Up the Ridge is a one-hour documentary produced by Appalshop?s
Amelia Kirby and Nick Szuberla. In 1999, Kirby and Szuberla
were volunteer DJ's for the Appalachian region's only hip-hop
radio program in Whitesburg, KY when they received hundreds of
letters from inmates transferred into nearby Wallens Ridge
State Prison, the newest prison built to prop up the region's
sagging coal economy. The letters described human rights
violations, racial tension, and cultural conflict between staff
and inmates. Filming began that year and, through the lens of
Wallens Ridge, the film offers viewers an in-depth look at the
United States prison industry and the social impact of moving
hundreds of thousands of inner-city minority offenders to
distant rural outposts. Up the Ridge explores competing
political agendas that align government policy with human
rights violations, and political expediencies that bring
communities into racial and cultural conflict with tragic
consequences.(From an event Press Release)
A spirited, intense discussion followed the screening. The audience was diverse, college professors, correctional guards, officials connected with the department of corrections, ex-prisoners, and families of prisoners and ex-prisoners shared their points of view. Interestingly enough, everyone, no matter what side of the issue they were on agreed that the system is faulty and needs fixing.
Given the obvious community interest in this topic I hope that there is some follow through by some local community groups on this issue in the near future. It is a long neglected issue that impacts many of our communities and it needs to be addressed.
However, it's great to see various communities in Hampton Roads "waking up" and getting active on a variety of pressing issues.
FYI--Mosquito has to do some traveling so I'll be taking Monday and Tuesday off....Hope all is well out there...
For more information, see http://www.appalshop.org/h2h/film