Prison Ministry: Viewing

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Movies

  • “Just Mercy” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (2019). This powerful and emotional movie tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. The film is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Stevenson.
  • Incarcerating US” directed by Regan Hines (2016). Incarcerating US is a is a feature-length documentary that exposes America’s prison problem and explores ways to unshackle the Land of the Free through vital criminal justice reforms. This documentary tells the story of America’s broken criminal justice system through the eyes of those who created it, those who have suffered through it, and those who are fighting to change it. Not Rated – 84 minutes.
  • “When They See Us”directed by Ava DuVernay (2019). This Netflix mini-series is based on events of the April 19, 1989, Central Park jogger case and explores the lives of the five suspects who were prosecuted on charges related to the sexual assault of a female victim, and of their families. Ms. DuVernay has created a Companion Guide to this series to help viewers recognize and process what they have been watching.
  • “13th” directed by Ava DuVernay (Oct. 2016). Thought-provoking documentary about the criminalization of people of color and the current prison boom featuring archival footage, current day scholars, activists, and politicians. The film’s title refers to a loophole in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” The progression from that second qualifying clause to current day mass incarceration issues and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. Not Rated – 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • “Lost for Life” directed by Joshua Rofe (2014). This chilling documentary tells the story of a few of the more than 2500 individuals in the US who are serving life sentences with no possibility of parole. This is the punishment they have received for crimes they committed when they were seventeen years old or younger. Some of these prisoners are as young as thirteen. Both the perspectives of the criminals, as well as the perspectives of the victims, are well documented. Not Rated – 75 minutes.
  • The Right Track: Stories of Justice and Redemption directed by Noel Julnes-Dehner (2013). This documentary explores what it’s like to return to society after being incarcerated. Scarred by their time behind bars and shamed by their record, these returning citizens face employers who won’t hire them, landlords who won’t rent to them, and families who got lost while time was being served. A viewer’s discussion guide is available for download.  Not Rated – 24 minutes
  • Juvies Directed by Leslie Neale (2005). Look into the eyes and souls of children prosecuted and imprisoned as adult criminals. In the last several years, the number of youth doing time in adult prisons has tripled. Juvies explores the impact of America’s failing juvenile justice system. Narrated by actor Mark Wahlberg, himself a former juvenile offender, Juvies follows the lives of a group of young people who will serve most, if not all, of their lives behind bars. T PG-13 – 66 minutes.
  • “Through the Door” an EthicsDaily.com Production. This film tells about what goodwill Christians are doing in Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia to assist those in prison and the recently released. Churches and faith-based organizations are working together in dynamic ways inside and outside prisons, helping citizens to productively re-enter society. Faith makes a difference. A viewer’s discussion guide is available for download. Not Rated – 53 minutes (short version 28 minutes).
  • “The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison”directed by Jonathan Stack, Liz Garbus and Wilbert Rideau (1998). The film follows the lives of six prison inmates who convey their own personal stories of life, death, and survival in a world that few manage to ever leave. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.. Not Rated – 100 minutes. Watch for free by clicking on the film title.

TV Programs

  • “24 to Life” from A&E network. Documentary that tracks the last 24 hours of freedom before individuals voluntarily report to prison to serve their sentences. Explores the impact on families as well as those convicted of the crime. Thoughtful and insightful. Suitable for all ages with supervision.
  • “Women in Prison” from TLC network. Indiana’s maximum security Women’s Prison is the backdrop for this docu-series of surprisingly relatable and bold characters. The crimes these women committed are described by the women and re-enacted by actors. Their commentary is heart-rending at times, chilling at others. Violence, adult language and content; not recommended for under 13.
  • “60 Days In” from A&E network. Docu-series offers an unprecedented look at life behind bars at Indiana’s Clark County Jail as several innocent volunteers are sent to live among its general population for 60 days without fellow inmates or staff knowing their secret. The purpose? According to Sheriff Jamey Noel the purpose of this undercover operation is to discover corruption and ways to improve the jail system. Adult language and content; not recommended for under 18.