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Watch: These poignant animated films shed light on the broken prison and justice system in the US

‘Lavette, Jason, and Johnny know all too well the disastrous and life-changing impact of incarceration.’


At the Sundance Film Festival on January 20 this year, the American Civil Liberties Union presented three animated films that told first-hand stories of people who have been incarcerated. The occasion was a first for ACLU, who debuted the short animations at Sundance as part of their campaign for Smart Justice.

The campaign “is an unprecedented, multiyear effort to reduce the US jail and prison population by 50 percent and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system” ACLU wrote on their website.

Their aim? To bring in a new era of justice in America and end mass incarceration.

Each film (above and below) movingly depicts the impact of imprisonment and its traumatic effects on incarcerated people, their families and communities.

The stories of Lavette Mayes (above), Jason Hernandez and Johnny Perez (below) reveal the flaws of the justice system that end up trapping people in jails and prisons for too long.

“My entire life was determined right there, in 30 seconds,” said Mayes in the film.

“Lavette, Jason, and Johnny know all too well the disastrous and life-changing impact of incarceration. Their experiences mirror those of millions of people across the country who are targeted and victimised by our broken criminal justice system,” said Udi Ofer, director of the Campaign for Smart Justice at the ACLU.

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