In this film, we see British television presenter and journalist Stacey Dooley travel to Iowa where she pays a visit to one of the most radical women’s prisons in the United States. This new correctional institute for women cost around 110 million dollars to build and houses over 700 female prisoners, everything from drunk drivers to vicious murders. For the last three years the warden Sheryl Dahm, has been running the place slightly differently than you might expect.
Instead of there being strict discipline and punishment Dahm is attempting to rehabilitate these women by instilling a sense of purpose and self-esteem, allowing all kinds of freedoms such as therapy dogs, make-up, and a little freedom to move throughout the prison if they are well behaved.
From the onset, Stacey gets rather close to one group of prisoners in particular – the lifers, these inmates make up around 10% of the overall prison population. They are the mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives who have said goodbye to the ones they love forever. All of the lifers have been convicted of first-degree murder and in this film, many of the women open up for the first time to Stacey about the nature of their crimes and their remorse.
Stacey documents the unique experience of being a female lifer, with all the drama, emotions, twists, and turns that that brings. Amidst the pain, guilt, and suffering, there is humour, kindness, and resourcefulness in this moving documentary.
Directed by: Tom Stone