In over 100 countries, prison systems currently operate well above official capacity, while mass incarceration generates significant profits for private companies in many of them. In others, women are imprisoned for fleeing domestic violence, forced marriage, and rape. With such persistent issues surrounding global criminal justice, The Why Foundation has launched its «Caught in the Criminal Justice System» awareness campaign throughout the month of November.
Throughout the month, The Why will host five of films related to this topic on its YouTube channel, asking critical questions to get to the heart of the issue, looking at it through several of its processes. On the programme, Mette Hoffmann Meyer, CEO of THE WHY says: «As Dostoevsky once said, the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. These five films give an extraordinary and important insight into how harsh prison life is, how disproportionately some communities are affected, and how absent the rule of law is in many countries. It is crucial that people understand this issue.»
Of the films, The Remandee (dir. Jakob Jakobsen, Alexander Lind), No Burqas Behind Bars (dir. Nima Sarvestani, Maryam Ebrahimi), and Jailed in America (dir. Roger Ross Williams), each look at life behind bars. Whether in Zambia, Afghanistan, or the United States, life behind bars before conviction creates a social and emotional turmoil felt across societies.
Gideon’s Army (dir. Dawn Porter) and Justice for Sale (dir. Femke van Velzen, Ilse van Velzen) look at the defenders who human rights lawyers in the United States and Congo, respectively, who all too often risk life and livelihood in the name of justice.
From wrongful incarceration, for-profit prison systems, dysfunctional bail systems, or a justice apparatus that greatly favours the wealthy, the idea of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t always present itself as truth. With «Caught in the Criminal Justice System», The Why Foundation asks, are there better ways for the accused to be handled in our criminal justice systems?