Award winning documentary “After Innocence”
By Tha Truth, political rapper and New Jersey Green
As politically educated activists, we have no doubt seen many informative documentaries. Personally, I have seen countless well-done documentary films and many have added to my knowledge and evolution. However, the documentary After Innocence, directed by Jessica Sanders, is beyond compelling; this film is one of the most important films ever made.
After Innocence takes us inside a place many individuals would rather not think about. While many tend to ignore the conditions inside the U.S. prison system and tend to think the worst of incarcerated men and women, this film provides the opportunity to get to know those who have been locked away for decades. It is easier for many to ignore unpleasant topics such as this, yet often they are the most worthy of our attention and actions.
From meeting several ex-convicts in the film, we learn about their treatment on the inside and how the system operated in their resulting prison time. The shocking element of the film is—all of these men were released after serving years, because they were innocent (as proved in court years, often decades, later). Then, after being released, these wrongfully convicted individuals must deal with problems such as having to pay thousands of dollars to have their criminal records expunged, not being compensated financially for their suffering, trying to find a job with a criminal record, and living with the traumatic memories of isolation and inhumane treatment inside the prison walls.
It is beyond critical that Greens and any compassionate, politically educated individuals see this film and encourage others to see it. We often speak of the problems of the U.S. legal system, but this film provides irrefutable evidence of the drastic need to completely revolutionize U.S. law enforcement. The film examines the inhumane treatment of prisoners, the role of money and greed in the lawyer/courtroom process, and so much more. Fortunately those who made the movie are organized and active in helping to change the system. After seeing After Innocence viewers will no doubt be inspired to play a part in this crucial struggle. Far from being depressing, the film offers ways to get involved and portrays many courageous activists who are making a serious difference.
I have also written a song for my next political rap album called “The Injustice System,” which incorporates many of the film’s issues and themes. The song features lyrics such as “The movie After Innocence/After you witness it/You see the significance/of changing the whole system it’s/ The real Shawshank Redemption/ That needs attention,” and “Daryl Hunt was innocent/but served 20 years in prison/His innocence was presented/with DNA evidence.” The song’s purpose is to infuse themes from the film (in addition to my own research) to bring attention to the prison industrial complex, outrageous drug war, and lack of humane treatment in so called corrections. Additionally, the purpose of the song and my CDs is to quickly educate those who are not prone to watching documentaries like After Innocence or reading informative books.