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Survivors Guide to Prison Review

Survivors Guide to Prison Review

You Might Survive

If you are in the mood to see a film that throws you up against a concrete wall, threatens your very existence, and almost makes you terrified to leave the house, have I got something for you!

Okay, I'm exaggerating a tad, but Matthew Cooke's "Survivors Guide to Prison" grabs you from its opening moments and doesn't let go of you until the final frame. By then, you'll be exhausted, frustrated, horrified, and scared out of your mind. And angry. Really, really angry.

Everything here is presented as an educational primer, of sorts, on how to survive if you find yourself incarcerated. The resounding message is no matter what you do, if you find yourself in jail or prison, you're pretty much screwed. Whatever your pre-conceptions are of prison life, reality is far, far worse. This is pounded into you by various narrators, including many who have already experienced it. 

In addition to this barrage of negativity, we also meet a couple of prisoners whose own personal horror stories are almost unfathomable. One of them found his mother dead in their home and was then charged with her murder, and he had nothing to do with it. He ends up spending many years in prison and it paints his prosecutor as being a filthy, lying vermin. Another innocent man spends many years in prison and after another prisoner tries to kill him, he kills his assailant in order to stay alive.

The central point here is that the system is entirely rigged against anyone accused of a crime. If you manage to survive all of the hurdles thrown in front of you, you'll still be mentally scarred for the rest of your life.

The title of the film is quite misleading. You can do little to survive the meat grinder of being caught up in the penal system. There is some valuable advice dispensed, but in the end, it probably won't help you, and it's a depressing thought. That we allow America to be run this way is disappointing, to say the least. All we can do is hope it never happens to us, but it will continue to happen to millions of Americans. Despite everything I have told you about it, please see it.

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