New documentary showcases life inside nation’s first prison high school

PrisonEducation.com is excited to share news about an upcoming feature-length documentary that delves inside the first-ever high school built inside an adult prison in the United States.

Filmmakers Richard O’Connell and Annelise Wunderlich have just completed principal photography on The Corridor, a true-to-life depiction of the world inside Five Keys charter school at San Francisco County Jail. The film follows students, teachers and deputized staff at the 10-year-old school along their journey to graduation.

The film also shares our message at PrisonEducation.com: that education is key to reducing recidivism and is in the best interests of our society.

“Our goal is not to make the case for a restorative approach to criminal justice, nor is the film a promotion of any particular strategy,” explains Wunderlich.

“But we do hope that it will provide insight into the potential for jail-based education to reduce recidivism, while allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions about some of the larger issues like mass incarceration, the ‘School to Jail’ pipeline, and the legacy of the ‘War on Drugs’.

With support from the San Francisco Foundation and BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition), the film was created with the aim of being broadcast nationally on PBS along with acclaimed documentary series P.O.V. 

Five Keys was started over 10 years ago by then San Francisco County sheriff Michael Hennessey. Aware that 70 percent of inmates in U.S. jails never finish high school, he persuaded the San Francisco Unified School District to support a high school inside the jail.

We’re not surprised it was an overwhelming success.

“Five Keys Charter School opened with over 200 students,” says O’Connell. “Within three years, it was already apparent that graduates were far less likely to return to jail, and by 2006 the county decided to rebuild its jail with the school at its physical and figurative centre — we think that is an astonishing story.”

The filmmakers still need funding to make their documentary a reality, you can help them out via their trailer on Kickstarter:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/16000769/the-corridor-a-documentary-about-the-power-of-educ

For more information about the project, see website www.thecorridordocumentary.com

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