The meeting on Friday, Jan. 30, began with a moving reflection by the Rev. Louis Chase who said current racial tensions "point me back to times of lynchings." He ended his talk with the poem "Between the World and Me" by Richard Wright.
Our speaker this morning was filmmaker Ramon Hamilton who screened the pilot episode of his projected web series "The wHOLE," which focuses on the plight of one prisoner in order to highlight the harsh realities of solitary confinement and the whole system of mass incarceration.
He said the show's entertainment-education approach and transmedia components are meant to attract a new audience, including a younger media-savvy generation, that is unaware of the true state of the U.S. prison system and to create specific calls to action to effect changes.
Members of the Friday Forum were deeply affected by the dramatic power of actually seeing the frustration of a prisoner confined to a solitary housing unit for 23 out of 24 hours a day with no human contact aside from brutally insensitive guards.
ICUJP has worked closely with NRCAT (National Religious Campaign Against Torture) to end the practice of long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons -- staging protests, signing petitions, organizing visits to state legislators, and naming the practice as torture. However, as actor David Clennon commented, "That short video showing what solitary confinement is like from the prisoner's point of view brought home the issue in a visceral way no words could."
Filmmaker Hamilton described his innovative entertainment-education approach, which takes full advantage of the media world of today through its inclusion of transmedia extensions to the story that encourage an interactive response from the core audience.
Chairperson Steve Rohde thanked him for screening the pilot episode and for introducing ICUJP to the whole concept of entertainment-education and expressed our interest in working with him further on using this approach to create change.