TVO documentary talks of ‘How to Prepare for Prison’

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Film explores basic questions of criminal justice system

TORONTO – TV Ontario presents the world broadcast premiere of How To Prepare For Prison on November 16 at 9 pm, available across Canada the following day on tvo.org. (See stills from the documentary on this page).

Commissioned by TVO and directed by Matt Gallagher (Grinders, The Rise & Fall of the Grumpy Burger), the feature documentary explores fundamental questions about the criminal justice system by following the story of three people facing prison for the first time. TVO’s 360 degree view of Canada’s criminal justice and corrections systems also includes debate and analysis on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and related articles and video at tvo.org/prisonprep.  Along with engaged discussion on TVO’s social media channels, this rich content is part of TVO’s digital public space focused on Ontario-perspective, in-depth current affairs.

“Much of what we know about prison, crime and criminals comes from fictionalized accounts of prison, reality TV or the evening news,” says Matt Gallagher. “At best it’s mostly cursory information, at worst it’s sensationalized. The people I have interviewed for How To Prepare for Prison want you to know that there is so much more to their story than the crime.”

Shot over three years, How To Prepare For Prison goes behind the scenes into the offices of lawyers and judges, into the courtrooms, and into the homes of people who are not career criminals or individuals “known to police,” but have somehow found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Joe Zambito from Windsor, Ontario is a 45-year-old father of three arrested when police found an illegal crop of marijuana in a warehouse he rents, but which he claims belongs to two others he sub-leased the space to. InCalgary Alberta, 29-year-old Courtney Hills has pled guilty to fraud and faces a potential multi-year sentence. She has hired Lee Chapelle, an ex-convict now working as a prison consultant who walks Courtney through what will likely happen over the next few months as she awaits her sentencing hearing. And in Detroit, Michigancollege student DeMario McMurray faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted for assault after an altercation in his dorm room. He’s terror-stricken about what will happen to him behind bars. The burden carried by Joe, Courtney and DeMario is shared by their families who try to be supportive but are terrified of what will happen to their loved ones.

“TVO commissions compelling social issue and current affairs documentaries that focus on contemporary social, political and cultural issues,” says John Ferri, TVO Vice President, Current Affairs and Documentaries. “How To Prepare For Prison offers a compelling and rarely seen perspective of the criminal justice system that we hope will spark discussion and debate about an issue that is often presented in concrete, right or wrong terms.”

Setting the table for the broadcast of How To Prepare For Prison, at 8 pm on November 16 The Agenda withSteve Paikin examines the state of our criminal justice system and unpacks some of the most pressing challenges facing our jails and prison convicts. At tvo.org/prisonprep visitors will find law-and-order themed episodes from The Agenda, and more groundbreaking documentaries such David and Me, and Out of Mind, Out of Sight with points of view that widen your perspective about justice and incarceration. The site will also include articles offering further perspectives on Canada’s criminal justice system, published in the days leading up to the premiere of How To Prepare For Prison.

How To Prepare For Prison will also air on TVO on Saturday, November 19 at 9 pm and 1:30 am, and Sunday November 20 at 11 pm. – CNW

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