By Sanyukta Thakare
The Prison Within is about taking a long and hard look at yourself and separating you from your actions to gain and better perspective and take on responsibility. The documentary explores the destructive impact untreated trauma has on individuals and communities through the powerful stories of survivors of violent crimes and prisoners incarcerated for murder in San Quentin prison.
As a viewer, you would not think to connect with the subjects of the documentary given their criminal history, but director Katherin Hervey, a former Los Angeles Public Defender and volunteer prison college instructor presents such a perspective that you see the people who have committed crimes, and not the criminals. Along with the prisoners, we also meet survivors and get a chance to hear their stories, so that you know, you are not alone to feel some empathy and even sympathy.
The Prison Within does not claim to absolve the crimes or devalue the survivor’s struggles, but it aims to help bring down the crime rate by rehabilitation through the Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG). VOEG is an innovative restorative justice program enabling prisoners to discover how the trauma they’ve experienced contributed to their criminality and to understand the impact their crimes have on their victims.
Be ready to shed a few tears as you see the prisoners and survivors interact and connect with each other, talk about their trauma, and learn to forgive. You don’t have to be someone who has experienced trauma to understand their pain, as you will soon see how deep-rooted the trauma is in society and even you, so the best is to seek help and help others heal with a bit of empathy.
” The Prison Within” premiered at The 2020 ACT Human Rights Film Festival , The 2020 Phoenix Film Festival, and The 2020 Sarasota Film Festival. Along with The 2020 Santa Barbara film Festival.
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