Bellarmine Forum explores restorative justice through film – Los Angeles Loyolan : Arts & Entertainmentby The Daily Eye Team October 24 2013, 4:44 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 28 secs
Crowds of students and faculty alike came together to take part in the Justice on Trial Film Festival this past weekend, proving that the movies are more than just a place for Hollywood glitz and glamour. As part of the 2013 Bellarmine Forum “Restoring Justice,” the series uncovers the massive discrimination within America’s criminal justice system and discussed many of the injustices that still plague criminals’ reentry into society.
The film festival presented a variety of panels, lectures and performances in order to prompt public discussion in the hopes of sparking a deeper social reform. According to their website, the founders of Justice on Trial hope to “explore legal, theological, ethical, political, sociological, educational and ecological aspects of restoring justice in the contexts of Los Angeles, the United States and the world.”
Six separate documentaries were screened in several different locations on LMU’s campus, including the film “Broken on All Sides,” directed by Matthew Pillischer. Pillischer, who is also a licensed attorney, came to realize the inequality of the country’s legal system through recognizing the mistreatment of the poor and working class. It wasn’t until after working a lawsuit that dealt with overcrowding in the Philadelphia Prison System that Pillischer began to realize the similar prejudices within the nation’s current criminal justice system. As a result, “Broken on All Sides” explores the racial discrimination and mass incarceration that still remains a prevalent issue today.
A number of celebrated activists spoke at the festival, including award-winning author Michelle Alexander. Her book, “The New Jim Crow,” identifies the blatant racism that still exists within the criminal justice system. Alexander said, “The truth is this: We have allowed a human rights nightmare to occur on our watch.”
Alexander went on to discuss the unconscious, racial bias that remains with criminals throughout their lives, even after they have been released from prison. A large majority are left at the disposal of felon disenfranchisement laws. These laws subject ex- felons to what Alexander called, “a legalized segregation for the rest of their lives.” Such legalities prevent equal access to resources such as education, employment, housing and even public benefits such as food stamps.
Several LMU students were present for many of the events in the series, including Brooke Henneberry, a freshman undeclared liberal arts major who came to hear Alexander’s speech.
“For my theology class, we were asked to attend at least one of the events and I thought it was really interesting,” Henneberry said. “With all of the statistics presented, I didn’t realize that there was such a big difference between black and white incarcerations.”
Though the Justice on Trial Film Festival has come to an end, the 2013 Bellarmine Forum will continue to take place on campus until Nov. 9.
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