An award-winning filmmaker at the University of Illinois at Chicago is working on a feature-length documentary aimed at sparking dialogue on this looming problem facing U.S. prisons.
Edgar Barens, visiting media specialist with UIC’s Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research, says “Prison Terminal” breaks through the walls of one of America’s oldest maximum-security prisons to tell of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner and the trained hospice volunteers — they themselves prisoners — who care for him.
Shot over a six-month period inside the Iowa state penitentiary, the film draws attention to the fragility as well as the holistic benefits of a prison-based, prisoner-staffed, hospice program and provides an account of how the hospice experience can touch the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.
“‘Prison Terminal’ brings to light the deeply redemptive effects hospice has on the prisoner volunteers as they guide their ailing friend through a dignified death, surrounded by friends and family,” Barens said.
“Prison Terminal” is one of several projects currently underway at the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research, which is directed by Creasie Finney Hairston, dean of the Jane Addams College of Social Work. The center’s mission is to bring together the resources of academic institutions, community and advocacy groups to advance social-welfare policies and programs that meet the needs of urban communities, poor families, and the incarcerated.
For more information about the film or to view the trailer, go to http://www.prisonterminal.com
The film, currently in post-production, is scheduled for distribution by fall. Prior to “Prison Terminal,” one of Barens’ most significant films was “A Sentence of Their Own,” a documentary on the impact incarceration has on families.
For more information about UIC, please visit www.uic.edu