24 Apr 2017

Confronting the Walls Beyond Prison

Evidence shows that the likelihood of relapse or recidivism is directly linked to the level of ongoing support a person receives upon being released back to the community after incarceration. And Beyond the Wall, an audience favorite at the 2017 Sun Valley Film Festival, deftly tackles the complicated issues of incarceration, recidivism, and reform. It does so with an optimistic message, providing real hope and guidance for the future.

This illuminating, social impact film, vividly depicts the often insurmountable struggle to re-establish oneself in the community, family unit and workforce while navigating daunting internal and external barriers.

Gifted Filmmaker Jenny Phillips, a cultural anthropologist and writer, has a psychotherapy practice specializing in crisis intervention, family and marriage therapy, behavioral medicine and mindfulness training. Following on the heels of her successful 2007 documentary, Dhamma Brothers, a tribute to her revolutionary program to bring Mindfulness Training into a Maximum Security Prison, Phillips ventures to address another troubling aspect of our ailing criminal justice system.

She says, “The film ends up having very human stories (rising from) the statistics of recidivism and being plagued by issues of addiction, poverty, lack of education and jobs.” Phillips’ foremost goal for the film is the humanization of a system that has become dehumanized. Judges, attorneys, police chiefs, populations inside institutions, public defenders prosecutors and wardens are seeing this film, and the reception is incredible. “I see them now as people.” remarked a judge after seeing the film.

America has unintentionally created an institution of incarceration. Breaking the cycle of repetitive incarceration is tough on many levels; but there is hope: community alternatives to incarceration, tailored re-entry programs,  a focus on justice reinvestment over incarceration and treatment programs behind the walls, so our communities can move beyond them.



Leave a Reply