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Survivor’s Guide to Prison               review by Bobby Blakey

I love a good documentary, but the latest one Survivors Guide to Prison from executive producers Susan Sarandon, David Arquette, Christina Arquette and Adrian Grenier and directed by Matthew Cooke looks like something that will no doubt stand out. The film features an impressive cast speaking on the prison system including Danny Trejo, Deepak Chopra, Patricia Arquette, Danny Glover, Cynthia Nixon, Ice-T, RZA, Busta Rhymes, Tom Morello, Russell Simmons, B-Real, Macklemore, Quincy Jones, Q-Tip, Warren G., Chuck D, Brandon Boyd, Jesse Williams and more.

Profiled in the film are 2 former California inmates Bruce Lisker and Reggie Cole who were accused of crimes they didn't commit.  Bruce spent 26 years in prison before his conviction was overturned due to false evidence and ineffective counsel in his original trial.  Reggie was falsely imprisoned for 16 years - he entered prison a wrongfully convicted man, and left a murderer, after he had to kill someone within the prison to get another trial! Audiences get a harrowing look at how barbaric the US justice system works - today you're more likely to go to prison in the United States than anywhere else in the world. The film ultimately asks how we can survive the prison model at all, and looks at better solutions for conflict resolution, harm reduction, crime and more. 

I was instantly interested in this film strictly based on the star power and subject matter, but there was so much here than I expected. The story of these people and their unjustly journey through the prison system is painful to watch and just make you angry. The film not only tells their story, but is structured as an actual guide as the title promises. Through each chapter it gives you types to deal with varying scenarios leading to prison itself and surviving once inside all using their own experiences. The insanity of the realk world has made this film all the more relevant, but I was impressed that it didn’t seem to be so much setting out to discredit all forms of the law, but instead showcase the flaws in the system that need to be fixed, but also those on the right side that are trying to do just that.  

We always hear of these crazy stories, but when you hear them from the mouths of those who lived it and see the rappers, actors and musicians that you have a specific perception of in tears here will leave you concerned, heartbroken and concerned for society’s own fight against the legal system as well as your own safety in the world. Don’t keep your head in the stand and get out there and check out Survivor’s Guide to Prison in theaters, VOD and Digital HD now from Gravitas Ventures.

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