The Exile Nation Project: Trailer

The Exile Nation Project has just released a four-minute trailer of their documentary archive of testimonies from criminal offenders, family members, and notable experts on the far-ranging consequences of the War on Drugs and the American Criminal Justice System.
Charles Shaw
26 September 2010

The Exile Nation Project is a documentary archive of originally produced films videos and testimonial interviews from prisoners and ex-offenders, family members, and notable experts on the far-ranging consequences of the American criminal justice system.

So many people are in prison, so many families and communities have been destroyed, and so many generations have been lost, that those who do succeed us will need a living record of the devastating impact these policies had on American society.

The United States has 5% of the world's population, and 25% of the world's prisoners. At 2.5 million, the US has more prisoners than China. Not more prisoners per capita, more prisoners. And there are an additional 5 million under what's known as "Correctional Supervision" (probation, parole, and court monitoring). On top of that, the security and livelihood of millions more has forever been altered by an arrest or conviction record.

This so-called "Land of the Free" punishes more of its citizens than the rest of the world, prompting even the conservative Economist to declare that "never in the civilized world have so many been locked up for so little." The testimonies of The Unheard Voices Project testimonies will help put a human face on a critical social issue that has been overwhelmed by fear, politics, racial prejudice, and intolerance, in an era where the public attitude has been, "out of sight, out of mind."

When the stories hit home, the policies begin to change.


On October 1, 2010 openDemocracy Editor Charles Shaw will begin a two-month, 30 city tour of the US and UK. Along the way he will interview nearly 60 people for the first phase of the project. In January of 2011 The Exile Nation Project will release a 20-minute short film and the first ten interviews for the archive. Each interview will be made available in both a long "unedited" format and in a 10-minute summary.

Featuring in order of appearance:

Mark Kleiman, Ph.D. - UCLA School of Public Policy

James P. Gray (Ret.) Former US Superior Court Judge

Malakkar Vohyrzek - Law Student, Served 7.5 years for LSD conspiracy

Alexis Wilson Briggs - Criminal Defense Lawyer

Pastor Scott Tracy Imler - United Methodist Church, Co-Author of California's Prop 215 Medical Cannabis Law

Shawnee Faye Hunter - Sister of Adam Lay, serving 60 years in a Texas prison for a crime he did not commit. 

Lauren Kennedy - Sister of Tom Kennedy, serving 60 years in a California prison for a crime he did not commit.

Randolph Hencken - Communications Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

A.J. Lovewins - Director, Harmonic Humanity homeless advocacy group 



Written, Produced & Directed by Charles Shaw

Co-Produced and Edited by Dustin Edwards

Motion Graphics by Dustin Edwards & Brodie Sullivan - Catalyst SF

Music by Random Rab (randomrab.net)

Made possible by a generous grant from the Tedworth Charitable Trust and the openDemocracy group.

All material involved in The Exile Nation Project is open source and available for commercial and non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License. 

How do we work after coronavirus?

The pandemic has profoundly changed our working lives. Millions have lost their jobs; others have had no choice but to continue working at great risk to their health. Many more have shouldered extra unpaid labour such as childcare.

Work has also been redefined. Some workers are defined as 'essential' – but most of them are among the lowest-paid in our societies.

Could this be an opportunity?

Amid the crisis, there has been a rise in interest in radical ideas, from four-day weeks to universal basic income.

Join us on 5pm UK time on 20 August as we discuss whether the pandemic might finally be a moment for challenging our reliance on work.

In conversation:

Sarah Jaffe, journalist and author of 'Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone', due to be published next year.

Amelia Horgan, academic and author of 'Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism', also due to be published next year.

Chair: Alice Martin, advisory board member of Autonomy, a think tank dedicated to the future of work.

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