In the provocative and personal documentary ‘American Jail’, director Roger Ross Williams sets out on a journey to understand the complex forces of racism and greed currently at work in America’s prison system. He turns back to his birthplace Easton to tell the stories of men and women who ended up in jail.
For Williams (1970) prison always was a distinct possibility during his childhood in Easton, Pennsylvania. He fled from this doom scenario to realise his dream of becoming a filmmaker. In 2009, he was the first Afro-American director ever to win an Academy Award. Thirty years later, he returns to Pennsylvania. Roger is shocked to hear how many childhood friends are of have been in prison. Realising this could have happened to him as well, he embarks on a personal quest to the nature of the American prison system.
After the film, we talk with experts and the public about ethnic profiling by the police in the US and in the Netherlands and about the effectiveness of (juvenile) detention.
Watch the trailer:
- Gideon Everduim: rapper, social entrepreneur and teacher at the Bindelmeer College in Amsterdam. Everduim is the initiator of Control Alt Delete, an organization that works against ethnic profiling.
- Elten Kiene: spoken word artist, rapper and workshop teacher. As a teacher Kiene gave many workshops to young people and worked on projects in the US. He has just started at the Young in Prison Foundation where he wants to reach young people in juvenile prisons using spoken word.
- Joan Nunnely: entrepreneur and board member of Talent Development and Training at D66. With her company Eye For You, she focuses on strengthening and training professionals in the public and private sectors.
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