The Corridor is a feature length documentary portrait of the first high school in the United States providing education to adults serving time in jail.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department considers the school to be the “crown jewel” of their restorative justice based re-entry program, and it has inspired similar programs in California and across the country. The film captures a semester inside the school as inmates, teachers, and the deputies prepare for graduation day. The Corridor explores the shifting boundaries between punishment and rehabilitation at a time when California—and the nation—is questioning what justice really means.
The school has at it’s heart a core belief that most people who end up in jail have the capacity to change, if they are given some kind of real opportunity to do so.
The Corridor centers around the tension between two central questions that societies have been grappling with for thousands of years, and which continue to be debated into the twenty first century. The first: how should society achieve justice? The other: what is our capacity to change our course in life?Read more
Over 10 years ago, former Sheriff of San Francisco Michael Hennessy decided to stop just ‘warehousing’ inmates and to begin to provide a series of programs, including the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, that prepared inmates and their communities for their release. Research shows that people who have received inadequate education or who exhibit poor literacy skills are disproportionately found in prisons and jails–the higher the educational level, the less likely people are to be rearrested. Five Keys Charter school was designed to open up opportunities for ex-convicts to create alternatives to the revolving door of incarceration.
Once arrested and processed in San Francisco, enrollment in the school or other programs is mandatory for all inmates who never received a high school diploma. The school has at it’s heart a core belief that most people who end up in jail have the capacity to change, if they are given some kind of real opportunity to do so.
The Corridor provides a 360 view, and doesn’t cast judgement on the effectiveness of the school or programs. Rather, it is an immersive portrait of the inner workings of the school, capturing along the way conflicts, dilemmas and breakthroughs that arise. The film portrays an ensemble of characters, ranging from the current Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, to the men and women behind bars, to the teachers, administrators and deputized staff. The Corridor implicitly poses questions for the audience about crime and punishment, and whether or not real change is possible.