Juvies, 2004 (Leslie Neale)
Juvies is a compelling, powerful, and unsentimental examination of the California juvenile correction system (and the American juvenile correction system in general) that, rather than provide a structure and process for rehabilitating young offenders in order to deter them from becoming career criminals, are increasingly deferred and processed through the adult prison system to serve out arbitrarily tacked on – and often judicially misused – “bonus” terms of 10 to 15 years designed to curb gang-related activity. Perhaps the most compelling story is that of Duk Ta, the American born son of Asian immigrants who, at the age of 16, was the driver of a car when shots were fired between his passenger and rival gang members in which no one was hurt. Advised by his parents to go to the police and inform them of the incident, Duk soon found himself charged with (and later convicted of) attempted murder and branded as a gang member with the moniker “Duke” – a deliberate misspelling of his name fabricated by the prosecutor in order to strengthen her argument of his gang affiliation and therefore eligibility for “bonus” sentencing guidelines – and is now serving a 35 year term in an adult prison. Shot from the point-of-view of a video production class taught by Neale to a randomly selected class of twelve juvenile offenders tried as adults, what emerges is a disturbing trend towards the marginalization of poor, often abused, undereducated, and minority offenders and their convenient and expedient disposal into the adult correctional system.
Three Poems By Spoon Jackson, 2003 (Michel Wenzer)
Composed of a series of recorded, monitored musings and readings by California inmate Stanley “Spoon” Jackson (including Jackson’s self-exculpatory trivialization of his crime – and deflection of accountability – by characterizing himself as a “political prisoner”) set against images of Jackson’s family album pictures and recurring shots of trains (and intrusive incremental reminders for remaining time before disconnection), Three Poems By Spoon Jackson is a respectable, but insipid short film that showcases Jackson’s naïve and rudimentary – and unremarkable – spoken word poems: Pot-Belly Stove, Schools, and Heart of the High Desert.
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