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Prison Reform

This guide is designed to help you find material available on Prison Reform in the United States.

Films on Demand Service

There are a number of videos available on this subject, both on the internet and through our available databases. This page features some useful examples. For more, we recommend accessing the Films on Demand database.

Videos

There are more African-Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. In this edition of Moyers & Company, Bill speaks with civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander, whose book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness has become a bestseller and spurred a wide conversation about justice and inequality in America, inspiring one reviewer to call it “the bible of a social movement.” This program also includes an excerpt from the documentary Susan, by Tessa Blake and Emma Hewitt. The film tells the story of former California inmate Susan Burton, who runs five houses offering help to women struggling to rebuild their lives after prison.

 

For decades, the state of Louisiana has been known as the incarceration capital of America. But over the past year, the state has been trying to shed that reputation with new reforms that decrease the prison population and save money. William Brangham went to find how it's playing out for former prisoners, in a story produced by Frank Carlson in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

The math, according to many experts, is simple: it costs $75,000 a year to incarcerate a nonviolent offender but only $5,000 to help that individual live productively in freedom. Meanwhile, the number of Americans behind bars has reached an astonishing level with virtually no sign of falling. This film explores the troubling realities that lie behind those statistics—the revolving door of institutionalization, the complexities of reform, and the frequent disregard for programs that can help ex-offenders succeed in society. Featuring interviews with more than 25 experts in the fields of law, policy-making, criminal justice, addiction treatment, and child development, the film also profiles nonviolent offenders who have turned their lives around after completing remediation and literacy programs. Viewers learn about facilities that have proven track records for helping both juvenile and adult offenders find lawful, rewarding paths to the future.

 

FRONTLINE investigates the impact of mass incarceration in America.