Thursday, August 12, 2010


The July 26 reentry film screening brought over 90 people to the Paul Robeson Center at Rutgers Newark to see two new reentry films, Nowhere to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. It was great to see so many people come out to support the films. After the screening the audience discussed using the films as part of a communications strategy to engage others in understanding the issues of reentry, and through dialogue helping to solve the problems in communities throughout New Jersey.

Elizabeth Enloe, American Friends Service Committee Regional Director and I spoke with the group about the associated screening guide and advocacy toolkit and asked for feedback on ways that people could use the films in their communities.

Rafiq Saleem, who came to the screening after having been released from prison just that day said, "I appreciate programs such as this and really encourage the outside world to get more involved. I believe these films should be given to every house in the 'hood' so that the young gang members, the pregnant women—no fathers, no mother figures—they should see these films because this is a form of encouragement."

After viewing the films a survey was conducted and two thirds of the audience participated. 92% responded that the films "clearly explained the issues", and more than three quarters said the film educated them on the issues and provided them with ways to get involved.

Participants were encouraged to use the films in multiple ways. The screening guide and advocacy toolkit provide a road map for holding screenings and engaging varied audiences in grassroots solutions to reentry problems throughout the state.

The films can be used in suburban and rural areas to educate the public and help them understand how they are impacted by the costs and public safety issues associated with the revolving door of incarceration. Arthur Townes, Alumni Director from Community Education Centers (CEC) stood up after the screening and said, "I think these films create a message of hope. They can be used to inspire others and to expose a light on the issues around reentry in communities that don't necessarily see this as a problem."

Youth and adults in the prison system are a good audience for Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. Michael Jackson, Founder of Prison Nation Radio ( who was interviewed for the film stated, "Personally the thing that made me believe I could do it was when I saw someone else who had done it. Films like this about people who have been successful need to go to the people inside [prison] because once people see others saying that it can be done--that's when people can do it on their own—so that they can start their healing."

Additionally, one third of the people who participated in the survey said they were interested in hosting a screening in their community and a third said they would contact their elected officials.

A comprehensive screening guide and advocacy toolkit are in development and when complete the package will include:

• Potential Audiences/Partners
• Invitation Poster/Flyer
• Sign-in Sheets
• Event Press Release Template and Video Clip Photos
• HANDOUT: Become Involved Action Sheet
• HANDOUT: Fact Sheet/Resources
• Letter to Editor Template
• Legislative Action Sheet
• Petition
• Youtube Video
• Audience Surveys

Please share the videos widely, embed them in your websites and blogs, and create a social media buzz. Updated information will be available on the Voices of Hope website and on AFSC's website as well. To host a screening in your community email for a free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.

Thank you for your attention to this very important issue!

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Supporting Organizations

No Where to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives were made with generous funding from the New Jersey Department of State/Office of Faith Based Initiatives.