The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
An essential documentary, Brett Story’s incisive and wide-ranging “The Prison in Twelve Landscapes” critically examines the prison system and its place — social, economic, and psychological — in American society. More people are imprisoned in the United States today than in any other time or place in history, yet prisons have never felt farther away or more out of sight. Not only are prisons sited in remote locales, but journalists, filmmakers, and researchers are increasingly denied access to the world inside their walls. For most of us, prisons now appear only in endless Hollywood movies or on reality television shows, making incarceration invisible and exceedingly familiar at the same time. Story excavates the often-unseen effects that prisons — and our system of mass incarceration — have on communities and industries all around us. The film explores sites across the U.S: a blazing California mountainside where female prisoners fight raging wildfires; a Bronx warehouse that specializes in prison-approved care packages; an Appalachian coal town betting its future on the promise of new prison jobs. Closer to home, Story visits the street where Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson and follows the Arch City Defenders as they challenge the financial exploitation of African-Americans by the St. Louis County municipal courts.