Segments in this Video

Profiles: Ex-Offenders Speak (02:43)


Nonviolent offenders offer insight about their varied experiences in the prison system in these brief excerpts.

Recidivism Rates (01:06)

Experts discuss the growing crisis of recidivism and non-remediation in the United States, where one half of formerly incarcerated individuals reoffend and return to prison.

Juvenile Offenders (02:29)

High-risk adolescents in detention facilities become adapted to the corrections system and experience an increase in antisocial behavior. Most faced extreme adversity and abuse prior to their incarceration.

Childhood Trauma & Cycle of Violence (01:59)

Children exposed to neglect and violence suffer physiological effects that predispose them to drug addiction, antisocial behavior, and violent offenses. They often grow up to join gangs and enter the criminal justice system.

Drugs & Incarceration (03:03)

The staggering rate of substance abuse is a direct cause of prison overcrowding in the United States. Prostitution and robbery are just two of the non-violent crimes directly linked to drug addiction.

Inefficacy of Punishment (03:12)

Experts explain that policy-makers prioritize punishment over remediation in the criminal justice system, despite punishment's failure to act as a successful deterrent.

Remediation (02:19)

Experts discuss the complexities of remediation in the United States, as well as factors, like illiteracy, that contribute to an individual's likelihood to reoffend.

Juvenile Camps (03:28)

Officials at a juvenile camp in San Diego, California describe the program's efforts to educate and equip incarcerated youths with important life skills.

Therapeutic Communities (01:54)

Counselors from a therapeutic community in San Diego, California explain how formerly incarcerated individuals make meaningful progress as a result of group support and professional guidance.

Non-Profit Organization for Remediation (02:07)

The founder of San Diego's Second Chance organization discusses the program's approach to remediation, which includes providing graduates with reputable references in the professional world.

Homelessness (03:34)

War veterans are extremely susceptible to mental illness, substance abuse, criminal behavior, and homelessness. Experts and formerly homeless individuals discuss the complexities of combating homelessness.

California Legislation on Remediation (07:11)

California State Bill 618 is the only U.S. program implementing a multi-agency approach to societal reentry for non-violent offenders. It integrates the criminal justice and treatment systems to address chronic criminal behavior.

Reentry Success Stories (02:10)

Experts in the criminal justice system and rehabilitated individuals reflect on the successes they've witnessed and experienced first-hand.

Financial Argument for Treatment Programs (02:51)

Experts affirm that treatment for non-violent offenders costs less than repeated incarceration.

Cost-Effective Intervention for Juvenile Offenders (01:46)

Experts argue the financial benefits of intervening with young adult offenders in order to lessen their chances of spending a lifetime in the (expensive) criminal justice system.

Community Impact of Criminal Intervention (01:11)

Experts explain the many ways in which successful criminal remediation positively affects entire communities.

Calls for Systemic Change (02:42)

Experts offer arguments for remediation treatment, as well as other ideas for long-term solutions, to the growing crisis of incarcerated non-violent offenders and high recidivism rates.

Information Recap: Recidivism & Remediation (01:29)

A slideshow of expert quotes and statistics makes a final case for a paradigm shift in the criminal justice system, with a focus on remediation and intervention.

Credits: It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing: Prison, Recidivism, and Remediation (01:18)

Credits: It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing: Prison, Recidivism, and Remediation

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It's More Expensive to Do Nothing: Prison, Recidivism, and Remediation

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The math, according to many experts, is simple: it costs $75,000 a year to incarcerate a nonviolent offender but only $5,000 to help that individual live productively in freedom. Meanwhile, the number of Americans behind bars has reached an astonishing level with virtually no sign of falling. This film explores the troubling realities that lie behind those statistics—the revolving door of institutionalization, the complexities of reform, and the frequent disregard for programs that can help ex-offenders succeed in society. Featuring interviews with more than 25 experts in the fields of law, policy-making, criminal justice, addiction treatment, and child development, the film also profiles nonviolent offenders who have turned their lives around after completing remediation and literacy programs. Viewers learn about facilities that have proven track records for helping both juvenile and adult offenders find lawful, rewarding paths to the future. (49 minutes)

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL53196

ISBN: 978-0-81608-816-4

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“...the [experts] are so informative and articulate, it doesn’t feel like a lecture. Director Swyer interspereses [them] with...former prisoners; their personal journeys reinforce the promise of remediation programs in human terms.” –Library Journal

“If you want to see change in your community immediately, put your money into community treatment and correctional supervision. –Douglas B. Marlowe, JD, PhD -Senior Scientist Treatment Research Institute; Chief of Science, Policy and Law, NADCP

“It makes long-term economic sense to take care of these people in a humane way, and help them heal.” –Bruce Perry, MD, PhD - Senior Fellow, ChildTrauma Academy

It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing makes a compelling case.” –John Dean, author and former White House counsel

“An important film...” –Senator George McGovern (D-SD)

“As one who has succumbed to the evils of drug addiction and subsequent incarceration, I can attest to the passionate message of It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing. A must-see documentary!” –Tom Sizemore, Actor - Born on the Fourth of July

Performance Rights

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