On April 27th we collaborated with a reentry organization, Centre Inc., based in Fargo, North Dakota, to host a screening of the feature-length documentary film, Beyond the Wall. The screening was held at the Administrative building of the North Dakota State Penitentiary for an audience of 140, primarily state Corrections staffs along with key policy influencers, including Leann Bertsch (Director of the Department of Corrections), First Lady of North Dakota Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, Karianne Jackson (Director of North Dakota DOCR-Correctional Practices), Dr. Lisa Peterson (Clinical Director, North Dakota Department of Corrections), and Colby Braun (Warden of North Dakota State Penitentiary).
This gathering of this notable group around an issue of increasing priority led to influential local media coverage that reached a large number of community members:
The screening was followed by a panel discussion featuring Louie Diaz (Boston-based Reentry Coordinator and principal film subject) and North Dakota-area returned citizens and reentry advocates Adam Martin (F5 Project), Jason Anderson (TEMS Project), and Cathy Short (ReGroup). The film and conversation left audience members feeling rejuvenated and uplifted, especially for corrections staff whose work environments are particularly difficult.
This screening event is the first of several planned throughout North Dakota, with our After Incarceration, There’s Life campaign, which seeks to better prepare inmates for the reentry process and build more supportive networks within the communities to which they are returning.
Future screenings, including the next one in Fargo (date TBD) will be community-focused and emphasize North Dakota Justice Reinvestment policy, which bolsters peer support specialists. The film validates previous North Dakota budget decisions for supportive reentry counseling and may also be used for future trainings and certification processes for peer support specialists to work in criminal justice settings.
Screenings and collaborations with law enforcement and state and local public officials continue in Massachusetts throughout June, 2017 with events scheduled with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Attorney’s Office and the New England School of Addiction and Prevention Studies.