"What first began as a sense of helplessness, turned into a driving motivation to avert the human cost of incarceration and keep families together."
As a young woman I watched helplessly as a close family member was denied desperately needed drug rehab and was instead sent to prison for a drug-related crime. The situation was all too common, but my outrage at such inhumane treatment followed me for a decade.
A filmmaker and storyteller at heart, I decided to use the power of storytelling to introduce more context into the legal process.
My husband John and I began traveling on weekends, with our seven-year-old in tow, to interview defendants awaiting sentencing and their families on camera.
With each new story it became increasingly clear that there was an urgent necessity for the humanizing video portraits we were creating.
We wanted to do what we could to change our broken and biased criminal justice system. We had no money, no reputation, and no law degree.
Yet, from behind the scenes, we discovered a powerful tool that can diminish injustice, bring historical racial trauma to the forefront and heal our country.
Our unique solution? Stories. Deeply personal films made by formerly incarcerated filmmakers as they venture into the houses, trailers, sober living homes, motels, tents and jail cells of convicted criminals who will soon be sent to prison.
The crew is united by one purpose: to unmask the true stories of the convicted.
We believe it’s imperative that we champion the voices of previously incarcerated filmmakers of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, faiths and levels of socio-economic status.
Their lived experiences are a critical ingredient to the rescinding of simplistic, stereotypical characterizations.
In an effort to help reduce the bias and stigma that formerly incarcerated individuals face when they re-enter society and seek employment, we often hire recently released inmates to be a member of the crew on every sentencing video project we embark on.
Our hope is that they will receive more employment opportunities as a result of their time working with Complete Picture.