America ReFramed

A Woman on the Outside

Season 12  Episode 2


Kristal, a dynamic social worker from Philadelphia, is the founder of Bridging the Gap, a van service that takes families to visit their incarcerated loved ones in distant prisons. This mission is personal for Kristal. Her father has been in prison for 25 years, and her brother, Jarvae, for 11. Her eldest brother, Jabo, and other relatives also have histories of incarceration.

By some counts, one in four American women has had a loved one incarcerated, a rate that doubles for Black women like Kristal Bush. In an intimate vérité style, the film explores how the criminal justice system shapes every aspect of Kristal's life, despite her never having been behind bars herself. Beginning when her father and brother are in prison, the film vividly portrays the complex realities of their freedom after they are released. The narrative weaves together interviews and Kristal's cell phone footage, revealing  her passion, humor and resilience shine through as she strives to create a better future for herself and her young nephew, Nyvae. 

Filmed over four years, A WOMAN ON THE OUTSIDE is a deeply American story about the legacy of mass incarceration.