‘Before Prison,’ Short Film About Sexual Abuse and Oklahoma’s High Female Incarceration Rate – The Atlantic

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'Before Prison,' Short Film About Sexual Abuse and Oklahoma's High Female Incarceration Rate - The Atlantic


Oklahoma has the highest female incarceration rate in the country—more than twice the national average. This short documentary from The Center for Investigative Reporting by Olivia Merrion and Emily Harger endeavors to find out why.

In the process of the investigation, the filmmakers encounter an inmate named Robyn Allen, who received a 20-year sentence for trafficking in illegal drugs. Interviews with Robyn and her mother lead to a shocking revelation about Robyn’s past—a life event the inmate believes underlies her transgressions.

“The biggest challenge was telling this story in a way that was not exploitative,” said Merrion. “We were extremely moved with both women opening up to us, and we felt a great responsibility. We made sure our overall message was clear and this was not just a large pry into someone’s life—that it had a purpose.”

“After the interview with Robyn,” added Harger, “she told us that despite our conversation being very difficult for her, she knew talking about it was a part of her healing process.”

For more information on Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate, read Reveal’s article.



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