‘Paper City’ Documentary About Education-Prison Connection

By Michelle Williams

A documentary about the Paper City will be screened in Monson this weekend with a discussion about the “school-to-prison pipeline” to follow.

The film explores the intersection of education, drugs and prison in Holyoke, through the narrative of native Holyoke resident Iesha Ramos. It was shot and directed by a then-Hampshire College student Akil Gibbons.

“Paper City” is about the American dream in one of the nation’s arson capitals. The film examines the school-to-prison pipeline — the nation-wide phenomenon in which high dropout rates coincide with mass incarceration of urban youth,” Gibbons said. “The American dream today is achieved through education. If you don’t have a high school diploma, which many in Holyoke feel unable to attain.”

Gibbons interviews Holyoke officials in the film, including Assistant School Superintendent Paul Hyry-Dermith, Holyoke Police Officer Victor Heredia and Mayor Alex B. Morse.

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