About This Collection
Since 2002, the United States has had the highest incarceration rate in the world. This month, WORLD Channel is showcasing films that explore themes of equality and inequality in our prison and justice system, and how even in confined and solitary conditions the human spirit is resilient.
On our original award-winning series AMERICA REFRAMED, women and immigrants feature prominently, from incarcerated women maintaining bonds with their children in Mothers of Bedford, to battered women serving life sentences for killing their abusers in The Perfect Victim, to a deported refugee who is at once a criminal and a victim, giving voice to his struggle through poetry in Cambodian Son. Other curated titles include FRONTLINE’s Solitary Nation and Prison State, POV’s Herman’s House and 15 to Life – Kenneth’s Story, and from INDEPENDENT LENS, The Trials of Muhammad Ali and Evolution of a Criminal.
Episodes In This Collection
Frontline: Solitary Nation
About 80,000 Americans are held in solitary confinement on any day. FRONTLINE reveals the experience of a punishment the U.S. uses more than most countries. Witness inmates fighting depression and suicide, officers who have to keep them locked up, and a warden re-thinking the practice and trying to reduce the number of inmates in solitary.
Profiles a group of inmates at the Davidson County Jail in Nashville, TN striving to break the cycle of abuse and addiction. In candid sessions, inmates grapple with the reasons behind their recidivism. The results of these programs and collaborations could benefit the U.S., a nation in which one in every five people serves time behind bars.
The Perfect Victim
Four incarcerated women were beaten, raped, sold, abused, and nearly killed by their husbands. Collectively, they spent over eighty-five years in prison, convicted for having killed their husbands to save their lives. Will the judicial system and a notoriously secretive Missouri parole board give them a chance to renew their lives?
Independent Lens: The Trials of Muhammad Ali
The story of the famed boxer's toughest bout of all: his battle to overturn the prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. The film explores Ali's exile years when he was banned from boxing and found himself in the crosshairs of conflicts concerning race, religion, and wartime dissent.
Frontline: Prison State
There are roughly 2.3 million people behind bars in the U.S., with a disproportionate number coming from a few city neighborhoods. More than two years in the making, FRONTLINE: Prison State takes an intimate look at the cycle of incarceration in America, and one state’s effort to reverse the trend.
Faith in the Big House
Explores the formulas used by Christian missionaries to convert inmates. At a maximum-security prison in Louisiana, evangelicals conduct a carefully scripted religious retreat. Five felons, handpicked by the Warden, join other inmates in this "Encounter with Christ". Can religion keep convicts from almost inevitably returning to lock-up?
Today, 2.3 million people in the U.S. call prison home. Nearly two-thirds of inmates will face re-arrest within three years, and nearly 50 percent will return to prison. In response to these disheartening statistics, one innovative program in Kansas aims to reduce the high rate of recidivism in an unexpected way — through the power of music.
P.O.V.: Herman’s House
Herman Wallace may be the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the U.S. - he's spent more than 40 years in a 6'x9' cell. Imprisoned for a robbery he admits, he was subsequently sentenced to life for a killing he denies. This is a moving account of the expression his struggle found in an unusual project proposed by artist Jackie Sumell.
Tavis Smiley Reports: Education Under Arrest
"Education Under Arrest," the second in a series of education specials from Tavis Smiley Reports, looks at the connection between the juvenile justice system and the dropout rate among American teens and the efforts by educators, law enforcement professionals, judges, youth advocates and the at-risk teens themselves to end this link.
P.O.V.: 15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story
Does sentencing a teenager to life without parole serve society? The United States is the only country in the world that routinely condemns children to die in prison. Follow a Florida man who received four life sentences at age 15 in this eye-opening film that reveals a justice system which routinely condemns young Americans to die in prison.
Mothers of Bedford
Is it possible to become a better mother while serving time in a maximum-security prison? Filmed over four years at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Mothers of Bedford explores the effects of a long-term prison sentence on the relationship between mother and child.
Independent Lens: Evolution of a Criminal
How does a 16-year-old go from honors student to bank robber? Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe explores the financial desperation that led him to turn to crime as a teenager in Texas, and returns to the scene of the crime to interview family members, close friends, and mentors to reflect on the aftermath.
Cruel and Unusual
Investigates the historic change to California’s Three Strikes law, which was the harshest sentencing law in the U.S. Narrated by Campbell Scott, the film takes a look into the prison system, revealing the tremendous social and human implications of mass incarceration, and examines the importance of rethinking American criminal justice.
Death and Politics at Attica
Sheds new light on exactly what happened at Attica between September 9-13, 1971. The film raises compelling questions about the 39 deaths at Attica, White House involvement, and the corrupting influence of Nelson Rockefeller's political aspirations before, during, and long after the deadly retaking of the prison.
“How do you survive when you belong nowhere?” Poet Kosal Khiev was lucky to escape war-torn Cambodia before he was two but deported to the country he’s never known after 14 years in jail. Follow a year in the life of the poet while he navigates his new fame as Phnom Penh’s premiere poet and receives the most important invitation of his career.