Survivors Guide to Prison

Director: Matthew Cooke
Year Released: 2018
Rating: 2.5

The American prison system has been an atrocity for ... well, a very long time, so 'activist' Cooke brings together multiple actors and musicians (some whom have been incarcerated, like Danny Trejo and Wayne Kramer) to go through, step-by-step, ways to try to not just avoid being put behind bars but what to do once you're in there (and have little chance for getting out in a reasonable amount of time). Now obviously this topic is so monstrous (from being wrapped in a million miles of red tape) that a single 90-minute (propaganda) piece is not going to cover all the aspects, but I was amazed (speaking as someone with a Master's in Criminal Justice ... whatever good that does) how much ground does get covered, albeit in a way gaudily stylized so as to look like something that could play on Spike TV. The "War on Drugs" never worked, there are some police officers that are hopelessly corrupt (their badges get literally 'screwed into their heads'), recidivism rates are astronomical, mental institutions have been shut down (to the detriment of society as a whole) and prisons and jails are basically schools to make criminals 'better' at being bad: it's all in there, and it's important to discuss it instead of pretending it doesn't exist. The question as to how to fix it: it's possible, but it's got so many deep roots you'd need to use a bulldozer, and I doubt anyone's ready for that.