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VICE Special Report: “Fixing The System”

By Jef Dinsmore on Oct 1, 2015 to Vice


Overview: VICE SPECIAL REPORT: FIXING THE SYSTEM, an in-depth look at America’s broken criminal justice system, debuted SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER. 27. The special gives viewers an in-depth look at the pervasive impacts of America’s approach to crime and imprisonment, chronicling the many interlocking pieces of the sprawling system, from prisoners and their families to the judiciary and community reformers.

Hosted by VICE founder and correspondent Shane Smith, the documentary features President Obama’s historic tour in July of Federal Correctional Institution, El Reno in Oklahoma, where he met with inmates and prison officials. As part of the VICE special, President Obama became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, signaling criminal justice reform as a top priority for the final months of his presidency. The special is the latest in VICE’s ongoing coverage of what’s becoming a major civil rights issue in the United States. America is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population.


Expectation: What can I say, this writer reads and watches a lot of VICE Media content. The hot topic of this report and the statistics stated isn’t news to me. But, for the masses this just might be another eye opener Unless, you got someone in the penal system you just might not be aware of the situation.

I hope that this special report is thorough and concise for the unfamiliar and insightful as to what can be done to address the issue.

Gut Reaction: This documentary got me thinking for a day or two about America’s penal system. That is the sign of an effective film. But, this one is not without its flaws in my opinion. Some people surely think the hell with criminals, lock them up and throw away the key. The problem with that mentality is that at the current rates there will be more inmates than suburban residents in this country. Clearly there is an imbalance and the report explains it very well. It started with the War on Drugs and has escalated into a endless cycle of large sentences, no second chances in society and being fed right back into the system. It looks like once and inmate always an inmate as felons are never given the fair change to reform. Either you believe they get a second chance for their non-violent crimes or they wear the chains of guilt forever.VICE_ObamaSitDown

That is the core of FIXING THE SYSTEM because the report is not about really fixing it. It is really just about acknowledging that the system is broken as there are few concrete inroads into how to fix it. The sitting President doesn’t even have any detailed answers.

VICE’s previous installment “Killing Cancer” had something really solid to say about eradicating that disease, but this report was a bit lackluster because it couldn’t spell out the changes acquired to retool the penal system.And the whole presence of President Obama didn’t seem all that impactful either.It seemed rather sensationallistic that VICE held audience with the POTUS yet, Obama’s dialog with the select inmates didn’t seem so. He was down to earth and personable with them as they talked through their stories of imprisonment.


In Conclusion:  That, on the surface, is what I got out of it. This societal problem, like most, only gets worked out with dialog. VICE has done its part to keep the issue before us. It is another problem on the long list of society’s ills that would take a restructure of our agendas, attitudes and our way of life. Watch “Fixing the System” and make the call for yourself.       

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