The time is right for AMERICAN JUSTICE, a feature-length investigative documentary about America’s criminal justice system. Much is at stake. The lives of tens of millions of American citizens are impacted directly and daily by the criminal justice system. Crime is down–is it because our laws are harsher and sentences are longer than ever before?
With shrinking revenues and an estimated $63 billion in public money being spent each year on prisons, state legislatures are considering drastic cuts in the criminal justice and corrections systems. Will cost-effective approaches to imprisonment and rehabilitation emerge? How will the public safety be preserved if prison budgets and parole systems are slashed? Americans need to understand the ongoing debates about how criminal justice is dispensed in the U.S.
Many prosecutors, police and policy-makers, defense attorneys and judges, and prison and parole officials have a sense of urgency—and, for the first time in a long while , a sense of possibility—about improving our criminal justice system. Substantive, often controversial, reform has been tried or is on the table in several states, including California and Texas; a handful of new prosecutors are reexamining cases where there may have been wrongful convictions; and in the area of juvenile justice, some states have been shifting resources to programs that rehabilitate rather than punish youthful offenders.
AMERICAN JUSTICE will examine key areas of our justice system that are underreported, overlooked, and in need of greater public attention. It will feature stories of reform as well as compelling, sometimes shocking, individual stories that will provide viewers with a visceral and vivid understanding of the issues.
Photograph by Steve Liss/AmericanPoverty.org