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How to Prepare for Prison

Law and the Penal System, American Culture, Marriage and Parenting, African American
Matt Gallagher
58/84 minutes


World Premiere Hot Docs Film Festival 2016

"4/5 stars!" - NOW Magazine

"Poignant, pointed, and impassioned." - Toronto Film Scene

"Emotionally charged." - Digital Journal



"Prison should be for people we’re scared of, not people we’re mad at.”-Sheriff Benny Napoleon (Detroit, MI)

How to Prepare for Prison focuses on the lives of three vastly different people who are steeling themselves against the daunting prospect of serving prison sentences for the very first time. Shot over three years, the film captures their growing psychological trauma as their children and families face poverty and social shame, and the individuals charged face their fears about violence in prison and whether or not they can survive the loss of freedom. All three experience protracted waits for their trials and, whether they've really done the crime or not, feel the enormous power of the law. The film goes beyond the notion of guilt or innocence. By offering an intimate look at the lives and states of mind of those awaiting judgment—filled with regret, defiance and stark fear—it deepens our understanding of the legal system and cultural ideas about crime and punishment. The stakes are high. Lives are changed forever.



Matt Gallagher is an award-winning director with over 20 years experience in documentary production. Having directed and shot three feature documentaries, numerous shorts for the NFB, and several one-off docs for CBC and TVO.

He has directed big-budget documentaries and documentary series for History Television, CBC, BBC, The History Channel, W Network, and the Food Network. His documentaries have screened at Hot Docs, Yorkton, Atlantic Film Festival and at Input.

He has been nominated for two Gemini’s for his documentaries, one Canadian Screen Award, a Chalmers Award and won the Best of the Festival at the Yorkton Film Festival.


How to Prepare for Prison - Educational Use



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