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America makes up 5% of the world’s population, yet locks up 25% of the world’s prisoners. 40% are black men. 13TH gives an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

Director: Ava DuVernay
Year: 2016
Time: 100 mins

(2016) on IMDb

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International: Netflix
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Ways to Influence

Share this film. Give others the chance to learn from its story! 

Find a local chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement and show your support at an event or with a monetary donation.

Get involved in #cut50, an initiative that aims at “popularizing the idea that we can smartly and safely reduce the number of people in our prisons and jails by 50%” by pursuing transformative legislation.

Show your support of the Equal Justice Initiative, which is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.

Educate yourself on the concept of social privilege and reflect upon the privileges you may or may not experience because of race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religion, physical/mental abilities, etc. A good tool to get started is Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” which deals specifically with white privilege, although it invites readers to reflect upon many types of privilege.

Related Articles and Resources

Van Jones on Mass Incarceration, Black Lives Matter, and Ava DuVernay’s ‘The 13th’

Van Jones has been fighting against police brutality and mass incarceration for over 20 years. Here he explains how America can turn it around.

Read the article on EBONY.

The Psychological Impact of Incarceration

This paper examines the unique set of psychological changes that many prisoners are forced to undergo in order to survive the prison experience. (…) the personal challenges posed and psychological harms inflicted in the course of incarceration have grown over the last several decades in the United States.

The Mass Incarceration Problem in America

“‘Other than the United States, most of the countries with high incarceration rates have had a very recent social trauma,’ Wagner added. ‘New York has the same incarceration rate as Rwanda and there has not been a massive genocide in New York State. The irony is that New York actually used to have a much higher rate of incarceration. It’s actually one of the grand exceptions in the country, of a state that has been reducing its prison population.'”

Read the full article here.

The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration

American politicians are now eager to disown a failed criminal-justice system that’s left the U.S. with the largest incarcerated population in the world. But they’ve failed to reckon with history. Fifty years after Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report “The Negro Family” tragically helped create this system, it’s time to reclaim his original intent.

Continue reading here.

Interview With the Filmmaker

“The idea you have in your head was not built by you per se, but built by preconceived notions that were passed down generation after generation. The very ideas that we hold in our head are for someone’s profit and political gain. That stuff really trips me out. It makes me want to really interrogate what I think, read more deeply, understand more deeply.”

Read the full interview on the Atlantic.

Slavery to Mass Incarceration

Watch the video on Youtube!


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