Segments in this Video

New Start in Old Neighborhood (02:53)


Northeast Washington black, poor, and full of crime. Xavier has been released from prison after serving 13 years for manslaughter. He tells the story of being abandoned by his mother as a young child.

Shared Memories (02:13)

Xavier lived on the streets of Washington D.C. from age 11. After being released from prison he has reconnected with his past which was full of guns, gangs, and violence. Only 5 percent of black men will go to college, 36 percent will go to prison.

Fighting to Survive (02:43)

Xavier recounts the crime that put him in prison as a teenager. He talks about the ease of getting access to a gun on the streets of Washington D.C.

Cutting Off the Past (02:47)

Kim was just released from jail. She arrives at the park with a bag that holds most of her possessions. She is looking for a place to stay. The shelters are full. She is thankful for her sobriety when nothing else is working out in her favor.

Keeping Hope Alive (01:49)

Kim visits the library to use the computer after spending the night at the park. She can send emails and search for jobs online. She is trying to keep it together but her despair is visible. She feels shame like many citizens re-entering society after prison.

Prison Industry (03:47)

Gail Arnall is executive director of OAR, a program that helps returning citizens reintegrate back into society. The U.S. holds 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The main reason is the "War on Drugs." Reducing recidivism is key.

Staying Positive (01:27)

Kim is still struggling to find a place to stay after being released from prison. She is still committed to making change. OAR has helped her get on her feet.

Too Much Time to Fill (03:10)

Xavier talks about the importance of having his own space. He has been out of prison for almost a year. He was fired from his job after his background as a convicted felon caught up with him.

Alienated from Society (02:06)

For a convicted felon like Xavier, searching for a job feels like a lesson in futility. Honesty on a job application can immediately rule him out for a position. He is convinced he has what it takes to be a professional rapper.

"New American Apartheid" (04:42)

Xavier's family is proof of the cycle of crime and poverty that wreaks havoc on African-American communities. One in 11 black adults is in the correctional system. Mary founded an organization that helps boys in underprivileged neighborhoods.

Taking Advantage of Resources (03:02)

Kim has been out of jail for almost a month, but is still at square one. She visits OAR looking for help with the basics. Her re-entry plan has not worked out. Executive direct Gail Arnall explains what the program does.

Navigating Freedom (03:30)

Xavier visits the barber shop he has been going to since he was a kid. He has applied for jobs online but is giving up hope. He spends his days killing time. He has been out of prison for a year and is becoming frustrated with his lack of prospects.

Off the Streets (03:52)

Life Pieces is a safe haven for young boys in Washington D.C. It is one of the few places that reaches out to youth before they get into trouble. Mary talks about her hopes and fears for Xavier. She explains how institutions fail these young men.

Something to Say (03:01)

Xavier is in the studio recording a rap song. He sings about incarceration and looking for a better life. He talks about being on the bottom all his life.

Self-Medicating with Marijuana (03:50)

Kim has disappeared. After weeks of frustration and failed efforts she went back to her old life. Xavier is hanging out on the streets. He is playing craps, his main source of income. He will be going to rehab for violating his probation.

Why Should Society Care? (02:51)

Kim relapsed. Had she been released from prison only a few weeks later than she was, emergency shelter would have been available to her. Katie from OAR explains that Kim did the best she could with limited opportunity.

Point of Surrender (03:25)

Xavier walked out of rehab after someone he knew from prison threatened to kill him. He violated the terms of his parole and was sent to a halfway house. His anger and rage seemed to disappear and he appeared to be taking responsibility.

Hope for the Future (02:08)

Mary talks about Xavier's apparent transformation. She has done everything within her power to help him. She hopes that one day all of the positive information he has been given will "click" and translate in positive action.

Conclusion and Updates (02:39)

There is no housing to shelter returning citizens when they leave prison and no therapy to to tame old demons. Success and failure are not individual achievements. Kim has returned to jail and Xavier is serving nine months in prison.

Credits: In Your Hands: Life after Prison (00:60)

Credits: In Your Hands: Life after Prison

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In Your Hands: Life after Prison

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For ex-convicts, the road back into society is paved with good intentions. But a freed prisoner’s plans for the future can quickly go awry, and the local support system, if one exists, may be just as ineffectual. Do public services provide what a former inmate needs? Is the “system” a safety net or a trap, every bit as confining as prison? This film documents two case studies in which the end of incarceration means not only a fresh start but also a new phase of hardship, hard luck, and hard-won dignity. Jailed since her mid-20s and emerging with nothing but the clothes on her back, Kim is soon spending her nights on a park bench. Will she fare better or worse than Xavier, who has served 13 years for murder? Where does a young man with that kind of record find a decent job? By the end of the program viewers will be able to reach their own conclusions about the hidden and human costs of maintaining a “safe” society. Issues of race, poverty, and substance abuse are discussed. Contains profanity and mature subject matter. (59 minutes)

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL49674

ISBN: 978-1-62290-720-5

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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