All too often when we face big problems in our culture and our politics, we can become overwhelmed because there doesn’t seem to be a way out. But on October 9th, in partnership with the ACLU and The Nation, Brave New Films released OverCriminalized, a new video series that shines a light on solutions that are saving lives and money, keeping the public safer, and moving us away from our national obsessions with arresting and incarcerating our fellow citizens.
Many of the people filling up our jails and prisons do not pose a threat to public safety. They need help.
In each of the three episodes, we explore vexing social problems that we currently criminalize all over the country - mental illness,substance abuse, and homelessness. We sent our production team to San Antonio, Seattle, and Salt Lake City to profile three new programs that are working. We interviewed the local police, social workers, and government officials that are helping these programs succeed and talked to the people who have begun to get the help they need and avoid jail time. Everyone, from the young lady in Seattle suffering from scoliosis who sought heroin when she couldn't afford OxyContin, to the several homeless men and women we spoke to in Utah, now had reason to hope.
And along the way, taxpayers saved money, because in each case helping people was far cheaper than locking them up.
This isn't rocket science. If you put people who are sick in jail instead of a hospital, they don't get better; if someone bounces between a cell and the street for years, they'll never find a stable place to live. We were inspired by these policy makers from across the political spectrum who took a leap of faith, stopped trying to outdo one another to see who could be tougher on crime, and finally started to try to solve problems.
More than ever, we know that there's a way out of the mass incarceration and the over-criminalization of our communities. It begins with you.
We are making this series available for free to anyone who wants to screen it in his or her communities, and we're providing resources to help you get the word out about these programs. Will you send it to your mayor, your police chief or your legislator? Will you help stop the cycle of incarceration for those suffering from mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness?
Is your city overcriminalized? You can do something about it.