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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Stanford Prison Experiment: The Movie

Nickie Phillips

The Stanford Prison Experiment movie is a reenactment of Philip Zimbardo's groundbreaking 1971 prison study that randomly assigned volunteers to be either prisoners or guards in a simulated prison setting.

The sad conclusion [from the experiment] is humanity lost - the evil won.
— Philip Zimbardo, interview with The Guardian

Film Journal International wrote,

For David Rothenberg, founder of The Fortune Society, a nonprofit group that helps ex-prisoners re-enter society, The Stanford Prison Experiment has as much resonance, if not more, for prisoners today than ever before, he said to Film Journal International following a recent screening he attended. “It’s a tough, well-made movie that accurately reflects the brutalization and dehumanization of inmates,” noted this nationally known advocate for prison reform. “Only here you see what happens to students who have not committed crimes and have no history of personal violence. Now imagine the dehumanizing effect on prisoners with long criminal records who have never known anything but violence. They find themselves in prison—it’s a violent subculture—and they learn more violence. This experiment was done 40 years ago and nothing has changed and it may even be worse in Southern states.

Crimcast attended a screening at Fortune Society's Fortune Academy Complex, a residential facility designed to support successful reentry. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez and Philip Zimbardo were on hand to answer questions from the audience.

Criminologist Nickie Phillips, psychologist Philip Zimbardo, sociologist Emily Horowitz