Changing the Narrative
FROM INCARCERATION TO EDUCATION
It’s an alarming fact: with more than 2.3 million people held in federal prisons, state prisons, and local jails, the US imprisons more of its population than any other industrialized nation in the world. The vast majority of these 2.3 million people will not remain in custody forever - more than 97% of all US prisoners are eventually released - but there is a good chance they return to incarceration. In fact, most crimes in America are committed by individuals who have committed crimes before, with about 67% of state prisoners and 40% of federal prisoners facing rearrest within three years.
Recidivism, which refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, remains an active issue today, at a time when the US prison population has quadrupled since 1980.
We aim to combat these high rates of recidivism through documentary film that will be screened in prison and youth detention facilities. Shot and filmed specifically with an audience of the currently incarcerated in mind, it will engage and guide the viewer, directly connecting him or her to beneficial programs and resources available in his or her area with the aid of a resources database and program we are creating in tandem with the film. Studies show that higher education upon societal re-entry is key to lower recidivism and higher social mobility — contributing to enhanced earnings, increased civic engagement, and stronger families.
In addition to the first film, we are working with community-based organizations around the country to hold screenings for local government officials. We will supply the film, pamphlets, and guidance for screenings but allow the organizations the autonomy to create their personalized screening events that will make the biggest impact in their community. We hope that by showing these success stories, it will prove that once a criminal, not always a criminal. By educating and holding screenings for those who hold public office, we hope this will help those realize that current laws work against those with felony convictions to become productive citizens, and that the current situation is not conducive to successful rehabilitation and re-entry into society.
If “new entrants to prison are mostly people who have been sent back because we don’t provide good support, management, or services, when we have people in custody”, then it is clear that something must occur during the time of an individual’s time of incarceration in order to prevent them from inevitably re-entering a cycle of crime, discouragement, and overall hopelessness.
It is time to create a new cycle and to change the narrative.
Clarence Ford, Formerly Incarcerated Student at UC Berkeley.
“A great future does not require a great past.”