Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wild Horse Redemption

I have always been a big proponent of the Wild Horse Program in Canon City. I know that the people who have gone through this program have always spoken highly about how it changed their lives.

The Toronto International Film Festival finished its 32nd run September 16th. Known in the public eye for its star-studded Galas, Toronto is also a platform for independent work, even social issue documentaries. A lot had changed in the past few years for Toronto's doc program. Thom Powers, who also programs The Stranger than Fiction series at New York City's IFC Center, took over as programmer two years ago and spearheaded several new doc strands to create a stronger presence for non-fiction work at the festival. Doc Talks this year featured "Why Democracy?," a panel discussion with the BBC's Nick Fraser about the commissioned documentary collection. Three of the ten "Why Democracy?" docs screened at this year's fest: Iron Ladies of Liberia, Please Vote for Me, and Dinner with the President: A Nation's Journey.

The word on the street was the non-fiction this year was kind of bland, no earth-shattering stories, and aesthetically only traditional fare. That may be true in the "wow" factor—yes, there wasn't a Kurt Cobain: About a Son to shine a light on unconventional approaches to doc making, or a Lake Of Fire to inspire many layers of conversation. Still, several docs screened that are remarkable. Werner Herzog was on hand for the premiere of Encounters at the End of the World, his exploration of life at the United States research outpost in the South Pole. Grant Gee's Joy Division, about the life and death of the band's frontman Ian Curtis, was a surprise hit. Also creating a lot of buzz was Body of War, a striking anti-war doc by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue—in Donahue's directorial debut—with music by Eddie Vedder who was also on hand. Exile was a theme in several docs including Peter Raymont's A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman, about the novelist Dorfman and his flight from—and love of—Chile. Two documentaries focused on the criminal justice system: The Wild Horse Redemption, John Zaritsky's take on an unusual rehabilitation program at a Colorado prison and David Schisgall's Very Young Girls, which uses interviews and shocking verité footage to tackle child prostitution on our own shores.

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The Wild Horse Redemption is John Zaritsky's take on an unusual rehabilitation program at a Colorado prison.

Zaritsky's film makes a perfect fit for MediaRights because of its criminal justice system focus. It's also an unusual film because it brings animals into the mix. The Wild Horse Inmate Program uses wild mustangs as participants, collaborators really, in the rehabilitation of male inmates at a Colorado Rocky Mountain correctional facility. The horses are rounded up on federal land in Wyoming, tamed by the prisoners under the guidance of professional "horse whisperers," then put up for adoption. The process is arduous and fulfilling. As the horses are trained, the men are transformed—and they are both released successfully back into the world. At least that's the idea, and there's evidence it works.

The Wild Horse Redemption premiered in the Toronto International Film Festival's Real to Reel section and was produced in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The National Film Board of Canada. Zaritsky has made many social issue docs including Just Another Missing Kid, which won an Academy Award in 1982.


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