An inside look at life on parole

An inside look at life on parole

Frontline documentary, "Life on Parole," produced in Connecticut, will set the stage for a series of disucssions on community supervision practices. Photo credit: PBS/Frontline

A national campaign to change the conditions of people coming home from prison is kicking off at the New Haven Free Public Library with a screening and discussion of the PBS/Fronline documentary, “Life on Parole.”

The film, produced in Connecticut with the cooperation of the Department of Corrections and in collaboration with the New York Times, follows several former prisoners released on parole, showing in stark detail the punitive rules under which they live. The New Haven community conversation will include the film’s producer, state officials and parolees.

"The folks that have experienced the system get to tell their story,” says Andrew Clark, Director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University, which is holding the screening series and creating discussion guides so that similar events can be held at libraries, schools, state agencies and other settings across the country.

“This is a unique opportunity to look at parole and supervision and the stipulations that people have to live under,” says Card. “It provides an honest lens of how it is. Through our work, we provide pathways for people to become engaged.”

The New Haven Free Public Library screening and discussions is Tuesday, Dec. 19th at 6 p.m. It is the first in a series of screenings that will be held across the state and part of a larger project to raise the awareness needed for positive operational and policy changes to the criminal justice system. A second screening and discussion is planned for January at the Hartford Public Library.

The IMRP is receiving $10,000 in funding from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to help pay for the multi-part engagement project. The support is part of The Foundation’s strategic initiative to improve the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.

In addition distributing the film and discussion/education modules, IMRP is also developing a case study that will assess the influence of the Frontline and New York Times coverage in Connecticut and nationally. A focus of the case study will be how documentary storytelling can empower communities and individuals affected my mass incarceration, and inform both public attitudes and organizational practices.  

The project also brings together a diverse group of stakeholders including academic researchers from Quinnipiac and Yale Universities, local nonprofit providers, the New Haven Prison Reentry Initiative and formerly incarcerated individuals to create supplementary materials to be used in community conversations, workshops and training sessions.

For more information about The New Haven Free Public Library Foundation, visit its profile on givegreater.org

Did you know?

About half of all prisoners released from Connecticut prisons return within three years. Published recidivism rates include violations of probation or parole, which may not result from an individual committing a new crime. Source: The Criminal Population in New England: Records, Convictions, and Barriers to Employment. A Federal Reserve Report.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

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