Out of Control
is a 45 minute documentary that was recently broadcast on The Fifth Estate
program on Canadian TV. It is the story of "Ashley Smith . . . a troubled 19-year-old [who] choked herself to death with a strip of cloth at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ontario." The documentary features video shot inside Ashley Smith’s cell. It is a sad and at times disturbing look at the difficulties of dealing with a prisoner with mental illness. [Language and some images are NSFW].
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear
on Jan 9, 2010 -
Oscar-winning screenwriter for Pulp Fiction and many other films, pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving, following a crash that killed a passenger in his car in 2008. This September, he began to serve his sentence of one year in jail (followed by five years of probation). Naturally, he also began tweeting
about it. The bleak literary quality of his tweets (in which he refers to himself only as "#34") caught the attention of Mark Millan
at the LA Times -- and shortly thereafter, of the authorities. [more inside]
posted by Countess Elena
on Nov 28, 2009 -
"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."
On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash played two concerts at Folsom State Prison
with June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, and his band, the Tennessee Three. At Folsom Prison
, drawn mainly from the first show, is often ranked as one of the best albums of all time and turned Cash's career around
. Reporter Gene Beley covered the concert and recorded some songs
from the audience. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha
on Oct 23, 2009 -
"After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship
, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.
"Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after."
Muntadhar al Zaidi
, the journalist sentenced to three years of prison for assaulting a foreign leader after throwing his shoes at President Bush
, has been released from prison
after serving only nine months. [more inside]
posted by orville sash
on Sep 15, 2009 -
"Theatre," says Professor Lorraine Moller, Artistic Director of Rehabilitation Through the Arts
at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in her foreword to Laurence Tocci's The Proscenium Cage [pdf]
, "may well be one of the few antidotes to the de-humanizing climate of prisons." The use of theater in prisons has many forms: from projects designed to let prisoners tell their own stories as shown in the Austrian film "Gangster Girls
" (trailer in German
), to the elaborate, high-concept costume dramas
of Italy's Compagnia della Fortezza
. Some base their work on Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed
, others on Moreno's Psychodrama
, but many programs use a more direct approach: put on classic plays, and let the play do the illuminating. That's the approach of Shakespeare Behind Bars
, the troupe at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. Watch the entirety of Shakespeare Behind Bars
, a compelling 2005 documentary
that follows the troupe for a season as they produce a production of The Tempest
. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco
on Aug 4, 2009 -
The tragic story of Timothy Cole
who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, and died because of inadequate health care in prison. He was recently posthumously exonerated based on confessions of the guilty man and DNA evidence.
posted by djduckie
on Jun 26, 2009 -
"For a long time it has been a kind of martial arts Loch Ness monster: an American fighting form with supposedly sinister origins that many have heard of but few have seen or experienced. No one, it seemed, had any concrete proof that it existed, or at least none they were willing to share.
Until (2:36) recently."
Longer (5:19) ver here [more inside]
posted by P.o.B.
on Jun 25, 2009 -
A Prison Nightmare
. On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Commission released its final Report and proposed Standards
to prevent, detect, respond to and monitor sexual abuse of incarcerated or detained individuals throughout the United States. More prisoners reported abuse by staff than abuse by other prisoners.
posted by Non Prosequitur
on Jun 25, 2009 -
Erwin James: the real me
. Erwin James
has written about prison for the Guardian
for a number of years, from the point of view of an insider: when his column began, he was serving a sentence for two murders. He completed his sentence
a few years ago, but continued to write under that name, a pseudonym.
Here, he talks about the crimes that he was originally imprisoned for, his time in the French Foreign Legion, how he became a writer during his time in prison, and gives his real name for the first time.
posted by chorltonmeateater
on Apr 23, 2009 -
The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs.
The Sentencing Project
has just released a report
(pdf) finding that, for the first time in 20 years, the number
of Black Americans in state prison for drug offenses has fallen. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of White drug offenders in state prisons rose about 43 percent, while the number of Black offenders declined by 22 percent. One cause may be a rise in the use of drug courts
, which are locally administered programs that divert offenders into treatment rather than incarceration. The Sentencing Project has a recent report
(pdf) on this issue as well.
posted by lunit
on Apr 16, 2009 -
Awakening on a mattress atop a wooden slab, the bare walls of your 7' x 12' cell
come into focus, illuminated by the constant glare of an overhead light. Through the narrow window in the back of your cell, you can peer out into the prison yard. In the window in the reinforced steel door, you can catch an occasional glimpse of a prison guard as they bring your meals, usually the only interruption of the silence and isolation that pervade your living conditions. Those walls are the boundaries of your world for 23 hours a day in the Departmental Disciplinary Unit
-- the supermax
prison maintained in Walpole, Massachusetts, one of dozens
of such institutions currently operated in the United States, in spite of growing outcry
based on human rights violations. [more inside]
posted by Law Talkin' Guy
on Feb 15, 2009 -
In 1972, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted of murdering a prison guard in Louisiana's notorious maximum-security prison, Angola. The warden sentenced them to solitary confinement, where they remained for the next 36 years. Until March 2008, the men had spent at least 23 hours per day in cells that measured only 6 x 9 feet.
Woodfox's conviction was recently overturned, evidently through a federal habeus
proceeding, and he is awaiting a new trial. NPR did an outstanding job of tracking down people involved and telling a riveting story: Part I
, Part II
, Part III
. No doubt that much of the attention brought to the case is due to the efforts of Jackie Sumell and her Herman's House
project. [more inside]
posted by ajr
on Nov 9, 2008 -
Men in Women-in-Prison
"This dynamic — of eroticized male exclusion from, and investment in, female relationships — was the defining feature of a handful of women-in-prison films from the 1970s. In these movies, female sisterhood, generally in the face of oppression, is itself fetishized — feminism is turned into a kind of masochistic male wet dream. How this unlikely cathexis occurred, and how it functioned, is the subject of this essay." [more inside]
posted by carsonb
on Aug 7, 2008 -