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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.

Filtering by Tag: corrections

Interview with Prof. Emily Horowitz on Sex Offender Legislation

Nickie Phillips

Leon Neyfakh of Slateinterviewed Prof. Emily Horowitz, on sex offender legislation.

Prof. Horowitz is the director of the Institute for Peace and Justice and founder and director of the Post-Prison College Opportunity Program at St. Francis College.

How do the studies you read show the registry’s effectiveness, or lack thereof?

If the registry was effective, you’d want to see that, after 1996, when Megan’s Law was implemented, there was a big drop in sex offense cases. But the rates didn’t change, or they’d already started going down before Megan’s Law was implemented. Rates of sexual abuse neither increased nor decreased as a result of the registry.

Why?

Because more than 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases—some say 96 percent—involve the family. And the registry only targets stranger danger. It prohibits people from going to parks and malls—whereas most child sexual abuse takes place in the home. Also, most people on the registry have adult victims. It’s just all the rhetoric around the registry is about children.
— Prof. Emily Horowitz

Keeping Children Safe: ‘Disqualification by Association’

Terry Thomas

Everybody would agree that we need to ensure safe environments for children in our nurseries and schools. Unsuitable people should not be allowed to work in them. In the UK concerns have been raised that the authorities may have gone too far in their aim to keep children safe.

The policy of ‘disqualification by association’ now means you could be prevented from working with children not because of any misconduct on your part but because of the misconduct of others. If you already have a job working with children you could find yourself suspended from that work even if your work record has been exemplary and you have no criminal record.

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‘Disqualification by association’ comes into play if any one you live with has been convicted of a serious offence or is otherwise disqualified from working with children. The policy has been in place for a few years but was recently highlighted in the case of a teacher who lost his job following conviction for having sexual relations with one of his students; under UK law he was guilty of the offence of ‘abusing a position of trust’ (Sexual Offences Act 2003 s16). But then the headlines followed that his wife, who worked in another school, was to be suspended from her job working with children.

The ‘disqualification by association’ Regulations have been a matter of concern in some quarters ever since their introduction by the Childcare Act 2006 s75 (4) and the Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009: 1547). The Regulations only apply to people registered to work with children under eight and Regulation 9 clearly states that:

  1. > Subject to regulation 10, a person who lives –

    (a) in the same household as another person who is disqualified from registration; or (b) in a household in which any such person is employed, is disqualified from registration.

Regulation 10 refers to the possibility of getting this suspension waived by applying to the Chief Inspector of Schools office – Ofsted.

At first the Regulations were applied only to people caring for children under eight in their own home as child-minders and in that context the Regulations made some sense. But then they were extended to anyone working in a school which had children under the age of eight attending.

It took some time for people to realise the consequences of this extension but slowly the truth has dawned (see e.g. ‘Teachers to be barred for living with offenders under new rules’ and ‘Schools suspend staff in child protection confusion’. The question is raised as to why someone with no convictions or other form of disbarment from working with children should be suspended simply because they live in the same house as someone who is. Surely this amounts to a disproportionate response to child protection? Further Department of Education guidance explains the thinking behind the law which:

‘guards against an individual working with young children who may be under the influence of a person who lives with them and where that person may pose a risk to children i.e. by association’ (DfE (2014) Keeping children safe in education: childcare disqualification requirements – supplementary advice, October).

What exactly ‘under the influence’ means is not elaborated on.

The campaign group UNLOCK for ex-offenders calls the arrangements ‘ridiculous’: ‘The regulations have clearly come as a surprise to thousands of people working in primary schools. Schools themselves seem unclear of how the regulations work, with many asking existing staff and new employees to make very broad declarations about not only their criminal record, but also of those that they live with. This has led to hundreds of people making declarations and being suspended as a result, where they have otherwise been working for many years with no problems’ (UNLOCK (2015) Charity for people with convictions calls for “ridiculous” ‘disqualification’ regulations for primary schools to be urgently reviewed 20 January (press release)) ‘Disqualification by association’ seems to have slipped in while no one was looking but its chickens are now coming home to roost.

Terry Thomas is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, Leeds Beckett University U.K. and a Crimcast correspondent.

Changes in the UK law to contain sex offenders

Terry Thomas

 
 

There are noticeable difference between the way the USA and the UK try to protect the public from sex offenders who are living in the community. Both countries have a sex offender register but thereafter there is a departure in the way the register is used and how each try to contain the offender in the interests of public protection.

 
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In the USA the register is publicly available to anyone who wants to consult it including availability on the internet. This ‘universal’ approach of ‘community notification’ is in contrast to the more ‘selective’ approach of the UK where only certain people are allowed to know information about a person’s sexual convictions and their registration status.

The USA has blanket residency restrictions with geographic zones that sex offenders are not allowed to live in. The UK has targeted restrictions on a person’s lifestyle and where they might want to live using individualised preventive civil orders. Another example of the ‘universal’ and ‘selective’ approaches taken by the respective countries.

But is the UK slowly moving towards a wider interpretation of the conditions the state can impose on a sex offender in the interests of public protection?

A recent case heard in the UK Court of Appeal [Richards, R (on the application of) v Teesside Magistrates' Court & Another [2015] EWCA Civ 7] involved a registered sex offender being ‘contained’ by a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) – one of the preventive civil orders introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. These Orders are applied for by the police on certain qualifying individuals and they allow the courts to impose various negative restrictions on a person’s behaviour.

The appeal in this case was against the court’s decision to require the sex offender to wear an electronic tag to monitor his movements. He argued that (a) there was nothing in the law on SOPO’s that said anything about electronic tags being worn unlike all other legal references to tags which were in the statute book, and (b) the requirement to wear a tag was a ‘positive’ when all other restrictions by SOPO’s were ‘negative’ as the law suggested they should be.

The case was lost and the presiding judges ruled that:

The only restrictions to what may be placed in a SOPO are … that it must be ‘necessary’ to impose the prohibition in order to protect the public or particular members of the public from serious sexual harm from the defendant …[and] Parliament did not restrict or limit the prohibitions which may be included in a SOPO. Given the myriad ways in which such harm may be caused, the absence of a list of permitted prohibitions is understandable (para.29)

But SOPOs themselves are about to disappear. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 Part 9 replaces them with Sexual Risk Orders and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders. Exactly when these new Orders will become active is as yet still unknown. What we do know is that they are going to be even more widely drawn than the existing SOPO (see e.g. ‘New Home Office Rules give police sweeping powers to curb sex offenders’ The Independent 9 October 2013). If we thought the SOPO was vague wait till we see what comes next.

Terry Thomas is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, Leeds Beckett University UK – for a longer account of the changes in the UK law about to take place see Thomas T and Thompson D (2014) New Civil Orders to contain Sexually Harmful Behaviour in the Community British Journal of Community Justice 12 (3): 19-33.

The Marshall Project has launched

Nickie Phillips

In an interview with Huffington Post, Neil Barsky, the founder and chairman of The Marshall Project, stated

“Nobody in their right mind, if they had to start a criminal justice system from scratch, would come up with what we have in America. Nobody.”

In an effort to address injustices in the criminal justice system and spark reform, The Marshall Project will feature news and articles on criminal justice events including "articles written by prisoners, and interviews with corrections officers, police officers and others involved in the criminal justice system."

From the mission statement:

We believe that storytelling can be a powerful agent of social change. Our mission is to raise public awareness around issues of criminal justice and the possibility for reform. But while we are nonpartisan, we are not neutral. Our hope is that by bringing transparency to the systemic problems that plague our courts and prisons, we can help stimulate a national conversation about how best to reform our system of crime and punishment.

Follow The Marshall Project on Twitter.

Rehabilitation and Good Eats: London's The Clink Restaurant

Nickie Phillips

By Staci Strobl

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I like to eat and I support the ideal of the rehabilitation of offenders.  So what could be more perfect that The Clink Restaurant at Brixton Prison in South London?  I immediately made a reservation (in this case, well in advance because the prison must do its security checks on guests) for my husband and I to enjoy high-class dining, complements of inmates training as chefs, sous-chefs, and waiters.  I'll be perfectly honest: the concept is so grand that I was going to love it even if the food was bad.  But it most certainly was not.  Seared tuna on a bed of sesame oil and greens, Hake and mackerel fried medallions and thrice-fried chips, apple crumble, and fair-trade coffee.  Simply delicious.

The Clink is the third such restaurant opened in the United Kingdom in recent years.  The brainchild of Chef Alberto Crisci, and founder of the The Clink Charities, the prisoners work a 40-hour week, training towards the national certifications they need to enter the restaurant and hotel industries upon release.  Thereafter, they receive additional mentoring not only in securing job placement, but also with social and psychological issues that may trigger re-offending.

Anyone who has been keeping up with the rehabilitation literature knows that no one program fits all, but that in general, job training programs are the most likely to succeed with the biggest proportion of offenders.  And, according to the statistics provided by The Clink, and verified by an independent examiner, since its founding in 2009, the recidivism rates after one year of release are between 12.5% and 14%.  Compare this to the national average of 49% and it appears the program is a winner.  Granted, these inmates are selected for the program because they have the potential for success (and in that sense may not be typical of most U.K. prisoners), nonetheless, the success rates are quite suggestive that the program makes a real difference in prisoners' lives.

Could the model be imported to the U.S.?  Given the cultural emphasis on consumerism and work-- as in, there is something wrong with you if you can't consume because you don't have a job-- it would seem that the program would resonate for American prisoners as well, providing them an avenue for returning to mainstream society in a dignified way.  Unfortunately, the political buy-in from the public for such a program would certainly be harder to come by.  In the U.K., though there are strains and pockets of retributivism, they aren't as deeply engrained as they are in the U.S.  The British couple sitting next to us at The Clink speculated that at least half of Britons have a compassionate stance toward prisoner-integration programs, more so in an urban environment like London.  Alas, I am not sure half of the American population would be inclined to support such an intensive program which may provide better job training than that  to which the law-abiding citizen has access.

As a criminologist, I hope for a quality social science study of The Clink in order to glean out more clearly what works and how much it works.  I would do it myself, if I could ever find the time with my ten other projects in the fire.  But if anyone reading this needs a dissertation topic, it's up for grabs.

Sex in Prison: Myths and Realities

Nickie Phillips

Prison_Life_by_sultan_f

Crimcast welcomes Tammy L. Castle, co-editor along with Catherine D. Marcum of Sex in Prison: Myths and Realities (2014), to discuss issues surrounding sexual behavior, sexuality, and policies regarding sex in prison. Dr. Castle’s book brings together work from experts covering a variety of topics such as sexual assault, health issues, challenges facing LGBT inmates, and the implications of incarcerating millions of people in institutions that prohibit sexual intimacy.

How did you become interested in the topic of sex in prison?

I began writing about sexual behavior in prison while working as a research assistant for a professor in my graduate program. He had recently finished interviews with inmates about the topic, and I worked with him on several manuscripts that were published using that data. I also contributed a chapter to his book, which explored the contemporary practice of and policies related to sexual behavior in prison. The research at that time was dated, in part due to the stigma associated with researching such a topic both inside and outside the academy. It was because of my prior research in this area that Dr. Marcum contacted me to contribute a chapter and serve as co-editor of the book.

Your book reports that collecting accurate statistics on the extent of rape and sexual assault of men and women in prison is extremely difficult. Catherine Marcum, in her chapter “Examining Prison Sex Culture,” reports that sexual assault rates vary from 1 to 41 percent. How can we make sense of such a disparity?

The first issue to consider is the difficulty of collecting this type of data in prison/jail. Although the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) signed in 2003 requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics to report sexual assault rates, they can only report incidents that come to the attention of prison/jail staff. As noted in the book, inmates are hesitant to report for a variety of reasons including the stigma of being assaulted, fear of retribution by other inmates or staff (if a staff member was the perpetrator), and the desire to avoid the negative consequences of reporting (e.g. removal from general population).

Also, the number of sexual assaults reported varies from facility to facility. In some institutions, sexual coercion through manipulation is much more common. The institutions vary in what behavior gets defined as a sexual assault.

Your book addresses an overlooked area of research, that of consensual sex in prison. Kristine Levan points out that, aside from the obvious power imbalance between guards and inmates, some researchers have found that most sexual activity that occurs in prison is consensual. Why do you think that the myth persists among the general public that nearly all prison sex is coercive?

Photo: Jelle Vancoppenolle

Prisons are closed institutions—secure and often located in rural areas—and it is difficult for the general public to find information on the realities of prison life. For that reason, most of what they know comes from the media. The depictions of prison sex in the media are almost always sensational, whether it is being romanticized (as in the TV show ‘Orange is the New Black’) or portrayed only as a violent act (e.g. gang rape). The commonly held myth that prison rape occurs frequently, and is a natural consequence of living in prison, is found in most films that depict prison life.

Given that many members of the public are opposed to any perceived “amenities” or activities that prisoners might find pleasurable, why might a policy of conjugal visitation be worthwhile for both the inmates and society-at-large?

It is difficult to influence public opinion on attitudes toward inmates and amenities. Even with sexual assault, the public is often less than sympathetic to a “deserving” population. However, conjugal visitation in several states represents one component of a larger program aimed at family preservation. In other countries, specifically in Latin America, family preservation programs are more much common and accepted. Surveys on inmate amenities find stronger support for family visitation programs among the general public, who view the family members as “undeserving” of the negative impact of incarceration on the family unit.

These programs have been found to impact adjustment both during and after incarceration. Studies have shown that increased visitation results in fewer infractions while in prison, and provides participants with incentives to behave. Maintaining the connection with family also lowers recidivism rates and produces a “normalizing effect” on the inmates. Finally, states with conjugal visitation programs report lower rates of sexual assault. Some prison staff argue that programs such as these lower tension and hostility in the institutions overall.

What are the most overlooked health issues with regard to sex in prison?

As Potter and Rosky discussed in their chapter on health issues, disease transmission among inmates is the most pressing health concern. Some inmates enter prison with bacterial STDs or HIV, and then spread it via sexual contact. However because most correctional health data is not published it is difficult to estimate the rates of transmission. Most prison sex policies are prohibitive rather than preventative, although correctional facilities can decide whether to support harm reduction measures in an effort to reduce transmission.

Tell us about your current research and let us know if we can expect future work from you in this area.

This book culminates several years I spent working on the topic, and given the access to data provided by the PREA, I do feel that there is more work to be done by scholars who wish to explore this taboo subject. My other research interests include comparative justice and media, including my recent article Achieving Justice through the International Criminal Court in Northern Uganda: Is Indigneous/Restorative Justice a Better Approach? that examines the dimensions of justice and role of the International Criminal Court in Northern Uganda.

Tammy L. Castle

Tammy L. Castle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at James Madison University. She has published broadly in the areas of sexual violence and prisons, although her current research focuses on hate propaganda. For further information or discussion about the book, please contact her at: castletl@jmu.edu.

Pull of Gravity Screening, NYC

Nickie Phillips

Pull of Gravity-Documentary Trailer from Jon Kaufman on Vimeo.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of New York, the U.S. Department of Probation – Eastern District of New York, The Center for Court Innovation and St. Francis College are pleased to bring a screening of the documentary film PULL OF GRAVITY to Brooklyn, NY on May 5th. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director and others involved in reintegration.

Monday May 5. 2014 St. Francis College 180 Remsen Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Go here to RSVP and for more information.

New Journal Explores Intersection of Health and Justice

Nickie Phillips

Medicine-and-Law-300x168

The graying of America's prison population, drug treatment programs in correctional settings, and the lack of social support for inmates re-entering society... these topics and more are the focus of the new journal Health & Justice, aimed at capturing the interaction between criminal justice systems and health services.  Edited by Faye S. Taxman of George Mason University and Lior Gideon of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the journal, which already released its first articles online this year, reaches broadly, including researchers across many disciplines as well as justice practitioners and medical professionals working with justice-involved individuals. "Criminal justice populations are highly prevalent in public health problems that are not being addressed.  We feel that not to address them is an injustice," Gideon explained.

The journal looks forward to reviewing and publishing a variety of perspectives drawn from a wide range of methodologies.  "We like theoretical pieces, protocol studies, reviews of innovations in the field, evaluations of treatment programs, meta analyses, all kinds of work related to health and justice," Gideon told Crimcast.

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Click here to download the first open access articles from Health & Justice.

Click here to learn how you can submit a manuscript for review.

Piper Kerman Discusses Health Issues in Prisons

Nickie Phillips

Piper Kerman

On December 4, St. Francis College welcomed Piper Kerman to Prof. Montecalvo's "Health Issues" class to discuss health care issues faced by incarcerated women. Piper's book "Orange is the New Black" details Piper's time spent in federal prison for a drug-related offense. Since being released, Piper has been a fierce advocate of criminal justice reform with a specific focus on the challenges women face in prison.

On the overuse of incarceration as a solution to the crime problem:

Over 60% of female prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent offenses.


On the prevalence of mental health issues suffered by those in prison:

The three largest providers of mental health care in the United States are Riker's Island, Cook County Jail, and LA County Jail.

On the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women:

More than 30 prisons allow officers to shackle female prisoners while they are giving birth. Only 18 prisons have passed laws banning shackling.

Piper Kerman (author), Nickie Phillips (director, Center for Crime & Popular Culture)

You can read more about Piper and her activism here and follow her on twitter @Piper

Season 1 of the television series based on Piper's book is available on Netflix.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbf_QGCykEM

Good Diplomacy: Why Israel Should Consider a Prisoner Transfer Program

Nickie Phillips

Gaza-Jericho agreement

Guest post by Ariel Bigio

In the United States and Israel, discourse about the goals of prisoner transfer is often framed in a security context. How prisoner transfers are discussed by national leaders reveals justifications, both in terms of bringing people home and transferring others to their home countries. For the United States, the motivation behind prisoner transfer stems from protecting American citizens imprisoned abroad. Israel’s security context is more military based-- a social and political issue involving soldiers and terrorism. The United States has a general prisoner transfer program while Israel engages in one-time transfers on a case-by-case basis.  Israel would benefit from developing a prisoner transfer program because it is another diplomatic tool that a state can utilize in its arsenal in strengthening international relations and garnering further trust.

The United States’ prisoner transfer program is run through the Department of Justice in the International Prisoner Transfer Unit (IPTU). The program began in 1977 through a bilateral treaty between the United States and Mexico. There are two aims for prisoner transfer. The first is that rehabilitation will be better served in the offenders’ home country where they can be closer to family and friends. The second aim is to provide more humane conditions than those found in foreign prisons where inmates are faced with a new culture, language, and standard of prison life. An article from April 11 published on the United States Courts website gives a great summary of the benefits to Americans of prisoner transfer.

Israel is not unfamiliar with prisoner transfers; however these have been in the context of one-time agreements, and not a general policy.  Under the Gaza- Jericho agreement of 1994, Israel agreed to release 5,000 Palestinian prisoners as part of the negotiation process. In 2008, Israel exchanged five Lebanese prisoners and 199 Lebanese bodies buried in the North of Israel in exchange for two bodies of Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah. In 2011, 1,027 prisoners were transferred to Gaza, the West Bank, or abroad in exchange for a captured Israeli solider named Gilad Shalit. These transfers or exchanges are precipitated by a negotiation with an intended outcome. In comparison, the United States transfer program is an agreement between countries that promotes transfer and precedes the necessity for negotiation.

Ariel Bigio

While there are definite criticisms of the implementation of the United States’ transfer policy, the importance of these treaties is paramount for setting precedence and enabling other avenues of communication and cooperation between foreign governments. This is an important tool that Israel can use as negotiations of the peace process continue with the Palestinian Authority. Israel spends almost one-fifth of its national budget on defense and it is an important investment for Israel to consider the transfer program. Prisoner transfer is a strategic policy with global implications. National decisions have a global impact in the relations between states. The reality of the situation is that as the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians continues, it would be an important diplomatic policy for Israel to implement a prisoner transfer program.

Ariel Bigio currently lives in New York. Ariel worked at the Office of the United States Trade Representative and at the Department of Justice in the International Prisoner Transfer Unit, both in Washington, DC.  She earned a B.A. in American Studies and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland and spent a semester in Ghana with the School for International Training. Ariel spent two years in Israel working with Israeli and American youth.

British Society of Criminology Book Prize 2013

Nickie Phillips

British Society of Criminology Book Prize 2013

books

Congrats to the winners of the 2013 British Society of Criminology "Criminology Book Prize"!

The prize was awarded jointly to Deborah Drake for her book titled Prisons, Punishment and the Pursuit of Security and Coretta Phillips for her book titled The Multicultural Prison: Ethnicity, Masculinity, and Social Relations among Prisoners.

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We also would like to acknowledge that frequent Crimcast contributor, Demetra Pappas, was nominated and short-listed for the award this year for her book titled The Euthanasia/Assisted-Suicide Debate.

More information on the awards can be found here.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Nickie Phillips

Get tickets for the Human Rights Watch film festival here. Go here for a schedule of all the films showing at the NYC festival. "Anita" is sold out, but tickets remain for other shows.

Born this Way trailer


Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer trailer


99% The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film trailer


An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story


Child Sex Abuse Hysteria and Wrongful Convictions: The Jesse Friedman Case

Nickie Phillips

Between 1984 and 1995, at least 72 individuals were convicted during the national hysteria of mass child molestation and satanic ritual abuse cases.  Almost all of those convictions have since been overturned.  

The National Center for Reason and Justice (NCRJ) has published a white paper co-authored by Gavin de Becker (threat assessment expert and author of The Gift of Fear)  and Emily Horowitz, (sociology professor and co-director NCRJ), titled "Destruction of Innocence: The Friedman Case: How Coerced Testimony & Confessions Harm Children, Families & Communities for Decades After the Wrongful Convictions Occur." de Becker and Horowitz analyze the present-day, on-going impact of wrongful convictions with a specific focus on the Jesse Friedman case, well-known as the subject of the landmark documentary film, Capturing the FriedmansThough the U.S. Appeals Court has ruled that Jesse Friedman was likely wrongfully convicted as a result of the mass hysteria surrounding child sex abuse, the case has not yet been overturned.

The impact of wrongful convictions on those imprisoned is well-documented, however the impact on the children involved in these cases has often been neglected. Virtually all of the hundreds of children questioned by authorities in these wrongful conviction cases initially maintained that they were not sexually abused and were confident in their perceptions of reality. However, in an effort to gain prosecutions and satiate public demands for justice, these children were dragged to a place of confusion by well-meaning, but misguided authorities. The use of ethically questionable interview techniques and coercion resulted in a lingering mistrust of adults and shattered the children’s certainty about themselves and the world.

This paper provides new evidence and insight from extensive interviews with individuals that police alleged were molested in the Jesse Friedman case – and who now as adults confirm they were coerced into making false accusations. The consequences of false and hysteria-driven prosecutions such as this are vast. Law enforcement is robbed of resources to investigate actual sex crimes cases, the public’s faith in the legitimacy of such prosecutions is reduced, and the children involved may suffer long-term negative emotional and psychological effects. Providing resolution to the Friedman case through the overturning of the wrongful conviction, provides a unique opportunity to heal a community still suffering from the wounds of false accusation, confusion, and deceit.

To sign the petition urging the court to overturn the Jesse Friedman conviction, go here.

Snitch The Movie: The War on Drugs and Mandatory Minimums

Nickie Phillips

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M1dkvdCUGU The film "Snitch" tells the story of a father, John Matthews (Dwyane Johnson), whose son is arrested for drug dealing and faces a 10 year minimum sentence. Matthews agrees to become an informant for the state in exchange for a sentence reduction for his son. Young Minds Inspired, an educational outreach program, recommends using the film to spark discussion among students:

Bring your students into the conversation surrounding the new film Snitch, opening in theaters nationwide on February 22, 2013. Inspired by the true experiences of a teenager who became caught up in the legal machinery of drug enforcement, Snitch opens debate on the controversial connection between mandatory sentencing and what has come to be called “snitching,” offering an inside look at a little known aspect of our justice system.

Download YMI's mandatory minimum factsheets here.

Broken on All Sides Documentary: Racial Inequalities and Mass Incarceration

Nickie Phillips

Matthew Pillischer's documentary "Broken on All Sides" takes a critical look at racial inequalities and mass incarceration in the United States.

The documentary centers around the theory put for­ward by many, and most recently by Michelle Alexander (who appears in the movie), that mass incarceration has become "The New Jim Crow." That is, since the rise of the drug war and the explosion of the prison population, and because discretion within the sys­tem allows for arrest and prosecution of people of color at alarmingly higher rates than whites, pris­ons and criminal penal­ties have become a new ver­sion of Jim Crow.

If you are in the NYC area, the documentary will screen in on March 6th (Columbia University) and March 9th (Riverside Church). For more details on these and other screenings around the country, go here.