Mass incarceration is a broken system into which the U.S. government keeps funneling trillions of taxpayer dollars. Imprisoning more people for longer periods of time hasn't made us any safer, yet our incarceration rate has shot up 500% over the past four decades. Without fixing this system, people—primarily low-income people and people of color—will continue to be locked up and released in a vicious cycle that fails to address the root causes of systemic issues such as poverty and racism. Brave New Films has produced the Healing Trauma Series to address an important feeder of the systemic issues which fuel our incarceration crisis: trauma.
The films in this series profile two different programs that aim to reduce the recidivism of formerly-incarcerated individuals by providing holistic, trauma-informed approaches that treat each individual as a person instead of further criminalizing them. The individuals featured in these films were all affected by crime, poverty, substance abuse, institutionalized racism, and other things, causing them trauma and disrupting their lives. Watch this series to learn how we can address the root causes that lead people to incarceration without resorting to imprisonment, and provide alternatives that truly heal people.
Brave New Films’ short documentary Healing Trauma: Beyond Gangs and Prisons dives into the inner struggle of former gang members whose childhood trauma inevitably led to an anger that resulted in a criminal lifestyle and landed them in prison. Upon their release, these former gang members found their redemption with Homeboy Industries, Father Greg Boyle, and the many re-integrating programs offered through the Los Angeles-based organization. Healing Trauma: Beyond Gangs and Prisons follows the transformative stories of some of these former gang members as they share their adverse childhood experiences, gang involvement, and the hope they now have through the healing power of therapy.
Millions who are incarcerated today are there due to punitive policies that were been created around drug use and possession. Narrated by renowned physician and addiction specialist, Dr. Gabor Maté, Sentencing Reform: Drug Addiction, focuses on the criminalization of drug addiction and looks at evidence-based solutions that challenge perceptions of people struggling with addiction and asks us to reboot existing drug-related sentencing policies. In the video, we meet Shelly and Keith, two formerly incarcerated adults, who discuss their successful transition away from a life of drugs and lockup with the aid of a Seattle-based post-prison program. Shelly and Keith are living proof that there are viable and scalable solutions to reducing the prison population and ending generational traumas.