It’s Criminal: Women Discuss Privilege, Poverty and Injustice in America
Directed by Signe Taylor (2017)
This documentary concerns an innovative program at Dartmouth University in which Dartmouth English students collaborate with female prison inmates to put on a play. The main goal is to acquaint the Dartmouth students with their privileged standing.
All the inmates in the program were arrested for drug-related offenses. One woman pleaded guilty because she couldn’t afford bail and faced an indefinite period of detention before going to trial. Another, who couldn’t make bail, was still waiting for a court date.
All the the prisoners reported a history of severe trauma, both in their family of origin and from abusive partners.
The interactions between the two groups became quite strained when two male Dartmouth students are busted for dealing cocaine (like several of the inmates), have their charge reduced to a misdemeanor (owing to their privileged position as Dartmouth students) and receive community service (in lieu of prison) as a sentence.
The film can be viewed free on Kanopy with a public library card.