Documentary Explores the Human and Moral Costs of Incarceration
Updated: Monday, January 20 2014, 10:13 PM EST
No other country in the world incarcerates a greater percentage of its citizens than the United States. It's an $80 billion burden on the economy. Now, a local filmmaker who spent time behind bars himself, is exploring the impact of incarceration – the human and moral costs.
One of the subjects of the film is Jason Bobbitt, a builder who has overcome much hardship in his life. A high school dropout and product of a broken home Bobbitt was a young adult when he stepped into the illegal drug trade, got caught and convicted. After 32 months in a federal prison Bobbitt found freedom, and with freedom, a new focus. He launched his own construction business and spent the next two decades building his business and a family.
It all seemed idyllic until the economy crashed five years ago and the business Bobbitt spent years to build began to crumble. In a desperate moment Bobbitt turned to the fastest money he know how to make, stepping back into the illegal drug trade.
Once again Bobbitt was caught and convicted.
He is one of three ex-cons whose stories are featured in an upcoming documentary called "Revolving Doors." The film is being produced by James Burns, a man who spent most of his teenage years in an adult prison. Now as a filmmaker he's exploring the impact of incarceration.
"If we build a prison then you have to fill those beds," Burns said. "And if you build more prisons than we are schools...what does that mean?"
Bobbitt has spent months preparing himself for the possibility of prison and worrying about the toll it could take on his children. After months of waiting he and his family learned his fate at the federal courthouse last month.
He faced a decade in federal prison. In the courtroom the judge acknowledged his good deeds but the law, she claimed, demanded prison. However, instead of years he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
"I couldn't ask for a better sentence," Bobbitt said. "My family's going to have to survive a year or so without me."
By sharing his story with others Bobbitt hopes others will find potential even in the most broken of homes. He began serving his 18-month sentence this month and the documentary is expected to be released in March.