In 1972 there were 300,000 people behind bars in the United States.
Today there are 2.2 million.
Since 2012, Mongoose Pictures has been working on a series of intimate, probing films for PBS Frontline that takes viewers to the epicenter of the raging debate on prison reform in America.
With rare, unfettered access in Maine State Prison, “SOLITARY NATION” is an hour-long, visceral portrait of life in solitary, told through the inmates living in isolation and the new warden who is desperately trying to reform the system. Four inmates from the prison’s segregation unit illuminate the use and impact of solitary confinement, which is the fate of 80,000 prisoners in America. This film won the 2015 RFK Journalism Award and also aired on BBC 2’s This World series in the UK.
“PRISON STATE” takes an intimate look at the cycle of mass incarceration in America and one state’s effort to reverse the trend. There are 2.2 million Americans behind bars, and a disproportionate number come from just a few
city neighborhoods. In some places, the concentration is so dense that states are spending millions of dollars a year to lock up residents of single blocks. This 90-minute film represents a year in the life of four residents of one such neighborhood — a housing project in the west end of Louisville, KY called Beecher Terrace.
“PRISON STATE” highlights two men who have been cycling in and out of jail for decades. Their stories start in prison and follow their latest attempts at returning home to the community, facing obstacles to housing and employment, and struggling with mental health and substance abuse problems. The documentary also portrays two teenaged girls growing up on Beecher with fathers behind bars. At a young age, they are already starting to get caught up in the criminal justice system.
Directed, written and filmed by DAN EDGE | Producer ELIZABETH C. JONES | Co-Producer LAUREN MUCCIOLO | Associate Producer JULIET HOFMANN | Production Manager PHILIPPA LACEY | Editor GRAHAM TAYLOR | Music JONNY PILCHER | Deputy Executive Producer for Frontline RANEY ARONSON-RATH
Directed, written and edited by DAN EDGE | Producer LAUREN MUCCIOLO | Associate Producer JULIET HOFMANN | Production Manager PHILIPPA LACEY | Editor TIM LOVELL | Music JONNY PILCHER | Deputy Executive Producer for Frontline RANEY ARONSON-RATH
Reviews of “SOLITARY NATION”
“Whatever picture you might have in your mind of the nature of solitary confinement will be changed by this FRONTLINE documentary, and any notions you might have that it could be eliminated will be dimmed.” – Mike Hale, New York Times
“You need to watch only the first five minutes of ‘Solitary Nation,’ the first of two FRONTLINE documentaries that will air on PBS starting Tuesday. The inmates, corrections officers, and prison bureaucrats all appear stooped and burdened, tamped down, by the oppressive nature of the place in which they spend the bulk of their lives. That’s what prison is, of course, but FRONTLINE something deeper here.” – Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic
“’Solitary Nation,’ the resulting documentary premiering Tuesday on PBS FRONTLINE, takes a raw, sometimes painful look at a practice that has become heavily relied upon inside America’s prisons.” – Braden Goyette, Huffington Post
Reviews of “PRISON STATE”
“In the second part of its trenchant documentary on prisons in America, FRONTLINE shows us a side of Louisville you won’t see on Kentucky Derby Day.” – Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic
“Welcome to Beecher Terrace, a housing project in Louisville, Kentucky where nearly everyone has been to jail or prison. ‘Prison State,’ the second half of FRONTLINE’S ‘Locked Up In America’ series premiering Tuesday night on PBS, follows four residents of Beecher Terrace as they make their way in and out of the corrections system.” – Brayden Goyette, Huffington Post
“Next week, FRONTLINE continues its look behind the bars with “Prison State,” the story of mass incarceration and a system that keeps making the same mistakes again and again and keeps sending the same people back to prison.” – Bob Kerr, Providence Journal