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The Work

Set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, three men from the outside participate in a four-day group-therapy retreat with a group of incarcerated men for a real look at the challenges of rehabilitation.

Director: Jairus McLeary & Gethin Aldous
Year: 2017
Time: 89
Club Member Rating:
 The Work
(2017) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share this film! Give others the chance to be inspired! 

Donate to the Inside Circle Foundation, a group that strives “to create environments in which prisoners can work and explore the issues in their lives that have prevented them from living up to their full potential as human beings,” as seen in THE WORK.

Write a prison inmate. Receiving letters can be a great way to lift an inmate’s spirits and keep them hopeful while they are serving time. Learn how to get started from wikiHow.

Volunteer at a local prison. Therapeutic programs like the one featured in THE WORK are often volunteer-run, while there is always a need for educational tutors. Programs like Princeton’s Petey Greene Program helps facilitate prison volunteer opportunities.

Join the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including the rights of prisoners via the National Prison Project.

Related Articles and Resources

How men at New Folsom Prison reckon with toxic masculinity

“They are men who learned early on to meet feelings of vulnerability with violence and force. It is not unusual for confrontations in circle to become physical in some respect. But together these men manage to redefine vulnerability as a sign of strength rather than weakness.”

Continue reading on the Los Angeles Times.

The filmmaking journey of The Work

Co-director Jarius McLeary and his producer/brothers Miles and Eon McLeary sat down with No Film School to talk about getting access, shooting vérité in prison conditions, and how even the most seemingly immovable people can change.

Read the interview on  No Film School.

Why prisons should make more time for inmates’ families

Learn how greater support of family contact would be good for both the prison system and all of society.

Read the article from The Conversation.

How to Write a Letter to a Prison Inmate

Many people develop pen pal relationships with prison inmates. New people each day are starting to send letters to inmates, trying to reach out and offer friendship to the people locked away who are often lonely and seek companionship. Just like with any pen pal, there are certain things to keep in mind when writing to a prison inmate.

Learn more on wikiHow.

Helping prisoners and parolees heal from the inside

“The goal of the ICF is to create environments in which prisoners can work and explore the issues in their lives that have prevented them from living up to their full potential as human beings. In these environments the ICF primarily utilizes self-help discussion groups and creative writing techniques such as journaling, autobiography, and poetry to achieve the inner development necessary to become healthy contributing members of our society.”

Learn more about  The Inside Circle Foundation (IFC).

Inside Circle founder Rob Albee on what ‘The Work’ means to him

“I could go on forever, but hopefully, this film is changing people’s opinions on who these inmates are and how some of them do want to change. For those that do, I think we ought to at least offer a path back.”

Read the article from 52 Insights.

Can prison be a place of redemption?

“…unless you change the system so that it’s open to people’s stories and people’s individual lives, to their individual, unmet needs, then you’re not going to create that transformative change that is required to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Read the conversation between Daniel Reisel, a doctor studying the neuroscience of restorative justice, and ex-convict Shaka Senghor, who after spending 19 years in prison managed to turn his life around, now working as a mentor to coach at-risk youth.

The conversation, including Ted Talks from both men, can be accessed on TED.

‘The Work’ Director Jairus McLeary Reveals How He Gained Inmates’ Trust for His Documentary

“We didn’t know if the cameras were going to shut down all emotion that was happening. There was just really no way to anticipate that even if we had been in there a bunch of times. …Since there was no guarantee what we going to capture, we shot a ton of more material that’s not in the film that’s primarily interviews. … Once we caught the meat of it we realized we didn’t need any of that stuff.”

Read and watch clips from the Q&A at IndieWire.

To Help A Criminal Go Straight, Help Him Change How He Thinks

“Providing offenders an opportunity to change their thinking, their lives and their place in society is in everyone’s interest. It does not compromise our enforcement of the law. But it demands changes in our thinking: to see criminals as fellow human beings and to provide genuine opportunities for ex-offenders to take part in society.”

Continue reading on NPR.

A Prison Psychologist Explains How He Treats Murderers and Rapists

“When I’m sitting in front of a man and go through his life’s events, I often come to the point where he, as boy, experienced certain bad things. I might even feel sorry for him. That has nothing to do with finding excuses for the actions that landed him in prison – it’s about understanding correlations. How did the kid who always got kicked by bullies at school become an adult that kicks other people? Somehow I’m able to see both – the man who committed those awful crimes and the boy I feel sorry for.”

Read the article from VICE.

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