Broken on All Sides

Broken on All Sides2Made on a shoestring budget, this “on the ground” documentary centers around Michelle Alexander’s theory in her groundbreaking book, “The New Jim Crow.” Throughout the rise of the War on Drugs and “tough on crime” policies that were reactions to the civil rights and black power movements of the 1960s and 70s, mass incarceration has emerged as America’s new caste system. Discretion within the system allows for targeting people of color at disproportionately high rates, and collateral consequences of criminal records allow for legalized discrimination in nearly every aspect of citizenship. BROKEN ON ALL SIDES dissects “get tough” rhetoric and crime policies, illustrates how the emerging Occupy movement offers hope for change, and explores possible reforms and solutions to ending mass incarceration and this new racial caste system.

Jim Crow was crushed by a multi-racial movement lead by African Americans themselves, which took on the courts, politicians, and social relations in society. But almost every form of discrimination against African Americans that was defeated by the Civil Rights Movement is today alive and perfectly legal when applied to “criminals.” The problem is that through conscious and unconscious choices, with the approval of politicians and the Supreme Court, black Americans have been targeted at significantly higher rates for stops & frisks, arrests, prosecution, and harsher sentences. So, where does this leave criminal justice?

With Philadelphia as the entry point, BROKEN ON ALL SIDES introduces you to individuals whose perspectives represent many angles of the system, and a historical narrative about prisons and crime that you don’t often get to hear. Nate Hayes describes the conditions inside Philadelphia’s jails, and how he and his family dealt with his incarceration. You’ll see life from “behind the wall” through the dozens of breathtaking drawings by Leonard C. Jefferson, an inmate at the State Correctional Institute in Albion, Pennsylvania. A judge, some activists, and religious leaders will tell you how they are grappling with this problem. You will see how mass incarceration is so much bigger than caging human beings–it brands a growing number of Americans with permanent 2nd class citizenship, and is tied to the lack of resources, jobs, and safety in the communities from which the prisoners and convicted come.

Come in to this movie with a sense that something is wrong with priorities the U.S., that the rulers in the 1% must have something to do with the perpetuation of crime and inequality in the country, that there is still some racism remaining from the bygone era… walk out understanding the most important civil and human rights issue in America today and how to change it.