Join The Movement – Survivors Guide To Prison
The Survivors Guide To Prison highlights the ‘real’ problems with America’s correctional facilities, with prisons for profits and unfair sentences for minorities.
Prisons in the USA have long been the subject of programme’s and documentaries due to their violent culture and the simply astonishing things that go on in them. Journalists such as Louis Theroux, Trevor McDonald and Ross kemp amongst others have visited numerous prisons and correctional facilities in the US to give us a taste of what life is like behind the walls and barbed wire.
Now Netflix have just obtained a documentary made by director, Matthew Cooke, and featuring a cast of hip hop celebrities & actors including B-Real (Cypress Hill), Busta Rhymes, Danny Trejo & Danny Glover as well as former prison inmates and officers who have worked with prisoners at some time or another. The Survivors Guide To Prison was largely lauded on its release and provides a sobering look at life in prison for the inmates who can be facing the rest of their life behind bars.
Statistics surrounding American prisons aren’t great. You are more likely to go to prison in America than in most other countries in the world and in some parts of the country, more prisons have been built than schools and universities, outlining the problem the USA faces. Intermittently throughout the documentary, there is the story of two former prison inmates; Reggie Cole and Bruce Lisker who were imprisoned for years for crimes they didn’t actually commit and even when they were exonerated, no official apologies or reimbursements were ever really granted.
Plenty has been said about the floors in the American prison system and the fact that some inmates have been imprisoned for decades for crimes people would probably deem as not very serous at all. Some of the celebrities interviewed in the documentary have been inmates themselves at some point and you get a sense of this with some of the personal touches they bring to proceedings.
One of the biggest flaws in the American prison system that is touched upon is the fact that instead of showing nay interest in rehabilitating the inmates that perhaps are not too far gone to be saved, they can be exploited by private prisons who get grants off the government in order to house them. The government saw this as a way to deal with under staffing and overcrowding in many of its prisons and now the private correctional business is worth nearly $10 billion per year. There has been criticism levelled at the US government of prisoners being exploited for financial gain for not only themselves but the capitalist corporations that they work in conjunction with. It would appear modern day slavery does still exist even if the so called ‘Land of the free’, with prisoners working for literally dollars a day for Dow Jones listed multinationals.
While some people would argue that if you’re in prison in America, most of the time you deserve to be there for what you have done, however this documentary offers an eyeopening perspective and instead shifts focus to the questions that sometimes need to be asked. What if you’re actually innocent? What if you fall into a bad situation and get lost in the system for decades? Is America even interested in rehabilitating criminals or just exploiting them?
The Survivors Guide To Prison is a refreshingly honest, thought provoking, emotional and above all, harrowing look at the American justice system in all its glory and is now available to stream on Netflix.