Over the past forty years, the U.S. prison population soared by 700%. Prison State documents the story of a year in one of the most incarcerated neighbourhoods in America.
In Louisville's Beecher Terrace, more than three quarters of adults have spent time behind bars. Children are jailed for skipping school. The state spends three times as much money incarcerating Beecher residents as it does educating them.
Beecher Terrace is emblematic of America’s four-decade love affair with incarceration. In 1972, there were 300,000 people behind bars in the United States. Today there are 2.3 million. The U.S. now locks up more of its citizens than any other country in the world.
Prison State is an intimate portrait of one year in the lives of four Beecher residents trapped in the cycles of incarceration. With extraordinary and unprecedented access to juvenile courtrooms, state prisons, county jails, and juvenile lockups, the individual stories are set against the backdrop of an historic new effort by the state to bring down its prison numbers.