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FRONTLINE: The Released
FRONTLINE The Released
Actors: Will Lyman, Narrator
Director: Miri Navasky;Karen O'Connor
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
NR     2009     1hr 0min

This year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America, the largest exodus in the nation s history. Typically, mentally ill offenders leave prison with ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Will Lyman, Narrator
Director: Miri Navasky;Karen O'Connor
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Television, Science & Technology
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 07/07/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Loving and Hating a Documentary
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 06/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The documentary states that of the 700,000 inmates released from American prisons each year, half of them have mental disabilities. This work focused on those with severe problems who keep entering and exiting prison. This work has my mental wheels spinning; it presented fewer facts than it made me ask a ton of questions.
This work didn't answer something I need to know: "Do we give resources to the severely mentally ill to help them or to reduce their harm to society?" Some of the crimes committed by these men include robbery, assault, property damage, domestic violence, etc. Of course, that stuff can't be tolerated in a functional society. The victims of these men are not interviewed here and something tells me this documentary would upset them greatly. One big problem for these men is that they freely chose to stop taking their meds. Under freedom of choice, that's fine. However, if experts know they will be destructive without their meds, then why hasn't the law or legislators forced them to take them?
This work shows white and Black male ex-convicts in approximately equal numbers. The experts interviewed included whites and Blacks. As an African-American progressive, I would like to see more Blacks enter professions where they can help these people in need. There are no female ex-cons shown. One interviewee said this problem mostly affects men. Fair enough, but while women only make up a fraction of inmates, I once read that female inmates have extraordinarily complex issues. The exclusion of women in this documentary may rub some viewers the wrong way.
Someone very dear to me has done lots of prison time. He described prisons as being very miserly with providing resources. He described parole officers as being uncaring and only concerned about ex-cons not coming up dirty. The mentally-ill men shown here seemed to have health care options at their disposal and I doubt that is true for many "sane" ex-convicts fresh from the pin. In this light, it was odd to see mentally-ill ex-cons have contact with social workers and many others who cared about them. This work does make me wonder if we'd have less crime if non-ill inmates and ex-cons were given as much attention as the men presented here.
I wondered about the employees who have contact with these men. I'm sure the psychiatrists in this field are making mad loot. However, if you work in a halfway house or if you provide case management for these men, are you being paid adequately or is this just a labor of love? Maybe the country could reduce unemployment by hiring more citizens to work with this population. However, if a person's heart is not into it, would they do more harm to these men than good? Is work with this marginalized group rewarded well or thankless?
Remember the older man who didn't want to leave prison in "Shawshank Redemption"? Morgan Freeman called him "institutionalized." This documentary laments that these men go in and out of prison. However, none of the mentally-ill men interviewed ever said they disliked prison. This work never answers, "Do these men prefer to be locked up, rather than deal with the many responsibilities in the free world?" Similar to the practice of not taking needed medications, do these men chose incarcerated life?
This documentary was both eye-opening and frustrating. It answers little, but makes this viewer ask questions in a positive way. Perhaps the issues here are so difficult that a discussion of them is just going to be naturally painful, though potentially exciting."
Many challenges for parolees.......
D. Alder | Michigan | 02/07/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This dvd follows the fate of parolees who suffer from various mental illnesses, and the challenges they face; housing, employment, stigmatization, and socialization are just a few of them. The cases they follow do not all turn out for the best. Full of good information for a criminal justice student."