The Farm: Life in Angola Prison
The Farm: Life in Angola Prison
The documentary discusses the lives of several inmates held in the country’s largest maximum prison. The Louisiana Penitentiary was named Angola because slaves who used to work in the plantation were from the African country of Angola. The inmates at the prison do not seem to have any hope of freedom. Many of them are serving life or long-term sentences. The film captures some of the inmates and it tells their stories. Some of the inmates have been in the prison for several decades. They have spent most of their lives in prison, and it seems to have become a second home to them. The film captures some of the inequalities of the criminal justice system in America. There are 5000 prisoners in the penitentiary. Eighty percent of the prisoners are African American while only 20% are white. However, the prison administration in 100% white. More than 80% of the people who go there do not leave the prison. The prisoners look for any way they can to hope for a better future even though they know they may never have any freedom
George Crawford is a new prisoner. He is twenty-two years old and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was convicted of first-degree murder. According to Crawford, he is there because of the past offences. He is worried that he will never see his loved ones again. He carries 97 photos when he goes to prison. George goes to the prison with the hope that his family will appeal and that his sentence will change. Crawford is an example of how the socioeconomic situation can determine someone’s life. He grew up in the projects and did not even finish school. He had the desire to acquire material things and he used the only way he knew which was getting involved in stealing and dealing drugs. Although Crawford admits to doing other crimes and being an offender, he emphasizes that he has never killed anyone. If he lacks money for the appeal, he will have to spend his entire life in jail. This illustrates another way in which the economic situation contributes to injustice. While on his first assignment in the farm, Crawford confesses that he has never worked. This means that being idle and unproductive in the society is one of the major determinants of crime.
Eugene Tannehill has spent most of his life in prison. He was imprisoned in 1959 when he was 24 years old and he has been in Angola for 38 years. Fellow inmates nicknamed him bishop. During filming, he delivers a powerful message to the other prisoners urging them to repent. Although he has received pardon, the governor has not signed and this means that he has to continue serving his sentence. Eugene believes that God has not submitted the governor to sign his pardon. However, one could also interpret this as a sign of injustice. He has served his time in prison and he has spent most of his life there. He has reformed his ways and it is clear that he would never consider committing crime. The governor is contributing to enhancing injustice through his refusal.
Ashanti Witherspoon is one of the model prisoners. He is a leader and he talks to the new prisoners. He urges them not to give up on life despite their sentences. He also gives them the harsh realities of life. He tells them that his friends and families will forget about them in time. he also urges them not to engage in negative behaviors. Despite his good conduct, he was denied parole in 1994. He hopes that he will get another chance. Witherspoon has been in Angola for twenty-five years. He had been convicted for 75 years for armed robbery. He received the harsh sentence when two police officers were wounded. No one was killed in the robbery attempt. The parole has not considered pardoning him or releasing him on parole. Witherspoon has the chance to escape since he is involved in missions outside the prison. However, he has reformed his ways and he is more interested in doing things the right way. His concern for the moment is to help other prisoners to reform their ways.
The documentary is a reflection of the criminal justice system. The justice system is unfair and unjust. Some of the prisoners have received harsher sentences than they should have. Others are accused of crimes that they have not committed and they have spent many years in prison. The parole board does not seem to have clear guidelines detailing how the prisoners should be released. Reformed prisoners are not given a second chance. The documentary also reflects some of the factors that contribute to people engaging in crime. Socioeconomic factors are major determinants of crime. The way that children are brought up and the influences they have in their lives also determine whether they engage in crime. Addiction to drugs is another major determinant of crime.
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