Extensively explains how the prison institution today is also a mental health facility, a school, a hospital, and more...A raw, emotionally charged film...A valuable resource for criminal justice or government classes."
Ellen Frank Bayer, School Library Journal

"This timely and powerful documentary draws much-needed attention to the human destruction of the War on Drugs and its harmful effect on individuals, families, and society. Incarcerating US should be widely shown in both college classrooms and community associations concerned with social justice. In addition to providing the historical and political context about mass incarceration, it shares touching stories of both hope and despair."
Marc Howard, Professor of Government, Professor of Law, Director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative, Georgetown University

"The casualties of America's 'war on drugs' are far-reaching...Drawing from a wide range of perspectives - attorneys who drafted federal crime policy, reform advocates, judges, and former prisoners - Incarcerating US effectively unravels the complexities and inequalities of America's criminal justice system. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries, Incarcerating US is a valuable resource for courses in criminal justice, law, political science, and sociology."
Douglas Reed, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Incarcerating US goes well beyond the headlines to expose in understandable terms the complex legal dynamics that make the war on drugs such a potent engine of excessive punishment and racial discrimination, while giving full voice to the human dignity of its victims."
Jonathan Simon, Professor of Law, Director of Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California-Berkeley, Author, Mass Incarceration on Trial

"Incarcerating US shows how incarceration rates have exploded in this country, and the humanitarian disaster that has resulted. It's essential viewing for anyone who cares about America and our collective humanity."
Ben Westhoff, Guardian UK

"Incarcerating US highlights the ascendancy of the Prosecutor, the true master of the court in many respects...The film does a superb job in following such chains of command and traces with cold precision the glittering legal maneuvers that cloud the static correctional form...It may be that the long religious history of prison - the monastery of the profane - is coming to an end."
Martin Billheimer, Counterpunch

"This film does a good job of tracing the events and policy decisions that have led us to the situation in which we find ourselves in terms of the high rate of incarceration in the US."
Cabell Cropper, Executive Director, National Criminal Justice Association

"Incarcerating US is the most comprehensive film to date describing key factors responsible for the creation and maintenance of our excessive incarceration appetite. This film should be required viewing for every public policy maker and member of our criminal justice community. It could be the beginning to the end of this nation's most disastrous public policy system since slavery."
Neill Franklin, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

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DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
DVD includes Scene Selection and SDH Captions (subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing).

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The film's website
The producers' website

Awards and Festivals
Best Documentary, Anthem Libertarian Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
Flicks 4 Change Film Festival
Science Books and Films Best Films List 2017

African-American Studies
American Studies
At-risk Youth
Criminal Justice
Human Rights
Mass Incarceration
Political Science
Race and Racism
Social Justice
War on Drugs

Related Titles

The Return
After California's "Three Strikes" law was amended, thousands of lifers were suddenly freed, but re-entry presented problems for the lifers, their families and their communities.

Tribal Justice
Documents an effective criminal justice reform movement in America: the efforts of tribal courts to return to traditional, community-healing concepts of justice.

Cocaine Unwrapped
Documents the devastating effects of the war on drugs and suggests realistic alternatives.

The Dhamma Brothers
An overcrowded maximum-security prison is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient meditation program.

Growing Season
Horticulture dramatically improves prisoners' attitudes.

... more Reviews

"Incarcerating US does a masterful job of explaining how the United States became the world's largest jailer and what that dubious distinction means for families, communities, and taxpayers. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you will walk away from this movie angry, informed, and ready to demand change."
Julie Stewart, President and Founder, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)

"Without a ban on alcohol, there would be no Al Capone. Without a ban on drugs, there would be no Mexican drug cartels nor heroin overdoses that have become an epidemic in the USA. And most of all, there would be no victims of 5-year and upwards mandatory minimum sentences such as Tracy Syphax...Extremely powerful film.....A very astute cast of interviewees."
Louis Proyect, The Unrepentant Marxist

"Highly Recommended...Clearly and effectively highlights the deficiencies of trying to heal America's ills with massive incarceration...This is a must see for everyday citizens and lawmakers alike."
Talibah E. Buchanan, Science Books and Films

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