May. 21, 2021


This week we bring you volume four of the PROXY [virtual] SPRING SERIES, a pairing of two documentaries that explore the domestic effects of the penal state on incarcerated individuals and their families, and the works of prison abolitionists who are rethinking our country’s relationship with incarceration. Accompanying articles add more perspectives on the effects of incarceration and the misshapen form of rehabilitation our current justice system offers, as well as the ways prisoners experience the passage of time throughout their sentences.

We also are thrilled to announce our return to in-person programming at PROXY — see below for details!



Directed by Garrett Bradley, 2020

TIME is a stunning documentary about Sibil “Fox” Richardson and her six children, and the decades spent apart from their husband and father, Rob. The two committed an armed robbery in 1997 in which no one was hurt: Fox received a 3.5-year prison sentence and Rob received 60-years without possibility for parole. Director Garrett Bradley masterfully collapses the family’s 21 years of separation into 83 minutes by weaving home camcorder footage with contemporaneous voiceovers and coverage of Fox’s daily toil to reduce her husband’s sentence. The family slips between past and present, together and apart: Fox is speaking to a gathering of activists in a church, recording a commercial for her car dealership, scolding her eldest son for making a mess, celebrating that son’s graduation from dental school. She has just served 3.5 years in prison and 21 years later she is tearfully reunited with her husband. TIME is the story of a father’s absence and a family’s love as a form of active resistance.



Directed by Setsu Shigematsu, 2012

Visions of Abolition is a feature length documentary that illuminates the philosophy and work of prison abolitionists through two key groups, Critical Resistance and A New Way of Life. Through interviews with historic figures such as Angela Davis and contemporary abolitionists such as Susan Burton, the documentary presents a holistic view of the history of prison abolition as a philosophy and the current template for abolition in practice. It is a critical and important analysis of the movement and the future that abolitionists envision.

Watch on KANOPY

PROXY Spring Series: Select Shorts

Friday, May 28th at sundown

We are excited to announce the return of in person screenings at PROXY! Join us in the PROXY walk-in theater on Friday May 28, when we present Select Shorts, a curated selection of six short films that span from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching. The Select Shorts program features some of the most innovative short feature directors working today in both narrative and documentary forms. The screening will begin at 8:50PM and wrap up by 10:00PM, with “doors” opening at 7:30PM. You must pre-register through Eventbrite before the screening, and seats will be assigned once you arrive at PROXY on a first come, first served basis.


A time expansive mix, moving through periods of openness, concern, delight, despair and focused intensity. Listen and enjoy the spaciousness or, perhaps, as a soundtrack to your manifestation of a reality that works better for all.  – dB




Adolfo Davis was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at 16 years old. Maddy Crowell explores at length the impossible cruelty of a life sentence for a child, a uniquely American phenomenon, in her excellent piece for the Atavist. Striking portraits of Adolfo and his family accompany first person recollections of the 24 years he spent in prison, the endless ebb and flow of hope and despair, and how tough the adjustment has been for him following his release. Crowell explains how states are able to try children as adults, and the past and present legal battles to outlaw the practice – which has found unfriendly ears in the current Supreme Court.


Clint Smith III of the Atlantic writes about prisoners who pursue college degrees, and the failures of the federal government to provide access to these classes. He touches on the 1994 Crime Bill, championed by Joe Biden and signed by Bill Clinton, which banned prisoners from receiving federal Pell Grants to cover the costs of their education. Prisoners that achieve a degree in prison are less likely to be violent and have lower recidivism rates than prisoners who don’t – but more importantly, the classes they take give them a community and a sense of purpose in an environment that more often than not is designed to deprive them of both. Pell Grants are an extension of compassion in their time of need, and are thankfully being reinstated in the coming years.


For the French Journal of Sociology, Fabrice Guilbald examines the ways in which prisoners experience time and the relation between the passage of time and labor. His work builds upon earlier sociological examinations of the American prison system, and relates the experience of French prisoners to their American counterparts. While a touch long, the paper is not overly academic and is an accessible read. Guilbald’s direct interviews with prisoners about their temporal experience in prison, and how regular work can help them better enjoy “leisure time”, are particularly striking especially when compared to the experience of modern workers.



Featured in the VISIONS OF ABOLITION documentary, A New Way of Life provides critical services for women coming out of prison, including housing, legal support, case management, and emotional wellness services. Founded by Susan Burton, they seek to mitigate the and ultimately eliminate the effects of mass incarceration. You can support their work here.


Prison Policy Initiative is a non-profit firm that produces research and data analysis that expose the broader harm of mass criminalization in the United States. They have recently produced and shared a helpful report that succinctly captures the scale of the United State’s mass incarceration. You can check out their work and support them here.


Safe Passage Park is a neighborhood-led campaign to create urgently needed outdoor space accessible to children, families and the wider community living in the Tenderloin. Residents, businesses, and neighborhood organizations — with the support of the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, ENVELOPE and Studio O, the office of District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, and multiple city agencies — have joined together to transform the 200 block of Turk Street into a safe, active community space for all. Please consider supporting the realization of Safe Passage Park by making a financial contribution today.