The 5 best documentaries on prison rehabilitation of inmates are drawn from a short list of candidates. Most Americans assume that criminals are not permanently criminal and that the goal of prison is to restore a criminal to a useful life for both themselves and society. Anyone interested in the best documentaries on prison rehabilitation of inmates should begin here.
- "The Lifer and the Lady" (1985) Released as part of the PBS television series "Frontline," we follow the story of Ron Cooney and Lesley Earl. Cooney attempts to work his way through the Ontario, Canada prison system, seeking parole from his life sentence. Lesley Earl is a volunteer who falls in love and offers to him help him out. An Emmy-winner, this film is certainly one of the five best documentaries on prison rehabilitation of inmates to be found.
- "Rikers High" (2005) Follow students and teachers at Island Academy, a high school for inmates of Rikers Island. Rikers Island, located in the East River of New York State between Queens and the Bronx, is the largest correctional facility in North America. The pursuit of education within this massive prison complex is one of the few means of rehabilitation available to prisoners and this film remains one of the best documentaries on prison rehabilitation of inmates.
- "From Prison to Home" (2007) This documentary film tracks the challenges of four African American males during their first year after release as they struggle with difficulties resuming their lives outside prison. Over 650,000 inmates are released every year from prison and this is one of the best documentaries to focus on prison rehabilitation of inmates, particularly on their reintegration back into society after release.
- "Breaking Rocks" (2009) Jail Guitar Doors is musician Billy Bragg's effort to provide musical instruments to prisoners in efforts towards prisoner rehabilitation. Bragg believes that music is a unique and effective means of rehabilitation. The film features performances by graduates from Jail Guitar Doors and from the musicians who have supported the program.
- "Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo" (2009) This documentary follows convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo and sometimes brief hopes of redemption along the way. Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual Prison Rodeo, a spectacle that stands as a relic of the American penal system. Within this unique arena, prisoners are heroes and the public and guards applaud their efforts.
The relatively short list of non-fiction films on the topic of rehabilitation calls into question both the priority and effectiveness of this goal within our society. Begin with this list of the five best documentaries on prison rehabilitation of inmates and you will be able to form your own conclusions on whether the goal of rehabilitation is even attainable.
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