Is There No Way

4 min. version on YouTube


No W ay Out

In 1970, California had 12 prisons and 19,500 inmates. During the next decade, these tectonic plates grated - voter outrage, parolee recidivism and a soaring crime rate. Answering the calls for a law-and-order paladin to save-the-day, George Deukmejian, ran-for and became the 35th Governor of California in 1983. In the wake of these shocks, California began to paint itself into a corner with scarlet abandon: fixed sentencing got mandated and 21 new prisons were built. In 2007, these are the results: 173,000 inmates are stuffed into 33 prisons that are built to hold one hundred thousand humans.

David Rocha went into Section A at SAC (California State Prison outside of Sacramento) to talk to inmates and guards about the control gangs have over the lives of prisoners in prison and on the streets. The inmates in Section A are “no good” former gang members who have left their gangs and are in protective custody within the prison system. Some have release dates and hope for a new crime-free life outside of jail. Is there a way out for them?

Mari Eliza, editor, music by Tommy Deschaine, by permission

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